The saying “you are what you eat” takes on a new dimension when we consider the importance of gut health. Thanks to a surge in gut microbiome research, we now understand how vital the gut is to our happiness, health, and general wellbeing. In fact, the gut microbiome is responsible for 95% of our serotonin production! In addition to hormone production, the gut is the hub of digestion and nutrient absorption. The balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is crucial to maintaining optimal health. One way to promote a harmonious gut microbiome is through the use of herbs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been keyed into the power of herbs for millenia. In this article, we’ll go over some of these TCM herbs that benefit our gut. These herbs include: coix seed, cassia seed, bitter orange, ginseng, licorice root, slippery elm, and turmeric.
Coix seed is a staple in TCM. These small, bead-like seeds have numerous health benefits – one of them being promoting gut health. Coix seeds are packed with dietary fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements, prevents constipation, and supports overall digestive health. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory and blood-sugar lowering properties may help soothe gastrointestinal discomfort and spikes in blood-sugar levels.
Cassia seed, often used in herbal teas, is well-regarded for its potential to aid in digestion. These seeds contain compounds that can have a mild laxative effect, which can be beneficial for relieving occasional constipation. Cassia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, which protect the gut from oxidative stress and inflammation.
Bitter orange, scientifically known as Citrus aurantium, is a versatile herb that supports gut health in various ways. For one, it can stimulate digestion by increasing gastric juices, aiding in the breakdown of food. Studies have even shown bitter orange extract to have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and anti-obesity properties!
Ginseng is renowned for its adaptogenic properties, which help the body adapt to stress. In TCM, excess stress causes stagnation of Qi and blood in the body. This stagnation negatively affects our immune systems, digestion, and emotional health. Additionally, too much stress disrupts the balance of gut bacteria, thus impacting your gut health. So, by its ability to decrease stress, ginseng indirectly supports a healthier gut microbiome.
Licorice root – with its sweet aroma and soothing effect – has been used for centuries to support digestive health. While it was originally used in herbal teas, nowadays you can find anything from candy to supplements. This delicious root contains compounds that place a protective covering over membrane linings, thus helping with indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Slippery elm, derived from the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree, has mucilage properties. When ingested, it forms a soothing gel-like substance in the gut, which can alleviate irritation and discomfort. This herb is often used to soothe conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastritis.
Turmeric, with its active compound curcumin, is a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In TCM, turmeric is used to combat dampness in the body, as well as improve blood circulation. It has also been linked to reducing inflammation in the gut and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Incorporating turmeric into your diet will help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome and maintain homeostasis within the body.
When it all comes down to it...A healthy gut is pivotal for overall well-being, and these herbs offer a natural and holistic approach to nurturing and supporting your gut. Incorporating coix seed, cassia seed, bitter orange, ginseng, licorice root, slippery elm, and/or turmeric into your daily routine can have a positive impact on your digestive system. Check out NOOCI’s Noo Gut postbiot and probiotic for an easy way to introduce some of these herbs to your body! And remember, maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management are also essential components of gut health.