When my son was just a wee one he struggled with, well, gas. Those early months were spent doing a whole lot of bouncing, walking and gentle massaging to get the gas bubbles out. At the time, our farmer also happened to be an herbalist and she taught me how to make various teas out of spices in our cupboard to help my little guy. And, they worked! They were also super-simple. It really opened my eyes to start utilizing what is in the kitchen a little more. Today, I am sharing 6 spices you likely have in your kitchen right now and how they can help you support your own digestion with your next meal.

  1. Anise Seeds

Anise is a demulcent herb that can be used to soothe the digestive tract for constipation, gas and colic. It is said that Romans would eat anise-spiced cakes following heavy meals to aid digestion. Anise is most often used to flavor baked goods and desserts.  It also is a relaxant, and when nursing this can help to support ‘let-down’. I drank this as a tea quite a bit when my son was a little guy because it helped me relax to nurse (while packing boxes to move) and helped his tummy have less gas. To make tea, steep 1t of anise seeds in 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy!

2. Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds stimulate healthy stomach actions, stimulate your appetite, settle the stomach and is a carminative in that it helps relieve or prevent gas. They are also high in antioxidants. Caraway seeds are often found in Indian dishes such as chutneys and curries. I love to add this spice to my sauerkraut to boost the digestive benefits.

3. Coriander Seeds

Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant and it enhances digestion, increases secretion of the stomach acids and reduces intestinal gas. It can be useful in curing diarrhea, caused by bacterial or fungal properties and it can also help prevent nausea and vomiting. This is a great spice to rub on roasted meats and incorporate into bean dishes such as chili and lentil stews as well as used in curries.

4. Fennel Seeds

Fennel is antispasmodic, digestion-enhancing and a gentle laxative. It’s main function is to relax the digestive system, allowing gas to release and bowels to move. Fennel is used in sausages, curries, pork dishes, pickling or cultured vegetables and italian style sauces. It is a licorice flavored herb, making it quite tasty as a tea. This is also useful for nursing as it facilitates both milk production and supports baby’s digestion. Steep 1t fennel seeds in 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy!

5. Rosemary

The scent of rosemary is heavenly and who can resist the rosemary trees at Christmas time? This herb is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, antispasmodic, and calming. It helps to relieve and expel gas, strengthen and tone the stomach and soothe pain. The essential oil is particularly effective at settling stomach cramps and can also help resolve constipation when rubbed on the belly. Rosemary is highly versatile to cook with and can be added to casseroles, roasted meats and veggies, and any Mediterranean dishes.

6. Thyme

Thyme may very well be one of my favorite spices, it perks up a beef stew, adds flavor to beef broth and it happens to be super-easy to grow. Thyme is digestion enhancing, can help relieve intestinal gas, soothe the stomach and when taken in larger doses, can help combat candida. Add thyme to soup or stew, tuck it under the skin of a chicken before roasting, add it to your salad dressing or finish your beef or moose broth with a few sprigs.

Head into your kitchen and see which of these you can incorporate tonight, or even brew a little tea after dinner and see how it impacts you!

References:

Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. North Adams: Storey, 2008. Print.

Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness 4th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.

Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness for Children. Laguna BeachBasic Health, 2006. Print.