Digestive Herbs

Did you know you can help your digestive system by adding flavor to your dishes?  Carminative herbs are aromatic herbs that aid in digestion by helping expel excess gas, relieve cramping, and reduce nausea. They are also really easily incorporated into dishes.

The thing is most cuisines already know it is important. The exception of course is American cuisine but think with me for a moment of flavors typical of international cuisine. Mexican food has peppers and cilantro. Chinese food has sesame and garlic. Indian food uses turmeric and ginger. Italian food uses more oregano. Greeks often serve fennel after a meal. All of these flavorful ingredients aid in digestion.

So how do you incorporate these into your daily menus? Eat international flavors more often. It’s a lot more natural to grate some ginger into your sweet and sour sauce than it is into your hamburger patty. Use seeds like dill or fennel to sprinkle on your meat. Add some of the herbs to your soups.  Lemon balm and peppermint are both carminatives that taste great in desserts. You can also brew a cup of ginger tea after a meal to help with digestion.

My favorite carminative herbs include:

  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • rosemary
  • lemon balm/lemon verbena
  • peppermint
  • fennel
  • basil
  • turmeric
  • sesame
  • cilantro
  • tarragon
  • garlic
  • dill

Fresh herbs work best but dried will work too. Try to incorporate at least one of these into your dishes this week.

One caution though, some of these are more warming while others have more cooling energetics. If it is spicy or causes your blood pressure to rise it is generally considered warming. I know I don’t do as well with the warming as I do the cooling. My husband’s stomach works really well with a bunch of warming herbs. Pay attention to your body. Using herbs may be a balancing act for your family but you might find it really useful.

Have fun! Go crazy and spend a couple bucks on some herbs you may not be familiar with. See how they influence your vision of a frequent dish. You just might get lucky and find one of them really helps with your digestive issues if you have them. If not it’s still fun to try new flavors!