Choosing the 8 best herbs to improve digestion was not easy because there are so many medicinal herbs that can help. After giving it some thought, I decided to choose the herbs that I’ve used the most in my consultation as an herbalist. My career has spanned over 30 years and I can’t count the times I’ve seen these herbs improve my patients’ digestion.

1. Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is my favorite herb to improve digestion. It has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, it protects the mucous membrane of the stomach and balances stomach acid. I’ve used it a lot for heartburn, acid reflux, stomach pain, gastritis, gastric ulcers, bloating, and flatulence. Studies have shown that Meadowsweet is antibacterial and active against Helicobacter pylori, which is a type of bacteria that can cause gastritis, gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. Because of its strong anti-inflammatory effect, Meadowsweet is also excellent for wounds and skin disorders and is the main ingredient in my all-purpose healing balm. 

Meadowsweet

2. Calendula

I have a hard time deciding which one of these herbs is my favorite: Calendula or Meadowsweet. Calendula is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and fungicidal. It is particularly effective in the treatment of acid reflux, high stomach acid, heartburn, gastritis, and gastric ulcers. Studies have shown that Calendula is active against Campylobacter jejuni, which causes diarrhea. I often use Meadowsweet and Calendula together when treating acid reflux and gastritis. Calendula is also an excellent herb for the skin and here you can read about why you need it for your skin!

Calendula

3. Yarrow

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a versatile medicinal herb that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It has always been popular for treating digestive diseases and I’ve used it for inflammation and cramps in the digestive tract and to stop diarrhea. Studies have demonstrated Yarrow’s antibacterial effect, for example against Helicobacter pylori which is a bacteria that can cause gastritis, gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. Yarrow is also a great anti-inflammatory herb for the skin, it both clears acne and hydrates your skin, learn more here!

yarrow

4. Slippery Elm

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) contains mucilage that’s especially good to heal and protect the mucous membrane of the stomach. There is a long tradition of using Slippery elm for all kinds of digestive problems, such as acid reflux, heartburn, gastritis, gastric ulcers, peptic ulcers, and constipation. I’ve treated many cases of acid reflux in my private clinic and I always use Slippery elm. I can also recommend it from personal experience as I had bad acid reflux when I was pregnant. This herb provided relief until the baby was born and the problem disappeared.

slippery elm

5. Iceland Moss

Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica) is well known for being nutritious, specifically for being rich in minerals and fiber. What makes Iceland moss special is that it contains both mucilage and bitter substances, which is a rare combination in medicinal herbs. It’s considered particularly effective to treat many kinds of digestive problems as the mucilage heals and protects the mucous membrane of the stomach but the bitter substances strengthen and stimulate digestion. Iceland moss works well to treat bloating, constipation, acid reflux, gastritis, gastric ulcers, and peptic ulcers. The antibacterial effects of Iceland moss have been demonstrated, for example against Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes gastritis and stomach cancer.

Iceland moss

6. Dandelion Root

Dandelion root (Taraxicum officinale) has for centuries been considered effective to support the function of the liver and gallbladder and it helps with bloating, flatulence, constipation, hepatitis, jaundice and gallstones. It’s also useful against various inflammatory diseases and I’ve used it quite a lot in my consultation where I often deal with difficult chronic diseases.

Dandelion

7. Angelica

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) has for centuries been a popular medicinal herb for bloating, indigestion and flatulence. I make a tincture from fresh Angelica seeds and I also dry the seeds and use them a lot in tea blends.

Angelica

8. Triphala

Now I‘m going to cheat a little bit because Triphala is not the name of a single herb but the name of an ancient blend that contains three Indian fruits in equal proportions. Triphala is most known for balancing digestion and for having a laxative effect. I‘ve used Triphala in my private clinic for many years with very good results, and this is the only standard herbal mixture I work with, everything else I produce myself. I‘ve mainly used Triphala as a laxative in combination with other herbal mixtures that I produce myself, and it‘s proven to be good against bloating and constipation. Triphala is also effective against indigestion, high stomach acid and flatulence.

Triphala

Digestion and Skin Health

Digestion actually plays a big part in skin health. When your gut is working properly, everything else in the body falls into place: better skin, more energy and an improved mood. The gut microbiome affects your overall health, including your skin. If your gut isn’t working as it should be, it can’t absorb vital nutrients that your skin needs. Also, certain foods can irritate your gut and cause inflammation, which ultimately shows on the skin.

What I’ve Found in My Clinical Practice

I have found in my clinical practice that skin health is really affected by digestion but especially if you have acne, dry skin, rosacea or eczema. Here you can learn more about my clinical experience with rosacea and here you can read about acne. Although I always give a blend of herbs internally to help the skin I also know very well how important good hydration is. That’s why I created the Ultimate Healing Set which will heal dry skin and eczema, the Natural Acne Solution which will treat and prevent your acne without harsh chemicals and the Natural Rosacea Treatment which will reduce redness and rosacea.

About the Author

Anna Rósa is a medical herbalist and author of the bestselling book Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses. She’s the CEO and founder of Anna Rósa Skincare and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in UK. It’s the oldest herbalist institute in the world, founded in 1894.

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Anna Rósa CEO and Founder of Anna Rósa Skincare