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Naturally Improve Your Digestion and Digestive System

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Acute and chronic digestive problems and disorders includes a broad spectrum ranging from heartburn, indigestion, GERD and Acid Reflux, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, Colitis, Gastritis to other troublesome digestive symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

The family of digestive disturbances amounts to more than 2 million physician outpatient visits annually and almost 40% of referrals to a gastroenterologist.

Increasing public awareness with respect to the many diseases of the digestive system enables the best possible medical outcome and quality of life for current and future patients with digestive diseases. The importance of prevention, early diagnosis, and appropriate care for diseases of the digestive system needs to be stressed.

* More than 70 million people suffer from digestive disorders that interfere with their work and their lives.
* More people can be hospitalized for digestive diseases than for any other type of illness.
* Digestive diseases can be life-threatening; colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States alone.
* Digestive diseases cost the nation an estimated $91 billion annually in health care costs, lost work days and premature deaths.

Poor digestion is also often at the root of many chronic ailments, such as low energy, pain, inflammation, arthritis, and allergies.

Natural remedies and treatment options for digestive problems and disorders include diet, herbs, supplements, home remedies, alternative therapies and more.

Natural and Alternative Treatments for Digestive Problems and Improving Your Digestion

* Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita) – Abdominal pain, the most frequent and disabling symptom of IBS, improves when the intestinal smooth muscles are relaxed. Peppermint oil can reduce abdominal pain and distension of IBS, possibly by blocking the influx of calcium into muscle cells and inhibiting excess contraction of intestinal smooth muscles. It is a carminative, which means it helps eliminate intestinal gas.

* Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) – Fennel is another herb that is used to relieve spasm of the gastrointestinal tract, feelings of fullness, and flatulence. In Germany, fennel seed is licensed as a standard medical tea for dyspepsia.

* Gamma-oryzanol – Gamma-oryzanol is a natural substance isolated from rice bran oil. Studies have shown that it protects the mucus lining of the gastrointestinal tract by regulating nervous system control and exerts anti-oxidant activity. Clinically, gamma-oryzanol has been found to be effective in a broad range of gastrointestinal complaints, including irritable bowel.

* Magnesium is a mineral that has been used widely for treating abdominal cramps and constipation. It is obtained naturally from the diet, and is required for many metabolic activities in the body. Absorption of magnesium is reduced by high intake of calcium, alcohol, surgery, diuretics, liver or kidney disease, and oral contraceptive use. Fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine, premenstrual syndrome, and dysmenorrhea are conditions associated with magnesium deficiency. Women with premenstrual syndrome who were found to have low magnesium were more likely to have excess sensitivity to pain with generalized aches and pains.

* Identify and remove food intolerances – Many foods can be removed from your diet for a brief period of time, and then re-introduced sequentially to isolate your body’s reaction to the offending foods. Food sensitivities are behind many digestive disorders. For example, between 33% and 66% of sufferers report having one or more food intolerances, resulting in bloating, gas, and pain. The most common culprits are milk, dairy and grains.

* Improve gut motility – Soluble fiber increases bowel transit and stools and relieves constipation. Increase your dietary fiber intake with good sources of fiber such as Dried fruit, such as dates, figs, prunes, apples, beans, legumes and ground flaxseeds. Psyllium is a good source of soluble fiber and is readily available. Sufficient water should be taken or fiber can have the opposite effect and result in greater constipation. Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) is licensed in Germany as a standard medicinal tea to treat distension, flatulence, dyspepsia, lack of appetite, and other digestive complaints.

* Get enough water – insufficient water intake is a primary cause of constipation. Constipation then causes an imbalance in bacteria, promotes inflammation of the intestinal lining, and can even lead to the absorption of larger molecules, a condition known as Leaky Gut. Leaky Gut can further lead to inflammation, fatigue, food allergies, and arthritis.

* Restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut – Increase good gut bacteria – Not all bacteria is bad. There are over 400 different kinds of bacteria and yeasts in the digestive system. Of these, the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophillus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are considered good “probiotic” bacteria because they can help to maintain intestinal health and restore healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. They can decrease the amount of bacteria with gas-producing abilities and relieve symptoms such as abdominal distension and flatulence. Bifidobacterium acts as a barrier against colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by pathogenic bacteria, and lactobacillus inhibits the attachment of pathogens onto the intestinal mucus lining.

* Pancreatic enzymes help to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the small intestine. They help to improve protein digestion. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) also inhibits bacteria, and prevents the conversion of proteins to vasoactive amines.

Symptoms vary from person to person and are more common among women, but anyone can get and experience digestive problems and disorders. Many digestive problems are also associated with non-gastrointestinal conditions such as headache, low back pain, arthritis, non-cardiac chest pain, difficult urination and fibromyalgia. Anxiety, hostile feelings, sadness, depression, and sleep disturbances are also associated with IBS and other digestive problems. Sometimes stress and certain foods can worsen symptoms, although they do not cause digestive problems.

