Ah, the holidays. A time to feast with abandon on delicious, rich foods — followed, perhaps, by a bit of regret as our bodies do their best to digest all of it. Fortunately, there are herbal allies we can call upon in such situations to support gastrointestinal function and ease digestive discomfort. We’ve combined four of these wonderful herbs into a simple and effective After-Dinner Digestive Tea recipe, featuring Harvesting Vitality’s Happy Belly Honey as a natural sweetener with herbal goodness of its own.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flowers have been a popular folk remedy since the times of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, when it was used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Among the many benefits attributed to this herb is its ability to support digestion. Prepared as a tea, in particular, it has a long history of use easing digestive disturbances that are accompanied by pain, from sluggish digestion to diarrhea to nausea. This wide-range of action combined with chamomile’s slightly sweet flavor makes this herb a great base for our Digestive-Aid Tea recipe.
Note: Although rare, some people are allergic to chamomile. A reaction is more likely to occur in those allergic to other plants in the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seeds have a carminative action, helping to minimize gas either by preventing its formation or facilitating its release from the body. Fennel seeds do this in part by relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestines, reducing gas, cramping, and bloating. Their volatile oils also stimulate the mucus membranes of the digestive tract, encouraging proper movement of the digestive walls. In addition to the role of these aromatic oils in supporting digestion, they give fennel seeds a mild anise flavor, making it a distinctive addition to the Digestive-Aid Tea recipe.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root has been used in China, India, and Southeast Asia for millennia to ease a gamut of gastric woes: nausea, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, belching, bloating, and ulcers. Today’s research tells us ginger is carminative (reduces gas), and encourages movement and healthy function of the gastrointestinal system. Studies have also confirmed ginger’s effectiveness in alleviating nausea and vomiting. Ginger brings all of this to the Digestive-Aid Tea recipe, with a pungent and warming, slightly spicy flavor.
Another herb with popular and long-standing use as a carminative, the volatile oils in peppermint (Mentha x piperita) have been shown to relax gastrointestinal tissues and soothe discomfort. Although studies of the effects of peppermint leaf and tea on digestion are very limited, clinical trials using peppermint oil capsules found evidence that peppermint oil decreased the duration, frequency, and severity of discomfort in children with abdominal pain. As the final herb in the Digestive-Aid Tea recipe, peppermint adds its carminative action along with the signature flavor of refreshing mint.
Happy Belly Honey
Harvesting Vitality’s Happy Belly Honey contains all four herbs described above, combined with several others to promote gastrointestinal wellness. These include additional carminatives, such as cardamom (Elettaria cardamommum) and agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), along with herbs to soothe the gastrointestinal tract: plantain (Plantago spp.), marshmallow (Althea officinalis) root, and meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). Finally, burdock (Arctium lappa) root is added to nurture the microbiome and support the hepatic system, which is responsible for detoxifying blood, metabolizing glucose, and synthesizing proteins. As a final touch to the After-Dinner Digestive Tea, Happy Belly Honey brings additional supports and a bit of sweet to the recipe.
After-Dinner Digestive Tea
Makes 16 servings.
¼ cup dried chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower
¼ cup dried fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seed
¼ cup dried peppermint (Mentha x piperita) leaf
¼ cup dried ginger (Zingiber officinale) root
1 spoonful of Happy Belly Honey for each serving
- Combine all the herbs in a big bowl, mix well to combine. Transfer to a clean, dry, glass container with a lid for storage, and label it clearly with the contents and date.
- For each serving, add 1 tablespoon of loose-leaf tea to a heat-proof container. Add 1 cup of steaming hot water per serving, and let steep, covered, for 10-12 minutes.
- Strain the herbs and pour the tea into mugs to serve.
- Stir in a healthy dollop of our Happy Belly Honey to each mug to enhance the digestive properties and sweeten the overall flavor.
The herbs in this Digestive-Aid Tea recipe are ready to soothe and support you this holiday season. You might already have these popular kitchen spices in your cupboard. If not, gather the ingredients as you do your holiday shopping, and serve this tea as a healthful and tasty finale to your holiday meal. Your guests will thank you!