There is a variety of herbs used for digestive problems that have been used by herbologists as well as in folk medicine. They include the following: – 

  • Ginger
  • Bitters
  • Gentian root
  • Goldenseal
  • Aromatics
  • Ginseng
  • Seaweeds
  • Slippery elm
  • Lobelia
  • Meadowsweet
  • Chamomile

Let us look at each of the herbs more closely: – 

Ginger: – 

Ginger is a very popular folk remedy in many cultures. Ginger is given in a variety of forms which includes tea for coughs and colds. Ginger is said to take up and absorb stomach acid and soothe the nerves. 

The active constituents present in ginger helps in stimulating digestion and absorption but also exert a calming effect on the digestive tract. Ginger relieves constipation, cramps, and flatulence by gently increasing muscular activity in the digestive tract. Regular consumption has been proven to prevent gastritis.

Ginger has a well-documented healing action on nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, morning sickness of pregnancy, postoperative vomiting, and drug-induced nausea. Unlike other antinausea preparations, which are mainly antihistamines, ginger acts directly on the digestive tract, relaxing its smooth muscles and relieving cramps and tension in the muscles of the gastric capillaries. This facilitates relaxation of the stomach stimulates circulation to it, improves digestive activity and prevents gastric irritation. 

How to use: – 

Here is one simple remedy to alleviate acid reflux using ginger: take two gingerroot capsules available commercially. Or drink tea in the form of tea. Add one-half to one teaspoon of shredded ginger to a cup of boiling water. Strain after ten minutes and drink. Instead, you can substitute ginger with two teaspoons of anise, fennel or dill seeds to make tea.

Bitters: –  

Bitters include gentian root, wormwood and goldenseal are available as capsules or liquids. Advocates of this type of remedy for alleviating acid reflux say that the usual dosage of bitters is one capsule taken before each meal. 

Gentian root is used in many cultures for indigestion. It is available as dried root and tincture. Herbalists recommended making a tea with one ounce of root per cup of hot water. The possible side effects of this herb include nausea, vomiting, and indigestion – the very reason you took the herb in the first place!

Goldenseal is available as dried bulk, capsules, and tincture. To ease, heartburn proponents suggest that you make tea using one teaspoon of goldenseal per cup of hot water and drink it two to three times per day. 

Note: – Goldenseal is contraindicated in pregnancy and also should not be used by individuals with diabetes or hypoglycemia, because it can decrease blood sugar levels. Some other possible side-effects include nausea, vomiting, along with diarrhea. 

Aromatics: – 

Aromatics such as catnip and fennel may help control heartburn symptoms. Fennel has been used for colic in children since ancient times and is also said to improve digestion. It is available in dry bulk, oil, and tincture. For digestive problems, fennel is chewed. Herbal proponents recommend making tea, using two teaspoons per hot cup of water. 

Note: – Do not ingest fennel oil. Skin rash is one side effect of fennel. Worse, it may increase liver damage in patients with liver disease.

Catnip is regarded as safe although it acts as a mild sedative. Either use the tea bag available commercially or out one teaspoon of dried catnip in hot water for five to ten minutes.   

Ginseng : – 

There are many different forms of ginseng, an herb that is believed to facilitate relief for individuals with varying symptoms of GERD and is purportedly used to reduce problems with stress. There are many ways to use ginseng. When using a blend of American, Asian, and Siberian ginseng, proponents say that 400 milligrams of the blend should be used once or twice a day. 

Note: Be careful with ginseng because it may trigger hypoglycemia in some people. Some forms of ginseng have side effects; for example, Siberian ginseng may result in asthma, hypertension, and palpitations. Panax ginseng preparations have side effects that are similar to the Siberian variety, plus they may cause uterine bleeding and diarrhea. 

Anise: – 

Anise is an herb that is available in dried bulk or tincture and essential oil. To reduce heartburn symptoms, proponents suggest that you make a tea using one to two teaspoons of anise per cup of hot water. Another option is to add one tablespoon to a cup of milk. Some possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, alongwith diarrhea.

Seaweeds: – 

Seaweeds are available in health food stores, including kelp, wakame, and nori. The weed allegedly forms a gel inside the stomach that soaks up acid and soothes the lining of the digestive wall. Nori is the green wrapper used in sushi. Kelp is seaweed enriched with iodine. 

Herbalists recommend using the dried form of seaweed when making tea. Weeds are also available as capsules. Kelp or even spirulina (blue-green algae) capsule may be used one to two times a day. 

Note: You must check with your doctor before using kelp if you are being treated for thyroid problems. 

Slippery Elm: – 

Slippery elm is said to soothe the mucous membranes. It is a folk remedy for heartburn and indigestion and is especially popular in Europe. It is also used for cough, sore throat, and colitis. Slippery elm is available in capsules, tincture, and powder. It may be ingested as a tea, or the bark may be chewed. 

Note:  Slippery elm is contraindicated in patients who are allergic to it. 

Tea is made by using one tablespoon of bark per cup and is consumed three to four times a day. Some proponents advise taking one-fourth teaspoon of powder or one-fourth teaspoon of tincture three times a day. 

Lobelia: – 

Lobelia is also known as Indian tobacco, and it can be extremely toxic. It is available in capsules, tincture and dried bulk. It can be taken orally for respiratory infections and asthma, and can also be applied externally for pain. Users massage the tincture on the painful area or ingest two to three drops daily. 

Note: This herb should be used with extreme caution, if at all. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and altered mental states. 

Meadowsweet: – 

Meadowsweet is an herb that supposedly acts as a soothing agent for mucous membranes. It is available as dried bulk and as a tincture. Proponents recommend making tea with two teaspoons of meadowsweet per cup of hot water. They also recommend adding one teaspoon of honey. 

Note: Proponents advise that you should drink this mixture no more than two to three times per day. There may be some serious side effects to using this herb, such as ulcers and even respiratory failure. 

Chamomile: – 

If you do remember your childhood fairy tales, Peter Rabbit’s mother made him drink chamomile tea, which he didn’t like much. Maybe Peter’s mother was an herbalist! Today many people enjoyed chamomile tea for its curative properties as well as its taste. 

In most of the cases, German chamomile is used. It is available as tea, tincture, oil or flowers. Make a tea using two teaspoons of chamomile per cup of hot water. You can also use it in an herbal bath; add two to three ounces of this flower herb to a bathtub of warm water. You may wish to avoid, or at least be careful with, chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed or chrysanthemums. 

Some cautions before you use herbal medications: – 

If you are considering using herbal medications for GERD or any other chronic medical problem, I strongly recommend that you keep the following cautionary points in mind: 

  • The strength of herbs varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Rather than constantly switching brands, stick with one. 
  • Consult your medical doctor before taking any herbal remedy, particularly if you are under treatment for diabetes, asthma, or any other serious illness. 
  • Do not take more than the smallest recommended dosage on the bottle label. More is not necessarily better. 
  • If you experience any problems, such as palpitations, weakness, headache, or other symptoms, stop taking the herb and contact your physician. 
  • The quality and purity of the product are probably higher if grown, packaged and distributed in North America. Some accidental leeching of heavy toxic metals has been found with herbals imported from other countries. 
  • Shop around, as there is a wide variation in price, even with the same drug manufactured by the same company. 
  • Try only one herbal at a time, not two or more. If any problems occur and you are taking only one herbal remedy, then you can probably attribute them to the specific drug. If you are taking two or more herbals, it can be really difficult to determine which one is causing harm. Also, you should keep in mind that herbals may interact with each other, just as some prescribed medications don’t go together.  

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