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Indigestion

General characteristics

General characteristics

Indigestion, or dyspepsia (upset stomach) refers to the condition where some part of the normal digestion process has been disrupted in some way.
Indigestion can present symptoms such as nausea, bloating, belching, abdominal pain and heartburn. Symptoms can be very similar to other conditions such as gastrointestinal ulcers and angina and also be a symptom of problems with other digestive organs such as the pancreas so its cause needs to be correctly identified.
It is classified as either acute (sudden onset) or chronic (regular bouts over a longer term). Acute indigestion occurs in response to factors such as overeating, poor food combining, rich or spicy foods that aggravate the digestive system, too much alcohol, stress, exercising on a full stomach and eating while stressed or on the move. Chronic indigestion can result from gallbladder or liver disorders, stomach ulcers, smoking, medications (e.g. non steroidal painkillers and antibiotics), excess or insufficient stomach acid, hiatus hernia, unbalanced bowel bacteria (over proliferation of 'bad' bacteria), pregnancy, chronic constipation and chronic stress.
Healing objectives are to determine and treat any underlying cause, improve diet and digestion, reduce stress and alleviate any unpleasant symptoms.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid processed foods and those that contain excess sugar, hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates and artificial additives.

Base the diet around fresh, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, sprouted seeds and grains and nuts as appropriate to your needs and tolerances. Plant based foods will provide plenty of fibre which aids digestion generally.

Avoid over-consumption of carbohydrates and starches (including fruits and starchy veg like potatoes and beans etc) as these foods can encourage fermentation in the intestines and cause indigestion.

Use a s many aromatic herbs in your cooking as possible. Seeds like dill, cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamon, caraway, cumin; herbs like coriander, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mints, basil, tarragons; spices like ginger, chilli, black pepper, are all used traditionally for their digestion promoting actions, as well as adding delightful flavour.

Avoid foods initially that aggravate the condition. They may well be tolerated in the future when the condition is resolved.

Chew every mouthful of food thoroughly, at least 20 times. Chewing begins the digestive process and saliva is a vital juice that begins the breakdown of some foods making digestion, further along the way, much more thorough and efficient.

If you must drink liquids with your meals, avoid cold water or drinks and instead drink warm (hot) water or a warm herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. Warm drinks help digestion along, especially of fats...cold drinks turn fatty foods into a difficult to digest sludge.

Eating dairy foods such as natural unsweetened yoghurt will provide beneficial bacteria to the bowel and aid the digestion process.

Foods such as papaya and pineapple are rich in valuable enzymes that aid in the digestive process. Eat a small piece of either (raw) after a meal to help guard against indigestion.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Have a cup of chamomile and peppermint tea after meals. Use a heaped teaspoon of each herb and stand it for 10 minutes before drinking.

If heartburn is a problem then add a teaspoon of marshmallow root powder and a teaspoon of meadowsweet herb to the above tea. For severe pain from heartburn use slippery elm, marshmallow root and iceland moss or irish moss as a slimy, soothing tea.

You could try a digestive enhancing mix based on the principle of the famous 'Swedish Bitters' formula. Useful digestive herbs include gentian root, dandelion root, thyme, holy thistle, asafoetida, wild yam, angelica root, centaury, barberry or oregon grape root, wormwood and yarrow. Select 5 or 6 of the above herbal tinctures and combine equal parts to make a digestive formula. Take a teaspoon in a little water after meals.

Elecampagne root can be used for its tonic action on the stomach and its all round digestive tonic effects.

Lemon balm is a lovely soothing remedy for children (and adults). Make a tea with a heaped teaspoon and give children a couple of teaspoons of the tea after meals.

Ground ivy is a good all round addition to formulas for indigestion.

Agrimony tea is useful to help improve all digestive functions and ease indigestion.

The aromatic seeds such as dill, fennel, celery, caraway, cardamon, aniseed, coriander and cumin can be crushed (use a heaped teaspoon of a mixture of seeds) and make into a tea to both alleviate and prevent bloating, pain and belching. Sip during or after meals.

The volatile oils in buchu leaves can also help to soothe symptoms of indigestion and improve the digestive process.

Small doses of cascara bark can have a positive tonic and gently stimulating action on the whole digestive system.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Try organic apple cider vinegar, at least 1 teaspoon (but some can need up to 2 tablespoons) in a glass of water after meals. Do this daily until results are felt.
Exercise regularly, a little every day if you can.

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