This holiday season, I hope you have the good fortune to enjoy some good food and good times with good friends. Of course, I urge moderation. But even the most sensible among us will sometimes overindulge during the holidays. If that happens to you over the next few weeks, here’s my advice: Skip the TUMS and especially those “purple pills.” Instead, tame your indigestion with three natural plant extracts.
First, try peppermint.
Of course, I’m not talking about all the peppermint mochas, lattes, frappaccinos, and “peppermintini” cocktails that are so trendy these days. You’re much better off sticking with plain, old peppermint tea. Especially if you’re prone to digestive problems.
You see, the peppermint plant (Mentha pipenta) has long been used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems. It calms stomach muscles. And it 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 help reduce indigestion, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Coated capsules keep peppermint oil from releasing directly into the stomach, which can cause heartburn and indigestion.)
In one study, researchers recruited 57 people with bloating, gas, and stomach pain. 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.
Plus, a new study showed peppermint appears to alleviate the sensation of stomach pressure.
For the study, 18 healthy volunteers took peppermint oil or a placebo. In this “cross-over” study, each participant acted as his or her own control. The researchers measured the results immediately before and after the treatment in real time using physiologic measurement devices. They found that peppermint oil instantaneously reduced pressure within the stomach. It also reduced stomach contractions. And last, but not least, it reduced appetite.
Ginger is another plant that can help soothe your digestion. It’s also very popular in baked goods at this time of year.
Of course, in China, men and women have used ginger to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 3,000 years. And it’s probably why ginger plays such a prominent role in Asian cooking to this day.
In the West, we have our own ginger remedies. In fact, when you were a child, did your mom give you a glass of ginger ale to settle your upset stomach? That 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.
Skip the ginger ale. And make some ginger tea instead.
Over the holidays, and all year, keep raw ginger root in your fridge. Then, you’ll have it ready for when you need it.
To make the tea, simply cut a slice of the root and add it to a mug of hot 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, new studies now show that it even alleviates nausea in chemotherapy patients.
South African red bush is the third plant you can use this holiday season to alleviate your stomach troubles.
As you know, I began my own investigation into this remarkable plant about 12 years ago. And I learned a great deal about how red bush helped the Kalahari Bushmen of South Africa survive in one of the harshest, hottest places on Earth. Turns out, red bush hydrates the body on the cellular level.
For the past century, men and women in South Africa have also routinely made red bush tea to improve digestion. Red bush helps prevent and combat heartburn. And it also helps with constipation and keeps things moving smoothly.
Last year, a colleague and I developed a brand of red bush tea called Red Joe ®. You can get Red Joe directly through this website.
It’s easy to overindulge during the holidays. You may eat and drink more than you should. So, make sure to have plenty of Red Joe on hand. Keep some fresh ginger root in the fridge. And stock your pantry with peppermint tea. You’ll be prepared for just about any holiday stomach upset that might threaten to interrupt your good cheer.
1. “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
2. “Effect of acute peppermint oil administration on gastric sensorimotor function and nutrient tolerance in health,” Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013;25(4):e263-e271