Efficient digestion is essential to good health and herbal medicine offers a range of remedies for digestive complaints, from mouth ulcers and indigestion to more complex conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon stimulate the digestion, helping the body absorb nutrients. Herbs with a slimy quality, such as marshmallow and slippery elm, soothe irritation within the digestive tract, easing symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, nausea, gastritis, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.
A tea of fennel, ginger or chamomile will ease pain, spasm and trapped wind while bitter herbs such as dandelion and burdock both stimulate the digestion and support the liver, an organ crucial to the digestive process.
For more complex and long term conditions the help of a qualified medical herbalist such as Denise Owens should be sought, so that a herbal prescription specific to the individual can be made and dietary or lifestyle advice given. For symptomatic relief a tea of chamomile, peppermint or meadowsweet can be taken to reduce inflammation and spasm.
Rosemary Dean uses Kinesiology to help digestive problems. Rosemary explained: “The small intestine absorbs nutrients from our food to feed our body. The waste matter is transported through the large intestine for elimination. The ileo-caecal valve correction (ICV) that I do brings about massive improvements in people’s health.”
The Ileo-caecal valve is also known as the Great Mimicker. When it is out of balance, it can create symptoms in the body seemingly unrelated to the digestive system:
n Joint pain, shoulders/hips including frozen shoulder
n Muscular aches and pains
P•inched nerves including sciatic type pain down the leg
n Headaches, especially near the base of the skull on the left side
n Inflamed, painful or congested sinuses
n Asthma-like symptoms, breathlessness, tightening of chest and the like as well as cramps, diarrhea and constipation which are often seen in IBS and other digestive disorders.
Rosemary commented: “The ICV is the most common correction I do and I love helping people improve their digestion.”
Yoga offers techniques that, when practised regularly, have a beneficial effect on the body, mind and emotions.
Particular asanas, or postures, can strengthen the abdominal muscles and stimulate the function of digestive organs.
Breathing techniques such as Bhramari and Ujjayi have a soothing effect on the nervous system and mind, helping to relieve tension and anxiety which can adversely affect our digestions.
Relaxation practices and meditation can teach us how our mind operates, the source of anxieties and stresses and how to effectively deal with these.
Yoga techniques are best learned from a yoga teacher such as Jane Russell who can guide you through the stages and answer any questions.
A simple technique to aid digestion is Jhiva Dhauti. Just as your teeth need brushing, your tongue should be scraped with a tongue cleaner to remove all “gunge” daily. It is easily done with an inexpensive tongue cleaner found next to the toothbrushes at the local supermarket or chemist.