IBS, which is short for irritable bowel syndrome, is a common condition that affects the digestive system. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. But a 70p ingredient could offer relief – and these other herbs and spices could assist with a range of health concerns.
Not only can your herb and spice rack make your meals tastier, it is also jam-packed with health benefits.
For people with irritable bowel syndrome, peppermint could be the answer.
Other herbs and spices can assist in a range of health concerns – from helping you reach your weight loss goals to boosting your immunity, to even treating athletes foot.
Pippa Campbell, nutrition & weight loss coach, and Dr Marilyn Glenville, nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women, offer their best advice.
Peppermint has traditionally been used to calm digestive troubles and alleviate nausea.
A study from 2011 published in Pain even showed why peppermint might help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Pippa said: “Many people enjoy a tea made from peppermint or spearmint leaves, and the volatile oils in both have been used in breath fresheners, toothpastes and chewing gum.
“This herb is easiest to consume in beverage form, though an adventurous cook could add it to meat dishes or dessert recipes. Try adding it to a Greek Salad – feta, cucumber, tomatoes or chop finely into homemade meatballs.”
A substance called capsaicin is found in peppers and it is the compound that gives peppers their heat.
Marilyn said: “It is thought to help fight weight gain and obesity by decreasing calorie intake and lowering blood fat levels.
“The capsaicin’s heat may help with a process called thermogenesis where your body can convert fat into heat and so burning more fat which adds to weight loss. Including these thermogenic ingredients in your diet may boost your metabolism by up to five percent, and increase fat burning by up to 16 percent.”
Pippa explained: “I add basil to practically everything I make, from eggs to vegetables to soups. Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and can help prevent osteoarthritis. It has also been used in digestive disorders. Though commonly used in Italian cooking, Basil is a versatile herb that can be added to practically anything. Try making your own pesto with basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts and some nutritional yeast with a good olive oil. I add Basil to my Bolognaise at the end of cooking.”
For many people, dandelions are an irritating garden weed but traditionally, the roots and leaves of the plant have been used as medicines for breast problems, bloating, digestive disorders, aching joints, fevers, and skin disorders.
Marilyn said: “Dandelions contain fibre so can help you feel full longer and so help control your appetite. The leaves of the plant are very rich in vitamins, including A, C, D, and B-complex. They also have high levels of minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.
“The leaves of the plant are very nutrient-rich, and so dandelion can be a good herb for women who are approaching the menopause or for those who have a poor diet. Dandelion can also be used as a gentle diuretic and can decrease cholesterol in some people. Today, many herbalists use dandelion to purify the liver and gallbladder of toxins and it can stimulate the manufacture of bile.”
Arrowroot is a starchy herb that I keep on hand, especially since I went gluten free.
Pippa said: “It has an amazing thickening ability similar to cornstarch, and it can be added to soups, dips, baking etc. Arrowroot can be used in place of flour for a roux, or as the main baking ingredient in a gluten-free teething biscuit for kids. It is soothing and highly digestible, so it is often used in treatment for conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
Turmeric is the yellow spice that is often used in curries. Its active ingredient is curcumin which has had a lot of research focused on its anti-inflammatory effects for conditions like arthritis.
Marilyn explained: “Although the research has not shown that curcumin can actually help with weight loss it is thought to stop the re-growth of fat after someone has loss weight. This could be helpful as many people end up putting back the weight they have lost after a diet.”
Marilyn said: “Cardamom is thought to help increase fat burning by improving metabolism. It also thought to be good for digestion, so people would often have cardamom tea after a meal, to help reduce flatulence and general digestive discomfort.”