Indigestion refers to discomfort and pain in the stomach or abdomen while eating or within 2-3 hours of eating.
People with indigestion may experience bloating, excessive burping, acid reflux (heartburn), flatulence (gas), and irregular bowel movements. Having any one of these symptoms indicates incomplete digestion of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as malabsorption of the minerals and vitamins contained in the foods eaten.
The causes of indigestion are many.
- anxiety, stress, anger, depression, frustration, or excitement at the time of eating
- eating on the run
- not chewing enough
- eating too fast
- eating unhealthy foods, such as fast food, greasy or fried food, highly processed food, and foods that contain lots of additives such as food coloring, artificial flavoring, texturizers, preservatives and the like
- eating food that’s spoiled or infested with parasites or other microbes
- not eating enough vegetables, green salads, and fruit
- low stomach acid (excessive use of antacids, etc)
- poor liver health or liver disease (fatty liver, cirrhosis, hepatitis, etc)
- gall bladder disease
- bile duct obstruction
- many medications are metabolized by the liver and hence may cause poor liver health
- smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can cause great damage to the liver
- abdominal or pelvic surgery — may cause scar tissue and distort the connective tissue (mesentery) that holds the intestines in place within the abdominal cavity
- not enough sleep
- not enough exercise and fresh air (oxygen)
- and so forth…
There are many herbs that help to reduce indigestion.
These herbs accomplish this by supporting the liver, healing the mucus lining of the stomach and the intestines, increasing digestive enzyme production, relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestines, and promoting peristalsis.
Please see a naturopathic doctor, or Chinese Medicine doctor, to help you chose the right herbs for your condition. Herbs are not to be taken lightly as they can harm or even cause death if taken in the wrong dosage or form. Moreover, they may interact with any of the medications or supplements you’re are currently taking.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of herbs helpful with indigestion:
- ANISE (Pimpinella anisum) helps to sweeten the breath and to reduce intestinal cramping (colics) and flatulence (gas).
- CARAWAY (Carum carvi) eases intestinal cramps (colics), flatulence and bloating. Improves digestion.
- FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare) stimulates appetite and improves digestion. Moreover, reduces bloating and flatulence, along with intestinal cramping.
- GINGER (Zingiber officinale) is known to reduce nausea and motion sickness. Ginger improves digestion of fats and proteins, and thus alleviates bloating and flatulence. This tasty root also reduces heartburn and intestinal cramps.
- GOLDENSEAL (Hydrastis canadensis) fights bacterial infections of the digestive tract. Furthermore, this herb reduces inflammation and ulcers of the stomach lining. Goldenseal also promotes healthy digestion by supporting the liver.
- PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita) relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestines, thus reducing colics. Peppermint also fights bacterial infections.
- SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus fulva) soothes the inflamed mucosal lining of the digestive system and provides nutrition to those too weak to eat regular food.
- ALOE GEL (Aloe Vera gel) soothes and heals the mucus membranes of the digestive tract, thus helping to keep bacteria, viruses, and parasites at bay. Moreover, Aloe has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Helpful with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
- GENTIAN (Gentiana lutea) is well known to improve appetite and digestion. It promotes the flow of bile into the small intestines and regulates stomach acid, thus reducing heartburn. Gentian also supports intestinal health.
- CURCUMIN (Curcuma longa) supports and helps to restore liver health. Curcumin (turmeric) reduces inflammation and promotes the flow of bile for healthy digestion of fats. This herb is also valued for its great antioxidant properties.
- OLIVE LEAF (Olea europaea) helps to reestablish intestinal health by eliminating microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa in the intestinal tract.
- MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum) is considered the king of the liver herbs. Silybum protects the liver from damage by toxins such as medications, smoking, and alcohol. This herb also helps to restore liver health through tissue repair and regeneration. Milk Thistle is particularly helpful in cases of acute and chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and fatty degeneration of the liver.
- DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale) promotes liver health, regulates bile flow for the digestion of fats, and helps to reduce water retention without robbing the body of potassium, as is the case with many diuretic medications.
- GARLIC (Allium sativa) protects the intestinal tract, including the gall bladder and liver, from infections by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Garlic is well known to reduce bad cholesterol and promote healthy blood flow.
- ARTICHOKE (Cynara scolymus) helps the liver to recover from cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, and damage from toxins of many kinds. Artichoke helps to regulate blood lipids (cholesterol) and blood sugar (glucose), as well as urine flow.
- CHAMOMILE (Matricaria recutita) is useful with colics brought on by anger and irritability. Relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestines, helps regulate bowel movements, and reduces bloating and intestinal gas. Soothes the mind and promotes a good night’s rest.