This holiday season, I hope you’re able to enjoy some hearty meals and quality time with friends and family.
And of course, as with most of my recommendations, I always urge you to practice moderation. But I know, despite our best intentions, many of us will overindulge and eat too much at some point during the holidays.
So, if you find yourself suffering from indigestion or another GI problem over the course of the next few weeks, here’s my advice…
Skip the Rolaids™, proton-pump inhibitors, and purple pills. Instead, balance your GI system with three potent plant extracts.
First, try this seasonal favorite…
Peppermint brings tidings of comfort
If you suffer from digestive problems, opt for some plain peppermint tea. (And skip all the other trendy and sweet peppermint lattes, frappuccinos, and “peppermintini” cocktails.)
The peppermint plant (Mentha pipenta) has long been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems. It calms stomach muscles and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. As a result, food passes through the stomach more quickly with less bloating and gas.
Several studies show that coated peppermint capsules can also help reduce indigestion, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Coated capsules keep peppermint oil from releasing too early in the GI tract, which can produce the opposite intended result — causing heartburn and indigestion.)
In one study, researchers recruited 57 people with bloating, gas, and stomach pains. They divided the patients into two groups. One group took two coated peppermint capsules twice a day for four weeks. The other group took a placebo. Of the people who took peppermint, 75 percent experienced a significant reduction in symptoms.
But peppermint isn’t the only holiday staple that can come to the rescue if you overindulge. As I reported last week, ginger can also help soothe your digestion.
Ginger tea eases nausea quickly and effectively
In China, people have used ginger to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for 3,000 years. And to this day, it still plays a prominent role in Asian cooking.
In the West, we have our own ginger remedies. In fact, when many of us were kids, our parents often gave us a glass of ginger ale to settle an upset stomach. That remedy might not have been a bad idea back in the day, when ginger ale actually contained some real ginger. But nowadays, most ginger ale on the market contains artificial ginger flavoring, not to mention high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial chemical sweeteners.
So, skip the ginger ale. Instead, make some ginger tea with a slice of fresh ginger root. I always keep some raw ginger root in my fridge, to make sure I have it on hand when I need it.
To make the tea, simply cut a slice of the root and add it to a mug of boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes. And then, drink up. You’ll enjoy almost immediate soothing of your stomach ails. (Ginger is such an effective nausea remedy, studies now show that it even alleviates nausea in chemotherapy patients!)
South African red bush (also known as rooibos or aspal) is the third plant you can use to make a soothing tea to alleviate your stomach troubles this holiday season. It’s also known as “red tea.”
The science behind this potent “red” tea
I began my own investigation into this red bush about 15 years ago. And I learned a great deal about how it helped the Kalahari Bushmen of South Africa survive in one of the harshest, hottest places on Earth.
It turns out, red bush hydrates your body on a cellular level.
Red bush tea also helps prevent and combat heartburn. It even helps to improve digestion and keep things moving in your GI tract to prevent constipation.
It’s all too easy to overindulge during the holidays. So, make sure to stock your pantry with peppermint tea, keep some fresh ginger root in the fridge, and have plenty of aspal on hand. (You can find it combined with blueberry powder, rose hips, and baobab in my CoreForce BioBlend.)
With these three potent plants, you’ll be prepared for just about any GI upset that might threaten to interrupt your good cheer.
“Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial,” Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Jun;39(6):530-6