Henriette Kress is a herbalist with over 20 years of experience treating patients. She is from Helsinki, Finland and was introduced to herbs by her grandmother, who took her into the woods and introduced her to the world of foraging.
Henriette has created a two-part book series, sharing her knowledge of herbs gathered over the years which can help with all sorts of health problems.
Henriette has put together a list of her top herbs to help with your digestion for us.
5 herbs to help your digestion
This is excellent for people who work with solvents, those who have or have had hepatitis and those with high blood pressure. Just add the leaf to a salad or make a tea:
2-4 teaspoons dandelion leaf or root
200 ml boiling water
Pour the boiling water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain.
Drink 3 cups a day. If you feel the bitter taste is too much, add a dash of lemon juice.
Elecampane root is aromatic, warming and bitter. It’s very good if you have trouble digesting proteins or fats, and it’s useful for loss of appetite.
It’s used as a tea or tincture. A dash of lemon can make it more palatable, as it’s rather bitter.
Elecampane is a very grounding herb: if you use it, you start to get things done instead of just dreaming of getting them done.
It’s very useful for wet coughs and grief as well.
I love barberry as a bitter to take before meals. It’s very good if you have an underactive digestion, that is, you feel you’re allergic to more foods every week and you can foresee the day when the only thing left to eat is rice. It’s nice for loss of appetite as well.
It’s also very good for those whose gallbladder has been removed. They have to get a bitter taste on the tongue before all meals, which helps with the liver’s bile production. I usually give it as a tincture. To make:
30 g dried barberry root or bark
150 ml alcohol (brandy will work)
Put both ingredients into a jar, close the lid and leave it in a dark spot for a month. Strain, bottle and label: “Barberry tincture, June 2018”.
Take 2-3 drops before each meal.
(You’ll find barberry bark or root tincture or the dried root or bark in herb stores like Neal’s Yard or Baldwin’s.)
Psyllium husk is very soothing to the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. It is especially helpful for constipation from a low-fibre diet.
Because psyllium is so soothing, I like it in all kinds of gut upset. It’ll even soothe the runs, although I like astringent herbs better for that.
(Constipation in an otherwise healthy adult is a sign of a food intolerance. It’s best to avoid eating the offending foods.)
5) Alder cones
Alder cones are very astringent. I quite like them for acute diarrhoea, along with bananas and rice.
A more chronically upset gut (irritable bowel) is often caused by a food intolerance; remove the offending foods from your diet and the problem clears up.
Alder cones (and similar astringent herbs, like oak bark, oak leaf or tormentil root) will help with chronic gut upset short-term, but longer-term the only thing that helps is to adjust the diet.
Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available April 2018, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: http://www.aeonbooks.co.uk/