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5 supplements, herbs, and remedies to help improve your gut health

Did you know all disease and illness begins in the gut? Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, not just to reduce bloating and gas. Your gut plays a role in digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, hormone production, skin health, mental health, and more.


While a balanced diet rich in fibre, healthy fats, and protein is essential, certain supplements, herbs, and natural remedies can provide an extra boost to support your gut health. The goal is to balance your gut microbiome and address nutrient deficiencies.. When your gut is in harmony, symptoms like skin issues (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea), chronic headaches, inflammation, heartburn, constipation or loose stools, and even IBS symptoms tend to heal and disappear. How? Because all disease and illness begins in the gut.


In this article, we'll explore five supplements, herbs, as well as a natural remedy that have been recognized for their potential to improve gut health. It is important to note that, before starting a new supplement, you should always first discuss it with your healthcare practitioner (especially if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or currently taking medications).


Summary of recommended supplements, herbs, and remedies:

  1. Digestive bitters

  2. Digestive enzymes

  3. Peppermint tea

  4. Liver hepato

  5. Castor oil packs

While first-hand addressing and supporting digestion through bitters and enzymes is important, you must also focus on supporting your liver (hence why I recommend castor oil packs and a liver hepato supplement). Did you know your liver has over 500 functions?


Supporting your liver is crucial when aiming to improve your gut health because the liver and the gut are intricately connected and play essential roles in maintaining overall well-being. Here's why liver support is vital for promoting a healthy gut:


1. Detoxification: The liver is the body's primary detoxification organ. It processes and neutralizes toxins, chemicals, and waste products that are produced in the body or ingested through food, water, and the environment. A healthy liver ensures that these harmful substances are effectively eliminated from the body, preventing them from causing damage to the gut and other organs.


2. Gut microbiome balance: The gut microbiome refers to the community of trillions of microorganisms living in your digestive tract. These microorganisms play a critical role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. An imbalanced gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can lead to various gut issues and even impact overall health. The liver helps regulate the composition of the gut microbiome by metabolizing bacterial byproducts and maintaining a balanced environment.


3. Bile production and digestion: The liver produces bile, a digestive fluid necessary for the breakdown and absorption of dietary fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Proper bile production supports efficient digestion, which in turn contributes to gut health. Bile also helps maintain a slightly acidic environment in the small intestine, which is beneficial for the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.


4. Immune system support: A significant portion of the immune system is located in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The liver plays a role in modulating the immune response in the gut. A healthy liver supports a balanced immune system in the gut, preventing excessive inflammation and immune reactions that can contribute to gut-related disorders.


5. Inflammation regulation: The liver is involved in regulating systemic inflammation by producing various proteins that control immune responses. Chronic inflammation is linked to gut problems like inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and leaky gut syndrome. A well-functioning liver helps maintain balanced inflammation levels in the body, which is essential for gut health.


6. Nutrient absorption: The liver plays a role in processing and storing nutrients absorbed from the digestive tract. Proper liver function ensures that the body receives the nutrients it needs for optimal growth, repair, and overall health.


Supporting your liver is essential for maintaining a healthy gut and overall well-being. The liver's role in detoxification, gut microbiome balance, digestion, immune regulation, inflammation control, and nutrient absorption all contribute to the intricate connection between liver health and gut health. When aiming to improve your gut health, consider adopting habits that promote liver health, such as maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, managing stress, getting regular exercise, and minimizing exposure to toxins.


Now, let's dive into supplement, herb, and remedy recommendations.


Digestive bitters

Digestive bitters are a class of herbal supplements that have been used for centuries to support digestion and promote overall digestive health. These bitter-tasting plant extracts are known to stimulate various digestive processes and enhance the body's natural ability to break down food and absorb nutrients. Let's dive deeper into the world of digestive bitters, exploring their benefits, how they work, and how to use them.


What are digestive bitters?

Digestive bitters are liquid extracts derived from bitter-tasting herbs, roots, leaves, and fruits. These herbs contain compounds known as bitter receptors, which, when activated, signal the body to release digestive juices and enzymes. Bitter compounds can stimulate various phases of digestion, including saliva production, stomach acid secretion, bile release, and pancreatic enzyme production.


How do digestive bitters work?

