Intestinal Pain, Bloating and Heartburn
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: December 15, 1998

I am lactose intolerant, therefore I have cut out most of my dairy intake. Recently I have done some research on indigestion and some symptoms included heartburn, rumbling noises, abdominal pain, bloating etc., all of which I have. Since I have cut down my dairy intake I have noticed I do not experience nausea as much, but I am still always bloated and it’s not so much that my stomach rumbles but I think my intestinal tract. Is there any herb I can take that would prevent this?

Abdominal problems causing symptoms such as yours may be related to food allergies, stress or gastrointestinal irritants such as alcohol, smoking, coffee, food additives, sugar, antacids, pain killers such as aspirin and some prescription drugs such as antibiotics .

Any food that causes abdominal symptoms should be eliminated from your diet. Since you are lactose intolerant, all dairy should be avoided. Even a small amount, such as a lactose additive to margarine, can cause a reaction. Other foods that should be avoided because they add strain to the digestive system or are possible allergens are eggs, oranges, red meat, chocolate, sugar and artificial sweeteners, food additives and colourings. It is helpful to keep a diet diary to note foods eaten and symptoms experienced, then avoid the foods causing problems. A visit to a health food store will give you ideas on natural substitutes for foods that you eliminate from your diet. You may be able to slowly reintroduce these foods later on, because food sensitivity decreases as your digestion improves.

Digestion is improved when meals are small and foods are eaten slowly.

Fresh fruit and vegetables help to clear the intestinal tract. Try increasing these in your diet. Fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach, because if eaten after a meal, it sits and ferments, producing toxins, while waiting for its turn in the digestive process. Fresh fruit first thing in the morning gets the digestive juices flowing. If you find that fruit, because of its high sugar content, causes digestive symptoms, then switch to vegetables and vegetable juices.

A "food combining" diet (many recipe books are available) often helps with digestive symptoms. Food combining advocates separating carbohydrates from proteins in the diet, resulting in faster digestion and decreased digestive toxicity.

If stress is involved, exercise, meditation, yoga or Tai Chi for are helpful for relaxation. Look for other ways to reduce stress in your life.

Herbs that can help to heal the digestive tract are:

Licorice: coats the digestive tract to resist the effects of acid. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, a mild laxative, liver protective and supportive of the adrenal glands. Natural licorice sticks to chew on can usually be found in a health food store. A half teaspoon of licorice powder may be added to teas. Licorice must not be taken in pregnancy or for a period longer than 2 months.

Peppermint: Promotes digestion, decreasing nausea and flatulence

Fennel: Is soothing and excellent for flatulence

Chamomile: Excellent for heartburn and indigestion. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial actions to promote healing. Chamomile should be taken at least 3 times a day.

Peppermint, Chamomile and Fennel can be purchased in bulk form or tea bags. They should be brewed in a covered cup or pot for 10-15 minutes.

Dandelion: supports the liver’s function in processing toxins. Dandelion tea is available at health food stores. It can be drunk several times a day.

Ginger: improves digestion and stimulates circulation. Because it may irritate an inflamed intestinal lining, it must be taken with food or after a meal. A tea can be made by simmering a few slices of ginger root in water for 10-15 minutes.

Slippery Elm: provides a lasting protective lining to the intestinal tract. A tablet or the powder mixed in water can be taken before every meal and at bedtime.

A book that is simple yet effective in describing the digestive process and food combining and includes recipes is "Eating Alive, Prevention Thru Good Digestion" by Dr. Jonn Matsen, N.D. (Crompton Books Ltd, 156 West 3rd Street, North Vancouver, B.C. Canada V7M 1E8, telephone: 604-986-0987; U.S. 934 Boblett Street, Blaine, WA, 98230)

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