Misunderstandings about diseases and problems that affect the digestive system still exist. However, these misunderstanding and myths can be dangerous if it keeps you from correctly preventing or treating an illness.

As part of Digestive Diseases Awareness Month in May, read up on these interesting common misconceptions and Digestive Disease Myths and factual follow-ups:

Myth # 1: Crohn’s disease is contagious.

False
Crohn’s disease is not contagious. The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Although diet may affect the symptoms in patients with Crohn’s disease, it is unlikely that diet is responsible for the disease.

Myth # 2: Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by psychological problems.

False
Inflammatory bowel disease is the general name for two diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The cause of the disease is unknown, but researchers speculate that it may be a virus or bacteria interacting with the body’s immune system.

Myth # 3: Spicy food and stress cause stomach ulcers.

False
Truth is, almost all stomach ulcers are caused either by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or by use of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAID-induced ulcers can be cured with time, stomach-protective medications, antacids, and avoidance of NSAIDs. Spicy food and stress may aggravate ulcer symptoms in some people, but they do not cause ulcers.

Myth # 4: Smoking a cigarette helps relieve heartburn.

False
Actually, cigarette smoking contributes to heartburn. Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter -a muscle between the esophagus and stomach-relaxes, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to splash back into the esophagus. Cigarette smoking causes the LES to relax.

Myth # 5: Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day.

False
The frequency of bowel movements among normal, healthy people varies from three a day to three a week, and perfectly healthy people may fall outside both ends of this range.

Myth # 6: Habitual use of enemas to treat constipation is harmless.

False
The truth is, habitual use of enemas is not harmless. Over time, enemas can impair the natural muscle action of the intestines, leaving them unable to function normally. An ongoing need for enemas is not normal; you should see a doctor if you find yourself relying on them or any other medication to have a bowel movement.

Myth # 7: Celiac disease is a rare childhood disease.

False
Celiac disease affects children and adults. At least 1 in 1,000 people and, in some populations, 1 in 200 people have celiac disease. Most often, celiac disease first causes symptoms during childhood, usually diarrhea, growth failure, and failure to thrive. But the disease can also first cause symptoms in adults. These symptoms may be vague and therefore attributed to other conditions. Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rash, anemia, and thinning of the bones (osteoporosis). Celiac disease may cause such nonspecific symptoms for several years before being correctly diagnosed and treated.

People with celiac disease should not eat any foods containing gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. In these people, gluten destroys part of the lining of the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The damage can occur from even a small amount of gluten, and not everyone has symptoms of damage.

Myth # 8: Diverticulosis is an uncommon and serious problem.

False
Actually, the majority over age 60 have diverticulosis, but only a small percentage have symptoms or complications. Diverticulosis is a condition in which little sacs – or out-pouchings – called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon. These tend to appear and increase in number with age. Most people do not have symptoms and would not know that they had diverticula unless x-ray or intestinal examination were done. Less than 10% of people with diverticulosis ever develop complications such as infection (diverticulitis), bleeding, or perforation of the colon.

Myth # 9: Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the least common ailments of the bowel (intestines).

False
Actually, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common ailments of the bowel (intestines) and affects an estimated 15%. Some of the symptoms of IBS are nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, abdominal distention diarrhea and constipation.

Digestion is a natural process; therefore, you should treat all digestive problems and disorders naturally and effectively.

Gastronic Dr. is a natural, safe, effective and powerful herbal formula to help relieve and prevent flare-ups stomach disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Gastritis, Acid Reflux (GERD), Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulosis.

Use this remedy to prevent the flare ups of these conditions; tone the entire digestive system, soothe the stomach lining and maintain healthy digestive and bowel functioning; fight against harmful free radicals in your body and promote healthy absorption of nutrients. Formulated by a clinical psychologist, Gastronic Dr. is pharmaceutically manufactured to the highest standards.

Sources: Gut, published April 24, 2006; Truestar Health Inc.; Cathy Wong, N.D from About.com Your Guide to Alternative Medicine; Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition Digestive Health Education; MedicineNet.com

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2 Responses to Naturally Improve Your Digestion and Digestive System

  1. Mitch Straus October 19, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Another great read Dee! I have a couple of friends who suffer from IBS and it seems like there is always something going on with their stomachs. You mentioned a lot of great products that help with IBS of a leaky gut. One thing I’d like to ad is Aloe Vera liquid. Simply add it to your drinks or shakes and it works wonders for digestive and IBS issues.Although Dee touched on many great ideas and products with this article, you can get free reports on <a href=”http://wellnessinthenow.com”>holistic wellness</a> and information on cleansing your system that makes use of a lot of the above-mentioned products.Thanks!

    • Dee Braun, DrR, CA, CCT October 20, 2010 at 7:27 am #

      Hi Mitch – thank you :) I have had suffered from diverticulitis and it is not something I’d wish on anyone! Thanx for the tips, Mitch!

      Many blessings,
      Dee

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