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10 Cooking Herbs and Spices That Aid in Digestion

Updated on February 18, 2013

Cardamom Pods

Cooking Herbs and Spices to Aid Digestion

Many of the common herbs and spices we regularly use for cooking are beneficial for digestion. Digestion is extremely important because it makes many of our organs work together to absorb, break down and process the many nutrients in our foods.

Healthy digestion is important - because without it malnutrition can occur. Additionally, toxins can build up in our body which, in turn, can speed the aging process and play a role in causing degenerative diseases.

Symptoms of poor digestion include - bloating, gas/flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue.

There are many spices and herbs that are known to be beneficial aids for digestion - these include all of the following:

anise - popular in Indian cuisine as well as in Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Persian and Pakistani cooking. It is added to pies, jams, jellies, and other baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and sweet bread. Other uses include adding a dash to soups, stews and curries. Anise is also believed to be beneficial in preventing epileptic seizures.

basil - very popular in American and Italian cooking. The round pointed leaves are used for seasoning and as the main ingredient in pesto (along with pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese). Basil has flavonoids (which provide protection at the cellular level), anti-bacterial properties that inhibit several species of pathogenic bacteria - which have been shown to be resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

bay leaf - sometimes referred to as bay herb, it is a staple in French and Mediterranean cooking. Should be added to a dish early because it takes time for the flavor to fully penetrate the goods. I always use it to make soup. Bay leaves are also beneficial in treating migraines and diabetes.

cardamom - is sold as pods (see photo), seeds, and can be whole or in powder form. It is used to intensify both sweet and savory flavors and is commonly used in curries and Indian dishes, including desserts. In addition to being an aid to digestion, cardamom stimulates metabolism and is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

coriander - is sold both in seed and powdered form. Used in chili, soups and stews as well as with potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. It is used in the cuisines of Africa, China, the Mediterranean, Latin America, Mexico and in Middle Eastern and Southeastern Asian dishes. In addition to minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin C, coriander is also believed to help reduce swelling and cholesterol levels, and eliminate mouth ulcers, anemia and menstrual disorders.

dill - the seeds and leaves are used in vegetable and egg dishes. As well as with shellfish, in soups, salads, pickles, dressings, and vinegars. Dill is also rich in minerals, vitamin C and flavonoids; one tablespoon has more calcium than 1/3 cup of milk.

fennel - is also known as the 'fish herb' by Italian and French cooks. It is used in many cultures such as in Indian curries. Used with lentils, potatoes, in stews, sauces, pastries, puddings and spiced fruit, it also works well with cinnamon. Fennel is a also a good source of niacin, calcium. vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

ginger - is an important ingredient in Asian cuisine. Ginger has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to ease digestive complaints and nausea and much more. According the the University of Michigan Cancer Center, ginger is used in CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine). Ginger is often easily used as a tea.

oregano - there is Mexican and there is Mediterranean oregano and the herb can now be found growing throughout the world. Often partnered with basil, it is used with roasted vegetables, in soups, vinegars, salad dressings, in egg and cheese dishes and often mixed with other herbs like basil, parsley, thyme and garlic. Oregano also has strong antibacterial properties and can inhibit the growth of many kinds of bacteria, including those that can cause food borne illnesses.

rosemary - often used in French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and for marinades, with fish, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, winter squash and tomatoes. Works well with other spices such as garlic, parsley, sage, thyme and oregano. Rosemary has also been used throughout history to improve memory, treat colds, headaches, nervous tension and as an antispasmodic.

If you have any of the symptoms of poor digestion (as listed above), you may want to be sure to add these cooking herbs and spices, on the list, to your diet.

Many spices and herbs can be also be used to make teas with healthy benefits. See the link below and more links to other healthy lists:


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    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      digestion help - thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It seems so many of us are being plagued with digestive problems. And it does take time. I'm glad we are returning to food as the best way to heal what ails us. It does work! Thanks again for writing!

      Helen - good point. Isn't it interesting to see how so many of us almost swallow food whole? Our elders taught us to chew food. Perhaps there is so little fiber and substance in the food we are eating that swallowing has become the norm. Sigh!. Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      Helen 4 years ago

      Chew, chew and chew some more. Digestion starts in the mouth. Food has to be well broken down to be properly absorbed and there are no teeth in your stomach.


