GUT INSTINCT: Harness the Power of Nature to Combat Digestion Problems
By Nadine A Douglas
Problems with digestion are becoming an increasing problem in the western world with over 20% of the population having Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Experts say that stress, depression and anxiety can be significant factors in people who suffer from digestive tract problems this is thought to be because the gut has an enteric nervous system which is lined with nerve cells that communicate with the brain. Another common digestive problem is heartburn (acid reflux) which occurs when acidic digestive juices in the gut flow up the oesophagus and trigger pain and inflammation. A study conducted in the UK and Norway found that there had been a 50% increase in heartburn within the last ten years.
The demand for medicines and treatments for digestive problems is increasing rapidly, however although many medications (especially proton pump inhibitors – PPI’s) have been effective in treating the symptoms of these digestive issues, they can also trigger a wide range of side effects, some of which can be very serious. Some examples of this are pneumonia, osteoporosis and kidney problems. Researches have also found evidence that suggests that over the counter antacid medications may be partly responsible for the development of food allergies. While conventional drugs are still important for treating digestive issues, especially for those people who have severe problems, researchers have also found natural ingredients can also play a very important in the treatment of digestive tract problems which may give sufferers a much needed alternative to traditional medication.
A study in Germany was conducted and doctors tested a combination of extracts of peppermint, matricaria flower, bitter candy tuft, caraway, lemon balm and liquorice root on indigestion sufferers. They found that symptoms within the patients improved drastically within four weeks of starting the treatment, compared to those patients who did not take the herbal extracts. Below are some other herbs which can aid indigestion.
• Artichoke Leaf Extract: Is thought to increase the flow of bile which aids digestion
• Ginger: Can work as an natural antacid
• Boswellia: A natural painkiller and is used to combat diarrhoea
• Aloe Vera: A traditional remedy for inflammatory bowel disease, can also aid bloating
• Dandelion and Milk Thistle: Helps to stimulate proper digestion and bowel function
Laboratory tests performed on an extract of pine resin may have been found to help alleviate heartburn. The resin appears to help thicken the protective mucus which lines the stomach and also reduced pepsin activity which is the gut chemical that can cause ulcers. Other natural ingredients which are helpful to heartburn are:
• Orange Peel Extract: Trials have found that it can provide both immediate and long-term relief from heartburn/acid reflux symptoms
• Vitamins C, E and Beta-carotene: Researchers found that these vitamins may cut the risk of Barrett’s oesophagus (a condition which may eventually lead to oesophageal cancer) by more than 50%.
• Cranberry Extract: Research has shown that this also may cut the risk of Barrett’s oesophagus and spread of cancerous cells by 43.6%
• Wormwood: Researches in Korea found evidence that it works as an antioxidant and curbs damage to the oesophagus.
• Astaxanthin – Studies from Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden found that it can significantly reduce symptoms of heartburn.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
One of the main problems for IBS sufferers is that the gut can go into spasm. Scientific research in the British Medical Journal found that peppermint oil is one of the most effective natural treatments for IBS patients. Peppermint is an antispasmodic which relaxes muscles in the intestine and is also known to combat cramping and reduces excess wind. Other vitamins and extracts which are helpful to IBS are:
• Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is currently undergoing hospital trials for being one of the most important treatments for IBS. Some researchers believe that in time, this could be prescribed by doctors for the condition.
• Magnesium: Known to aid proper bowel function and soothe the muscle lining of the intestinal tract
• Turmeric: Can be used as an anti-inflammatory and calms the intestines.
• Ginger Tea or Mint Tea: Good for calming the stomach and improving the stressed colon.
• Liquorice – Good for coating the stomach and stopping food from irritating the gut
Natural products can be used to work with the body and help soothe symptoms, and in many cases, can help to gently tackle the root of the digestion problem.
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Nadine Douglas lost over 25 pounds after being overweight most of her adult life. She now runs a successful weight loss website which gives information about great resources which can help you lose weight and be healthy for long term success.
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