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Blending your own herbal teas for optimal gut health

By Tamara Welsh, Happy Herbalist

The gut. It’s certainly a popular topic in health circles these days. As our knowledge on gut health and the microbes that reside in our guts expands, it has become widely recognised that a balanced microbiome and healthy functioning gut are essential for good health. Unfortunately, these days, due to the modern lifestyle and diet, many people experience gut issues from more minor upsets such as occasional heart burn and constipation or mouth ulcers to more serious presentations such as IBS, diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease.

Our ‘gut’ is not just comprised of our stomach. Our gut runs all the way from our mouth to our anus. Along the way, it is perfectly designed, creating environments specific to their function and supporting many different microbial ecosystems. Therefore, working on our gut health needs to not only focus on the physiological function and tone of the different organs that comprise our digestive system, but also on the different microbes that reside there. Furthermore, our mental state can also affect the function of our gut and vice versa via the gut-brain axis and hence this is why stress can wreak havoc on our digestive system. 

I know, I know it’s a lot to think about and we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. Gut issues can be complex and I highly recommend working with a skilled practitioner if you are experiencing chronic gut health issues. That said, it’s important to remember that we can make immediate changes to our gut health every time we eat or drink something. Herbal teas are a wonderful way to influence our gut health. They are a simple, yet effective way to deliver botanical therapeutics to the tissues and mucous membranes of the digestive system and also influence the microbiota.

Below, you will find 4 different herbal tea recipes that you can blend at home to help with common digestive system imbalances. Enjoy!

‘Healing & Soothing’ Tea Blend

This tea blend is great for supporting the wall of our gut, not only the intestinal wall but also the entire barrier between the inside and outside of the body along the gut passage. It contains the wonderfully demulcent herbs Marshmallow and Licorcie as well as the mucoprotective Meadowsweet. Chamomile lends it’s antiulcer, vulnerary and carminative actions to assist in healing and relieve discomfort. This blend will help to nourish and soothe the mucous membranes, calming irritation and relieving inflammation. Use it for mouth ulcers, scratchy throats and oesophagus’, stomach and duodenal ulcers, reflux, “leaky gut” and food intolerances, diverticulitis and bowel fissures. 

Blend together:

Method:

Make an herbal infusion using 1-2 teaspoons of this herbal blend. Infuse for 10 minutes and aim to drink 3 cups per day between meals. 

Please note that care should be taken when consuming Licorice root if you have high blood pressure. Herbs taken as teas are generally low dose, but please monitor your blood pressure if you decide to consume Licorice and you have hypertension.

‘Bye Bye Bloating’ Tea Blend

Indigestion, bloating, cramping and flatulence affect everyone at some point. Having a tea blend on hand to help reduce these is super helpful when these bothersome symptoms arrive unexpectedly. Carminative herbs relieve flatulence and soothe intestinal spasms and pain, usually by relaxing intestinal muscles and sphincters. They can also be added to a laxative formula to help prevent griping. Note that the herbs in this blend all contain volatile oils which aid in their therapeutic indications so please cover your infusion so as not to lose the oils via evaporation.

Blend together:

1 part of each of Peppermint leaves, Chamomile flowers and Fennel seeds

Method:

Make a strong herbal infusion in a tea pot or tea flask using 2 teaspoons of your herbal blend. Make sure the infusion is covered with a lid to keep in the therapeutic volatile oils. Steep for 10 minutes then sip slowly to relieve symptoms.

‘Boosting the Good Guys’ Tea or Latte

This special little concoction of herbal powders is truly potent and helps to create an environment for healthy intestinal microbes to flourish. Green tea has been shown to boost the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut and slippery elm provides the prebiotics for healthy bowel flora to feed on. Turmeric lends its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. This is a great blend for those wishing to work on improving their microbiome perhaps after a bout of gastro or antibiotic therapy. It’s also a nice coffee substitute.

Blend in your cup:

Method:

Add herbal powders to you cup and pour over a small amount of boiling water. Stir vigorously then fill the cup to the top. Add in a small amount of raw honey to taste (optional). Note this blend can also be made with your choice of milk to create a nourishing latte.

‘Moving Right Along’ Tea Blend

Elimination is essential for good health and so it’s important that our bowels are moving daily. Dehydration, medication and our diet can all play a role in an acute bout of constipation. In order to get the bowels moving we need to stimulate the digestive cascade. This starts right from the top of our gut in our mouths with bitter flavours and moves down to our gall bladder and liver in the production and stimulation of bile. Further down, the intestines and bowels require hydration and tone in order to move things right along. Therefore, to keep our bowels moving we turn to herbs that both stimulate, nourish and tone the gut. Damiana, Dandelion root and Licorice root are all mildly laxative while Marshmallow, is soothing and also helps to modify bowel flora.

Blend together:

3 parts Damiana leaf

2 parts Dandelion root

2 parts Marshmallow root or leaf

1 part Licorice root

For best results, add 3 teaspoons of your herbal blend to a decoction pot (or small saucepan) and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and drink 15 minutes prior to each main meal.

Note this blend can also be made as a simple infusion if you don’t have access to a stove top.

Please note that care should be taken when consuming Licorice root if you have high blood pressure. Herbs taken as teas are generally low dose, but please monitor your blood pressure if you decide to consume Licorice and you have hypertension.

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