If you have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder such as IBS or multiple food intolerances, or even if you just have occasional digestive issues, you might feel overwhelmed by the sudden need to rethink every little thing you eat. Especially with food intolerances when you are given a list of foods that you have to avoid for an indefinite period and almost always it’s the foods you eat the most often that are the foods included on the list. Even with digestive issues such as colitis, constipation, or IBS, there are often foods that are best avoided, and although there are prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs to help with immediate issues, there are not a lot of medicines to help build your system back up. That’s where the herbs and natural supplements come in. They are slower acting, but that is because they are building your system up to be healthier, stronger, and more capable of doing the work intended for it. Food intolerances are often blamed on modern farming practices and while that may play a role (looking at you, Monsanto), if that were the whole picture, then we would all have the same food intolerances. So although avoiding trigger foods is the first step in healing, the next step needs to be supporting the digestive system from top to bottom in order to produce faster healing and longer-lasting results.
If you only take one supplement for your digestive system, take a probiotic, and take the highest potency one you can find. You can consult your doctor/naturopath/pharmacist on your dosing b/c in general the bottle will low-ball what you should take. If in doubt, always start with the absolute minimum, then build up slowly. You should switch brands often to get the most variety in your gut ecosystem, although if you find one that works especially well for you, keep returning back to it every other time. If you see a Gastro-enterologist, you can ask him/her for their recommendation for a probiotic and they might have a prescription strength one that is right for you.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is critical to repairing the intestines, especially when it comes to issues of ‘leaky gut’. There are plenty of powders out there designed for intestinal healing, and the one ingredient they all have in common is glutamine. You can also buy L-glutamine separately and put it into smoothies or whatever sounds good to you. A couple of reputable brands’ L-glutamine products are: Enteromend by Thorne Research, IntestiNew by Renew Life, and G.I. Integrity by Pure Encapsulations.
Kombucha is everywhere right now and in a variety of flavors, so hopefully you can find one that suits your tastes because Kombucha is excellent for your digestive system. When I started researching Kombucha I kept running into the story that former President Reagan drank it while battling stomach cancer. Now these stories never say that he won solely because of the probiotic drink, but they do point out that he won that battle and died of something else entirely, many years later.
As for herbs, I am going to share a very thorough article by one of my very own herbal masters who was the head of the herbal studies program that I went through to get my herbalist certificate, and I also was his intern for a few months while pregnant with my firstborn. The article is in Mother Earth Living and is called 30 Digestive Herbs. Don’t be surprised when you see turmeric there.
One last thing, candida very well might be an issue if you have food intolerances or other chronic digestive disorders. Candida gets out of whack when we take antibiotics, and often we have no idea until it is so systemic it results in a yeast infection or jock itch. Your doctor/naturopath can test you for candida, or if you already know it is out of balance in your body, there are candida cleanses you can find at your local health food store or online.