By Dr. Maoshing Ni
Chinese medicine views proper digestion as the most essential component in living a long and healthy life. Your digestive function is made up of numerous organs all working together to break down, absorb, and process all of the nutrients in the food you eat. Without healthy digestion, you can become malnourished and toxins will build up in your body, leading to degenerative diseases and rapid aging down the road.
Indigestion is caused and made worse by overeating--especially rich, fatty, spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, and acidic foods. These remedies will get your digestion on the right track.
ONE HOUR AFTERWARD:
Walk it off
After a large meal, take a 10- to 20-minute stroll. Aside from the proven benefits to your heart, walking is the perfect gentle exercise for promoting digestion and encouraging cleansing of the lymphatic system. Walking helps food move along the digestive tract, improving digestion and absorption. For added benefits, walk while massaging your abdomen with your palms, in a circle around your belly button.
Herbal tea brings relief
Relieve that feeling of fullness with herbal teas that target your digestion: Steep 1 teaspoon each of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, sage, and basil and in a cup of hot water. Drink after each meal to soothe and prevent bloating. Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger tea are other good choices for settling the stomach. Also, look for Chinese herbal formulas like Indigestion for digestive support and cleansing.
THE MORNING AFTER:
Start with apple cider
Apple cider vinegar is traditionally used to remedy digestive distress, support liver detoxification, normalize digestive juices, and reduce intestinal bloating. Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water, and drink in the morning on empty stomach. Feel free to add a little honey or maple syrup. Lemon water will also help.
Eat right to lighten up
These meals will help your body recover from overindulgence.
- Breakfast: Eat oat bran cereal, brown rice, or any other whole grain cereal (as long as it is unbleached and does not contain any added sugar or chemicals.) Pair with unflavored soy milk.
- Lunch/Dinner: Eat any combination of beans, brown rice, oat bran, vegetables, and organic chicken, turkey, or soy-products.
- For a powerful Super Cleanse Broth, simmer any combination of the following ingredients for an hour: collards, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, dandelion, Brussels sprouts, daikon radish, watercress, seaweed, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, garlic, leeks, fennel, anise, fresh ginger, and turmeric. Drink 8 ounces twice a day.
- A popular herbal formula among my patients is Internal Cleanse, a special combination of natural herbs to detoxify, clear the mind, promote emotional balance, and ease digestion. For more information, click here.
Try a detoxifying exercise
This movement is from Liver Cleansing Qi Gong, a body-mind exercise that was designed by ancient Chinese physicians to help stimulate the liver and drain the excess toxins from the body:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of a tree. Inhale while raising your right leg and exhale while placing your right foot on the ground in front of you between your body and the tree.
- Inhale while raising both arms from the sides until they come together over your head. Exhale while lowering your hands in front of your face. Visualize green light running down your face as your hands move down to your chest.
- Inhale as you move your hands to the right rib cage over your liver. Exhale as you move your arms down your right abdomen and right leg, as if pushing down and out with your hands. Visualize the green light moving the toxins out of the liver, down the liver meridian on the inside right leg, and out the big toe.
The liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body and performs a wide variety of functions. Its most important ones include the processing of nutrients, the production of bile to help in digestion of food and eliminating wastes, and cleansing the blood of toxins such as drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous substances.
The liver has the ability to regenerate itself, but the effects of alcohol eventually wear down the liver. I strongly suggest that you keep your drinking to a minimum for the longevity of your liver and your health, but on that rare occasion when you overindulge, consider these remedies.
ONE HOUR AFTERWARD:
Ginger tea to the rescue
Ginger is an ancient Chinese remedy to minimize the symptoms of hangovers. Ginger has been found to soothe the digestive lining and balance gastric juices, making it a great remedy for overeating, too. This remedy is even more effective if you drink it in between alcoholic beverages.
Cut a 2-inch piece from fresh ginger root, and thinly slice. Bring three cups of water to boil in a pot. Add the sliced ginger and reduce heat to a simmer. Brew for about five minutes. Then strain out the ginger and sip the tea slowly. You may also add honey to taste.
Water, that is. Though this is hardly a secret remedy for combating a hangover, it bears repeating. Alcohol dehydrates your system, so drinking plenty of water will help combat some of your unpleasant hangover symptoms, rehydrate your body, and flush out toxins. Drink a few glasses of room temperature, filtered water after a night of holiday extravagance.
THE MORNING AFTER:
Start with lemon water
First thing in the morning, drink one lemon squeezed in 12 ounces of warm filtered water. Lemon activates your liver to release toxins and helps to cleanse and move the roughage that stays behind in your intestines. Throughout the day, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water to flush your system.
Detoxify with herbal tea
Chinese traditional medicine uses natural substances to help support the healthy functions of your liver, lymphatic system, bowels, urinary tract, and skin. Try these herbs in teas to cleanse and prevent a buildup of toxins and wastes in your body:
- Chrysanthemum flower is traditionally used to cleanse the liver and neutralize toxins.
- Hawthorn berry is used to cleanse the blood of plaque and other toxins.
- Turmeric supports the detoxification process in the whole body by increasing bile production and releasing and eliminating toxins. Simply put a tablespoon of the spice in a pot and stir over medium heat for five minutes.
- Milk thistle protects and restores the liver, due to its content of silymarin.
- Dandelion root has been found by studies to enhance the flow of bile, relieving liver congestion, which in turn aids the body in detoxifying.
- Popular among my patients is Hangover, a Chinese herbal remedy that is helpful for relieving symptoms of hangover.
Heal your aching head
If you wake up with a "morning-after" headache, try this herbal tea to reduce head pressure: Boil 2 tbsp each of chrysanthemum flowers and mint leaves in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. Drink throughout the day until your headache subsides.
I hope this article helps you recover from the effects of overindulgence! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!