Herbs to Benefit the Small Intestine

Contributor: Cristin Smith
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
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When talking about problems involved with digestion, one often first thinks of the stomach or large intestine. However, the small intestine also plays a very large role in proper digestion. The stomach is the main organ in charge of digestion, but the small intestine is the main organ in charge of absorption of all the body’s vital nutrients. If there is a problem in the small intestine, not only can it lead to classic digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, etc.), but also other problems associated with malnutrition or malabsorption. 

One major problem associated with the small intestine is known as small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). This condition takes place when bacteria from the large intestine travel and make themselves at home in the small intestine. Once there, they dine on all the carbohydrates that have been broken down by the stomach and continue to multiply causing excess mucous production and inflammation. One solution is to treat this condition with general antibiotics. However, research has shown that this is not a successful long term treatment option. Simple herbal remedies have proven to be very effective in not only treating initial symptoms but also preventing SIBO from reoccurring. 

Many herbs can act as natural antibiotics without the negative repercussions of manufactured antibiotics. Add a sprinkle of these herbs to combat the bacterial invaders that may be making themselves at home in your small intestine. 

  1. Dill – mix this herb with a small amount of butter and drizzle over fresh grilled salmon

  2. Thyme – this savory herb pairs well with lemon on grilled pork chops

  3. Oregano – a classic Italian herb that makes a fine addition to pastas and pizzas

  4. Ginger – makes a fine pairing with sesame atop fresh salads of cabbage, carrots and edamame

Another herb that can not only be beneficial in treating symptoms of SIBO but also constipation is garlic. This herb contains an antimicrobial compound known as allicin. Fresh garlic can be used in nearly any dish from a simple dressing to a savory main. Allicin and the other above mentioned herbs can also be taken as digestive supplements if you do not care for their particular flavor. 

These antimicrobial herbs can be a great start to correct digestive problems that may not have been solved through other traditional methods.

*Note: it is always wise to contact a medical practitioner before beginning self-treatment with herbal supplements. These herbs, while natural, can interact negatively with other medications.