Best herbs for the digestive system

Part 1

Nature has provided an abundance of herbs to support the digestive system, promote and encourage appetite, aid in the absorption of nutrients or help heal damage to the digestive tract. Here are a few herbs that can do just that.



Latin name: Althea officinalis     

Best part to use: The root & leaves

Actions of the root:

- Laxative - stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.

- Nutritive – providing nourishment.

- Demulcent – relieving inflammation or irritation.

- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation.

- Soothing - reducing pain or discomfort with a gentle calming effect.

Actions of the leaves:

- Expectorant - promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages.

- Antitussive – prevent or relieve a cough.

- Demulcent – relieving inflammation or irritation.

- Emollient – softening or soothing the skin.

- Diuretic - promotes the formation of urine by the kidney.

Why is it good: This is a plant where either the root or the leaf is selected depending on which part of the body you are treating. The root is used for the digestive and urinary systems, the leaf is used for the respiratory system. One of the key constituents in the root is mucilage which when ingested produces a slimy, cooling paste perfect for soothing any irritated or inflamed surfaces it comes into contact with in both the digestive and urinary system. Marshmallow combines well with Slippery Elm and is often used in supplements for horses prone to digestive disorders.

Fun fact about Marshmallow: the fluffy sweet treat, Marshmallow, used to be made with the mucilage (sap-like substance) from the root of the marshmallow plant. Cooks in France mixed the root’s sweet mucilage with sugar and eggs, and then beat it into a foam. These early marshmallows were casted and moulded, which was an extremely labour-intensive process. The French called it pâte de guimauve. Guimauve is the French word for marshmallow today.




Latin name: Mentha piperita  

Best part to use: The leaves


- Stimulant - raising levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.

- Antispasmodic - relieves spasm of involuntary muscle.

- Carminative - relieves flatulence.

- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation.

- Analgesic – relieves pain.

Why is it good: Many proprietary horse feeds contain dried mint or peppermint oil to make the food more appetising to both horse and owner. The herb is one of the best digestive aids available and can help soothe and relax the digestive system. The volatile oil contains Menthol and has traditionally been used to help reduce flatulence and other digestive conditions.  

Fun fact about Peppermint: Peppermint is a cross between Water mint and Spearmint, therefore making it a hybrid mint.



Look out for part 2 of this blog to see more herbs that help to support the digestive system.