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Those who struggle with constipation or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may have a number of possible root causes (contrary to common belief, IBS shouldn’t be a diagnosis so much as a description of symptoms). While it’s always best to identify and treat the cause, there are some common herbs that can help hit a ‘reset button’ on gut motility by adding in some prokinetic herbs, once this is done. Very often this is necessary after treating SIBO, for instance, in order to prevent recurrence. Here are few of the better choices.

Ginger for Gut Motility

Ginger is a great carminative (or gut-calming) herb in general. Sometimes for regulating gut motility, it stands alone, and sometimes it’s used in combination with other herbs.

This study shows that ginger particularly increases gastric (stomach) emptying, while this study shows that ginger increases not just gastric, but gastrointestinal motility in general.

Artichoke for Gut Motility

Artichoke (the food, and the extract) both encourage bile production. Better bile flow likely enhances gut motility due to the fact that bile itself is very antimicrobial, if SIBO is present, the bile itself tends to kill it off. This may be why artichoke encourages small bowel motility.

It’s also possible that artichoke’s prokinetic effects may be due to the prebiotics they contain. This study shows that the inulin from artichokes significantly increases beneficial microbiota in the gut—which will of course have motility-enhancing effects.

Artichoke is also antispasmodic, and if motility is disrupted due to gut spasms, artichoke may therefore have a positive effect upon motility for this reason.

This study combines ginger and artichoke in the same product, and demonstrates significant improvement in gut motility.

Peppermint for Gut Motility

Peppermint essential oil is a classic carminative choice for those suffering from IBS. It can have a soothing effect due to its antispasmodic properties, as well. It appears that peppermint has antispasmodic properties because it functions as a natural calcium channel blocker.

This study also shows that peppermint has a positive impact on gut motility generally.

The Upshot

In addition to ginger, artichoke, and peppermint, other common non-herbal prokinetics include Low Dose Erythromycin (compounded, but in such a low dose that it has no antibiotic effects, only prokinetic effects), and Low Dose Naltrexone.

According to naturopathic philosophy, it’s not the substance you use, so much as the way in which you use it that makes the difference between symptom suppression, and aiding the body to restore balance.