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Indigestion

An inability to properly digest and assimilate ingested food in the stomach leads to the condition called indigestion, it usually occurs after a meal and is an uncomfortable and irritating condition. A variety of symptoms are associated with the condition, some of the most common manifestation is a burning sensation in the stomach, this includes heartburn, the person may experience a lot of belching, there may be a lot of gas being produced in the body in addition. The person also typically feels heavy in the stomach and has a bloated sensation long after having eaten. Other uncomfortable symptoms are flatulence, bloating sensations, the unpleasant feeling of nausea and the rise of a poor appetite in the long term.

Bad eating habits and the kind of food that is consumed is very often the direct cause of indigestion and most forms of uncomfortable digestive problems. The digestive organs are greatly stressed and are worn out, through the use of a variety of refined and processed foodstuffs. The process of digestion is also hampered and slowed down by the consumption of excessive quantities of fats, this is more so in the case of heavy intake of saturated fats which are considered unhealthy and are found abundantly in fast foods and deep-fried foodstuffs. Indigestion can also come about and acidity may result if an excess quantity of beverages like coffee, drinks like alcohol, spicy foodstuffs and even cigarettes are used. Eating habits play a big part in the onset of indigestion, eating too quickly, eating fast in response to stress, and other types of improper eating behaviors can all affect the stomach adversely. Even the ingestion of large amounts of liquids along with food and not masticating thoroughly can cause indigestion. There are also metabolic and internal factors involved, which may be the cause of indigestion in an individual; therefore imbalances in the levels of bile and other gastric juices, fluctuations in the level of stomach acids and an overproduction of enzymes can all be contributors. A combination of different types of foods can also lead to indigestion. Lastly certain types of food allergies and sensitivities can also be the causes for indigestion.

Supplements and herbs

For proper digestion in the stomach, the digestive substances such as hydrochloric acid, all relevant enzymes and bile are vital, even though on the whole it can be said that digestion is much more complicated and complex, these substances are the basic requirements. Indigestion therefore follows and the digestive process is affected leading to symptoms like nausea and bloating if any of these components are present in low levels or are depleted in the stomach. The digestive process will also be affected and impaired, in cases where an individual is administered a lot of antibiotics, provided this has led to a deficiency of the healthy intestinal bacteria so vital for gastric function. In all such cases, the proper functioning of the digestive process can be recovered and remedied by replacing the intestinal flora with supplements of acidophilus as a treatment. When and if indigestion is due to the lack of gastric acids, betaine hydrochloride (HCI) can be used as a substitute supplement. During the utilization of this supplement the dosage must be lowered at once if there is a slight burning sensation.

For the process of digestion to run its course in the body, all digestive enzymes are required in optimal amounts. Lactase for example can be used as a supplement if the problem is an inability to digest milk and other dairy derivatives. If the affected individual has a low tolerance for oils and fats then an excellent supplement is lecithin. Medicinal clay mixed in lukewarm water may be used as a supplement to help bind the fermenting acids present in the intestines, this can be drunk regularly as a supplement whenever indigestion comes about in a person.

It is advisable not to use antacids as these bring about indigestion by inhibiting digestion, bringing on the production of excessive gas, a sensation of bloating and constipation in the individual. As a therapeutic measure to cure indigestion, the suppression or the neutralization of gastric acids is useless. Taken at the optimal and effective timing of about fifteen minutes or half an hour before eating, herbal remedies and stomach bitters that support the liver and gall- bladder are a much better substitute to antacids.

An effective and excellent combination that can aid the digestive process is the use of gentian root and the leaves and root of the dandelion. These can be taken in the form of a herbal tea, made by steeping the herbs for ten to fifteen minutes, in hot water or by pouring a cup of boiling water over a tsp. of the herbs. This herbal concoction can be drunk a single cup thrice a day. Proven herbal remedies for the immediate cessation of indigestion include the herbs such as the peppermint, fennel and lemon balm and chamomile, all these herbs have had traditional use in this role. The essential oil from these herbs can be taken in water by adding 5 drops of each essential oil. A tablespoon of this preparation can be drunk slowly twice a day. As an after meal remedy and preventive substance, fennel can be used. It can also be taken after dinner if there is gripping pains along with the indigestion. A nervous stomach and the presence of nausea with indigestion can be helped using peppermint as a supplement; it stimulates the flow of bile and is effective as a remedy against indigestion due to imbalance of gastric juices. A nervous stomach can also be soothed and calmed using the lemon balm. Dandelion sprigs can be chewed for immediate alleviation from indigestion, as the bitter taste stimulates bile flow, 2-3 sprigs can be chewed at a time whenever there is indigestion. The normalization of the bowels can also be achieved through the utilization of silica, till there are sufficient quantities of it inside the intestines. Indigestion can also be remedied using the horsetail herb as a tea, this can be drunk 1-3 cups a day, a tbsp. of the horsetail juice in any liquid can also be used, alternately aqueous vegetal capsules can be used, about 1-3 capsules per dose. In the treatment of indigestion tea can be made using all of the following effective and traditional herbs used for curing indigestion. Thus tea can be made from the common garlic, from the wormwood herb, using calamus and or papaya. Using herbs like the aloe vera, the hops shrub, tea can also be easily prepared from the root of the valerian plant, from culinary herbs like the rosemary and thyme, from tormentil, from the root of the marsh mallow plant, using licorice, from ginger and from cayenne.

Homeopathy

All of these herbal remedies should be utilized at a low dosage or potency preferably at 6x, 6c, 12x or 12c strengths. These can be used half an hour before mealtime, or in emergency cases of indigestion, during the process of the indigestion felt especially in all acute cases.

