Gut health

The ultimate list of
clinically proven
herbs for gut health

FixBIOME OP Dr John Freeman profile photo

The ultimate list of clinically proven
herbs for gut health

Medically reviewed by:
Dr John Freeman

Herbs shown to assist in the treatment of gut issues

Our medical doctors have compiled a list of researched and clinically proven herbs for gut health. These are our top picks based on the most up today medical research in the gut health space.

All ingredients listed have been clinically researched and found to have positive effects for a range of GI issues.

1. Essential oil extracts and complementary herbs

Red thyme oil (Thymus vulgaris)

Studies show dietary supplementation of DM thyme oil may improve intestinal integrity.

Thyme has antimicrobial properties that can help bacteria control overgrowth when formulated in a way that is not neutralized in the stomach (so it can affect the gut).

Some evidence suggests that thyme oil effectively reduces acne-causing bacteria, as found with oregano oil. Red thyme oil may benefit those with hair loss.

When formulated with other natural blends (in a way that can make it past the stomach providing high levels of bioavailability), red thyme oil has been shown as effective in SIBO treatment as the most effective western medical treatment option.

Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano oil has been found to have a broad antimicrobial spectrum effect that can work to reduce bacterial overgrowth in the gut studies have found. Findings suggest it may also be effective in candida overgrowth or SIFO (small intestinal fungal overgrowth).

In addition, oregano oil may benefit gut health by assisting in the restoration of the tight junctions of the intestine. SIBO and other related gut conditions cause micro-cracks in the gut lining, leading to a condition called leaky gut.

When formulated with other natural blends (in a way that can make it past the stomach providing high levels of bioavailability), oregano oil is effective in SIBO treatment as the most effective western medicinal treatment option.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is used to relieve muscle spasms. It eases the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as cramping, bloating, and excessive farting (flatulence) (IBS). It aids digestion by reducing constipation by relaxing the intestinal wall muscles.

The perennial peppermint plant (a cross between water mint and spearmint) is the source of the essential oil of peppermint.

In addition to being used as a flavor in food and beverages, peppermint oil is also extensively utilized as a fragrance in soap and personal care products. Peppermint oil can be consumed in small amounts orally in nutritional supplements or used topically on the skin as a cream or ointment for many health concerns.

According to studies, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms may be alleviated by using peppermint oil. Additionally, it may relieve indigestion and avoid GI tract spasms following an endoscopy or barium injection. If used topically, it may help alleviate the symptoms of breastfeeding-related tension headaches and cracked nipples. However, further research is needed to affirm these findings.

Most individuals can safely utilize peppermint oil-based nutritional supplements and topical therapies when they are used according to the directions on the label.

In addition to heartburn, peppermint oil may interact with some drugs. Before using peppermint oil, make an appointment with your doctor or other healthcare professional to discuss your medical needs.

Peppermint oil’s medicinal applications

Peppermint oil has been tested in dietary supplements for a range of digestive issues, including:

  • Syndrome of an overactive, irritable bowel
  • Indigestion/Heartburn

Although there is no conclusive evidence that dietary supplements containing peppermint oil are beneficial for the following conditions, it’s possibly effective for:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Morning sickness
  • Cramping in the upper gastrointestinal tract and the bile ducts
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughs and colds
  • Mouth and throat inflammation
  • Infections of the sinuses and lungs
  • Problems related to your menstrual cycle
  • Headache
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Nerve ache
  • Toothache
  • Itchiness
  • Rashes caused by an allergy

Sage leaf (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is an herb native to the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet has been found to be the healthiest diet in the world. Sage leaf can soothe indigestion and dyspepsia.

When formulated with other natural blends (in a way that can make it past the stomach providing high levels of bioavailability), it is effective in SIBO treatment as the most effective western medicinal treatment option.

Active properties of sage:

  • It contains camphor, an oily substance that gives sage its pungent aroma. Popularly used in camphor actively stimulates nerve endings.
  • Carnosic acid and carnosol have researched-backed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains an activated molecule known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma) that is known to help regulate blood sugar, lipids, and inflammation, among other things.
  • Phenolic acids exert significant antioxidant properties. It is a plant-based chemical that protects cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Some research suggests sage can improve your memory and cognitive function. Sage may also help in blood sugar control. Sage can assist as an antioxidant defense. Studies suggest sage may have the power to lower cholesterol levels.

Lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm has several research that shows its effectiveness in the gastrointestinal area. First, lemon balm leaves relax and soothe spasms thanks to its antispasmodic and soothing ingredients. Secondly, lemon balm is gastro-protective, and its active ingredients contribute to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Lemon balm extracts contain multiple helpful chemicals like:

  • Tannins may be responsible for the antiviral effects prescribed to the plant.
  • Terpenes are considered the primary source of the herb’s relaxing effects.
  • Eugenol calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues, and kills bacteria.

These substances may effectively treat gastrointestinal bloating and flatulence due to their spasmolytic mode of action.

2. Other beneficial herbs

The berberine family

Plants such as European Barberry, Goldenseal, Goldthread, and Philodendron contain a substance called Berberine.

