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My 5 Top Herbs for IBS (That Don’t Include Ginger or Mint!)

My 5 Top Herbs for IBS (That Don’t Include Ginger or Mint!)

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.

Some actions and properties that I look for in herbs for IBS are:

  • 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-anxietyanxiety 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

Chamomile

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.

Calendula

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 is used to protect and help the liver for optimal function. Calendula can be drunk as a tea or taken in liquid or capsules.

Fennel

Also a carminative and anti-inflammatory herb, fennel has a distinctive taste that helps to stimulate the 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.

Turmeric

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 aide kit. It is great for flare-ups especially with IBS-D. It has been shown to reduce abdominal discomfort and overall reduction in IBS symptoms. Best taken with an oil for higher absorption, liquid and capsules are often more effective than eating turmeric as food.

Slippery Elm

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 to that there are no contraindications with any medications you are taking.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Braun, L., Cohen, M. (2010) Herbal and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide 3rd edition. Churchill, Livingstone, Australia: Elsevier.

Comments

  • seebabsrun
    10 months ago

    I learned the hard way that chamomile is a HUGE trigger for IBS. Low FODMAP guidelines tell us to steer clear of chamomile. Knowing this about the first herb on the list makes me question the remaining recommendations. The integrative medicine MD that I saw, along her nutritionist, recommended chamomile and other supplements that were high FODMAP. It was part of their “anti-candida” strategy, which made me much sicker over the two years that I was with the practice. Thank goodness for Dr. William Chey! He and Monash University have been life savers for me.

  • Caitlin Wheat author
    10 months ago

    Hi Seebabsrun,

    Thank you for your comment about chamomile, I appreciate you bringing this up. You are right, chamomile can be a trigger for those who have issues with FODMAPs. However, not everyone with IBS has an issue with FODMAPs and chamomile has been used with many people with IBS with no reactions or problems at all. I have had great success with it personally and with clients. With any herbs or supplements it is important to consult your health professional and work out if it is right for you.

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