5 MOST POWERFUL HERBS for Improving Digestion and Healing the Gut
The emotions in our gut, fascinating facts on our second brain & herbs that heal our gut.
It's all about digestive quality.
The quality and strength of your digestion dictates the ability of your body to properly absorb the nutrients from food and medicine. Even if you think you have the best dietary habits, it will do you little good if the digestive tract is malfunctioning and your body struggles to process the essential nutrients locked away in your food. In cases of deficient digestion and deeper digestive problems, as little as half (in severe situations, even less) of what we consume in terms of actual nutrients—vitamins, minerals, protein (amino acids)—is actually assimilated into our bloodstream and used by our bodies.
The common symptom found in today’s gut, is deficiency. This is due to the underperforming digestive tract in most individuals nowadays, which arises from poor eating patterns, along with lifestyle habits that have become unfortunately normal in Western culture. I’d say that stress it the leading cause of deficiency. Stress doesn’t just come from a busy life, or an overloaded workplace, it can also come from emotional stress (sadness, anger, worry, etc.) as well as environmental stress (polluted air, toxic water, heavy metals and contaminants in agriculture, etc.) The gut is constantly trying to adapt and create a homeostatic state between the outside world and the inside. If the outside stressors are constantly being brought in, along with psychological stressors, (not to mention our cellular memory and ancestral inheritance), all these contribute to an underperforming digestive tract.
You really are what you eat. Living a “perfect” dietary life, but a poorly maintained state of mind, equals bad digestion. It’s that simple.
Did you know that a major portion of our nervous system is located in our intestines? Also known as the ‘enteric nervous system’ (ENS) by Western doctors, and commonly known as our “second brain”. The ENS is the reason the “gut feeling”, or "the second brain" was coined to the gut, because the ENS can operate independently of the brain and spinal cord, and the central nervous system. (Isn’t that amazing?) For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90% of the fibers in the primary nerve, known as the vagus, carries information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. Example are when we feel butterflies in our stomach, or when we suddenly get an intuitive hit on what do to in a moment of danger, or a powerful feeling about someone, or a telepathic connection, or a psychic hit… these all stem from our second brain.
Another major fact is that 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, as well as about 50% of the body’s dopamine. Also, your intestines produce and co-regulate 30 other neurotransmitters identical to those found in your brain and are used by the central nervous system to regulate our hormones, mood, stress levels, sleep patterns, mental functioning and any number of other essential body processes.
Now let's get down to the herbs!
Milk thistle is a powerful anti-oxidant that protects the cells from free radicals by scavenging them before they cause cellular damage. In classic Greek medicine, milk thistle was used to treat liver and gallbladder diseases and to protect the liver against toxins. Historically, the seed of milk thistle was used as a cholagogue which stimulated the flow of bile. Stimulating bile ensures a smooth digestion — improving metabolism, breakdown, absorption, along with preventing stagnant bile, which means toxic buildup in the Gall Bladder and subsequently the Liver.
Not only does this incredible healer soothe the gut, reduce inflammation, and restore the liver and gall bladder, it has many more healing functions that most people don't know about. Recent studies have demonstrated that its rich anti-oxidant makeup prevents free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells. It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A as beta-carotene and increases the liver's production of superoxide dismutase. The ability to combat cancer is not a claim made lightly, but dandelion seems to show promise in study after study after study. Dandelion may slow cancer's growth and prevent it from spreading. The leaves are especially rich in the antioxidants and phytonutrients that combat cancer. This dear plant also increases bile production and reduces inflammation to help with gallbladder problems and blockages.
The cancer-fighting, heart-boosting power of Mangosteen is just a few other abilities it has ontop if its well known digestive healing powers.
In a study, researchers monitored the pharmacological activity of two Xanthones in Mangosteen, alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin, and demonstrated that they had "serotonergic receptor-blocking capacity". Clinical experience indicate that conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may be favorably affected when serotonin is blocked in the gastrointestinal tract where it is found extensively.
The many benefits this dear fruit provides is supported by decades of experience in traditional Asian folk medicine, where the fruit is widely used to treat a variety of conditions in the gastrointestinal system. Numerous studies have also shown that gamma-mangostin, dramatically slows down the production of the COX-2 enzyme that precedes and leads to inflammation. Research scientists also suggested that the anti-inflammatory effects of gamma-mangostin on brain cells may have potential in helping with inflammatory conditions of the brain such as Alzheimers.
In the Amazon rainforest, Quassia, also known as amargo, has been used as a bitter digestive aid for centuries. It is also used across South America as a tribal remedy for debility, digestive problems, fever, liver - gallbladder problems, as a natural insecticide (for plants and humans!) as well popularly used for viral and parasitic diseases like malaria. In more modern herbalism amargo is employed as a bitter tonic for the stomach, stimulating metabolism, increasing bile flow, cleansing the blood from toxicity. Many have effectively used it to clean the blood from a history of pharmaceutical medications and general toxic buildup in the liver.
Read more on the incredible research done on this tree here.
Artichoke’s has many benefits, but its main ingredient is cynarin. High concentrations of cynarin are found in the leaves, and they can be used to improve appetite, due to its increase in bile production, and digestion. The leaves are commonly taken to relieve gas, and bloating. Their bitterness has a stimulating effect on the liver and also a cooling action. As a classic herb for digestion now being employed by Western doctors, artichoke appears to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), improving nausea, bloating, constipation, and pain from gas. Research has shown that, taken to help maintain a healthy digestive system, digestive herbs like artichoke, and ones mentioned above, may also help maintain cholesterol at normal levels.
Other digestive powerhouses that we LOVE, that you can find within our Liver/Gut Cleanser Section:
- Burdock Root
- Orange Peel
- Fresh Ginger Root
- Slippery Elm (only sustainably sourced)