(NaturalHealth365) When digestion isn’t working correctly – causing all kinds of problems like, GERD and IBS – you can feel like nothing is going right. And that’s not too far from the truth.
Ineffective digestion can cause a range of symptoms and can have far-reaching effects. Feelings of fullness or pressure after eating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can all stem from digestive problems. The cause of those problems is often insufficient release of digestive factors such as stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile, as well as lack of beneficial gut bacteria.
Chronic digestive problems may be diagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), non-ulcer dyspepsia (NUD), or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Unfortunately, the drugs recommended to treat any of these conditions tend to offer no effective solution and many negative side effects. The most popular drugs, acid-blockers, work by blocking one of the most important digestive processes – the secretion of hydrochloric acid by the stomach.
But the good news is that for most people with chronic indigestion, a natural approach focused on aiding digestion is effective and does not come with unwanted side effects.
Nature’s answer to GERD and other forms of indigestion
The drugs used to block acid and reduce digestive symptoms also block a normal – and necessary – body process. Acid-blocking drugs are associated with numerous side effects, such as digestive disturbances like nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. They can also cause nutrient deficiencies. That makes sense, since they’re impairing digestion. Other potential side effects include pneumonia, increased fractures, and vitamin B12 insufficiency.
Rather than focus on blocking the digestive process with antacids, the rational approach is to aid digestion. Start by eliminating dietary causes: overeating; eating too quickly; and consuming coffee, chocolate, fried foods, carbonated beverages, and alcohol. Other tips include decreasing the size of portions at mealtime, chewing food thoroughly, eating in a calm atmosphere, and not eating within two hours of bedtime.
Could digestive problems be caused by a lack of hydrochloric acid?
Although much is said about conditions caused by too much acid, a more common cause of indigestion is a lack of gastric acid. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplementation can produce complete relief in many individuals.
One way to determine if you have low hydrochloric acid levels is with a detailed gastric acid analysis. If that’s not possible, here’s another way to determine whether – and how much – HCl you need:
- Take one HCl tablet (500 to 600 mg) at a large meal. If it does not aggravate symptoms, increase the dosage by one tablet at the next large meal.
- Continue to increase the dose by one tablet per meal until you reach seven tablets or until you feel warmth in your stomach, whichever occurs first. Warmth in the stomach means that you have taken too many tablets for that meal, and you need to take one fewer in the future.
- After you have found the largest dose you can take at your large meals without feeling any warmth, maintain that dose at all of meals of similar size. You will need to take less at smaller meals.
- When taking several tablets, spread them throughout the meal.
- As your stomach begins to regain the ability to produce the amount of HCl needed to properly digest your food, you will notice the warm feeling again and will have to cut down the dose level.
Discover the healing power of licorice extract for peptic ulcers
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is licorice extract without glycyrrhetinic acid, which can raise blood pressure. It’s effective in treating even the most severe peptic ulcers. Rather than inhibit the release of acid, DGL stimulates the defense mechanisms that prevent ulcers from forming. It improves the quality and quantity of the protective substances that line the intestinal tract, increases the lifespan of the intestinal cell, and improves blood supply to the intestinal lining.
Numerous clinical studies show that DGL is an effective anti-ulcer compound. In several head-to-head studies, DGL has been shown more effective than Tagamet, Zantac, or antacids in both short-term treatment and maintenance therapy of peptic ulcers. The standard dosage is two to four 380 mg chewable tablets taken between meals or 20 minutes before meals. It may take up to four months before you feel the full effects.
Great news: Digestive enzymes to the rescue
Lack of digestive enzymes from the pancreas can cause indigestion. If you feel heartburn, abdominal bloating and discomfort, or gas within 30 minutes of eating, it is usually because of a lack of HCl secretion.
Symptoms that occur after 45 minutes usually signal a lack of pancreatic enzymes. But since the release of pancreatic enzymes is triggered by the HCl secreted in the stomach, HCl supplements can help that too.
Digestive enzyme products are the most effective treatment for pancreatic insufficiency. These preparations can include enzymes from hog pancreas (pancreatin) or vegetarian sources such as bromelain and papain, as well as fungal enzymes. I’ve seen the best results from multi-enzyme preparations focused on vegetarian and fungal sources. Follow label instructions for proper dosage.
How to find the right probiotic
Probiotics, the good bacteria in the intestinal tract, are available both as supplements and in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir. The specific microorganisms found in these products are usually Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, the major probiotics in the human intestinal tract.
As people age, there are some major changes in the type of probiotics that inhabit the intestinal tract. These changes are the result of many factors—diet, prescription drugs, and a decline in digestive secretions. One of the key goals in older adults is to increase the levels of Bifidobacteria species. Supplementation with Bifidobacteria has been shown to produce a multitude of benefits in baby boomers and elderly people, including improved bowel function, enhanced immunity, and reduced inflammation.
The quality of probiotic supplements depends on two main factors: the characteristics of the strains contained in the supplement, and the number of bacteria that are viable when the supplement is taken. Viability depends on a number of factors, such as proper manufacturing and the “hardiness” of the strain, as well as packaging and storage of the product in the right amount of moisture and at the correct temperature.
I recommend taking a multiple-strain formula to provide a wider range of beneficial effects. The dosage of probiotic supplements is based on the number of live organisms present in the product, so look for a product that lists the number of live bacteria at expiration versus at time of manufacture. Successful results are most often attained by taking between 5 billion and 20 billion viable bacteria per day.
A final word of advice
The biggest recommendation that I can make if you have minor digestive complaints is to make sure you match the right product to your primary complaint. Too often people with digestive complaints do not get results simply because they are using the right product for the wrong indication. For example, if a person’s primary digestive problem is a lack of stomach acid or pancreatic enzymes, even if they use the world’s best probiotic supplement, they are not going to get relief. So, my advice is to realize that a little detective work is required in dealing with digestive complaints. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a little trial and error to find the support you need.
About the author: Dr. Murray is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 40 books featuring natural approaches to health. Please Click Here to receive a Free 5 Interview Collection from Dr Murray’s Natural Medicine Summit with the Top Leaders in the Field of Natural Medicine. Visit: DoctorMurray.com
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