Learn with Dr Klein: Reflux & Bloating
“Heart burn” and bloating are commonly caused when the lining of the stomach gets damaged by various factors and is unable to function well to support healthy digestion.
- Damaging factors include foods such as fried foods, alcohol, smoking as well as stress and anxiety.
- Often stress and anxiety start the process, whereby adrenaline and cortisol deprive the cells that line the stomach and small intestines of their ability to function properly (produce digestive juices and enzymes).
- Therefore, foods that are digested well under healthy conditions become relatively harder to digest under conditions of stress (bread for example)
- Actually, what’s common to stress and anxiety as well as smoking, and regular use of alcohol and consumption of polyunsaturated (vegetable) frying oil is that they all result in increased cortisol levels
- As far as natural digestive aids go, the most common over-the-counter aids are digestive enzymes
- However, digestive enzymes provide only temporary relief (one meal at a time)
- While over-the-counter natural substances can’t change lifestyle factors that may have contributed to a digestive issue, some substances are better suited than enzymes to support long-lasting recovery
- Vitamins B1, B3 and B6 are needed for the production of gastric juices and enzymes. Therefore, their deficiency can contribute to ongoing digestive issues and supplementation can correct such issues
Medicinal plants act to restore and heal both the stomach lining and digestive functions, for example:
- Rhodiola, chamomile and tangerine peel reduce cortisol and alleviate cortisol’s suppressive burden on the cells of the GI tract, allowing these cells to recover
- Chamomile heals the lining of the stomach and intestinal mucous membranes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/)
- Artichoke stimulate bile production (needed for digestion of fatty acids & fat-soluble nutrients) and supports the liver and its role in the production of enzymes and regulating substances (http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Artichokeleaf.html)
- Ginger is anti-inflammatory (inflammation results from damage to the lining of stomach described above)
- Cardemom and tangerine peel are “classic” digestive plants used in tandem in many healing traditional Chinese formulas
Of course, beyond over-the-counter digestive aids other important measures include:
- Chewing slowly and mindfully
- Avoiding the causative agents (excess alcohol, smoking, veggie oil, and anything else that may contribute to the issue)
- Eating easy to digest nutritious foods
- Managing stress