People and plants: Tummy soothers

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None of us overeat during the holidays, right? We’ve never loosened our belt or unbuttoned our britches. And, we most certainly have never worn stretchy waistband pants to a holiday meal. Just in case, let’s talk about how plants can soothe our bellies if we happen, by off chance, eat too much.

European oregano (Origanum vulgare) has been used to relieve flatulence and aid in digestion. As an added benefit, the oil of oregano is a powerful disinfectant with antifungal and anti-parasitic properties. Did you know oregano was used to flavor ale and beer before they started using hops?

Another common herb is rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary is often used in Mediterranean dishes. It has been historically used to promote healthy digestion when taken as a tea.

Dr. Josh Axe shares that bay leaves can help aid digestion and soothe an upset stomach. Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Additional plants that have a carminative effect, meaning they can relieve flatulence are angelic, anise, coriander, fennel, lavender, sage and thyme.

Have you ever noticed the small candy-coated seeds at an Indian restaurant? These are Mukhwas. The seeds are typically fennel seeds. The University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine shares fennel has been used traditionally for gastrointestinal complaints.

I have saved two of my favorite tummy soothers for last. Both of which I use in tea form. Ginger contains “essential oils and resins” with “active ingredients called gingerols.” Ginger has been used to treat nausea and upset stomach.

Peppermint is another digestive aid that has been used since ancient times to soothe the gastrointestinal tract.

Truth be told, I have loosened my britches a time or two after eating too much. I am even guilty of bringing a pair of sweat pants to change into post-meal with my excuse being the annual family football game.

Arianna Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: or follow us on Facebook