This is an interesting topic. I first used stomach herbs when they were prescribed to me by the naturopathic doctor I worked for five years ago. He told me that I had leaky gut syndrome and that if I didn’t heal my stomach lining I would die young. My father died at the age of 57 from ALS so I knew that dying young was a real possibility. I really didn’t fully understand leaky gut syndrome at the time and while I was motivated to get well progress was slow because I didn’t do everything I needed to do with precision. I was also overwhelmed with the way I was reacting emotionally to many life situations that I had no control over like my teenage son who was struggling with alcohol. I had difficult decisions to make at the time. When your going through making difficult emotional decisions it doesn’t help you make good food choices or stress choices so while I drank a green smoothie every day and took stomach and immune herbs I would eat my feelings on the weekend by eating half a pizza or boat loads of brown rice. I didn’t do it every day but eating like that slowed my healing. So five years later and wanting to have a baby I have started again this time in much better emotional place and ready willing and able to cut out all the inflammatory foods and inflammatory emotions and words. Yes emotions, thoughts, and words do affect your physical health but I don’t think I am telling anyone anything new there is so much science to back all that up now. I want to share with you what I make my stomach herb with and what each herb does. A mini research project in itself. I put one cup of arabinogalactan, 1 cup of L-glutamine powder, 1/2 cup apple pectin, 1/2 cup quercitin, 1/2 cup elderberry flower, 1/2 cup marshmellow root, 1/2 cup barberry, 1/2 cup slippery elm bark powder, 1/2 cup astragulus root powder, 1/2 cup pau d’arco bark powder. That’s a mouthful and if you are not familiar with what these are and don’t feel comfortable making or taking something you have never taken go see an acupuncturist or naturopath, or an herbalist. Honestly, I have been to so many doctors natural and otherwise and I have learned that you have to take control of your own health care. It is a big risk to purchase $1000 dollars worth of herbs in bulk so that I could take these herbs for the next six months to a year. I do a lot of research on my own to make sure that what I am doing is ok. I also have several doctors one especially who is an MD who is knowledgeable about complementary medicine so I am not completely on my own. I am also enrolled in a nutrition consulting course and may take the herb classes just so I can know what to put together or not put together so I don’t compromise my health further by treating myself in a harmful way. Be careful with everything you do, stay on top of how you feel which is not always the best indicator of health but once you have symptoms you know when they are gone and what might be helping. I share all this for anyone who may be interested and need information to further their own search for better health. I love sharing what I have learned because I have so much gris for the mill as my mother calls it. I have experience so many different health problems interestingly almost all related to stress in one way or another. Ok here’s some brief information of what I have learned about these herbs.
Stomach herbs (anti-inflammatory, boosts immune system, heals stomach lining)
1. Arabinogalactan – arabionogalactans, also known as gum sugars, are complex polysaccharides. They can be found in many foods corn, wheat, leeks, carrots and many others. Gum sugars stimulate activitiy of natural killer cells, interleukins, interferons, and tumor necrosis factor all key factors in a robust immune system. Studies indicate that arabinogalactans are particularly effective for digestive problems, as they encourage healthy bacteria in the gut. (Sugars that Heal by Emil Mondoa MD, pg. 28)
2. L-glutamine is an amino acid a conditionally essential amino acid meaning the body under normal circumstances can make adequate quantities of this amino acid but in times of stress such as fever, illness, trauma, dieting the body can’t make as much as it needs. It’s most important function is strengthening the immune system (a huge percent of your immune system is found in your gut). This is mainly used for intestinal repair. It helps makes the gut less permeable. It also aids other immune cells in killing bacteria, healing wounds, and maintaining and supporting glutathione which is an important antioxidant. (Healing with Amino Acids and Nutrients by Billie Jay Sahley, PhD, Katherine M. Birkner, CRNA, PdD, pg. 36-37)
3. Apple Pectin – is an intestinal regulator, helps cleanse the intestinal tract, helps bind certain harmful compounds in the colon speeding their elimination. It helps balance acidity in the large intestine. (www.herbsfirst.com)
4. Quercetin – Quercetin is one of several bioflavonoids, nutrients found with Vit C in fruit and veggies. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-histamine properties. It helps to deactivate enzymes that produce inflammation. (www.organicfoodee.com)
5. Elderberry Flower – is a powerful immune booster and antioxidant. Elderberry flower extract is also full of vitamins A, B and C, as well as bioflavonoids. All of which are useful in strengthening the immune system and fighting off disease. (I was told by an acupuncturist that this would help strengthen my kidneys). Be careful as I just learned that the black leaves have small quantity of cyanide which is why its important to have a medical professional follow you if you are going to take this herb. (http://www.ehow.com/facts_5663595_properties-elderberry-flower-extract.html#ixzz2xD7ASpiT)
6. Marshmellow Root – This herb has shown to be helpful in almost all problems related to inflammation of the digestive tract; including peptic ulcers, hiatus hernias, mouth ulcers, enteritis and colitis. (http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/marshmallow-root.html)
7. Barberry Root – Barberry is a traditional bitter tonic that helps support the liver functions and cleanse a congested system. 1 Barberry is rich natural source of berberine. Berberine is bright yellow and somewhat bitter, and has long been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects. (http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail253.php)
8. Slippery Elm Bark – People take slippery elm for coughs, sore throat, colic, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder and urinary tract infections, syphilis, herpes, and for expelling tapeworms. It is also used for protecting against stomach and duodenal ulcers, for colitis, diverticulitis, GI inflammation, and too much stomach acid. Slippery elm is also taken by mouth to cause an abortion. Slippery elm is applied to the skin for wounds, burns, gout, rheumatism, cold sores, boils, abscesses, ulcers, toothaches, sore throat, and as a lubricant to ease labor. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-978-SLIPPERY%20ELM.aspx?activeIngredientId=978&activeIngredientName=SLIPPERY%20ELM)
9. Astragulus – Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Its main use has been to boost the body’s immune system. (http://www.webmd.com/heart/astragalus-root-heart-benefits-side-effects). I take this herb to boost my immune system which has been damaged by viruses, food allergies, low thyroid, ultimately all started with stress response that was not controlled. More about that later.
10. Pau d’ Arco – Pau d’Arco bark has active principles, mainly lapachol, quercetin and other flavonoids. The dried inner bark of Pau d’Arco can be used as a tea which has a taste that is just a little bit harsh, and a color that may remind you of sepia-toned photographs. Some claim that it is useful in managing diabetes. It is also suggested that this plant is useful in treating other medical conditions, amongst which are fibromyalgia (FMS) and lupus (SLE). This herbal tea is used by many during the cold and flu season, and is a remedy for smoker’s cough. Another medicinal use of Pau d’Arco is as an expectorant: to promote “coughing up” by the lungs in order to free mucus and contaminants that had been lodged there. (http://paudarco.org/)
Since this herb has so many cautions I wanted to include another quote from Web MD. Other uses for pau d’arco include diabetes, ulcers, stomach inflammation (gastritis), liver ailments, asthma, bronchitis, joint pain, hernias, boils, and wounds. Because some people see pau d’arco as a “tonic and blood builder,” it is also used to treat anemia. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-647-PAU%20D’ARCO.aspx?activeIngredientId=647&activeIngredientName=PAU%20D’ARCO)
Hope this information is helpful and useful.