Ageratum is an annual erect herb that is 30–80 cm tall with fine white hairs on the stem. Flowers are white to mauve in colour and are conspicuously arranged in clusters. Leaves, when crushed have a characteristic odour, which makes one think of the male goat. This medicinal herb is often found in cultivated fields and other ecosystems, such as woodlands, grasslands, wastelands, roadsides and even forests.
The phytochemical components of Ageratum, which attribute to its analgesic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti oxidant, antibacterial and wound healing properties as well as nematicidal activities include – alkaloids, resins, saponins, tannins, glycosides and flavonoids.
Parts used leaves: dried under shade and powdered, if desired. The leaves can be used fresh, in which case it is juiced.
Ageratum tea is prepared by infusing one tablespoon of the dried leaves in about 150 mls of freshly boiled water for 15 minutes. It can also be prepared by decoction, an aggressive process of extraction (where the leaves/blossoms are boiled under medium to low heat for 45 minutes, or till the volume of water is reduced by one quarter).
Many researches have documented the effectiveness of Ageratum against gastritis, an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the stomach. The condition is one of the reasons of tummy ache and can occur suddenly (acute) lasting one to three days, or can be chronic, lasting several days to weeks. There are several reasons one may develop gastritis, some of which are –
Poor nutrition, allergies to certain foods, drinking too much alcohol and prolonged use of certain medications. Acidic drinks/juices with citric acids and spicy foods, such as hot peppers. Also, infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, where the organisms break down the lining of the stomach, causing gastritis. Other diseases such as pernicious anemia (resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency), autoimmune disorders and chronic bile reflux can also cause gastritis. Nowadays, even physical stresses are considered causative factors.
The most common symptoms include:
Heartburn/indigestion (burning feeling in the stomach/chest), which may be reoccurring. Pain in the upper abdomen, sometimes radiating to the back. Belching, nausea or vomiting (sometimes vomiting blood or “coffee” like material). Loss of appetite as well as bloating/a feeling of fullness.
The conventional treatment for gastritis involves taking antacids or other drugs to reduce stomach acid. While these drugs work quickly to ease symptoms, Ageratum may help correct the root causes of gastritis.
Traditionally, the specie has been used against gastric mucosal inflammation (active chronic gastritis, erosive or not) and also against H. pylori, thus having antimicrobial activity besides anti-inflammatory effects. A cup of the infusion or decoction is taken 3 X daily.
Apart from being a powerful gastroprotector, the whole plant has been used to treat wounds, burns, and bacterial diseases. In some places, the herb is used in treatment of inflammation, pain, and diarrhea. In other places, the juice is commonly used to treat peptic ulcer.
Other anti-gastritis herbs include:
Basil (Ocimum gratissimum, effirin, nchuanwu) has also been found to be very effective for treating acute gastritis. It’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help decrease inflammation and reduce infection caused by the H. pylori bacteria. It can help treat symptoms like stomach pain, indigestion, vomiting and nausea. Infuse a tbsp. of the dried leaves in a teacup of boiled water for 15 minutes. Strain and take 2X daily, preferably after meals. You can also drink the basil tea with honey 2-3 X a day for a few weeks. Another option is to mix 2-3 tsp. of fresh basil juice with a tsp. of honey and drink 2 or 3 X a day for a week. You may chew about 2 to 4 leaves of basil slowly to treat stomach pain. Do this daily for at least a week.
Peppermint is said to be a stomach calmer and has been popular since ancient times. Its soothing properties can reduce inflammation of the stomach lining as well as nausea, heartburn and indigestion. The aroma of peppermint activates the saliva glands and the glands that produce digestive enzymes. As a result our digestion becomes easier. Pour hot water over a few fresh leaves or tea bag of peppermint. Steep for 5-10 minutes and enjoy the mint tea to cope with stomach pain and indigestion. You can also chew fresh peppermint leaves or add them to your soups, salads and smoothies.
Ginger can also effectively treat gastritis due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may help reduce inflammation and treat the infection as well as alleviate symptoms like stomach pain, gas, indigestion, nausea and bloating. The easiest way to consume ginger is adding one teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger root to one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and sip this tea slowly. Drink 2 or 3 times a day for about five days. You can even chew a small piece of the fresh ginger root.
Potato juice is another effective remedy for gastritis, thanks to its antacid and healing properties. The alkaline properties of potatoes help reduce bloating, cramping, excess gas and other symptoms of gastritis.
Peel 1 to 2 raw potatoes (preferably Irish potato) and grate them. Extract the juice and dilute with a little warm water. Drink this 3X a day, 30 minutes before each meal, for at least 1 to 2 weeks.
Chamomile tea may also be very helpful in treating gastritis. It is rich in certain essential oils that are beneficial for the digestive system. It can even soothe the intestinal walls, providing relief from sudden pains, and eliminate gas. Plus, it can reduce stomach inflammation and thus reduce the risk of gastritis.
Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers to one cup of hot water. Cover and allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain, then add some honey. Drink this tea several times daily for a week.
Apart from the above remedies, you may need to maintain a food diary to find out what triggers gastritis and try to cut back or eliminate those foods from your diet. It may be necessary to cut back or avoid drugs, alcohol, spices, foods and beverages that exacerbate your gastritis symptoms.
Also, cut back on red meat, red peppers, sour food, tea and coffee, sweets and aerated drinks as they may irritate the stomach lining. Avoid dairy products until the digestive system is healed. There should be an ideal gap of an hour or two between taking a meal and going to bed. Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day to keep many symptoms of gastritis at bay.
Eat slowly and make sure to chew thoroughly to facilitate proper digestion. Eat small meals at regular intervals to help reduce any excessive acid buildup in the stomach.