Yesterday, before Thanksgiving, I advised my Facebook readers to start their meals with some bitters- Angostura bitters, Fernet Branca, radicchio or dandelion greens to stimulate their liver and gallbladder to secrete digestive juices. I also suggested taking a little lemon juice or vinegar in water before the meal to prevent blood sugar spikes and to help with liver detoxification. It also helps to leave a little room in your stomach when you eat. But what if you didn’t?
This morning you may want to take Bao He Wan (Balenex Extract) or Curing Pills (Po Chai Pills), the two Chinese remedies for overindulgence. The pills contain herbs for food stagnation (when that meal is hanging out in your digestive tract instead of moving out,) herbs to drain dampness, and probiotics. Bao He Wan also has Chinese hawthorn which is good for your heart, although not as good as European hawthorn. Bao He Wan is helpful for hangovers as well. But the probiotic, massa fermentata, is grown on barley so may bother people with gluten sensitivity.
If you are gluten sensitive, look to peppermint and ginger. Generally you use peppermint if you tend to run hot or ginger if you run cold or suffer from nausea. If you run hot and feel nausea, a jar of sushi ginger is easy to keep on hand and is perhaps the least heating. That ginger is traditionally fermented, so you get some probiotics benefit. In fact it might make a good side, along with the cranberry sauce. Dry ginger is more warming than fresh ginger, so slice some fresh ginger in hot water for tea unless you are quite cold.
One of the best ways to use the ginger and peppermint is to put a drop of essential oil over the belly. Traditionally you either put it on a point halfway between your sternum and belly button for stomach issues (Ren 12) or on (Stomach 25) for constipation. To find it, slide your fingers out from your belly button until you find a tender point at the edge of the rectus.
For nausea, the point on your inner wrist just two thumbswidth down from the crease (Pericardium 6) is the best place to rub and apply ginger oil. This is the point stimulated by Sea Bands for motion sickness and the point where I used a magnet for morning sickness during my early pregnancy. The easiest way to find it is to hold the center of your forearm between the thumb and index finger of your other hand and slide down towards the wrist. Your thumb naturally falls into the point since the “inner gate” as the Chinese point name is translated and the “outer gate” on the top of the forearm are located directly across from each other. Rub the inner gate and apply a drop of ginger oil. (Dilute it if you are sensitive or pregnant.)
And also rub Hegu (Large Intestine 4), the tender point between your thumb and index finger at the base, on the outside of your hand. This is good for food stagnation and constipation. I usually slide my thumb between the thumb and index finger and pinch it between the thumb and index finger of the other side.
If you have diarrhea, you may want to run your finger down along the side of your femur, on the lateral side of the leg. Between the knee and halfway down you may find several points on the Stomach channel which will relieve diarrhea. Rub with a circular motion on the tender points for two to three minutes.
Bitters in water are good after the feast, and should regularly be featured with your larger meals. They normalize stomach secretions, stimulate bile, enhance peristalsis and relieve depression. (Serotonin is predominantly made in the gut.) An easy way to get them when you eat out is to ask for a slice of lime in water, then bite down on the peel. A little goes a long way.
And don’t forget digestive enzymes, especially if you no longer have your gallbladder, and probiotics. I especially like Pharmax human lactobacillis probiotics, but my absolute favorite is blue cheese, in medicinal doses of about a half teaspoon. The blue veins repopulate your gut fast and the fat in the cheese protects them from digestive juices until they arrive. I find they work even for people who don’t eat dairy (barring anyone with atopic reactions.) You only need two or three doses.