Episode 73: Supporting Your Digestive Health and Fennel


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doTERRA: Starting with the intake and absorption of nutrients and water, the digestive process provides the building blocks the body needs to live, to function, and to stay healthy. Your digestive system does so much for you. So, of course, you should make sure you're showing it some love in return. And today, we're going to talk about how you can do exactly that.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful, and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field. If you like what you hear today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. We always appreciate hearing from you.

Today, we're excited to talk to Samantha Lewis, a member of the doTERRA product marketing team, about how you can use essential oils to help support your digestive health. Samantha, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about an issue that I think basically everyone has dealt with at some point in their life.

Samantha Lewis: Yeah, thanks for having me.

doTERRA: So my first question is, as a general summary, what is digestive health?

Samantha: Simply put, digestive health means the various components of the digestive system, so your intestines your stomach—I mean, there's so many functions that your digestive system has—that everything is functioning at their best. Everything's working together correctly. If you have any issues—you know—working with your health care provider, there are a lot of things you can do to improve digestive health, which we'll talk about in a bit, from lifestyle changes and diet changes to taking supportive supplements and using essential oils.

doTERRA: Now it sounds like it's a pretty complex system, but like you said, there are a lot of ways that you can improve your digestive health and help yourself feel a little bit better. So if I have some occasional nauseous feelings is there an oil that is best to help me with those?

Samantha: Yeah, there's actually two categories of essential oils. So we have our spice category and our mint category. Those categories are really going to be the best ones and your go-to. Some of the most common oils used in these categories for feelings of nausea are Ginger and Peppermint. You can add a few drops of each of them to water or a veggie cap. Take that internally, and it can help ease the discomfort you might be feeling.

doTERRA: And along those same lines, how can I help to settle my stomach naturally, you know, if I just have a day where it's feeling kind of upset?

Samantha: Yeah, so it's like you're saying, if you're experiencing an unsettled stomach, taking a DigestZen® softgel or even popping a Peppermint Beadlet in your mouth can help combat those, kind of, unsettled feelings that you're talking about. Aromatically too, Ginger, Peppermint, or even Coriander. So again, in that spice and mint family can help promote a soothing sense of calm.

doTERRA: Coriander is one that I haven't heard of for doing that. That's very interesting.

Samantha: Yeah, yeah. Aromatically, Coriander is amazing. And for some people, it's a little less of a strong aroma, because some people—either you love ginger or you don't. So Coriander is one that if you're not a huge fan of the smell of Ginger, it's one to definitely test out.

doTERRA: That sounds amazing. So my last question is as I'm going about my days, what can I do to help future digestive issues?

Samantha: There are so many things you can do. Like I mentioned earlier, there are lifestyle and diet changes. So those are kind of the basics, things that you can do before you actually go to outside help, like supportive supplements and essential oils.

PB Assist®+ and PB Assist® Jr

When you get into the supplement and essential oil world, there are other basics like supporting a healthy digestive biome with probiotics and digestive enzymes. So we have our PB Assist+, PB Assist Jr, which are super easy to just take. It's a little—almost like a pixie stick situation.

TerraZyme®

And then we have the TerraZyme, which is one of my favorite products. I love to take that before, if I know I'm going to have a heavy meal, or if I know I'm going be eating dairy or something that upsets my stomach, I'll take a TerraZyme before that.

Ginger and Fennel

You can also help promote regular and healthy digestion to help keep things moving as they should down there using oils like Ginger and Fennel internally. So putting—making a Veggie Cap or putting them in water if you like the taste of them, that'll really just help keep things moving in your gut.

And really, finding what works for you personally is key. So the fundamentals that I mentioned of digestive health will work for both you and I. Right? But we both might have our own unique circumstances.

There's actually a great post on the doTERRA blog. It's titled “Digestive System,” and it literally breaks down all the products that we have that help support the digestive system. I think this is a great first stop to learn more about how our products can be incorporated to support your own personal digestive health and just learn more about the digestive system in general because it's, like you mentioned, it is a very complex system. So learning how to support your own, how support your family's digestive system through lifestyle and through supplementation and essential oils, this is—a good first stop is on our blog.

doTERRA: I think that is absolutely excellent advice to make sure and learn your own body, and learn what works for you, and take your health into your own control.

Samantha: Yeah! Yeah, I think it's an empowering thing and you just—you learn how your body functions and the digestive system is such a finicky system, really. So yeah, learning, like you said, learning your own—your own health and taking that control will really help improve, I think, your quality of life in general, too.

doTERRA: Samantha, thank you so much for taking the time to educate us a little bit more on how we can treat our digestive system the best we can. We really appreciate it.

