By Karen Appold
Your digestive system includes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (which is comprised of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine), as well as the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. When you eat, food travels from your mouth to the anus. Ultimately, the GI tract’s role is to digest food.
With such a complex system, there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. If you find you’re having digestive issues—or just want to maintain your GI tract—you may consider digestive supplements.
There’s certainly no scarcity of supplements available to aid in digestion. Although research is limited, some supplements seem to work better for certain health conditions.
Here’s a sampling of what’s available. Talk to your health care professional and do your own research to decide which one(s) is right for you.
Licorice (Glycirrhiza glabra) can produce a protective lining over the stomach and esophagus, protecting them from an overabundance of acid. It may also help ulcers to heal faster.
Papaya contains papain—an enzyme supplement for aiding digestion and relieving heartburn and the effects of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). This fruit works by expediting chemical reactions in the digestive system.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil can relieve heartburn. Try peppermint infused olive oil, obtained by extracting raw peppermint, for digestive issues, such as bloating and gas.
Probiotics are comprised of good bacteria (such as acidophilus, bifidobacteria, and lactobaccillus) that naturally occur in your digestive tract. These organisms digest food that your body can’t and get rid of bad organisms. Probiotics can help treat diarrhea, ulcerative colitis and other IBS disorders. Take probiotics to keep your GI tract healthy, too.
As previously mentioned, these supplements are just the tip of the iceberg. Other good choices include garlic, ginger, dandelion, blessed thistle, tumeric, vitamin C, Iceland moss and certain teas, such as tea liverpal and tea propancra, among others.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.