• Stomach soothers

Certain herb leaves, flowers and seeds have traditionally been used to remedy gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, nausea and stomach ache. Among them are angelica, anise, camomile, caraway seed, cinnamon, fennel seed, ginger, marjoram, oregano and peppermint. And all can be used to make an herbal infusion or herbal tea.

  • Tummy-taming turmeric

To alleviate stomach cramps, add 1 teaspoon of this very mild-flavoured, bright orange powdered herb to a 250-ml glass of water or simply sprinkle it over whatever you are eating. Turmeric is an ancient Indian and Middle Eastern remedy for treating babies with colic and is a recognized antispasmodic.

  • Use camomile as a stomach calmative

Camomile tea can be safely taken by babies, children and adults for all sorts of problems affecting the digestive system. Use 1 teaspoon dried camomile to 2/3 cup (180ml) boiling water, steeping for 10 minutes before drinking.

  • Sort out problems with wind

To help keep flatulence under control, try one of these herbal teas or infusions.

  1. Caraway seed Pour 1 cup (250ml) boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons freshly crushed caraway seeds. Steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain. Drink a cupful two to four times a day between meals.
  2. Fennel seed Follow the directions given for caraway seed tea, substituting fennel, then drink before or after meals.
  3. Dried peppermint leaf Pour 1 cup (250ml) just-boiled water over 1 tablespoon dried peppermint, infuse for 10-15 minutes and strain. Drink a warm cup of tea three or four times a day.
  4. Dill seed For a mild dill-seed infusion, pour 1 cup (250ml) just-boiled water over 1 teaspoon ground dill seeds and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Strain, then drink before or after meals.
  5. Anise seed Follow the directions given for dill seed, substituting anise for dill seed. Caution: some people may be allergic to anise.
  • Go for the ginger

Sipping a cup of ginger tea after meals may help to keep your digestive system in good working order. Ginger root, which could be called the queen of digestive herbs, has been used for thousands of years to treat indigestion and diarrhoea. Research over the past 25 years has shown that two compounds in ginger — gingerols and shogaols — also work on the inner ear and central nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal tract, helping to reduce nausea and dizziness.

  • Sip cider vinegar

Stir 2 teaspoons cider vinegar into 1 cup (250ml) water and enjoy a ‘vinegar cocktail’ up to three times a day to improve digestion and to fend off an impending stomach ache. Apple cider vinegar, unlike white vinegar, contains malic acid, and can help to balance the stomach’s pH (the balance of alkalinity and acidity).

  • Treat diarrhoea with berries

Simmer 1-2 tablespoons astringent blackberries or blueberries in 1-1/2 cups (375ml) water for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 1 cup (250ml) of this diarrhoea-fighting tonic several times a day, preparing it freshly each time. Some herbalists recommend that you drink 2 tablespoons every 4 hours or so. Another useful berry-derived remedy is raspberry leaf tea (available from most health food shops).

  • Old-time constipation cure

Your grandmother was devoted to castor oil for a good reason: one of its primary uses is as a laxative. Taking 1-2 teaspoons on an empty stomach will produce results in about 8 hours. Castor oil works because a component in the oil breaks down into a substance that stimulates the large and small intestines. Caution: this remedy is not recommended for repeated use, as it impairs the absorption of nutrients.

  • Ease constipation with molasses

This byproduct of sugar refining contains lots of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron, and in addition to easing constipation, it is also recommended as a tonic to treat anaemia. Because it is essentially concentrated cane sugar, you must brush your teeth after ingesting it, to protect the tooth enamel. Take 1 tablespoon before going to bed.