Berberine is a yellow-colored molecule with a bitter taste. People with certain heart diseases may benefit from its ability to strengthen the heartbeat. Bacterial deaths, blood sugar balances, and edema reduction are possible benefits of this treatment.

Berberine is most typically used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and excessive cholesterol levels in the blood. Although there has been little scientific evidence to back these claims, it has been utilized for burns, canker sores, and other ailments.

Berberine’s influence on the gut microbiota

In addition to lowering cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood, Berberine modulates the composition of the Gastrointestinal Microbiota. Some studies show that Berberine can also limit Gastrointestinal Microbiota variety by affecting the relative concentrations of specific microbes in our digestive tracts. Berberine has been found in recent research to have favorable effects on the intestinal immune system’s immune cells and impact the expression of multiple intestinal immunity components for SIBO treatment. The metabolism of bile acids, lipids, and glucose can be mediated by short-term exposure to Berberine. Berberine has been found to enhance the production of fatty acids by the anaerobic bacteria in the gastrointestinal system.

The microbiota influences metabolic problems in the gastrointestinal tract. Berberine’s ability to boost cellular glucose absorption and metabolism is a factor in its use as a therapy in SIBO.

Possibly effective for:

  • May regulate hormone imbalance for PCOS
  • May help treat canker sores
  • Can help lower high blood pressure
  • May help control diabetes
  • Lowering high levels of cholesterol in the blood

Coptis root and rhizome extract (Coptis chinensis, containing berberine)

Coptis root has been used to promote healthy digestive and microbial environments. Berberine alkaloids in Coptis have been researched for their influence on microbes in the gut.

The medicinal plant is from the rhizome of the perennial herb Coptis Chinensis, huanglian. It showed antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Possibly effective for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Jaundice
  • High fever coma
  • Toothache
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema

The extract comes from the root of the traditional medicinal herb, Coptis Japonica or Japanese Goldthread. Coptis root and rhizome extract is widely used traditionally in East Asia for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial abilities.

Indian barberry root extract (Berberis aristata, containing berberine)

The use of barberry dates back more than 2,500 years. It is used to treat diarrhea, reduce fever, improve appetite, relieve upset stomach, and promote vigor, as well as a sense of well-being.

In western and eastern traditional medicine, barberries have a long history and are widely used in traditional medical practices in these areas.

Indian barbery has the following characteristics:

  • Contains high nutrients
  • Have beneficial plant compounds
  • Serves as a powerful antioxidant that helps combat cellular damage caused by free radicals

Possibly effective for:

  • Help fight acne
  • Curing various health problems like constipation, heartburn, diarrhea, and malaria
  • It may help manage diabetes
  • It may protect against metabolic syndrome
  • Good for dental health
  • It may have anticancer effects

Berberine HLC

In laboratory studies, it was discovered that berberine had antibacterial activity against many microorganisms, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, among others. The inoculum size and pH of the medium were important factors in determining the antibacterial activity against Vibrio cholera and Staphylococcus aureus.

Because of its potent antimicrobial activity against major gastrointestinal pathogens, there is strong evidence that berberine effectively treats the vast majority of commonly occurring gastrointestinal infections, as demonstrated by the widespread antimicrobial activity against the major pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract.

Possibly effective for:

  • Cholesterol-lowering
  • It may help prevent heart disease
  • Potential to help lower blood sugar
  • It may even help fight cancer
  • Improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome

Chinese skullcap root (Scutellaria baicalensis)

Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap) is a common plant in Chinese Medicine. As a member of the mint family, Skullcap is an excellent source of antioxidants called flavones, which protect tissues from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Baicalin and baicalein, two chemicals found in high concentrations in Chinese Skullcap, have been shown to offer a wide range of therapeutic effects.

Skullcap is sometimes used in alternative medicine for the following reasons:

  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Hepatitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Tension, stress, and anxiety all contribute to poor health

Skullcap has been the subject of few clinical research so far. The herb’s preliminary research, on the other hand, suggests that it might help treat memory impairment, prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and Parkinson’s disease.

Chinese skullcap has traditionally been used to treat infections. Skullcap exhibits high antibacterial action in test tubes against a wide range of microorganisms, including:

  • E. coli, a pathogen that can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) and gastrointestinal tract infections
  • Staph, a bacteria that can cause infections in the skin and wounds
  • Salmonella and Listeria, possible food contaminants
  • The ulcer-causing H. Pylori

The skullcap is also known as a ‘nervine.’ A nervine is a type of herbal drug that supports or nourishes the nervous system, as the name suggests. It’s surprising how many individuals are unaware that the digestive tract has its own nervous system. When we experience acute or chronic irritation, especially in SIBO, our digestive tract’s nervous system responds by also becoming irritated.

The skullcap assists in calming and nourishing the nervous area of the digestive tract and reducing spasms, pain, and bloating safely and effectively. It also has the added benefit of inhibiting the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers.

Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant endemic to Asia. The roots of the ginger plant are the source of the ginger spice. It is widely utilized as a flavoring and medicinal ingredient.

Ginger has anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties due to its chemical composition. Aside from the digestive system, the brain and nerve system may benefit from these substances.

