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What helps with digestive problems?
Indigestion (dyspepsia, Greek: poor digestion) is a set of symptoms that can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract. These include, for example, abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhea, feelings of fullness and heartburn. The causes can be very different and varied and are not always easy to identify. In the field of digestive problems, medicinal plants from naturopathy show very good effects. They are suitable for restoring the physiological digestive function. Nevertheless, a doctor should always be consulted if serious illnesses are suspected and if there is no improvement in the foreseeable future.
Indigestion - A Brief Overview
Digestive problems are a collective term for several gastrointestinal symptoms. The symptoms often indicate that the digestive function is disturbed. Here is a brief overview:
- definition: Indigestion is medically called dyspepsia. These include several symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, feelings of fullness and heartburn, which can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
- Feeling of fullness: A feeling of fullness manifests itself by pressure in the stomach area and the uncomfortable feeling of being full. This can occur after a hearty meal, but can also be caused by gas build-up due to a lack of digestive activity.
- Flatulence: Flatulence is caused by excess gas in the stomach or intestines. Common causes are flatulence-promoting foods such as finished products, onions, cabbage, legumes, fresh bread, refined sugar or high-fiber foods.
- stomach pain: In the case of abdominal pain, diffuse complaints often appear in the stomach area. You can express yourself with pressing or stinging pain. Abdominal pain is often caused by impaired digestion.
- constipation: Constipation occurs when the bowel is emptied less than three times a week. Often the chair has to be put down with strong pressing. A low-fiber diet or increased stress can be the cause, but also illnesses or certain medications.
- diarrhea: Diarrhea occurs when a thin stool appears in large quantities several times a day. Common causes are infections or food poisoning.
- heartburn: Heartburn is a burning or scratching sensation in the esophagus or in the upper stomach region. It is caused by rising gastric acid that gets into areas that are not protected from the acid.
First aid for indigestion
In particular, home remedies, medicinal plants and herbal medicine have a good effect on many complaints in the gastrointestinal tract, as long as there is no serious illness behind it. If the aids shown here have no effect within a short period of time, a doctor is strongly advised. Below are some natural treatments that can help with the most common symptoms of an indigestion.
Quick help for a feeling of fullness
In many cases, this feeling is not based on a serious illness. Home remedies have proven their worth in many cases for a feeling of fullness. One example is ginger, which can also help with nausea. The root can either be peeled and chewed or made into a tea. If you feel full frequently, you should drink a cup of fresh ginger tea before eating. A drink made from apple cider vinegar and honey also works well. Simply stir two teaspoons of naturally cloudy apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of Manuka honey in a glass with lukewarm water and drink before eating.
After eating, fresh pineapples or papaya help to make you feel full again. A shot glass full of artichoke juice from the health food store has also proven its worth. Likewise, seasoning with turmeric can have an increasing effect on bile juice production and thus counteract a feeling of fullness.
When should you see a doctor if you feel full?
If feelings of fullness occur regularly and in conjunction with other symptoms such as flatulence, stomach pressure, loss of appetite, heartburn, incomplete bowel movements, pain during bowel movements, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, there may be a disease where home remedies reach their limits. A doctor's visit should be made promptly here.
Fast help for flatulence
The best home remedies for flatulence include teas made from chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, anise, caraway, fennel, coriander or cardamom. Also recommended is the so-called four-wind tea, which has a strong deflating and relaxing effect at the same time. Caraway seeds, fennel seeds, horse mint leaves and chamomile flowers are mixed in equal parts for the production. One to two teaspoons of this mixture should soak in 250 milliliters of boiling water for five to ten minutes and then sieved. Two to three cups a day should provide relief. On the other hand, it is better to avoid flatulent foods. These include:
- fresh bread,
- Ready meals,
- refined sugar.
Homemade angelica liqueur
An angelica liqueur has also proven itself. Angelica seeds (60g), anise seeds (8g), fennel seeds (8g) and coriander seeds (6g) are used as powder in 220 ml of brandy or grain. The liquid has to rest for eight days and is then enriched with one liter of water and 500 grams of sugar. After another day of rest, the liqueur should be poured through a fine-mesh sieve and is now to be used against flatulence. Please keep in mind: This contains alcohol and use in children is of course inappropriate! The same can apply to people who should / have to do without alcohol for other reasons.