    • profile image

      digestion help 4 years ago

      Basically first class site, thank you for this post. Informational blog for people suffering from stomach disorders or general stomach problems. digestion help, stomach help, IBS, SIBO, stomach support As most people with stomach disorders already know it takes time to recover from any condition. The best ways to help most people is by what diet they are on. There are so many recommended diets out there that for people it can become confusing which to follow. I myself and other people I know have attempted almost every diet out there. So here are some simple tops to look for when picking a diet.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 5 years ago from New York City

      mandymoreno81 - I just read that oregano oil has amazing benefits. Thanks for passing along your tips.

      curcumintherapy - I keep reading that ginger and turmeric is a miracle tea. I always keep turmeric on hand but now must get the ginger - thanks for personally promoting it.

    • curcumintherapy profile image

      Chloe 5 years ago from Aust

      Fantastic list of herbs and spices. I drink Ginger tea and also add in Turmeric. Turmeric helps with any other ailments I may have.

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 6 years ago

      I use a lot of basil and oregano in my cooking so I have good digestion. I've heard of fennel extract or medicine made primarily of it that does wonders for the stomach after a heavy meal.

    • profile image

      Spices 6 years ago

      I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me,and I am completely satisfied with your website.All comments and articles are very useful and very good.

      Your blog is very attention-grabbing. I am loving all of the in turn you are sharing with each one!…

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub.I'll be checking my pantry if we have these.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Great information you've put together here! Thanks for a useful resource.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Another very useful hub, ListLady. You certainly are very good in listing out good and natural stuff.

      I love most of the herbs listed here and use them in my cooking. It is great to know that they actually help in digestion. You have upgraded my cooking knowledge, thank you !

      You are superb writer, ListLady !

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Great hub, Listlady. Thank you for sharing natural ways to help digestion. I love herbs, and love to learn more about how they help us to feel better. How great that something natural can help food taste better and be good for you too.

    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      My favorite herb is basil. I have sluggish digestion and try to include some of the above mentioned herbs in my menu. I have changed my diet considerably and I use a probiotic. Enzymes from fresh fruits and vegetables are also great for digestive problems. I try to juice carrots daily as they contain a good number of enzymes and phytonutrients and it helps to clean toxins out of your colon. I also eat stonyfield yogurt everyday. It has a probiotic in combination with the yogurt. You have written a great article. Very useful and informative. Teresa

    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 7 years ago from Montana

      What great info! I already use a number of these spices, so it's good to be mindful of their benefits.

    • profile image

      revolving spice rack 7 years ago

      Nice post! A collection of spices, I practically like some of the herbs you post, because of its herbal benefits!. In fact practically had a collection of them in a spice rack

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 7 years ago

      Thanks for this information, I am going to try combining rosemary with garlic...maybe it will help with the taste of garlic :)

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Wow, I use about half of the list, however, did not know many of them aided in digestion. Thanks for providing the info and congrats on being selected as one of this week's nominees for the HubNugget's Wannabe Contest. Good luck to you!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Very informative and thanks so much for sharing that info with us! Congrats on your nomination.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Wow, this is a good list to have! I must bookmark this one!

      Spices to the rescue! Congratulations for your Hubnuggets nomination! This link will take you to the Hubnuggets festivities. Spice up your day by voting and promoting your hub! Best of luck!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

      I just tried some ginger for a bout of a 48 hour stomach virus and it worked wonders. I haven't tried a few of these listed here but will in the future.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      awesome no info more healthier than this ones, very useful, Maita

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Super information. How interesting that we think these cooking spices are just to make food taste good. We should have known there would be many nutritional benefits. There is so much to love and enjoy when sticking with nature.

      Thanks so much for a great hub! Rate up and more!

    • GreenThumbLady profile image

      GreenThumbLady 7 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      Wow! This is really great information to have handy! We know of all of the healing qualities in certain foods but we tend to forget or overlook the spices! Thanks for this!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Oh what wonderful information!!! So much here I had no idea about! Definitely bookmarking this to save for my shopping list! Fabulous hub! Rated up for sure!