When you taste something bitter, your body's bitter receptors are triggered. This sends signals to the brain and digestive system, preparing them for the digestion process. Here's a breakdown of how digestive bitters work:

  1. Stimulation of digestive juices: Bitter compounds in the digestive bitters stimulate the production of saliva, which contains enzymes that initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates.

  2. Increased stomach acid: Bitters encourage the stomach to produce more hydrochloric acid, aiding in the digestion of proteins and the sterilization of food to prevent infections.

  3. Bile release: Bitter compounds trigger the gallbladder to release bile, a digestive fluid that helps break down fats and supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

  4. Enhanced pancreatic enzymes: Digestive bitters also promote the release of pancreatic enzymes, which further aid in the digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

  5. Improved nutrient absorption: By promoting efficient digestion, digestive bitters help enhance the absorption of essential nutrients from the food you consume.

What are the benefits of digestive bitters?

  1. Improved digestion: Digestive bitters can help alleviate common digestive issues such as bloating, gas, indigestion, and heartburn.

  2. Appetite regulation: Bitters have been known to support healthy appetite regulation by signaling to the brain that food is on the way.

  3. Liver support: Bitter compounds can aid the liver in its detoxification processes and contribute to overall liver health.

  4. Blood sugar regulation: Some research suggests that bitters may help regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity.

  5. Balanced gut microbiome: Bitters may have a positive impact on the gut microbiome by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

How do I use digestive bitters?

Digestive bitters are typically available in liquid form. They can be taken before or after meals, usually by placing a few drops on the tongue. You can also dilute them in a small amount of water. Some people prefer taking bitters as part of a cocktail or mocktail. Remember that the bitter taste can take some getting used to, but over time, your palate will adapt.


Common herbs found in digestive bitters' blends

  1. Dandelion: Supports liver function and bile production.

  2. Gentian: A potent bitter that stimulates various digestive processes.

  3. Chamomile: Soothes the digestive tract and supports overall digestive health.

  4. Wormwood: Traditionally used to promote digestion and appetite.

  5. Artichoke: Supports liver health and bile production.

Digestive bitters offer a natural and time-tested approach to promoting healthy digestion. By harnessing the power of bitter compounds found in various herbs, these supplements can enhance the body's digestive processes, alleviate discomfort, and support overall well-being. As with any herbal supplement, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating digestive bitters into your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.


If you would like a recommendation for a high-quality digestive bitters brand, send me a message and I would be happy to provide you with some guidance.


Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are essential molecules that play a crucial role in breaking down the food we eat into smaller, absorbable components. These enzymes are produced naturally by the body, primarily in the digestive organs such as the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine. They help facilitate the complex process of digestion and nutrient absorption, ensuring that the body can derive the maximum nutritional value from the food consumed.


Types of digestive enzymes

There are several types of digestive enzymes, each specializing in the breakdown of specific types of nutrients:

  1. Amylases: These enzymes break down carbohydrates, such as starches and sugars, into simpler sugars like glucose.

  2. Proteases: Proteases are responsible for breaking down proteins into amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.

  3. Lipases: Lipases aid in the digestion of dietary fats by breaking them down into fatty acids and glycerol.

  4. Lactase: Lactase is essential for digesting lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Some individuals are lactose intolerant and lack sufficient lactase.

  5. Cellulases: These enzymes help break down plant cell walls and facilitate the digestion of fibre.


How do digestive enzymes work?

The process of digestion begins in the mouth, where salivary amylase begins breaking down carbohydrates. In the stomach, gastric juices including pepsin (a protease) start digesting proteins. The pancreas then releases enzymes into the small intestine, where the majority of digestion occurs. These enzymes include pancreatic amylase for carbohydrates, trypsin and chymotrypsin for proteins, and lipase for fats. Finally, enzymes located on the brush border of the small intestine's lining further break down nutrients into their smallest components for absorption.


What are the benefits of digestive enzymes?

  1. Improved digestion: Digestive enzymes can aid individuals with insufficient natural enzyme production, helping them digest various nutrients more effectively.

  2. Relief from digestive discomfort: People experiencing indigestion, bloating, gas, and other digestive issues might find relief with enzyme supplements.

  3. Enhanced nutrient absorption: Efficient digestion facilitated by enzymes ensures that the body can absorb nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids more effectively.

  4. Support for specific diets: Enzymes can be particularly beneficial for individuals following diets high in complex carbohydrates, proteins, or fats.

