My 5 Top Herbs for IBS (That Don’t Include Ginger or Mint!)
Last updated: January 2023
Herbs are wonderful tools to help a range of IBS symptoms including bloating, reflux, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. As a naturopath and herbalist, I employ herbs with many of my clients with great results. Below is a list of my top 5. This list doesn’t include ginger or mint as these have been written about extensively and I wanted to expand the knowledge out there. Ginger and mint are fantastic for IBS and I highly recommend them, but this list is for those who may not have had success with ginger or mint and want to try something else.
Important properties in herbs for IBS
- Anti-inflammatory – inflammation is at the core of what affects those with IBS, so anti-inflammatories are high on the list
- Carminative - Carminative means to reduce gas and these herbs go a long way in IBS treatment to calm the fermentation in the digestive system down. This not only reduces gas, but bloating and often pain as well
- Anti-anxiety - anxiety and stress often play a big role in IBS, as both a cause and a trigger, so anti-anxiety herbs are very helpful.
My top 5 herbs to manage IBS symptoms
Chamomile is an amazing herb as it works not only on the digestive symptoms of IBS but the anxiety and stress component that can also go along with these symptoms. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, carminative and helps to stimulate the gallbladder and is anti-anxiety as well. It has been used to treat diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, flatulence and dyspepsia as it is also anti-spasmodic. This is a common herb that you can drink as a tea when you are feeling stressed or when you have some symptoms.
This herb is a wonderful anti-inflammatory especially for the digestive system and is used in gastritis as it is specific for calming mucous membranes. Calendula is also hepatoprotective, so it is used to protect and help the liver for optimal function. Calendula can be drunk as a tea or taken in liquid or capsules.
Also a carminative and anti-inflammatory herb, fennel has a distinctive taste that helps to stimulate digestion. Fennel is great in a digestive tea, but if you don't like the taste, it can be found in capsule and liquid forms.
This is my all-time favorite herb. Turmeric root looks a little like ginger, but is bright yellow inside. Highly anti-inflammatory, I advise having turmeric in your first aid kit. It is great for flare-ups, especially with IBS-D. It has been shown to reduce abdominal discomfort and an overall reduction in IBS symptoms. Best taken with oil for higher absorption, liquid and capsules are often more effective than eating turmeric as food.
This is the bark from the slippery elm tree and has a lot of traditional use in Native American tribes. Slippery Elm is used now for IBS mostly in powder form. It is mixed with water as it soothes inflamed and irritated mucous membranes like those found in the gut. It creates a sort of gel that protects the gut lining. At the same time, it contains nutrients like vitamin C, zinc and magnesium so it helps feed the gut lining. High in fiber, this herb can swell so it is always advisable to take it with at least a full glass of water to make sure it passes through the gastrointestinal tract without problems.
As always, please consult your health professional before using these herbs to ensure proper dosages are used and that there are no contraindications with any medications you are taking.
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