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  • Digestive Products by Herb Pharm

    By David Bunting, Herb Pharm

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    Good digestion is one of the most crucial factors influencing our health. Together with oxygen and water, food provides all of the starting materials for building and maintaining our bodies and minds. And digestion is the body’s gateway for all of the nutrients found in food, the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and various secondary phytochemicals that feed and heal us. This one complex process is thus linked to every other function in our body, starting at the cellular level. Poor digestion leads to poor health.

    Herb Pharm carries a large selection of products that positively influence the digestive process, system and organs in various ways. In some cases, there is overlap in the effects of products, but each has its own unique features. This article gives an abbreviated overview of our digestive system products intended as a short guide to their differentiation and uses.

    What might be considered the most quintessential digestive product is bitters. Bitters begin working as soon as they hit your taste buds through a reflex action on our stomach and pancreas, stimulating the production of digestive juices. Bitters also stimulate the liver and prepare the gall bladder for the release of bile. Consuming bitter flavor in our foods was always a part of eating; it is something we as a species evolved with and relied on for good digestion. Because the modern diet is skewed heavily towards sweets, the reintroduction of bitter plants like dandelion greens and radicchio into your diet is extremely beneficial. Using Herb Pharm's Digestive Bitters is another simple way to reintroduce this important digestion-enhancing flavor. Hold diluted Digestive Bitters in your mouth for a minute before swallowing to ensure that the taste response is triggered.

    Neutralizing Cordial has attributes shared by some of the other digestive products in that it is of service in treating digestive gas, nausea and colic. However, this formula stands apart due to its ability to alkalize the digestive system. While rhubarb root is generally considered a laxative, it actually has a dose-dependent amphoteric function. Neutralizing Cordial is great when traveling as well as in the home medicine cabinet.

    While many single extracts can have a positive influence on digestion, one especially worth calling out is Peppermint Spirits. This powerful preparation is effective in reducing stomach upset and digestive gas as well as spasms such as hiccups. Peppermint Spirits also help relieve nausea and are a good alternative to Ginger for those whose digestive fire is already warm. Peppermint is cooling and relaxes sphincters, so is not appropriate in acid reflux or where there is dampened, weak digestive fire.

    Bringing the theme of liver and digestion full circle is Healthy Liver Tonic, Herb Pharm's primary liver support compound. Among other herbs in this compound are bitters like Dandelion, Oregon Grape and one of my personal favorites, artichoke. As with Digestive Bitters, these bitter tasting herbs improve the digestive process and systemically support liver-related digestion. Keeping the liver healthy is one of our best strategies in maintaining good digestion and overall health.

    In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in various digestive, gut and food-induced disorders. The best and easiest way to avoid digestive problems is to stop them before they start. The first and probably most important step is to examine your diet and replace unhealthy foods with better options, including bitter greens. And it makes sense to begin strengthening your digestion at the same time, starting with regular use of Digestive Bitters. These simple steps can be used to significantly improve digestion and assimilation, which are truly fundamental to wellbeing.

  • Simple Steps to a Healthy Cleanse

    It happens every year: We overindulge around the holidays and by January we’re desperate to give our systems a break from heavy foods and sugary treats. If your body is telling you to ditch the junk food and give it a break, listen to it.

    “It’s best to go with the flow of how you feel,” says Ben Stoops, herbalist at our Santa Fe store. That means giving your body a rest from all of the processed foods and environmental toxins we contend with. Our liver can’t keep up with filtering all those toxins, and can quickly become overburdened—a state that Stoops feels can lead to certain types of cancer, hypothyroidism, increased allergies and asthma, and more.

    So where to start? “A couple weeks of a reasonably slow detox is appropriate,” Ben says. “Aim for a diet of fiber-rich foods, more fruits and veggies, and fewer high-protein foods.” Eat foods that are less processed, less cooked and more fibrous—that’s the rule of thumb, he says.

    He adds that fortifying supplements such as multis, fish oils or adaptogenic herbs can run contrary to a detox program, since your body is trying to rid itself of damaged cells and needs a break from a lot of new cell building. “A good detox may block the absorption of these supplements anyway,” says Ben, who recommends leaving them out during the course of the cleanse.

    Instead, swap in supplements that can help activate the liver, like milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke leaf and Oregon grape. And make sure you get enough soluble fiber—if you don’t, Stoops says, the toxins won’t come out naturally through your bowel movements, and can instead end up pushing through your skin and causing breakouts, rashes and even eczema. Save time, Ben says, with a cleanse kit that includes both fiber and those liver-supportive herbs, such as Renew Life’s Organic Total Body Cleanse.

    Ben’s final recommendations: Sip on a tea made from dandelion leaf throughout the cleanse, drink plenty of water and “do lots of sweating!” Both sweating and Epsom salt baths help to encourage healthy toxin elimination, he says.

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