  5. Aging and enzyme production: As we age, natural enzyme production can decline, leading to potential digestive challenges. Enzyme supplements can help alleviate these issues.

Using digestive enzyme supplements

Digestive enzyme supplements are available over-the-counter and come in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders. They may contain a combination of different enzymes to support overall digestion. To use them effectively:

  • Consult a healthcare professional: It's advisable to talk to a healthcare provider before starting enzyme supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

  • Choose the right enzymes: Depending on your specific dietary needs and digestive concerns, choose a supplement that contains enzymes tailored to your needs.

  • Follow dosage guidelines: Follow the recommended dosage instructions on the supplement label.

  • Timing: Enzymes are typically taken with meals to assist in the digestion of that meal's specific nutrients.

  • Monitor your response: Pay attention to how your body responds to the supplements. You may notice improvements in digestion and comfort.

Digestive enzymes are vital components of the digestive process, ensuring that the nutrients from the food we consume are properly broken down and absorbed. While the body naturally produces these enzymes, supplements can be helpful for individuals with digestive issues or those who may benefit from additional enzyme support. As with any dietary supplement, it's important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating digestive enzyme supplements into your routine.


Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea is a popular herbal beverage known for its soothing and digestive benefits. Derived from the leaves of the peppermint plant (mentha x piperita), this tea has been consumed for centuries for its refreshing flavor and potential health advantages, particularly its positive effects on digestion.


What are the digestive benefits of peppermint tea?

  1. Relieves indigestion and bloating: Peppermint tea is often consumed to alleviate symptoms of indigestion, including bloating, gas, and stomach discomfort. The menthol compound in peppermint has muscle-relaxing properties that can help ease spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, promoting smoother digestion.

  2. Reduces gastrointestinal muscle contractions: Peppermint tea's muscle-relaxing properties can help reduce the intensity and frequency of gastrointestinal muscle contractions, which may lead to less discomfort during digestion.

  3. Relieves irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms: Peppermint can provide relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.

  4. Stimulates bile flow: Peppermint tea promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder, which aids in the digestion of fats and supports overall digestive health.

  5. Anti-Inflammatory effects: Peppermint tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that contribute to a healthier digestive tract.

How do I prepare peppermint tea?

Making peppermint tea is simple and can be done with dried peppermint leaves or pre-packaged tea bags:


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves or 1 peppermint tea bag (preferably organic)

  • 1 cup of boiling water

Steps

  • Boil filtered water and pour it into a cup, over dried peppermint leaves or a peppermint tea bag.

  • Cover and steep for about 5-10 minutes.

  • Remove the leaves or tea bag.

  • Enjoy the tea while it's warm.

Peppermint tea is a delicious and soothing herbal beverage with potential digestive benefits. Its muscle-relaxing properties, ability to alleviate indigestion and bloating, and potential relief for IBS symptoms make it a popular choice for those seeking natural remedies for digestive discomfort. However, individual responses to peppermint tea can vary, and it's important to exercise caution if you have certain health conditions or are taking medications. As with any dietary change, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable before making peppermint tea a regular part of your routine.


If you would like a recommendation for a high-quality peppermint tea brand, send me a message and I would be happy to provide you with some guidance.


Liver hepato

"Liver hepato" is a term that refers to substances or supplements that have protective effects on the liver. These substances are often used to support liver health and function, especially in the face of potential damage or stressors. They are commonly used to promote liver detoxification, reduce inflammation, and prevent oxidative damage.


Common liver hepato ingredients

  1. Milk thistle (silymarin): Milk thistle is one of the most well-known hepato protectants. Silymarin, the active compound in milk thistle, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can support liver health, detoxification, and regeneration.

  2. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): NAC is a precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant produced by the liver. NAC supplementation can help increase glutathione levels, supporting the liver's detoxification processes and protecting it from oxidative damage.

  3. Turmeric (curcumin): Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help protect liver cells from damage and support overall liver health.

  4. Dandelion root: Dandelion root is believed to support liver health by promoting bile production and flow, aiding in digestion and detoxification.

  5. Artichoke extract: Artichoke contains compounds that can stimulate bile production, aiding digestion and supporting liver function.

  6. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): ALA is an antioxidant that supports the liver's detoxification processes and helps regenerate other antioxidants.

