November 27, 2009

3 common herbs for stomach problems — and one you've never heard of

Do you find that your stomach hurts a lot? If so, your doctor may have given you a drug to treat the problem. And you wouldn't be alone. Gastrointestinal drugs are among the most widely prescribed drugs in America. But if you have indigestion or other stomach problems, there are three common herbs — and one you've probably never heard of — that you should try before you use prescription drugs.

The three common herbs are licorice, peppermint, and ginger.

People have used licorice to treat stomach problems for thousands of years. It's loaded with phytochemicals and minerals that heal your digestive system and other damaged tissues. I've been especially impressed with a version of licorice called DGL. It reduces a plant chemical that helps your body retain sodium. That means it's less likely to raise blood pressure than traditional licorice. DGL is widely available in health food stores.

Peppermint calms your nerves and eases spasms. It's especially soothing on the whole digestive tract. It reduces pain associated with gas and bloating. Peppermint simply improves the entire digestion process. This is why so many restaurants offer mints as you leave — it's not just good for fresh breath. Peppermint oil also can help reduce any symptoms you have of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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You probably already know that ginger is phenomenal for fighting nausea. That's why ginger ale is a favorite when traveling. This effect is not hearsay either. It's backed up scientifically by multiple studies. Ginger has proven effective for pregnancy-related nausea, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and motion sickness. I've never understood why doctors have turned to chemicals for nausea of pregnancy when there's wonderful ginger. Ginger also has significant antimicrobial properties, useful for stomach infections, such as H. pylori and peptic ulcers.

The final herb is one you probably don't know much about. It's triphala, which means "three fruits." It comes from India, where Ayurvedic medicine has used it for thousands of years. But it's never become popular in the U.S. Triphala is a digestive tonic, made from the fruits of three trees, the amalaki fruit (Embelica officinalis), bibhitaki fruit (Terminalia belerica), and haritaki fruit (Terminalia chebula).

Triphala works as a gentle laxative and improves assimilation of food. This is great for people with weak digestion. Like peppermint, it can improve the function of your entire digestive system. It even reduces gas and can help to improve your appetite.

There are many products on the market containing these ingredients singly or in combination. ProHealth in Alameda California (800-366-6056) has excellent individual products. Follow the label directions for dosing. It's far better to try natural products, which help to restore function, than chemical enzymes, which poison your system.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

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