We’ve all seen those television and magazine advertisements for a cure for indigestion. Some products promise immediate relief while others pledge long-lasting benefits. Some you take once a day, others up to five times a day. Some are liquids, others are in pill form. And if you have ever suffered from indigestion, you may have even tried one (or ten) of these products.
But can all those over-the-counter products really help? And maybe even more important – could they be harmful to your health?
What if you could not only get rid of indigestion, but also improve overall digestion, without investing in a manufactured medicine?
Herbal remedies have been around for centuries and have aided in relieving conditions ranging from high blood pressure to arthritis to indigestion. With a natural approach you eliminate the possibility of negative side effects (either short-term or long-term) and you also reap additional health benefits. That is, not only are you fixing a short-term problem but you’re improving your overall health long term.*
Before we get into the herbal remedy options recommended for indigestion (and good digestion), let’s first define exactly what “indigestion” is.
Indigestion, also known as “dyspepsia” is both a psychological state and a feeling. The state is one of faulty digestion. The feeling is one of discomfort, being “stuffed”, pain, cramps, heartburn, gas and nausea.
The following blend of herbs will help reduce digestive and intestinal complaints in two distinct ways. First it enhances digestion itself. Second, it remedies the various side effects of poor digestion: flatulent gas, colic, heartburn, etc.
PAPAYA LEAF contains the powerful proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain, which digest proteins, small peptides, amides and esters. Their activity extends also to carbohydrates and fat. They are more effective than naturally occurring proteases like pepsin and trypsin. Since many stomach ailments are the direct result of indigestion, Papaya may help prevent and remedy these by increasing digestive processes.
PEPPERMINT LEAF contains volatile oils and other constituents that absorb intestinal gas, calm upset stomach, inhibit diarrhea and constipation, aid digestion, eliminate heartburn, and prevent and remedy childhood colic. Peppermint is probably the best known remedy for stomach problems. It is used for both chronic and acute indigestion, gastritis and enteritis, acting in two distinct ways to remedy these problems. First, its essential oils enhance digestive activity by stimulating contractile activity in the gallbladder and by encouraging the secretion of bile. Secondly, Peppermint leaf oils normalize gastrointestinal activity by removing flaccidity and reducing cramps.
GINGER ROOT contains a digestive enzyme – zingibain – whose effectiveness even exceeds that of papain. The herb stimulates the flow of saliva and increases the concentration of digestive enzymes in the saliva. It also activates peristalsis and increases intestinal muscle tone. The ability of Ginger Root to clear up gas, flatulence, indigestion, stomachache and other stomach problems has been repeatedly confirmed in many experimental investigations.
CATNIP, often called Catmint, acts in much the same manner as Peppermint. It is a soothing carminative to the gastrointestinal tract, a mild tonic, and a favorite tea for young children. North American Indians used the tea for childhood colic, while Europeans used it for similar complaints as well as colds and bronchial infections. Used before meals, it stimulates appetite; after meals, it stimulates digestion.
FENNEL SEEDS contain aromatic or essential oils that are very similar in structure and activity to those of Catnip and Peppermint. Fennel appears to be equally effective in children and adults. It is especially effective against flatulence in adults.
SAW PALMETTO BERRY is included in this blend on the basis of the commendations and celebrations of people who have used it, and doctors who have prescribed it to stimulate the appetite and improve digestion. That enthusiasm has been justified by at least one corroborating study in which young albino rats, to whose daily feed crushed Saw Palmetto berries were added, experienced a significantly more rapid weight gain than control litter-mates.
While it is preferred that the above herbs be used in combination, they can also provide significant benefits if used singly.
* Indigestion may often be a signal of a greater problem, in which case the advice of a physician should be obtained.