When should you go to the doctor with flatulence?
If the flatulence occurs again and again, the flatulence is particularly severe, home remedies show no effects or other complaints are added, a doctor should be consulted so that serious causes can be excluded or other therapeutic measures can be taken if necessary.
Quick help for constipation
The apple has proven to be an effective home remedy for constipation. According to experts, two apples are usually enough for a healthy intestine. A homemade apple curd can help against constipation. For this purpose, a washed apple and its skin should be grated in 125 grams of low-fat curd cheese and mixed with a teaspoon of flaxseed and a teaspoon of honey. In addition, care should be taken to drink enough (adults two to three liters a day). Suitable drinks are water, unsweetened teas and occasional juice spritzers. Likewise, caffeinated coffee can boost digestion. In the meantime, chocolate, sweets, red wine and white bread should be avoided, since they slow down the bowel activity.
These foods stimulate the gut
High-fiber foods help stimulate digestion. For example, are suitable for this Vegetables such as leaf lettuce, radish, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, fennel, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli, leaf spinach, cauliflower, carrots and celeriac, but also fruit such as grapes, honeydew melon, plum, pineapple, mango, peach, raspberries and bananas or legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, corn and peanuts. Also Tree nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts contain a lot of fiber.
With constipation to the doctor?
Frequent causes of constipation are lack of fluids, lack of exercise, improper nutrition, disorders of the metabolism or the electrolyte balance as well as stress and psychological stress. In many cases, constipation can be removed with naturopathic measures and home remedies, or they disappear on their own within a few days.
If this is not the case or if there are other symptoms or if the constipation keeps recurring, medical advice should be sought, because the complaints can also be a sign of more serious diseases such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or diabetes. In particular, if blood appears in the stool, this should be clarified immediately with a doctor, since it could be, among other things, colon cancer (colorectal cancer).
Quick help for diarrhea
Because diarrhea is associated with the loss of water and mineral salts, it is very important to drink enough. Adults should consume three to four liters a day to counteract dehydration. Broth, still mineral water and unsweetened herbal teas made from peppermint, fennel or chamomile are suitable as drinks. A homemade tea made from dried blueberries has also proven itself as a home remedy for diarrhea. To do this, put two to three tablespoons of dried blueberries in a quarter of a liter of water, bring to a boil, simmer for ten minutes and pour through a sieve. Caution: Only dried blueberries should be used for the tea, as fresh blueberries have a laxative effect.
Food structure and electrolyte balance
It is better to stay away from cola and pretzel sticks for diarrhea. Instead, a homemade electrolyte solution helps to compensate for the lost minerals. This can be made from one liter of boiled water. Mix the water with a teaspoon of salt, the juice of four oranges and seven teaspoons of glucose. Electrolyte preparations from the pharmacy also help. The healing power of carrot soup according to Professor Ernst Moro's recipe should not be underestimated if you have diarrhea. When the chair is firm again, crushed bananas, rusks and grated apples (maximum three per day) are suitable for eating. As a transition to normal food, we recommend potatoes, broth-boiled rice and steamed vegetables.
When should diarrhea be treated by a doctor?
If diarrhea persists for more than three days or if there is mucus or blood in the liquid stool, a doctor is urgently required. This also applies if there is an additional fever and / or severe exhaustion. For children and infants, it is generally advisable to ask a doctor for advice, because the risk of internal dehydration is particularly high.
Quick help for heartburn
Even with heartburn, there is no need to react immediately with chemical medicines. There are numerous effective home remedies for heartburn that can help. These include, for example, chamomile tea, lemon balm tea, oatmeal, artichokes, potato juice, white cabbage juice and healing earth. As a first measure, chamomile tea is recommended. For this, a tea should be prepared from a tablespoon of real chamomile flowers in 150 ml of hot water. This should take ten minutes. Then the tea should be drunk in peace.
