The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Herbal Formulas to Support the Digestive System

The following herb formulas are some of the blends that I have used with good success over the years.
They are shared here in the hope you find them helpful also.


1. Catnip Leaf (Nepeta cataria) + Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
Use equal parts whole fennel seed and catnip leaf.
I prefer to store the fennel seed whole and lightly grind just before using to better preserve the aromatic quality of the seeds.
This blend is soothing and calming to an upset stomach yet the aromatics of fennel support the digestive process without being too hot.

Add one healing teaspoon to a cup of hot water, cover and steep for ten minutes.
Drink as needed after meals or whenever you would benefit from a soothing digestive tea.


2. Digestive Bitters
Use a full dropper of tincture on the tongue 15-20 minutes before a meal. The bitter flavor is stimulating to the entire digestive system and wakes up the digestion to prepare it for the meal.
It stimulates bile flow from the gall bladder and supports digestion of fats. Bile is also a natural laxative and using digestive bitters is one possible strategy for constipation.
This is both a traditional use of the bitter flavor and supported by extensive modern research.

Urban Moonshine is a retail company that offers high quality bitters.
To make your own, there are several possible formulas.
The trick is to have a tincture that is bitter with a hint of warming aromatics herbs.
The following formula is one of my favorites:
Artichoke Leaf (Cynara scolymus) – 1
Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) – 2
Orange Peel (Citrus aurantium) – 2
Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica) – 1

These are prepared as individual tinctures and combined before using.


3. Triphala
A classic from the Ayurvedic tradition.
An entire book could be written about the benefits of the three fruits used in this formula.
Each fruit tonifies a different part of the GI tract:
~stomach
~small intestines
~colon

Ayurveda considers this formula a long term tonic that benefits most people. It has a gentle, non-habit forming laxative effect and is a preferred formula for constipation.
Usually taken as a tablet with water at bedtime.
If I had to choose just one formula for the digestive system, this is it.
I have used this blend with many dozens of people over many years and had consistently positive results.


4. CCF Tea
Another classic formula from Ayurveda.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum ) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) are three gentle aromatic spices that make a pleasant tasting digestive tea.
It is classically used as an after dinner drink.
I prefer to leave the spices as whole as possible and do a short, gentle grind (not a fine powder) just before adding to hot water.
Leaving them whole protects the aromatics of the spices and the quick grind exposes more surface area to the water, making for a more therapeutic brew.


5. Nervous Stomach Tea
Use any combination of:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Mix together as dry herbs, add a rounded spoonful to a cup of hot water, steep for ten minutes and drink as needed.
This is helpful for when the nerves interfere with proper digestion. This is sometimes known as butterflies in the stomach.


6. Chai Tea
This refers to the real thing, the Indian version, not the ultra sweet coffee shop Americanized version.
This tea is traditionally used in India to help digest a meal. It can be drunk during the meal or just after eating.
Adding an excess of milk or sugar negates the benefits of this formula although a small amount of either is fine.
The traditional spices in this formula are heating and can be too much for people who have excess heat in the digestive system.

There are endless versions of this formula on the internet.
They all have some combination of Ginger, Clove, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom and a few others.
Here is a link to a Chai article I wrote.


And for the last one, a superb formula that can be readily adjusted for individual digestive issues:

7. Classic Digestive Formula
Combine:
Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare) – 2
Chamomile Flowers (Matricaria recutita) – 2
Peppermint Leaves (Mentha piperita x) – 2
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis) – 1
or adjust portions as needed.

Add Ginger for more warmth.
Add Althea for more moisture.
Add Calendula for more anti-inflammatory effect.
Add digestive bitters and/or more peppermint for excess dampness.

Combine all the herbs ahead of time and use a rounded spoonful per cup of hot water.
Great as an after dinner drink and can also be used as needed during the day.

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