Benefits of Herbs in Promoting Gut Health
Gut health and a functional digestive system are incredibly important. It breaks down food and nutrients and absorbs them into the body. If something goes wrong with the digestive system, then the body will not be able to absorb and digest the foods it needs. In the US, 60-70 million adults suffer from some form of digestive disorder. Some of the most common ones include acid reflux, stomach ulcers, chronic constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. The prevalence of these disorders seems to be on the rise. It has been demonstrated that sometimes a disruption in the environment of your gut can lead to some of these disorders as well as other diseases that don’t exhibit gut-related symptoms.
How is your digestion and what can you do about it?
As defined by the CDC, your “gut” is your total gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It includes all parts of your GI tract: your mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine (colon), and rectum.
But there’s more inside your gut than your tissues. It is home to roughly 100 trillion microbes, and they’re referred to as the “forgotten organ.” They’re just as important to your overall health as your heart, lungs, brain, and more. These bacteria play such an influential role in your overall health.
Most of the bacteria in our gut are “friendly” meaning they won’t make us sick. Some are even beneficial – and when they aren’t working against us, they can even help make us feel better, improve digestion, and even improve our moods. Some gut bacteria are “bad” because they can increase your risk for certain health problems. This is why understanding how to kill bad gut bacteria is so important. It’s important to understand how our built and how many of them we are keeping in the right way.
Your gut health is a big indicator of how your body is functioning and your overall well-being, as well as how easily you recover from illnesses. Factors like stress and poor diet can throw off the balance between good and bad gut bacteria.
A peek into the bowels
Inside your body, there is a complex system of microorganisms, called the microbiota. The microbiota is a community of microbes, such as bacteria and archaea, that live within the human body. The microbiota is an essential part of the digestive system, and it helps the body digest food and absorbs nutrients. The microbiota can be influenced by many factors, such as diet, stress, and disease. Antibiotics are a type of medicine that kills harmful bacteria. However, they can also kill beneficial or good bacteria. To replenish the good gut bacteria, a person can take a probiotic—a type of dietary supplement that contains healthy or helpful bacterial strains.
Probiotics are live organisms that can survive in the digestive tract to offer proven benefits and wellness. Some with even greater benefits than their probiotics counterparts. According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, certain herbs may offer extra health benefits due to the colonies of friendly bacteria living on them.
Northwestern University researchers have found that a traditional Japanese herbal blend called Juzen-taiho-to—which includes cinnamon, ginseng, and licorice—contains bacteria that support the immune system. The mixture has proved effective at preventing and curing the flu and other infectious diseases.
What is fascinating is that herbs can act as prebiotics for our microbiome. Some of the good bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Bacteroides, all live there, making their home in your digestive tract. Bacteria that live in the digestive tract of most healthy humans that leads to obesity and other chronic diseases include Citrobacter freundii and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The study by Peterson et. al. (2018) looked at the effect plants typically used for Ayurvedic medicine had on the species and diversity of bacteria in the intestine. The herb common throughout all formulas was slippery elm, which previous research has indicated has a broad range of physiological health effects. By comparing formulas that contained only two of these herbs, with a formula that contained all three, the results suggest that these negative symptoms were specifically alleviated by the herbal combination. These herbs have been widely used for inflammation.
Triphala may be one of the best herbs for leaky gut. Used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, Triphala is an herbal blend of three plants: amla (Indian gooseberry), Bibhitaki, and Haritaki. It may help repair your gut’s epithelial layer. This can often be critical for sufferers of healing conditions related to intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Triphala contains many vital nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, and other plant compounds that can help maintain the mucosal layer of the digestive tract.
Licorice root is often used to help neutralize acidity and acts as a protective barrier to the stomach lining. One study by Raveendra et al. (2011) revealed that licorice extract seemed to help alleviate stomach discomfort. Another study by Hajiaghamohammad et al. (2016) found that licorice extract helped alleviate the symptoms of gastritis, which is caused by an H. pylori infection.
Slippery elm is a herb that is mostly used to heal the mucous membranes in the gut. This miraculous herb helps treat certain conditions affecting the intestines such as inflammation, excessive gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea (Leffler et al, 2012). This medicinal herb was also shown to lower visceral sensitivity thus lessening pain during defecation (Pravstova, 1958).
By using in-vitro (outside of the human body) methods, the researchers were able to determine that these herbal supplements help increase the abundance and diversity of good gut bacteria. The herb Triphala increased the number of acidophilus and sutterella. The herb slippery elm had the most effect on clostridia. The herb licorice affected bacteroidetes. These results show that these herbs can be used as probiotics to help increase the diversity of your microbiome. In addition, licorice root was able to decrease the population of potential opportunistic invaders Enterococcus faecalis and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These potential disease-causing bacteria have been linked to the development of a leaky gut (intestinal permeability).
The use of herbal remedies for humans was common thousands of years ago. But now, the chemistry of these herbs is becoming more understood, and clinical studies with humans are beginning to shed some light on the inner workings of the human body.
By restoring the bacterial balance of the gut, herbal plants (and the probiotics found on their surfaces) can maximize our bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. In this way, herbs for gut health benefit many parts of the body, not just the digestive tract.
The different antibiotics are different classes of medications that fight bacterial infections in the bloodstream and gut.
Unlike most medications, antibiotics come with a host of unpleasant side effects. Some of these symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea, are unpleasant, but others are more serious and can even be life-threatening, according to Medline Plus. These reactions may be a result of the way that these powerful drugs affect gut health.
How do antibiotics affect the health of our digestive tracts?
Antibiotics are used to treat various types of bacterial infections but can have side effects on the body. Many people experience stomach pain and diarrhea after prolonged use. In the most severe cases, the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff) can take hold of the intestinal tract and cause life-threatening disease, but fortunately can be avoided.
What is the best way to replenish the good bacteria again after using antibiotics?
If a doctor gives you antibiotics, you must complete the full course of treatment so that you kill the infection and prevent it from coming back in the future. If you don’t complete the doses as prescribed, this can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that can then go on to infect other people and become ill.
But taking antibiotics can be incredibly harsh on your gut health. If your out-of-whack microbiome isn’t restored, you may be at risk for future health problems. To replenish beneficial bacteria in your gut after an antibiotic, be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These healthy habits such as:
- Managing stress
- Not smoking
- Maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and probiotic herbs (while avoiding refined sugar, alcohol, and processed foods)
- Getting enough sleep
Many factors contribute to maintaining a healthy gut, but stress, physical activity, and diet all play a major role. Modern research has now confirmed what centuries of Ayurveda and other traditional medicine practice know implicitly: Certain herbs and herbal blends can promote metabolism, improve digestion, and benefit gut and liver functions. If you believe you’re struggling with a weak or overly taxed digestive system, consider adding herbs to your lifestyle.
How to get rid of harmful bacteria?
You can kill bad gut bacteria by supporting optimal gut flora. Diet may be one of the most important and effective ways to do this. To promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestines, focus on eating many fruits and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients that colonies of healthy bacteria need to grow. Consider including herbal remedies as a supplement.
How to improve your gut microbiome in a day?
It takes more than just one day to modify your gut microbiome — the microorganism population living in your intestinal tract. However, research suggests a healthy diet rich in plants and herbs can drastically improve the health of the organisms living in your gut in a short period.
What happens if you don’t restore gut health?
Without gut health, harmful bacteria can be released into your digestive system, which could lead to health issues such as C. difficile infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.