It’s so common that many people simply accept as a fact of life the discomfort and pain, the acid-burning feeling and the bloating and wind that comes with indigestion. But regular readers will know that when it comes to health problems, no matter how minor they may appear, I very rarely simply accept them! And neither should you.
Through winter, the lack of exercise and consumption of rich food and alcohol contribute to making this time of year the ‘heartburn holiday’. Yes, antacids will help you deal with the pain of indigestion or heartburn once you have it but how do you avoid developing it in the first place, and hen relying on a chemical to ease your pains? First, we need to learn what causes indigestion or dyspepsia to use the medical term.
In most cases, indigestion is unpleasant (and unnecessary if you follow good advice) but, for some people, it may be associated with irritable bowel syndrome or with a duodenal ulcer. If the pain is relieved by eating then an ulcer may well be the underlying cause and you should consult your GP.
The burning feeling associated with heartburn (nothing to do with your heart by the way) is caused by gastroesophageal reflux. This is when stomach acids flow back up into your gullet irritating the lining of your oesophagus. The bloatedness and wind of indigestion is caused by excessive gas in the stomach or gut and by simply taking in too great a quantity of food at once.
Some foods trigger indigestion and heartburn in some people (eg garlic, onions, fatty foods, cabbage, sprouts and rich or spicy foods, high levels of sugary foods and wheat). Eating whilst walking or slouching and eating too fast can greatly hamper smooth digestion, as can alcohol or being stressed. Being overweight, being pregnant or lying down after a meal will make you particularly susceptible to acid reflux.
Given these triggers, it follows that having a good posture as you eat, sitting down and taking your time and eating and drinking in moderation are good starts to avoiding indigestion. Not lying down or slouching soon after eating, avoiding food and drink that you know are likely to give you trouble and losing excess weight will all help you stay indigestion-free.
A good herbalist will be able to recommend specific herbs that will help you tackle the symptoms of indigestion. For example, chamomile to ease anxiety, ginger to reduce nausea, liquorice root to help reduce reflux and peppermint to alleviate bloating. Alternatively a nutritionist will be able to help you work out which foods you may be sensitive to and discuss with you the benefits of taking acidophilus supplements to help balance bacteria in the digestive tract. As with all supplements, it’s important to take advice from a qualified practitioner before you start taking them. There is good information here so have a look around http://www.spinalcarecentre.co.uk/members-area/videos/how-to-get-healthy/healthy-movement-patterns-part-1.html
By working on the area of the spine that houses the nerves that supply your digestive system and by improving your posture and giving your digestive system the ‘space’ to work properly, a chiropractic adjustment administered by a Chiropractically trained practitioner may naturally reduce the frequency of indigestion and alleviate symptoms.
In my clinical experience, poor digestive function and abdominal pain frequently accompanies back pain and my patients often find their digestive and bowel function improves as their back problems are treated. Regular readers will know the value I place on evidence-based practice and I try to assist in research where possible to further our professional knowledge. A few years ago I was delighted to help out a PhD researcher with a study of the effects of a chiropractic adjustment on patients suffering from indigestion. The results?….. A resounding thumbs up for alleviating the symptoms of indigestion with a well placed series of adjustments.