Rollkur with chamomile tea
Chamomile has an anti-inflammatory, wound healing and antispasmodic effect. A stomach and intestine roll cure with chamomile can relieve heartburn discomfort. All you need is two cups of chamomile tea, about 20 minutes and a place to lie down. After drinking a few sips of the tea, you should lie relaxed on your back and relax for about five minutes. Then drink a few more sips and put aside for five minutes. Then repeat this process with the other side and the prone position. The aim of the roll cure is to reach as much gastric mucosa as possible with the tea in order to intensify the healing effects. It is best if the roll cure is carried out daily for at least one week.
Does heartburn need medical attention?
Occasional heartburn occurs in many people. In most cases it is harmless. However, a frequent occurrence should not go unnoticed, because there are serious consequences of heartburn. Doctors then speak of gastroesophageal reflux. This condition can lead to inflammation of the esophagus or degeneration that can lead to cancer of the esophagus. For this reason, frequent heartburn should always be taken seriously and medically examined.
The digestive process
The digestive process begins with the absorption of material products in the form of food. In the mouth, the saliva prepares the food for swallowing by crushing and splitting, the stomach acid kills bacteria and other germs, and the prepared food in the small intestine is then carefully analyzed for its use in order to be either used or excreted. Various digestive juices are required for this, which are provided by the surrounding organs and released into the small intestine: the pancreas supplies the aggressive enzymes for splitting carbohydrates, fat and protein, the liver also contributes the bile needed for fat digestion.
Disorders lead to symptoms
Disorders in one of these areas, especially a lack or excess of digestive juices, lead to a digestive disorder with the symptoms of heartburn, nausea, vomiting, including abdominal pain or abdominal cramps, flatulence, flatulence, bowel noises, diarrhea and constipation. The symptoms can appear in isolation or in various combinations.
The causes can be organic, psychological or functional
The imbalance of the digestive juices can result from an inflammatory bowel disease, but also from intestinal tumors. Often there is also a weakness of individual organs or their secretory and digestive functions. Also a disturbed bacterial flora in the intestine, for example after taking antibiotics or being infected Colon mushrooms (especially with the yeast Candida Albicans) and malnutrition lead to fermentation and putrefaction processes and thus to gas formation (flatulence), which causes abdominal pain and foul-smelling gases (flatulence).
Anxiety and unprocessed conflicts, stress and nervousness can also be considered on a psychological level. The irritable stomach, in which organic findings are largely absent, is also referred to as "functional dyspepsia".
Diagnosis - what does the doctor do?
The doctor first tries to get an overview of the possible causes in a detailed patient discussion. This is usually followed by a general physical examination, in which the abdominal region is examined more closely. The possible causes can be further narrowed down by scanning and listening. Blood pressure may also be checked and blood drawn. Depending on the suspicion that is confirmed in this investigation, various other diagnostic options are available:
- Ultrasonic: To detect problems in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas or to find free fluids in the abdominal cavity or swelling of the lymph nodes.
- roentgen: For complaints in the abdominal cavity, suspected narrowing or gas accumulation, for gallstones or kidney stones; Using a contrast agent, changes in the mucous membrane, polyps, diverticula or tumors can also be detected.
- Endoscopy: Gastrointestinal or colonoscopy can reveal diseases of the stomach or intestines. Tissue samples taken can be examined in the laboratory and provide further information.
- Computed Tomography: If the doctor suspects an organ as the cause, this can be clarified by a CT. This enables any changes, thickening or enlargement in the individual organs to be displayed.
- Tests and samples: Stool or urine samples as well as pH measurements in the esophagus and a lactose or fructose tolerance test are further options to determine the exact causes.
If there is a disease behind the digestive disorders, a number of diseases are possible, which are given here as examples. The precise diagnosis is reserved for a specialist doctor.
Inflammation of the stomach
The most common cause of indigestion is inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). It shows through symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and constant regurgitation. Gastritis is triggered by irritation of the gastric mucosa. This can be caused by alcohol, nicotine, certain medications or infections, for example. If the intestine is also inflamed, it is a gastro-enteritis. Diarrhea is often accompanied by complaints.
