Soothe your Stomach Naturally

Photo credit: quinn.anyaToo much stomach acid? GERD? Gastritis?  Obviously if you’re taking antacids or other drugs to relieve excess stomach acid you would appear to be in good company.  Isn’t almost everyone doing it?

Relieving symptoms like heartburn and abdominal pain has spawned a multi billion dollar industry, particularly in western countries.  Encouraged to self-medicate (buy over-the-counter preparations) Americans alone spend around a billion dollars a year even without a doctor’s prescription.

But what’s the real cause of your digestive discomfort?

Let’s consider the condition known as GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), for example.  It’s not caused by too much acid, but rather by a weakness in the valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach. This valve is known as the lower oesophageal sphincter valve (or LES). It’s function can be improved greatly by simple but powerful lifestyle changes. These include:

  • not overeating (which distends the stomach and relaxes the LES too much)
  • avoiding high fat foods and any foods you know cause you discomfort
  • not lying down after a meal
  • giving up smoking and managing weight
  • avoiding food before an exercise work-out

The condition diagnosed as gastritis refers to an inflamed stomach lining and isn’t caused from too much “acid” either.  It’s mainly caused by taking painkillers such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, and sometimes the result of heavy courses of antibiotics.  Smoking and alcohol can also inflame the stomach lining.

Many people aren’t aware that we actually need stomach acid to digest our food, absorb nutrients like calcium and iron, and fight some of the bade bugs that might come our way, particularly in food.  And while you’re busy relieving the symptoms of these digestive complaints, you may be unknowingly opening yourself up to even more serious conditions which are side effects of this approach to treatment.  If you intend to be part of the longevity boom, you probably won’t want to be on these drugs for life.

So what can be done to soothe your stomach and digestive tract and reduce your need for medication?  Here are a few simple, natural ideas.

1)  Increase vegetables and fruit in the diet – at least 5 + 2 and preferably more.  Taken raw, fruit and vegetables contain high levels of natural enzymes. Think homemade vegetable juices like carrot and cabbage with a little fresh ginger.  Try grated organic apples for breakfast with walnuts and natural, unsweetened yoghurt. A slice of papaya anytime is an excellent snack.  An banana for dessert will also help you sleep well.  Naturally fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kim chi provide the healthy bacteria which is usually missing.

2)  Natural supplements that will assist include:

  • Aloe vera juice – a nip in water, between meals, several times a day.  Work up to from a single dose as may cause loose bowels.
  • L-glutamine powder.  Stirred into water and taken with meals as directed is an excellent stomach restorative.
  • Slippery elm. A soothing powdered herbal preparation.  Stir 200mg into water and take twice daily.
  • Mastic gum – possibly part of the Mediterranean paradox. Native to this region, it is the traditional treatment for stomach problems in this part of the world.    Can be taken in capsules after a meal (500mg twice daily).

3)  Find a medical adviser with an interest in alternative treatments who can discuss other helpful herbs and the correct supplementation with digestive enzymes, calcium supplementation to improve the LES and other relevant nutraceuticals.

If you’d like to understand more about the side effects of the drugs you are taking and what natural alternatives, watch what NY Dr Leo Galland MD has to say here.

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