DHAKA: The holidays offer us lots of opportunity to celebrate, spend time with family and friends, entertain, go out, attend parties, overeat and drink more than usual. Happy, satisfied and stuffed could be good descriptions for this time. Maybe add stressed in there too.
Our digestive system is a big, long pipe that starts at the mouth, ends at the anus, and involves a lot of complex processes in between. Many people, especially during the holidays, experience indigestion. This can include a feeling of being too full, sluggish, gassy, acid stomach, a bit queasy, and difficulty eliminating fully and completely. Odds are good you have experienced some of this yourself.
Are your antacids not working as well as they could? Do you wish you had a better alternative to slamming down drugs every day? You do. Herbalists have known for centuries that certain plants, especially those that are bitter or aromatic, can help to aid digestion, reduce digestive discomfort, and actually improve the daily function of that big, long pipe that travels from north to south in your body. And modern, pharmaceutical science backs this up.
Among the safe and effective time-tested botanicals that aid digestion is a category known generally as “bitters.” You’ve probably seen a product like Angostura Bitters in bars. Bitters are sometimes added to cocktails for flavor, but they do a lot more than help to make a good Manhattan.
This fall at a trade show of natural products I came across a splendid bitters product called “Urban Moonshine Organic Bitters.” Of course I like the name, but this is no back woods elixir from a hillbilly still. This thoughtfully conceived digestive is made in Vermont (where some of the best maple syrup can be found), and contains several herbs known since antiquity for their digestion-enhancing properties.
The herbs in this good-tasting formula are all certified organic, so you don’t have to worry about consuming agri-poisons in your health product. Let me give you a rundown.
Dandelion root and leaf
A traditional remedy for liver and spleen disorders, dandelion contains compounds called sesquiterpene lactones that stimulate appetite, improve digestion, and act as mild laxative agents.
Used since antiquity in Asia to detoxify the liver, kidneys and gallbladder, burdock is a staple herb in diuretic and laxative formulas. The root contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, all powerful antioxidants.
Click here to see my Fox News Health TV piece on burdock with Wild Man Steve Brill.
Used primarily as a remedy for heartburn, orange peel contains a number of aromatic oils plus the alkaloids synephrine and N –methyltyramine that improve appetite and increase the secretion of natural digestive juices.
Rich in aromatic essential oils, fennel seed enjoys a long tradition of use in Asia for indigestion, flatulence and colic. This herb has a pleasant aroma and flavor, and helps to relieve gas and intestinal cramps.
Yellow dock root
Employed as a general health tonic in traditional herbalism, Yellow dock contains anthraquinone glycosides, which stimulate bile production and act as mild laxatives. The herb is used to improve overall digestion and liver function.
An ingredient in virtually all bitters formulas, gentian stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, and enhances gall bladder function. These effects appear due to the compounds gentiopicroside and amarogentin.
If you’ve seen my segments or read my articles, you know that I am a big ginger fan. Rich in beneficial compounds including gingerols, shaogals and essential oils, this spicy root enhances digestion, relieves nausea, and is a first-rate remedy for motion sickness.
While bitters are especially welcome during the holiday season, you may find them handy all year around. A dash of Urban Moonshine Organic Bitters can make the difference between stuffed and unhappy or full and content.
BDST: 1040 HRS, JULY 02, 2012
Edited by: Tania Afrin, Newsroom Editor
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