Mother Earth's Medicine Cabinet: Stimulate Digestion & Appetite With These 5 Herbs

A loss of appetite can really get you down in more ways than one! When you don’t eat you lose vitamins and minerals. The herbs I’m going to cover in this article are great for stimulating the appetite, as well as stimulating digestion.

Today’s walk through Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet covers 5 different bitter herbs that stimulate your appetite and digestion. Bitters are…Well, they’re bitter! They aren’t exactly tasty but they do the trick, causing your appetite to kick in. Bitters naturally increase the secretion of saliva and the acids found in your stomach. There are many bitter herbs that exist but today we’ll look at 5 of my favorite bitters that really work.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Dandelions are far more than just weeds! They can be eaten, turned into wine, brewed as tea, made into jam, and used for healing. The dandelion is traditionally used as a diuretic that aids healing for the liver and kidneys, but it can be used as a mild stimulant for encouraging appetite, too. The roots, leaves, and flowers can all be used in one way or another. Not only will dandelions stimulate an appetite, but they can treat an upset stomach, improve digestion, and be used as a mild laxative.

Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus): This bitter is great for stimulating digestion and appetite. Don’t confuse blessed thistle with milk thistle they are not the same thing. Blessed thistle stimulates the gastric juices in the stomach, as well as saliva, which in turn increases the appetite and aids in digestion. This lovely plant contains anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. If you have a gastric ulcer or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome this is not the best thing to use because it can irritate these issues, making them worse. Blessed thistle is also used for treating a cough, the common cold, and bacterial infections, and for breaking fevers and easing indigestion. It was once used in the Middle Ages for treating the Bubonic Plague.

Gentian (Gentiana lutea): Just as with the other bitters, gentian stimulates stomach acid and increases the production of saliva, which increases appetite and digestion. But be careful: because of gentian's stimulation of acid production, if you already have  acid reflux or too much acid in your stomach, then this is not the herb for you. Another fun fact about gentian's healing abilities: it’s been said that gentian flowers can help boost your confidence!

Centaury (Centaurium minus): Once again the bitter properties found in this healing herb, centaury, are the ticket to stimulating your appetite and digestion as well. The bitter glycosides are useful for tonics that soothe and stimulate the digestive tract. This herb eases indigestion, calms heartburn, and increases your stomach acidity. The glycosides stimulate stomach acid secretion, as well as digestive enzymes, increasing the overall activity in the digestive tract in a positive way. Not only does centaury make a good tonic for the digestive tract but it is also good for fevers.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Once again, ginger makes the list from the Medicine Cabinet! Ginger stimulates a weak appetite. You can drink a cup of ginger tea to increase an appetite and stimulate digestion. If you don’t enjoy tea eat a few chunks of crystallized ginger before meal time. If you do drink the tea avoid using white sugar because it actually suppresses hunger, so try using honey, which has a host of health benefits as well. If you’re not a fan of honey there are many other natural sweeteners. Ginger is full of healing benefits; many of them are for the stomach but it’s great for fighting a cold and the flu too.

Herbs aren’t the only thing that can trigger an appetite. Aromatherapy is wonderful for increasing an appetite! Scents like cinnamon, lemon, and mint work wonders. Scented candles that smell sweet like cookies and cakes always make people hungry (even if they aren’t). Some of this has to do with the simple mental association while the other part has to do with stimulating the salivary glands.

I hope today’s walk through Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet finds you well and in a good way! It is important that our bodies get the nutrition necessary for them to function properly, so if you don’t have an appetite try one of these bitters or aromatherapy to activate that appetite. Happy Healing!