A few years ago when we were filming the Remedy documentary, my friend (and interviewee) Daniel Vitalis offered a profound bit of wisdom about gut health:
“The understanding of the human microbiome is going to overturn everything that we think we know about health, that we know about nutrition, that we know about medicine.”
In recent years, researchers have found that we have a whole world living within our digestive system called the microbiome — and this ecosystem of healthy bacteria has huge effects on the body.
Scientists have actually nicknamed the gut your “second brain” because this complex system has the power to change your mood and is a central mainframe for your immune system. Did you know that there are more neurons in your digestive system than there are in your brain?
Amazingly, we didn’t hear a lot about our gut (and the millions of microorganisms that live inside it) until about 2000. Now we’re seeing articles on it everywhere, often stating that we have five pounds of these microbes living within us. This leads us to questions like, “how does that inner ecosystem affect our overall well-being, and even our perception of reality?”
The answer is simple: your gut health is a make or break it aspect to living a healthy life.
There are many ways you can help your gut flora flourish. Simple things like foregoing antibiotics (when possible) and getting active outdoors can really make a difference.
And of course, we can’t exclude the importance of eating foods that strengthen the microbiome. Adding fermented foods to your diet — like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha — introduce healthy bacteria called probiotics to your gut which stabilize your internal environment when consumed regularly.
The good news is that there are also many herbs you can incorporate into your diet as well!
Here are 3 gut-healing herbs and recipes to incorporate into your routine
Gentian root is the most classic digestive herb.
It’s commonly used as a base for aperitifs — alcoholic beverages that are served before a meal. This old school tradition was popularized in France and spread like wildfire. Now it’s practiced around the globe!
Gentian kick-starts the digestive system by stimulating saliva, which travels down your throat and gets your body ready to process your meal. Its intense bitter taste helps your body secrete bile which aids you in breaking down fats and storing that energy for later. It’s also an astringent herb which tones the internal tissues of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract!
Use this recipe to make your own Pre-Dinner Digestive Bitters Blend. You can simply add the tincture into water or squeeze a few drops directly under the tongue for quick effects.
Gentian Bitters Blend
- 2 tbsp gentian
- 2 tbsp chamomile
- 1 cup berries (blueberry is my favourite)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 oz grain alcohol (or glycerin)
- Grind your chamomile down into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
- Mix your gentian and chamomile together in a jar
- Fill with the alcohol and place in a cool dark place for 1 month (at least)
- Strain the alcohol and retain in a separate bowl
- Add berries to a saucepan
- Cover berries with water and bring to a boil
- Lower to a simmer and allow to cook down for 30 minutes or until the liquid has halved
- Strain blueberries out and add liquid back to saucepan
- Add honey and stir until melted
- Allow to cool
- Mix with alcohol tincture
- Serve 1-2 droppers per person per meal
Ginger is famous for its ability to calm down nausea and fend off the flu. But did you know that ginger is a digestive ally all around?
Ginger tones your GI tract just like gentian does, but has an anti-inflammatory + analgesic aspect that makes ginger your go-to herb no matter the stomach complaint (added bonus… it’s delicious!).
Ginger is so powerful that it boosts your immune system and detoxifies your body while regulating your gut! Isn’t that incredible?
On top of adding ginger to your cooking whenever possible, I deeply encourage people to regularly drink ginger tea. Tea is one of the simplest and most effective ways to introduce healing herbs to your diet for immediate and long term results.
Give this delicious ginger decoction a try – I could sip this one all day, every day 🙂
- 3-5 slices of fresh ginger
- 1 lemon round
- A sprig of fresh thyme (or a 1 tsp of dried)
- Honey to taste
- Add all ingredients to your largest mug
- Pour water fresh off the boil over the herbs
- Steep for at least 5 minutes, or leave all ingredients in and sip it as the water infuses
This delightful herb is typically known for its culinary flavors and for its affinity for helping new mothers. But if you ever have a bout of gas in your gut (which can sometimes even be painful), fennel is the perfect herb for you.
Fennel relaxes the muscles and soothes the lining of the gut. Incorporating fennel into your daily life helps your body absorb the nutrients from your food better, develop more regular bowel movements and heal underlying issues like leaky gut or IBS.
Here’s an easy recipe that my family and I love for a fennel syrup that you can add to any tea!
- 2 TBSP fennel seeds
- ¼ cup honey
- Crush up fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder
- Add fennel to a saucepan and cover with water
- Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and warm for at least 30 minutes or until the liquid has halved
- Strain out seeds and pour the liquid back into the saucepan
- Add honey and stir until melted.
- Keep refrigerated
Using all or any combination of these amazing gut healing remedies is a surefire way to get your tummy and overall gut health back on track.
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science