Samantha: Yeah, thank you so much for having me! I love talking about this, and so it's been great to talk about these products that I'm so passionate about.

doTERRA: Today, we wanted to take a deeper look at a plant that is world renowned for its ability to help support a healthy digestive system. There is an herb that has been prized for thousands of years, an herb that in the language of flowers symbolizes force and strength, an herb that is legendary for its health benefits. That herb is fennel.

Now fennel may not be the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of a powerhouse herb. But this humble plant has a long, storied history, stretching from ancient Greece to Charlemagne and beyond Fennel, or Foeniculum vulgare, is a perennial herb, which in the simplest sense means that it is a plant that lives for more than two years. It stands tall with a hollow stalk, grayish-green leaves, and growing up to heights of eight feet. The leaves grow up to 16 inches long, and the individual segments are almost threadlike, measuring only about one fiftieth of an inch wide.

Fennel is known by more than one hundred names and has been held in high esteem throughout history. In fact, a traditional Welsh saying disparages anyone who would pass by fennel without picking it. It says, “He who sees fennel and gathers it not is not a man but a devil.”

Fennel in Greek History and Mythology

In Greek, the name for fennel is marathon or marathos. The place of the famous Battle of Marathon literally means a plain with fennel. And after the battle, the Athenians used woven fennel stalks as a symbol of victory. Greek warriors also believed that drinking a fennel tea before battle would help give them courage.

But the significance of fennel in Greek culture goes back even further than the Battle of Marathon or Greek soldiers. In Hesiod’s poem "Theogony,” meaning the genealogy or birth of the gods, he tells the story of Prometheus stealing the ember of fire from the gods. Now in Greek mythology, Zeus assigned Prometheus the task of forming man from water and earth, which Prometheus did.

But in the process, he became fonder of men than Zeus had ever anticipated. Zeus didn't share Prometheus’s feelings and wanted to prevent men from having power, especially over fire. Prometheus cared more for man than for the wrath of Zeus, so he stole fire from Zeus’s lightning. Prometheus concealed that fire in a hollow stock of fennel and brought it to man.

Fennel in Rome

Roman gladiators also had some similar traditions surrounding fennel. They mixed fennel with their food in order to be successful in the arena. And if a gladiator won, he was crowned with a fennel garland. Also, Roman accounts state that snakes were fond of fennel. And when consumed, it allowed them to be restored to their youth and thus they were able to cast off their old skin.

Historical Uses of Fennel

In antiquity and up to the Middle Ages fennel seeds were considered, like garlic, a deterrent of evil spirits. People draped little sacks with sprigs and seeds over their doors and stuffed their keyholes with fennel seeds in order to block out ghosts and malevolent apparitions

Fennel also made an appearance in many ancient medicinal uses. It was one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo Saxon nine herbs charm recorded in the 10th century. The charm is intended to help with various ailments through a preparation of nine herbs. The numbers nine and three were significant in Germanic paganism and later in Germanic folklore, and they are mentioned frequently within the charm.

Further, the charm directs the reader to sing the charm three times over each of the herbs before they are prepared. The section of the charm that speaks of fennel says, “Chervil and Fennel, most mighty two, those worts were shaped by the witty Drighten, holy in the heavens, where he hung; set and sent [them] into seven worlds for the wretched and the wealthy for all a cure.”

The Anglo Saxons also held the herb as sacred. And Charlemagne the great emperor declared in 812 AD that fennel was essential in every garden because of its beneficial properties. And he required the cultivation of fennel on all imperial farms.

Additionally, during Shakespeare's time, fennel also had large cultural relevance. It served as an emblem of flattery, and Italians of the era would say “Dare finocchio,” to give fennel or to flatter.

Cultures Cooking with Fennel

Many cultures in India, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East use fennel fruits in cooking. It's an essential ingredient in many spice mixtures, including the Chinese five spice powders. In many parts of India, roasted fennel fruits are consumed as an after-meal digestive and a breath freshener, or they’re candied as a comfit to eat after meals.

Fennel Water

Fennel water has also been utilized in many cultures. It has properties similar to those of anise and dill water. And when mixed with sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute gripe water, which many new mothers are very familiar with.

Fennel in Classic Literature

Fennel has an incredible history with many tributes in traditional medicine as well as literature. In fact, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1842 poem “The Goblet of Life” beautifully refers to the fennel plant, saying, “Above the lower plants it towers, The fennel with its yellow flowers, And in an earlier age than ours Was gifted with the wondrous powers, Lost vision to restore.”

From Greek mythology to classic poetry and from fennel tea to modern gripe water, fennel has played a part in innumerable areas of history. This workhorse herb has impacted the lives of people all around the world. And we hope that you have a chance to feel the impact in your home as well.

doTERRA: Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. Also, if you want to try any of the products you learned about, go to doterra.com or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.

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