Susan had written “BLOATED!” in the section marked “What’s the main problem?” She told me she’d been suffering for years, her stomach feeling like some gremlin was inflating a balloon every time she ate. When the bloating was especially severe, Susan said she looked like she was in her fifth month of pregnancy. She was […]
Rich in soluble fiber, psyllium seeds and their husks have long been enlisted to ease constipation and digestive system upset. During the Middle Ages, Arab physicians regularly recommended a formula for constipation that included psyllium as a principal ingredient. Today, a number of studies suggest that psyllium may also be effective in lowering cholesterol, promoting weight loss (it makes you feel full), and aiding numerous other conditions.
Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are nondigestible dietary fibers that help to keep the stomach and bowels healthy. They do this by nourishing and promoting the naturally present, “friendly” bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in particular) capable of warding off infection in the digestive system. Because of these properties FOS is considered a “prebiotic.” Quite popular in Japan, such prebiotics have just started to become available in the United States.
This grand perennial with its purplish flower head is native to southern Europe, northern Africa, and the Canary Islands. In the days of ancient Rome and Greece, Europeans began to cultivate artichoke as well. It is now grown commercially in North Africa. Although the flesh of the spike-tipped petals, called “bracts,” and the heart of the flower head are eaten as a delicacy, it is the plant’s large, lobed leaves and their extracts that are used medicinally.
A new patient visited our center recently, writing on our intake form “need to get my serotonin higher.” She’d read The Triple Whammy Cure and felt that she’d been making progress on her own. However, she was still mildly depressed, craved carbs, and had low energy. If you’ve read my book, you all know the rest.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a common shrub-like perennial, bears bright yellow flowers that contain numerous therapeutic substances when dried. Europeans have used the herb for centuries to calm jangled nerves and heal wounds, among other ills. And so it’s not surprising that North Americans have recently embraced its use as a treatment for depression and conditions associated with it.
An herb prized for its medicinal benefits and distinctive flavor, peppermint (Mentha piperata) is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint (M. spicata) and water mint (M. aquatica). Unlike other mints, however, peppermint contains in its healing volatile oil the powerful therapeutic ingredient menthol, as well as menthone, menthyl acetate and some 40 other compounds. The oil is made by steam-distilling the plant’s aromatic leaves and stems, which are gathered just before its light-purple flowers appear in the summer.
Digestive enzymes are proteins specially tailored to break down foods into nutrients that your body can then readily digest. The human body produces some 22 different digestive enzymes. Many more are found in the fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and other foods we eat. A number of digestive enzymes, from both plants and animals, are also sold as supplements.
Like its better-known bacterial cousin, acidophilus, the bifidobacteria group (also called ‘bifidus’) are considered a “probiotic.” One of the hundreds of beneficial bacteria that inhabit your body’s intestinal tract, bifidobacteria helps to fight off infection. Probiotics such as these are especially helpful in preventing the diarrhea that often results from antibiotic therapy. They ease other gastrointestinal conditions as well, including irritable bowel syndrome and flatulence. They also help to prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections, and counteract the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans.
Of the 400 different kinds of bacteria and yeasts typically found in the human digestive tract, there are a handful of so-called friendly ones that are of particular importance: Lactobacillus acidophilus and other members of the Lactobacillus family. Acidophilus is considered a “probiotic” because it helps to maintain a normal balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and vagina. Like other probiotics, it does this by supplying healthy bacteria and inhibiting unwelcome organisms. Many people take acidophilus to prevent and treat various digestive disorders, vaginal infections, and other illnesses.