What are aromatic Digestives?
Aromatic digestives as a group help the absorption and assimilation of food. They are also used to aid the body in absorbing and assimilating herbal preparations that are consumed, thus increasing their therapeutic value. They also increase appetite, increase secretions and encourage the forward movement of food in the gut.
This results in an increase in the availability of food to the body and an increase in vital energy. Aromatic herbs fortify when you are ill, and when you are convalescing, they revitalize the body and reinvigorate it.
Aromatic digestives are warming and mildly stimulating in nature, while bitter digestives are cooling. The choice of the digestive depends on the temperature of the disease being treated.
Aromatic spices that help digestion
Some of the aromatic spices commonly used in cooking like pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and fennel help to clear the stomach and aid in protein digestion. This is why they are often used to cook meats. These spices improve appetite and hunger. They also increase the gastric juices and clear sluggish digestion after a meal. Even though most of the following herbs have similar characteristics, each herb has a particular strong point which helps in choosing the right herb for you.
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Pepper has warming and stimulating energies. It is also light and penetrating, thus making it effective in increasing digestive fire and removing toxins.
Black pepper is part of a Ayurvedic medicinal formulation called Trikatu. Trikatu contains Pepper, Ginger and Pippali (Piper longum). This formulation increases the digestive fire, and reduces the toxic build up because of undigested food in the body.
Black pepper also helps to stimulate hydrochloric acid in your stomach to help you better digest and absorb the foods that you eat. Pepper has carminative properties, which reduce discomfort and gas buildup in the intestines.
Peeper is most effective when it is freshly ground. The readymade pepper powder has very little therapeutic value. Since pepper is a warming herb, it is commonly added to cold foods such as raw salads to make them more digestible. It is also added to cooked foods like meat to help digestion.
Cardamom is another aromatic spice which is very good for digestion. It is very helpful in alleviating bloating, nausea, and gas. Cardamom can be used alone or combined with ginger, fennel and/or cumin for digestive support.
Cardamom, is very flavourful that can enhance the taste of any food. Cardamom is especially useful because it has the ability to reduce the extreme acidity of foods while also making them easier to digest.
It is one of those spices that can be added to dairy products because it reduces their tendency to increase mucous. It is added to milk products and sweets, not only for its flavour but also for its digestive qualities, It also reduces the acidic effects of caffeine, which is why we add it to tea (masala chai), in India.
Cinnamon is another aromatic spice that rekindles. Cinnamon is very useful in treating uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Some of the health benefits of cinnamon for digestion include anti-gaseous effect, relieving abdominal pain, has antidiarrheal properties and also pacifies intestinal hyperactivity. Cinnamon being a warming herb is very ideal for common viral gastrointestinal symptoms such as chills, abdominal pains, colic and diarrhea in the form of a tea.
Like cardamom, cinnamon counteracts the mucus provoking qualities of dairy. It can be combined with ginger, cloves and cardamom in many foods, drinks and herbal preparations for good digestion.
Fennel is a very useful herb to calm intestinal cramps and excessive stomach cramps. It has been used to treat colic in infants since ages. Fennel is considered to be a herb that stimulates appetite, and hence can be used for the elderly.
Besides relieving gas, griping and bloating, fennel is also known to aid the lymphatic system, reduce nausea and soothe acid reflux. Fennel also helps in reducing lower abdominal pain from bowel tension and overeating. Fennel is very effective in enhancing the digestive fire.
Cloves have a pungent and bitter taste and are light and very penetrating, which help the flow of digestion in the body. Cloves are very hot and stimulating which is why they should be used in small amounts. Its therapeutic qualities includes its ability to balance gut bacteria due to its antimicrobial properties. It is carminative in nature and helps to prevent the formation of gas in the GI tract. Cloves helps those with weak digestion and lack of appetite. It also helps remove toxins caused by weak digestion. It can be used in small amounts along with ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.
How to use these digestives
You can powder these herbs and store in a bottle and take a pinch of this powder every day after meals along with hot water.
You can also make a tea, infusion or decoction with the herb that suits your constitution and drink it twice a day along with your meals or after your meals. How to make teas, infusions and decoctions with herbs.