5 natural remedies for indigestion
By Dr. Mary James, ND
I’ve struggled with indigestion for as long as I can remember. So I’ve got plenty of advice when it comes to the unexpected gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and other digestive symptoms that can be pretty common in menopause.
What I don’t recommend is popping antacids like candy. While they might provide some temporary relief, they also throw off your nutrient balance, fail to address the underlying causes of indigestion, and can actually make the problem worse. Instead, here are my five favorites to support digestion, reduce heartburn, calm nausea and more.
Peppermint helps calm the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with few side effects. I recommend enteric-coated peppermint. The coating helps the peppermint move through the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint tea is another good way to enjoy the benefits of this amazing herb. But avoid peppermint if your digestive issues are related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia or kidney stones. And don’t give it to small children or babies.
Another option to relieve bloating is to use peppermint as a compress. Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to hot water, soak a towel in it and apply to your belly. Do this two to three times a day. You’ll be amazed how well it works.
If you suffer from constipation, magnesium can be a simple and highly effective natural laxative. Many women find it helpful to take magnesium at night to relax their bowels, pull more water into the intestine, and promote healthy bowel movements in the morning. Regular use can also help to reduce the strain of constipation and prevent hemorrhoids. Remember to also drink water regularly!
L-Glutamine is one of your body’s amino acids and is best known for its ability to help protect and even repair the structure of the intestinal lining. The “repair” part is crucial, because once your intestinal lining is damaged, undigested food particles and toxins can move past your intestinal barrier and trigger inflammation. That begins a downward spiral of digestive symptoms, as well as systemic symptoms such as food sensitivities, allergies and inflammation in areas such as joints.
Even if your gas, bloating and digestive distress have already gotten pretty advanced, you can still take L-glutamine to help heal the damage.
I depend on ginger to settle my stomach when I’m feeling nauseated. Grabbing a few slices of fresh ginger can do wonders for relief. Ginger has also been shown to soothe gastrointestinal irritation.
I know a lot of women sip ginger tea in the winter, but adding ice cubes to the tea makes it a great summer drink too. You can even add carbonated water to a strong ginger tea to make your own fancy soda. I like to start with fresh ginger, which I chop coarsely and then simmer five minutes in hot water.
What would an article about natural remedies for digestion be without mentioning probiotics to restore a healthy bacterial balance? There’s new research almost daily on the benefits of probiotics for your digestion and other functions – as well as on how your digestion contributes to your overall health.
The natural remedies above are some of my favorites, but other good options are also available. Many other herbs – like chamomile, lemon balm and dandelion – have been used for centuries to help with occasional digestive issues. An extra tip is to use a few drops of Angostura bitters in your favorite drink. You may be most familiar with its use in cocktails, but it also makes a great soda alternative when added to sparkling water. You might also experiment with your diet, as relief from digestive symptoms is sometimes as simple as eliminating problematic foods.
At the end of the day, these remedies are best for occasional symptoms. If you find that digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, heartburn and constipation are becoming your new normal, you might benefit from a thorough analysis. Take our Digestive Health Quiz to see how you could benefit from resetting your digestion with our natural approach.