Thinking about how to get through the festive season when the temptations and celebrations are just too many and too good to not indulge in some treats? Here is some advice on how to support the liver and digestive system through the party season. Adding herbs that promote digestive vitality and gentle detoxification action will help liver function and recovery as well as support energy levels.
Herbal digestives – it needs a little bit of Bitter
It’s the bitter principle in foods that promote the digestive response and force. Bitter tasting foods support healthy production of gastric hydrochloric acid, enzymes and digestive secretions throughout the digestive tract. However, in today’s western diet bitter foods or tastes are often lacking, contributing to an underactive digestive system function or less digestive fire as they call it in Ayurvedic medicine. This can be the cause of much digestive discomfort, unwelcome noises, and irregular bowel movements. Salad leaves like rocket, endive, and mesclun contain bitter plant chemicals. They are an accessible bitter food and aid natural detoxification. Eating plenty of salad with the roast turkey or Christmas ham and throughout the summer season is an easy way to add some bitter flavour to the menu.
So here are some herbal suggestions:
Milk Thistle and Dandelion root are two great liver tonic herbs that have been used traditionally.
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) contains antioxidant chemicals which help to support the liver. It aids normal bile production and provides potent antioxidant activity. It helps the normal repair and renewal of liver tissue through new cell generation.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is another garden weed that offers wonderful nutritive and restorative properties. While the leaf is high in potassium and a natural fluid balancer through supporting kidney function, the root is especially helpful for liver function and digestion. It helps to trigger the normal release of powerful digestive juices, bile and supports liver detoxification. All these actions mentioned, assist elimination processes – this is why dandelion is said to support healthy blood.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice from the Ayurvedic tradition with many remedial properties. It’s great for calming digestive upsets, supporting liver function and bile production and aiding detoxification processes. Turmeric is also known for its strong antioxidant actions. Mix a small amount in a serving of yoghurt at the end of a big meal.
- Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), one of our native pepper trees, is another favourite digestive tonic, also with wonderful liver support. It is a great herb to use to get some relief from overeating. One or two leaves infused in hot water make a stimulating and tasty tea.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is another champion for supporting the digestive system. Its actions power-up digestion, while also soothing and calming upset and discomfort, after overindulging in Christmas goodies. Ginger and Kawakawa combine well to ease digestive discomfort including soothing intestinal spasms.
These and other herbs, individually or in combination, stimulate a natural detox process to keep your liver and digestive tract functioning.
Treat your liver and digestive system kindly and enjoy the rest of the festive season!