“….. Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea and she gave a dose of it to Peter.”
~ from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (England, 1901)
Chamomile is one of the more familiar medicinal herbs, with a high profile in literature and a long history of use. This plant’s popularity is well-deserved.
Chamomile (dried flowers)
Chamomile’s earliest recorded use goes back much further: according to the Eber’s Papyrus, dated to 1550 BC, ancient Egyptians used the herb to honor the gods, embalm the dead and cure the sick. In Europe, medicinal use of Chamomile has been recorded since the 1st century AD. Today, Chamomile remains a top-selling herb in the tea market place.
So what is chamomile good for, anyway?
By Mahalia Freed, ND
The December holiday season is upon us, and for many, that means a series of large, rich meals, combined with intense (and sometimes tense) family or social interactions. Beyond knowing your individual limits regarding eggnog and chocolate treats, what can you do to enhance digestion? How can you soothe frazzled nerves? What will help keep you from succumbing to a Christmas cold when you finally have time off? This month’s article highlights the wisdom of herbs as complex living medicines that cross body systems to provide us with just the support that we need. Did you know that there are herbs that soothe both the digestive tract and the nervous system? Did you know that there are herbs that decrease gut inflammation and are also antiviral?
Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one such herb. A common weed in the mint family, lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe indigestion, especially when related to emotional stress. The herb is helpful for relieving spasms of the gastrointestinal tract, gas pain, and flatulence. As well, it has a restorative, calming, and uplifting effect on the nervous system. Finally, laboratory studies confirm that the water extract (as in, tea) is antiviral, particularly against the cold sore virus and some types of ‘flu. For calming your stomach and nourishing your nerves, around the holidays or any time, try the following tea:
Nerve Nourishing Tummy Tea
Combine loose herbs
- 1 Part Licorice root
- 1 Part Chamomile flowers
- 2 Parts Lemon balm aerial parts
Place herb mixture in a French press or teapot with strainer and add boiling water. Let steep 5-15 minutes, and drink as desired. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends this combination for heartburn, to be consumed 30 minutes before and after meals.
Cautions: If you have an under-active thyroid, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using lemon balm. If you have high blood pressure, consult your naturopathic doctor or medical herbalist before regularly using licorice root.
Have you ever had something hit you so hard, emotionally, that you felt nauseous? Have you ever eaten out of sadness, boredom, anxiety?
“Butterflies in the stomach”, “Gut instinct”, “Nervous stomach”;
There are many expressions linking emotions to our digestive tract. In fact, the gut is often referred to as the “second brain.” Rather than being a figure of speech, this is a physiologically accurate portrayal. The gut is innervated by the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, which is controlled by the brain, as well as by the enteric (of the intestines) nervous system, which operates entirely independently. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter famous for its role in treating depression and insomnia, is highly active within the gut and ninety five percent of the body’s serotonin is actually manufactured in the intestines. No wonder people with gut dysbiosis, or an altered balance of bacteria and yeast in the gut, experience mood symptoms! Perhaps it would be more precise to label the gut as part of the brain? In any case, it is clear that the health of our gut affects our mood, and our mood affects the health of our gut.
So, what happens in our nervous system when we are stressed out?? Continue reading
Probiotics for health
Literally translated, probiotic means “for life”. Commonly, the term refers to a vast array of beneficial bacteria and certain yeasts available as supplements. Indeed, having a vital and well- balanced population of microorganisms in our digestive tracts is essential. Resident bacteria in the colon synthesize nutrients including vitamin K, essential for blood clotting. Beneficial bacteria and yeast also aid in digestion and proper elimination, enhance immune function, optimize hormone metabolism, support detoxification, create food for the cells lining the digestive tract, and compete with potentially harmful species for space, thus protecting us from infections.