Naturopathic stomach treatment: Digestive symptoms can range from bloating and abdominal pain to reflux, diarrhoea, and constipation. Finding the cause of these symptoms is key to rectifying the problem however this can be challenging and can take some time.
A great place to start whilst investigating the cause is to start by focusing on the basics and also using some symptomatic relief:
Naturopathic stomach treatment: Chewing
Our digestive system uses chemical and mechanical digestion to breakdown the food we eat to absorb nutrients. Poor digestion and a lack of food breakdown can put pressure on our digestive tract and cause abnormal symptoms especially if our digestive system is already struggling.
Chewing is a component of mechanical digestion and can assist to stimulate the chemical digestive process and is something we ourselves can manipulate. It is recommended that we all chew a minimum of 30 times so the food we swallow is liquified but in reality, a majority of people would struggle to chew 5 times!
A good way to start is by sitting down and slowly eating your meal, start with chewing a minimum of 10 times and enjoy the flavours! Then once chewing 10 times feels more comfortable, try increasing to chewing 20 times then start implementing all your meals throughout the day.
Naturopathic stomach treatment: Peppermint
Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita) is a herb that is used in naturopathy due to its ability to calm the digestive tract and also has an antispasmodic nature which means it reduces muscle spasms of the digestive tract making it a herb that can work with a variety of symptoms and conditions of the digestive tract.
A cup of peppermint tea can have beneficial effects and is something that you can do yourself. Peppermint tea can soothe some digestive symptoms of bloating and digestive upset. Peppermint essential oil externally or topically can also have the same effect – 2 drops rubbed on the skin of your abdomen can relieve symptoms. Don’t forget to do a spot test beforehand to ensure the oil does not irritate the skin.
Naturopathic stomach treatment: Ginger
Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale) is a herb that is incredibly beneficial for reducing bloating, reducing nausea and calming the digestive tract. Ginger has been shown to have anti-emetic properties (anti-vomiting effect) indicating it can be supportive in pregnancy, it also supports the gastro-intestinal tract by stimulating the flow of saliva, bile and gastric secretions which can increase the efficacy of digestion. Ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect which can be beneficial for calming the digestive tract.
Ginger is easily accessible and can be used as food as medicine – grating some ginger into your tea can assist or can be added into your cooking can give beneficial benefits.
You can also use dried ginger as a tea, or dried powder in your cooking.
Naturopathic stomach treatment: Stress management
Stress has been shown to negatively impact the digestion of the digestive tract and digestive symptoms. But we can see this in our lives when we are nervous, stressed or anxious we may have to go to the bathroom more frequently, or we may notice a change in our bowel motions.
This effect can also work in reverse, when our digestive system is not working optimally, or when we are suffering from digestive symptoms, this can have a negative impact on our mood or mental health.
Stress is everywhere and we all experience forms of stress and it’s not something that is going to go away. So we need to find ways to manage our stress and be able to adapt to our stress levels to avoid the physical symptoms such as digestive symptoms aggravated by stress.
There is a multitude of ways to support your stress levels and the easiest way to lower stress is to do something that you enjoy – it can be yoga, reading a book, going for a walk in the sunshine, going to the beach. It does not have to be for hours at a time, just 10 minutes a day can have incredible benefits on supporting your digestion.
Naturopathic stomach treatment: Exercise
We all know that exercise is beneficial for our health. However, did you know exercise is beneficial for your digestive health also?
Exercise can get your digestive system moving: reducing constipation, reducing symptoms such as bloating and occasional gas but can also has an effect on our gut microbiome by enhancing the number of beneficial microbial species, enriching the microbial diversity and improving development of species which in turn supports not only our digestive tract but our overall health.
The trick with using exercise to support our digestion is to start slow and gradually increase intensity as you become more capable and stronger.
Want to learn more?
This post gives you the basics for supporting your digestion and gut symptoms but we do recommend consulting with an experienced and registered naturopath to identify what is causing your digestive upsets and receive an individualized treatment plan.