Ginger is often used to treat nausea and vomiting in various ways. Menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, diabetes, migraines, and other ailments have all been treated with it, but the effectiveness of these treatments has not been adequately studied.

Additionally, one of the oldest known remedies for stomach problems is ginger. According to research, the Zingiberaceae family’s ginger rhizome aqueous extract (GRAE) was found to have ulcer-preventing qualities.

Using ginger rhizome can help prevent stress-induced mucosal lesions and reduce gastric acid output in the stomach. With SIBO, stress is the driving factor in worsening symptoms, and ginger rhizome may help alleviate these SIBO symptoms by protecting the stomach from oxidative stress-induced damage.

Possibly effective for:

  • It can treat many forms of nausea, such as morning sickness.
  • It may help with weight loss.
  • It can aid with osteoarthritis.
  • It may help lower blood sugars and lessen heart disease risk factors.
  • It can assist in treating chronic indigestion.

Chinese licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) in the form Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

DGL is a form of licorice that people have processed for safer consumption. They remove a substantial amount of a substance called glycyrrhizin. This makes DGL safer for long-term use. DGL has fewer interactions with medical conditions or medications than licorice extract.

The licorice plant’s root is one of the world’s oldest herbal treatments.

Licorice has long been used to flavor foods and medicines from Western Asia and Southern Europe. Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Greek Medicine treat stomach upset, inflammation, and upper respiratory problems.

These days, many people use licorice root to cure bacterial and viral illnesses and heartburn. Licorice tea relieves sore throats, and topical gels are said to heal acne and eczema.

Licorice root extract may also help relieve GERD symptoms, including acid reflux and heartburn. Another study found that licorice root was more beneficial than antacids in lowering symptoms in 58 persons with GERD over two years.

Licorice may also help cure ulcers. Throwing up stomach acid causes peptic ulcers. Inflammation from H. pylori bacteria frequently causes them. The glycyrrhizin in licorice root extract may help heal peptic ulcers. Licorice extract outperformed omeprazole in one trial, a standard peptic ulcer treatment. A 2-week study in 120 adults found that taking licorice extract and a standard treatment dramatically reduced the presence of H. pylori.

Possibly effective for:

  • Relieve symptoms of indigestion symptoms including acid reflux, upset stomach, and heartburn
  • Lessen upper respiratory infections
  • Treat ulcers
  • Relieve sore throat
  • It helps heal acne and eczema

Chinese rhubarb root and rhizome (Rheum officinale)

Rhubarb is a member of the Polygonaceae family and has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine since 270 BC. The Medicine is made from the root and underground stem (rhizome).

Rhubarb is used for digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain, GI bleeding, and diagnostic procedures. Rhubarb is also an effective antibacterial, especially against bacteria that affect the intestine, common in SIBO.

Overall, rhubarb has substantial antibacterial activity and a broad antibacterial range, and it can overcome antibiotic resistance by preventing bacterial biofilm formation. Oral rhubarb has beneficial effects on the intestinal flora ecology, reducing inflammation and improving immunity.

Rhubarb’s main gastrointestinal impact is to aid in the digestion of leftover food. Many human and animal studies have shown that rhubarb can protect the gut mucosal barrier.

(1) Rhubarb can restore gut microbiota balance, restore disrupted flora, and prevent microbiota shift
(2) Rhubarb can restore gut microbiota balance, restore disrupted flora, and prevent microbiota shift
(3) Rhubarb can affect intestinal immune activity.

Rhubarb reduces innate immune-mediated inflammation and intestinal damage. Moreover, rhubarb can maintain or repair intestinal mucosal barrier integrity, preventing gut microbiota change. Rhubarb also regulates gastrointestinal motility issues, increases intestinal blood perfusion, removes oxygen free radicals, and reduces inflammation.

Possibly effective for:

  • Stomach bleeding
  • Cold sores
  • Constipation
  • Gum disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach pain
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Diarrhea

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill is a plant used as a cooking spice and in soaps and cosmetics as a scent. Dill seeds and plant sections that grow above ground have also been used as medication.

Dill is used to treating digestive issues, liver problems, urinary tract illnesses, infections, and various other ailments, but there is no scientific proof to back up these claims.

Dill seed contains compounds that may help relax muscles. Other compounds, such as a “water pill,” may be able to kill bacteria and enhance urine production.

Dill medical applications:

Dill leaves are an excellent digestive aid and a tasty appetizer. Fresh dill sprigs’ anti-flatulent activity decreases gas generation in the alimentary canal, reducing bloating, flatulence, and abdominal distension.

The herb’s high fiber content aids peristaltic action by eliminating wastes from the body, making it an effective constipation treatment. Additionally, the herb’s antacid characteristic reduces the creation of excessive acids in the stomach, which helps cure indigestion, ulcers, and gastritis while promoting improved nutritional absorption.

Dill may also help:

  • Strengthen bone health
  • Prevent infections
  • Treat insomnia
  • Boost immunity
  • Lessens pain and inflammation
  • Reduce respiratory symptoms
  • Regulate diabetes