Gastroesophageal reflux is the name of the disease that can be the cause of frequently occurring heartburn. In gastroesophageal sphincter, reflux disease causes acid gastric juices to flow back into the esophagus. This can cause irritation and inflammation, which in the worst case trigger tumor-like growths.
Intestinal infections and chronic inflammation
Constant diarrhea, constipation or blood in the stool indicate diseases in the small and large intestine. On the one hand, these can be acute infections, on the other hand, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can also be the cause. Irritable bowel syndrome is also conceivable.
Another possible cause of digestive problems is food allergy or intolerance to certain foods. Here, for example, the gluten allergy (celiac disease) should be mentioned, in which those affected cannot tolerate gluten. Another example is intolerance to fructose or lactose, which can lead to abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea or diarrhea.
Organs such as the liver and bile are important actors in digestion. Thus, they can also be considered as the cause of indigestion. Among other things, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder and tumor formation in the liver or bile can be the cause of the symptoms.
Inflammation of the pancreas
The pancreas is also important for digestion. It produces important digestive enzymes. Diseases of this gland such as chronic pancreatitis (pancreatitis) or pancreatic cancer can be the cause of indigestion.
Other possible causes
Since indigestion is a very general and broad term, there are many possible causes. Other possible causes include:
- Intestinal polyps,
- Colon cancer,
- Appendicitis or appendicitis (appendicitis),
- Intestinal obstruction (ileus),
- Ectopic pregnancy.
Respond immediately in emergencies
If the abdominal pain occurs suddenly and very violently, with additional circulatory problems, dizziness or loss of consciousness, it is an emergency that must be treated immediately in a hospital. This condition is referred to in medicine as acute abdomen. This can be caused by life-threatening causes such as gastric perforation or an intestinal breakthrough.
Medicinal plants and natural medicine
In therapy, attention should be paid to the cause of the indigestion. In conventional medicine, excess acids are suppressed with inhibitory drugs, indigestion is accelerated by laxatives and diarrhea is stopped with medication. In the major naturopathic approaches, such as traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and traditional Western (Galenic) medicine, the digestive function is assigned a weighty function for the overall health of a person. That is why there are a large number of medicinal plants that - tried and tested by experience - are used for indigestion depending on the need and cause.
Herbs can have a relaxing, antispasmodic, germicidal, anti-inflammatory or anti-flatulent effect. On the organs, for example the liver or pancreas, they are either stimulating and strengthening or calming. Whether the plants are administered individually or in combination as a tea mixture, dragees or tincture, whether spagyrically produced or homeopathically prepared, is entirely at the discretion of the treating therapist. In addition, a nutritional plan should be worked out together, which ideally also takes into account eating habits.
A hectic gulping down of food "on the side" can have an unfavorable effect on digestion, as can the distribution of meals over time against the biological rhythm. As an alternative to the administration of medicinal plants, innumerable other naturopathic treatments, e.g. psychological, physical and manual alignment that supports self-healing and restores digestion.
Osteopathic treatment loosens and mobilizes internal organs
In osteopathy, for example, the sliding surfaces of the organs are seen as joints among themselves. If there are restrictions on movement, there may also be a problem with the functioning of the organ. For the most part, the vessels run in the suspension of the organs, so that mobilization and loosening of the suspension structures can lead to improved care of the organs.
Breathing also plays a role
An important component is breathing, which ensures good disposal and a rocking movement through the generation of a vacuum, which stimulates digestion and ensures its smooth functioning. Reduced or shallow breathing can impair this movement, which is necessary for digestion. In addition to the direct observation of the organs, the structures that have a mechanical influence on the organ function are important in the osteopathic approach. As some digestive complaints are caused by stress and hectic pace, it can be helpful to learn methods to reduce stress. (jvs, vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
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- Irmtraut Koop: Gastroenterologie compact, Thieme Verlag, 3rd edition, 2013
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- Deborah M. Consolini: Constipation in Children, MSD Manual, (accessed August 20, 2019), MSD
- Norton J. Greenberger: Diarrhea, MSD Manual, (accessed August 20, 2019), MSD
- John Henry Clarke: Diseases of the Digestive Organs, Ahlbrecht Verlag, 1st edition, 2013
ICD codes for this disease: K30ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.