Herbal teas are a simple way to soothe occasional digestive symptoms – be it griping, bloating, flatulence or just to promote better digestion. To make a herbal tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then strain and enjoy. Many of these herbs work really well together so make your own digestive tea by combining 3 or 4 herbs, equal parts by weight, or keep it simple with 1 or 2. Spices tend to have a more concentrated flavour so adding a pinch or two to a herbal infusion is usually enough to get the benefits without an overpowering taste.
1. Lemon balm
Part of the mint family, lemon balm is easy to grow and smells amazing – bees love it too! It is calming to the digestive system and useful for a crampy, griping tummy. It has a refreshing lemon flavour that most people find palatable – its a good one to have on hand for kids. As well as being soothing to the gut, it helps with sleep and an overactive mind.
Well known for its sleep-inducing powers, chamomile is also good for calming a grumpy gut, particularly indigestion and colicky symptoms. Making chamomile tea with loose dried herb is far superior than using a teabag so I encourage you to give it a go, you will notice the difference. If you find the taste too bitter, steep the herbs for less time (5 minutes is enough).
3. Dill seed
Dill seed decoction is great for relieving abdominal gas and the crampy feeling that can accompany it. It has a mild, pleasant flavour and is a good addition to an after-meals cuppa to improve digestion.
4. Fennel seed
Another seed that’s useful for eliminating excess gas, fennel has a sweet liquorice-like taste and is great for improving digestion. Fennel mixes well with chamomile to sweeten the flavour and improve palatability, particularly for kids who may find chamomile slightly bitter.
5. Marshmallow root
Gentle marshmallow has a soothing, mildly laxative effect on the digestive system and is useful for mild gut irritations and constipation. It is a mucilaginous herb – which means it has a slightly slimy, gelatinous quality and so makes a slightly thicker tea. The flavour is mild and pairs well with dill or fennel to calm an irritated gut.
Cinnamon is a warming digestive, meaning it stimulates circulation to the digestive organs to improve their efficacy. As well as being particularly useful for bloating and sluggish digestion, cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar levels. A little goes a long way – try adding 1/4 teaspoon to your herbal infusion.
7. Caraway seeds
Adding a pinch of caraway seeds to an after-dinner brew can help to improve digestion, especially if there is any griping or spasmodic discomfort. It acts as a gentle laxative so can assist with sluggish bowel movements. Caraway has a similar taste to fennel and dill – sweet and liquorice-y.
Cardamon has a delicate but distinctive flavour and is renowned for its value in digestive complaints. Not only does it stimulate saliva and other digestive secretions to facilitate better digestion, it also relaxes the muscles of the gut to relieve abdominal cramping. A pinch is all you need!
Both the root and the leaf of dandelions can improve digestion due to their slightly bitter taste, which stimulates the bitter receptors in the mouth and signals to the rest of the digestive system to prepare for food. The root also aids in bile production in the liver, which helps with the digestion of fat.
Good old peppermint is well known for its ability to soothe bloating and indigestion, as well as helping to relax the digestive muscles to get rid of excess gas via burping and farting. It can also help with nausea. It has a pleasant flavour and can be mixed with other herbs to improve the taste of your brew.
Stuck for ideas on how to put it all together? Here are a couple of my favourite blends, give them a go and see what you think. Mix together in a jar and store in a cool, dark place. 1 tsp of each of these blends with make a delicious cup of gut soothing tea.
1 part lemon balm
1 part chamomile
1 part peppermint
1 part fennel seed
1 part peppermint
1 part caraway seed
1 part dandelion root
1 part marshmallow root
0.25 part cardamon powder
0.25 part cinnamon powder