Plants have been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in various mixtures, infusions, and spices to aid the digestive process. Some of them are well known to us, and others are less popular, which does not mean that they are less effective. Let’s see what plants we should include in our meals to support the digestive process.
The lifestyle in the 21st century is a lot to deal with: the fast pace, countless stimuli, and a high level of stress. If we add highly processed food to this mix, we get a simple recipe for a disrupted digestive process. Our digestive system is susceptible to this type of stimuli – this is already seen by the increasing number of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cases around the world. Our diet plays an important role in the mix, so don’t worry, there are plants that have a soothing effect on unpleasant digestive problems.
One can say that peppermint is the plant of the first choice for digestive problems. It has been used for years to soothe unpleasant ailments in the digestive system. Experts in folk medicine used to recommend it several hundred years ago to people who experienced flatulence, abdominal pain, or eating disorders. Peppermint (also known as medicinal mint) owes its properties to the essential oils contained in the leaves. They relax the smooth muscles of the digestive system and stimulate the secretion of bile necessary for the digestion of fats. Thanks to its diastolic effect, peppermint is recommended when flatulence occurs. This plant is also used to relieve nausea.
Fennel is widespread in the Mediterranean and Asia. Because of its taste and medicinal qualities, it is gaining more and more popularity in other parts of the world. Seeds, stems, and leaves can be used for cooking purposes. On the other hand, in medicine, bitter fennel seeds are used to produce fennel oil. These compounds have a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the digestive system. Therefore, they are used to relieve abdominal pain and flatulence. Fennel seeds stimulate the production of gastric juice and bile, thus improving the digestive process. Fennel seeds can be used not only to alleviate digestive ailments. The compounds present in the plant have expectorant properties, increase the volume, and reduce the viscosity of bronchial secretions, and have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
Common chamomile is one of the most popular medicinal plants used both in herbal medicine and cosmetology. Chamomile baskets are rich in various health-promoting ingredients, including flavonoids, mucus secretion substances, vitamin C, phytosterols, and minerals. Like the plants described above, chamomile has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the digestive system. In addition, the compounds present in the plant stimulate the secretion of bile, making it easier to digest meals with high-fat content. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile-based products are used in stomach ulcers. Chamomile also has a slightly calming effect. Therefore, you can use it if the cause of your digestive problems is stress. This plant is used in cosmetology. Chamomile is used primarily in the case of skin irritations and as an ingredient in hair shampoos. Women with fair hair are especially fond of chamomile, as it helps to maintain their beautiful color and has a slight brightening effect.
Lemon balm is known primarily as a plant with sedative properties. Therefore, it can help with digestive problems caused by stress. Apart from its calming properties, lemon balm can help in soothing digestive disorders. The essential oils contained in the plant have a diastolic effect. Thanks to this, they relieve flatulence and abdominal pain. Besides, the compounds in lemon balm are anti-inflammatory, so they can help relieve inflammation in the body. Lemon balm infusions can be consumed in periods of the weakened immune system and the course of infections caused by bacteria and viruses. Interestingly, on top of its soothing properties, lemon balm can help treat cold sores. In its occurrence, we can use products containing lemon balm essential oils directly on the skin.
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