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Seasonal Digestive Issues
Q. My digestive system seems to change along with the seasons. Is it my imagination, or what might be going on, and what can I do?
A. You are quite astute with your observation of the changing seasons impact on GI health. Regardless of where you live, seasonal changes in the environmental pollen counts can wreak havoc your digestive system. The impact of cross-reactivity between certain foods and pollens is very real when it comes to your digestive tract, and it begins in the mouth. Certain foods become less favorable depending on your unique chemistry and the strength of your immune system. You may even experience a phenomenon called Oral Allergy Syndrome, where your mouth, throat or tongue gets itchy.
Here are a few simple steps my patients like use when working with their seasonal digestive tract:
- Look at pollen counts in your area. Here is a site I use: https://www.pollen.com/forecast/current/pollen
- Try Bitters to support healthy digestion. A daily dose can help break down with food proteins that can further aggravate seasonal symptoms.
- Experiment with Slippery Elm and Marshmallow for the GI tract. These two botanicals possess demulcent and emollient properties that may help to soothe and protect an irritated tummy, intestines or colon. Additionally, the mucilage found in these two herbs has been traditionally used to help absorb toxins from the bowel and give bulk to stools.
- Avoid foods that cross-react with high pollens in your area. Here is a brief list:
- Alder: Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches/nectarines and parsley.
- Birch pollen: apple, carrot, plums, kiwi, cherry, pear, coriander, parsley, fennel, tomato, and tree nuts.
- Goosefoot pollen: banana, melon, peach/nectarine, asparagus, kiwi, potato, olive, onion, parsley.
- Mugwort pollen (weed): carrot, celery, apple, sunflower, peppers, kiwi, anis seed, peach/nectarine.
- Ragweed pollen: melon, cucumber, zucchini banana, sunflower, echinacea, dandelion and chamomile.
- Grass: apple, litchi, tomato, melons, oranges, celery, corn, bell pepper, paprika.
*This list though extensive can include other foods as well. It is not exhaustive.
Natural Herbs for Indigestion
Q. I occasionally get indigestion when I eat certain foods that don’t “agree” with me and I just don’t want to give up. Are there natural herbs that might help my digestion and possibly lessen symptoms?
A. It is the rare person that has the proverbial “iron gut.” Many of my patients use Ginger and Bitters to help aid in digestion. Both have long been used traditionally to nurture and encourage better digestion. Ginger has been popularly used for nausea and upset stomach, and even at times for motion sickness. Many people forget that Ginger has also been studied for its benefits as a natural prebiotic to support friendly probiotic growth in the GI tract. Again, a classic example of a whole food and herb as nourishment for the body.
Bitters are herbs that are by nature, bitter. Yet, when blended by a masterful formulator, they can be tasty! These artfully created herbal blends were first introduced back in the days of Paracelsus and appeared to work by stimulating the natural digestive functions of the body. Today, bitters are back! Health-savvy consumers are choosing natural ways to improve their digestion, instead of quick, over-the-counter symptom relievers.
Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., has 24-years of experience practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor in Portland, Oregon. He is dedicated to using his vast knowledge about alternative medicine to help his patients and generously give to those in need. He has written over a dozen books and 100's of national articles, and was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Read more about Dr. Meletis here. Or, visit our "Ask Dr. Meletis, N.D." page for additional articles.
*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. The information on this website, and provided by Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. There is additional information linked within this site to HealthNotes®, a third party educational source, containing the latest research on health and supplements. Oregon's Wild Harvest will not be held accountable for this information and consider it an education reference only.