Over 40% of people have experienced indigestion.
What is indigestion?
Indigestion, also commonly known as dyspepsia (an upset stomach) is a general term used to describe pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. The discomfort is of varying degrees and indigestion symptoms experienced may be very mild or so severe that they can be mistaken for a heart attack. Indigestion is a common problem – it is estimated that around 41% of the population have experienced the symptoms of indigestion at some point in their lives.
The symptoms of indigestion
Indigestion is characterised by a wide variety of symptoms including one or more of the following:
- Mild or severe discomfort in the upper abdominal area
- Feeling full or bloated soon after starting or finishing a meal
- Nausea and vomiting after a meal
- Loss of appetite
- Heartburn (a burning or heavy sensation down the centre of the chest) Burning in the epigastric area – part of the tummy just under the breastbone
Indigestion can occur before or after a meal, day or night and can be variable, lasting only a few minutes or for many hours.
Causes of indigestion
The stomach produces acid which is essential for the normal digestion of food. However, the stomach mucous membrane is sensitive to this acid and because of this, is normally covered by a protective lining. At times, this protective lining becomes compromised and when this happens, acid comes into contact with the cells lining the stomach, leading to irritation and inflammation, giving rise to symptoms of indigestion. In most cases, indigestion is related to either high levels of stress or poor eating habits, or there may be an infection, or it is due to the side effects of certain types of medicines.
Stomach lining inflammation can be caused by the following factors:
- Over-indulgence in food, alcohol, or both
- Slumped posture whilst eating
- Spicy or fatty foods
- Not eating food regularly enough (acidity levels in the stomach decrease with eating and therefore if the time between meals is too long, the acidity levels will build up)
- The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen)
- An infection or inflammation of the gullet (oesophagus) – the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach because of acid moving up from the stomach
- Disorders of the intestines, gallbladder, or pancreas
What can be done to avoid indigestion?
The following steps can be taken to help avoid indigestion:
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Chew your food properly
- Eat small meals regularly
- Don’t rush eating
- Avoid over-indulging in food and alcohol
- Keep a food diary to take note of indigestion-causing foods and avoid them
- Avoid stressful situations as much as possible as stress affects the digestive system. Stress levels may be decreased by relaxation techniques such as walking, swimming, dancing, laughing, meditation, and prayer.
- Take care when taking medicines that may cause indigestion and take these medicines with or after food to decrease the possibility of indigestion. See your homeopath to discuss natural options for your health.
- Have your main meal at lunch time or no later than 5pm to allow for the food to move through the stomach before you go to bed.
- Refrain from drinking coffee and carbonated beverages
- Raise the head of the bed by 6-8 inches to help keep acid down
- Avoid wearing tight clothing or tight belts
- Avoid bending down or lying flat soon after meals
Possible complications of indigestion
Sometimes, indigestion can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Consult a doctor if any of the following occur:
- Severe and prolonged chest pain
- Vomit that is red in colour or like coffee-beans
- Black tarry stools
- Rapid unexplained weight loss
- Recurrent vomiting
- Difficulty or painful swallowing
- Yellowing of the skin
- Pain radiating to the back
- If you are over 55 and having indigestion for the first time
- Abdominal pain in the non-epigastric area
- Indigestion followed by shortness of breath, sweating or pain that radiates to the jaw, neck or arm
- Symptoms persisting for more than two weeks
- If indigestion interferes with normal everyday activities such as work, leisure, or sleep
In 70% of all patients with indigestion, no disease can be found which means that, in most of the cases indigestion, is a minor complaint that can be self-managed very easily.
What natural indigestion remedies are available?
A.Vogel Indigestion Formula is a homeopathic formulation for the supportive treatment of heartburn, indigestion, and associated symptoms. The ingredients balance excessive stomach acid, promote healthy secretion of digestive fluids to improve digestion, reduce discomfort and combat the effects of overindulgence. A must for every person suffering with chronic indigestion. Take the product hourly in acute cases and as symptoms improve decrease the dose to three times per day and use for as long as required. Once better, stop the product and only use if the symptoms reoccur.
Follow The Root Vegetable and Pumpkin diet when you are ill or suffer with severe indigestion. These foods are gentle on the stomach and allows for healing of the stomach lining.
A.Vogel Molkosan is a digestive tonic to help correct the pH balance of the digestive system and thereby supporting healthy digestive health.
Molkosan has the following actions:
- Supports healthy gut bacteria and microbiome.
- Supports gut health and helps prevent disease of the colon.
- Lowers gut pH and protects the gut against pathogens.
- Regulates bowel movement and improves gut motility.
- Supports healthy growth of intestinal cells.
- Lactate and butyrate have been shown in vitro to have protective anti-cancer effects on colon cells.
- Protects against the effects of gut inflammation.
- Adjunctive and supportive treatment of symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as diarrhoea, bloating, cramping, flatulence and constipation.
- Supportive / adjunct treatment for NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) / Fatty liver.
- Supports the intestinal barrier and defence mechanism.
- Adjunctive and supportive treatment in hyperlipidaemia / high cholesterol / abnormal cholesterol values.
- Beneficial supportive therapy during and after antibiotic treatment.
- Beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant as L (+) lactic acid helps break down lactose.
- Supports healthy insulin levels
Use Molkosan once daily to prevent digestive complaints or three times per day should you have an acute condition.
A.Vogel Gastronol is a homeopathic formulation for the supportive treatment of digestive disturbances. Ingredients address digestive complaints such as digestive cramps, colic, diarrhoea, indigestion, abdominal distention, bloating, flatulence, and constipation. In acute cases use the product hourly and once better, reduce to three times per day and use for as long as required.
And lastly, should the reason for the indigestion be due to high levels of stress, then A.Vogel Neuroforce Formula or A.Vogel Valeriana drops are options to use to help. Take the products as per label for as long as required.
Parts of this article originally appeared on A.Vogel and can be found here https://www.avogel.co.za/health/digestion/indigestion.php