  • Bryonia
    Bryonia should be used as a treatment option in cases where the individual has regurgitates or vomits food with a bitter taste. Other physical symptoms can be the presence of nausea or vomiting after eating and drinking. There can also be physical manifestations such as indigestion and distension, a sensation of tenderness in the stomach and a sharp pain along with the indigestion. The condition of the patient improves and he or she may feel better with his or her legs drawn up or placed in a high position. There is the development of a hearty appetite followed invariably by heavy pressure in the region of the stomach after eating. The tongue may become coated in a white substance and may be foul in smell. The patient can become very easily irritated and can lose his or her temper quickly. The patient may also start out desiring food and drink but may be unable to eat it or enjoy it. The patient will greatly enjoy a soothing drink of cold water. The afflicted individual can worsen is even slightly touched or even if moved, in addition the patient is very sensitive to touch and to pressure, the patient worsens at specific times, after midnight, just after having had warmed drinks or following mealtimes.
  • Carbo veg.
    Carbo veg. is to be used as a prescription when the patient has indigestion accompanied by feelings of nausea, a bloated sensation, sour tasting regurgitation's and heartburn, in such patients, belching may greatly relieve them of these symptoms. The process of digestion is also slowed down in indigestion of this kind. The patient exhibits sensitivity to certain food groups and will be affected when consuming large quantities of fats, milk and rich or fried oily foods. A persistent and lingering sensation of hunger is felt by all patients, but even a very little amount of food will quickly sate them, a physical sign such for satiation in such patients may be a shortness of breath when feeling full. This kind of indigestion in which carbo veg. can be used is also brought on by other factors such as the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and food poisoning. The patient will display dullness and will feel heavy and drowsy, he or she will enjoy fresh air and cool drafts. On the other hand the patient may worsen after having certain types of substances in the diet, beverages like coffee, meats like fish, beans, fats and milk, even the position of the person may determine whether indigestion persists, as lying down aggravates the condition. The patient however improves if he is able to break wind.
  • Nux vomica
    Nux vomica is to be used in patients with indigestion that develops after having eaten, when two hours later the ingested food is very heavy and lies almost like a stone in the stomach of the person, causing great discomfort. There may develop aches and pain spreading out to the regions of the chest and the back. The patient may have difficulty in belching and vomiting and may have symptoms such as heartburn and nausea. The other physical signs may include a shortness of breath and involuntary retching. The patient may also undergo acid or bitter tasting reflux. The afflicted individual will yearn for and crave certain food groups, such as fats, many kinds of spices, drinks like beer and a variety of stimulants, including alcoholic beverages. Psychologically the patient may become extremely irritable and will be critical and emotionally cranky, stubborn and driven. A quick way to identify this type of indigestion setting in is the appearance of extreme hunger for food, one day before the condition sets in. The patient worsens when feeling angry, when exposed to pressure and when wearing uncomfortable and tight clothing, he or she may also worsen after eating foods such as bread and meat, in the hours of the morning around 3-4 a.m.
  • Pulsatilla
    Pulsatilla is to be prescribed in those patient with indigestion accompanied by production of a lot of gas, and the presence of a heaviness in the stomach along with heartburn. Such patients may experience some pain and discomfort an hour after having eaten. The reflux action produces substances that taste sour, and there may be bitter or even rancid belching. The taste of the food ingested may persist for a long time in the mouth and in the exuded products from the stomach in such patients. Psychological profiles of such patients include a pleasing personality, very emotionally changeable states, and a tendency to cry. The patient may not feel thirsty at all. In such patient along with the indigestion diarrhea could also develop especially after eating. The patient may worsen when the foods consumed include a lot of fats and rich oily items, even fruit or ice cream may affect them adversely. The patient will greatly hate fats and butter and will dislike warm food.

Additional things you may do

Some simple dining rules can greatly reduce the chances of indigestion, dine and eat in a relaxed and calm state of mind. Digestion can also be helped on by the performance of some relaxing breathing exercises half an hour before eating. Mastication that is the proper chewing of food in the mouth must be carried out; the food must be chewed slowly and consciously with deliberation. Every single bite or morsel of food taken in the mouth must be masticated at least fifteen times to break it down completely. Walking after having had a meal is an excellent idea and aids digestion. A warm compress can also be applied to the region of the stomach when taking rest, twice a day after mealtimes. These warm compresses can be made and prepared by wrapping ten small sized and boiled potatoes with the peels on, in a cotton cloth, this can be squashed, so as to present a smooth surface. The potato pack or compress thus made can be covered with a dried towel or cloth. When compared to packs and compresses made from other materials, these potato packs keeps warm for the longest periods and are thus best suited for this role.

Usual dosage

  • Bromelain or papain, 1,000 mg thrice a day.
  • Betaine HCI, 3 capsules thrice a day.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus, one tsp or three capsules a day.
  • Lecithin, one to three tbsp. thrice a day.
  • Pancreatin, one to two capsules thrice a day.
  • Digestive plant enzymes, one to two capsules thrice a day.
  • Medicinal clay, 1 tsp. in a glass of water thrice a day, before meals.

Other beneficial herbs

Comments

From Moureen - Jan-24-2013
I find that drinking water with lemon squeezed in it throughout the day eliminates most of my "heartburn". I took medication for 10 years for this and when I started drinking water with lemon, it eliminated the need for the daily pill!
From Kellysangel - 2010
The pain of indigestion is pretty unbearable, especially at night. If you suffer indigestion, I suggest you drink loads of water and avoid heavy foods.
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