What are the benefits of a liver hepato supplement?

  1. Detoxification support: Hepato protectants can aid in the body's natural detoxification processes by enhancing liver function and promoting the elimination of toxins.

  2. Antioxidant protection: Many hepato protectants are rich in antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the liver.

  3. Inflammation reduction: Hepato protectants with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation in the liver and support its overall health.

  4. Cell regeneration: Certain hepato protectants may promote the regeneration of liver cells, assisting in repairing damage caused by toxins, alcohol, medications, and other stressors.

Using liver hepato supplements

  • Quality: Choose reputable brands when purchasing supplements to ensure their quality and purity.

  • Comprehensive approach: Incorporating hepato-protective substances should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, hydration, and stress management.

Liver hepato protectants are substances that support liver health and function, aiding in detoxification, reducing inflammation, and protecting against oxidative damage. While these substances may offer benefits, they should not replace medical treatment for serious liver conditions. Consult with a healthcare professional, such as myself, before adding any new supplement to your routine, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications. They can help you choose the best approach to support your liver health based on your individual needs.


If you would like a recommendation for a high-quality liver hepato brand, send me a message and I would be happy to provide you with some guidance.


Castor oil packs

Castor oil packs are a traditional natural remedy that involves using castor oil applied externally to the skin, typically over the abdomen, to promote various health benefits. This method has been used for centuries to support detoxification, reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and improve overall well-being. Here's everything you need to know about castor oil packs:


What are the benefits of castor oil packs?

  1. Detoxification: Castor oil packs are believed to help support the body's natural detoxification processes by promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage in the targeted area.

  2. Inflammation reduction: The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil may help reduce inflammation when applied topically.

  3. Pain relief: Castor oil packs can be used to alleviate pain associated with conditions such as muscle soreness, menstrual cramps, and joint discomfort.

  4. Digestive health: Some people use castor oil packs over the abdomen to promote healthy digestion and relieve bloating.

  5. Stress reduction: The relaxation induced by the warmth of the pack and the practice itself can contribute to stress reduction and a sense of well-being.

Precautions and considerations

  • Quality of castor oil: It's important to use high-quality, organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free castor oil for maximum benefits.

  • Skin sensitivity: Perform a patch test before applying castor oil to a larger area, especially if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies.

  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid using castor oil packs, especially on the abdomen, as it can potentially stimulate contractions.

  • Consultation: If you have underlying health conditions or are on medications, consult a healthcare professional before using castor oil packs.

While you can make your own packs at home, I highly recommend Queen of The Thrones' castor oil packs and organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free castor oil. Their packs are carefully designed with quality ingredients for a hassle and mess-free experience.


How to make a castor oil pack at home


Materials needed

  • High-quality, cold-pressed, organic, hexane-free castor oil

  • Unbleached cotton or flannel cloth (large enough to cover the targeted area)

  • Plastic wrap or a plastic bag large enough to cover the cloth

  • Hot water bottle or heating pad

  • Old towel or cloth to protect bedding or clothing

Steps

  • Fold the cotton or flannel cloth into multiple layers to create a pack that's large enough to cover the targeted area, typically the abdomen.

  • Saturate the cloth with castor oil, but not to the point of dripping.

  • Lie down on a comfortable surface and place the castor oil-soaked cloth over the targeted area.

  • Cover the cloth with plastic wrap or a plastic bag to prevent oil from staining your bedding or clothing.

  • Apply heat using a hot water bottle or heating pad for around 30-60 minutes. The heat helps the castor oil penetrate the skin.

  • After the session, store the castor oil pack in a container in the refrigerator for future use. You can reuse the pack multiple times.

Castor oil packs are a natural and holistic approach to supporting detoxification, reducing inflammation, and promoting relaxation. As with any health practice, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating castor oil packs into your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.


Remember: your gut health affects your overall health. If your gut is out of balance, you will likely experience unwanted symptoms such as digestive discomfort, hormone imbalance, poor mental health, skin problems, and more. When working to improve your gut health, you are working on bringing your body back into balance.


If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, send me a message. I'd love to chat!


I offer single-session private nutritional consulting, as well as have an intensive gut-healing program, Heal + Revive, where we work closely one-on-one to uncover root cause(s) to your symptoms and bring your gut back to balance.

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