Bitters & Carminatives for Indigestion

As we age, many people have indigestion or feel bloated after meals. Thankfully most traditional cultures offer effective remedies. You may recall your grandparents bitter-tasting appetizers or drinks 20-30 minutes before their meal. These “bitters” prime the gastrointestinal tract for the upcoming meal by stimulating gastric acids and pancreatic enzymes that digest food and aid digestion. Examples of bitters include dandelion, gentian, yarrow, artichoke, and orange peel. A wonderful and effective herbal bitter formula that helps with digestion before meals is Flora Gallexier Herbal Bitters.

Other remedies to consider are carminatives, which include culinary spices like cinnamon, caraway, peppermint, fennel, and dill. These herbal spices relax smooth muscles, thereby reducing bloating, cramping, and gas pain that people may experience after eating large meals. In many cultures, carminatives are often ingested as an ‘after-dinner drink’ known as ‘digestifs.’ Examples include crème de menthe and Campari, which contains 50-80 undisclosed ingredients. For those who prefer a less intense, nonalcoholic beverage after dinner, you might consider peppermint or mint tea, or the East Indian tradition of chewing on fennel seeds (with or without candy coating).

Finally, there are many dietary supplement formulations designed to reduce indigestion and bloating. I have had great success recommending enteric-coated preparations that contain peppermint oil combined with caraway seed oil.

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