Dealing with Digestion

Pain, bloating, belching, constipation, and a wide range of other distressing symptoms accompany digestive disturbances. Taking an honest look at dietary and lifestyle habits will usually offer the best clues to solving your tummy troubles.

It\’s no fun having a tummy ache. Pain, bloating, belching, constipation, and a wide range of other distressing symptoms accompany digestive disturbances. Taking an honest look at dietary and lifestyle habits will usually offer the best clues to solving your tummy troubles.

Natural digestive aids bring welcome relief for a variety of digestive problems. Follow the dosage recommendations on the label, or seek the advice of a qualified natural health products advisor.

Here\’s an alphabetical list of the many digestive aids readily available at your local health food store.


Along with other probiotic strains of friendly bacteria, acidophilus works to establish a healthy environment in the intestinal tract. Antibiotic use increases the need for regular probiotic supplementation.

Activated Charcoal

This useful alternative to antacids is simply charcoal that has been processed from pure vegetable ingredients. Economical and effective, it can adsorb (attract and hold) many times its weight in
irritating gases and toxins.

Aloe Vera

The World Journal of Gastroenterology (April 2006) published a study that recognized aloe vera\’s role in reducing gastric inflammation and promoting gastric ulcer healing.

Artichoke extract (Cynara scolymus)

An analysis of the effects of this traditional European remedy was published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (August 2004). Analysts determined that artichoke leaf extract reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and improved overall quality of life in IBS patients.

Betaine Hydrochloride

Many people make the painful mistake of assuming their indigestion is caused by too much stomach acid. If you are over 50, however, chances are your indigestion is because you don\’t produce enough. This beet-based source of hydrochloric acid quickly increases stomach acid and reduces embarrassing digestive noises.


There are a variety of popular premixed bitter herbs, such as the traditional Swedish bitters. A regular spring tonic for Europeans, bitters increase bile production, remedy sluggish digestion, improve appetite, and alleviate flatulence (gas).

Calcium and Magnesium

In the form of tasty mint-flavoured chewable tablets, calcium and magnesium work quickly as an aluminum-free antacid. These sister minerals are essential for relaxation of smooth muscles, including the large intestine.

Camomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Every mother knows the magic of camomile tea for settling an upset tummy. Made from the dried flowers, camomile tea is an excellent home remedy that relieves heartburn, indigestion, colic, and general stress. It also has mild relaxant and sedative properties.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The next time you are uprooting this therapeutic plant from your garden, save the roots and hang them to dry. The dried roots and fresh green leaves are both used traditionally as an overall digestive and liver tonic, especially in the spring.

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

The damaged mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract responds quickly to DGL. Chewable DGL tablets provide quick relief from painful bowel inflammation and spasms.

Digestive Enzymes

Supplemental enzymes address a wide range of digestive functions. Enzymes are made from a variety of sources, including animal, plant, microbial fermentations (also called plant-derived), and concentrated food or plant extracts. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats all depend on specific enzymes for thorough digestion, but most people find multiple enzyme formulations that contain pancreatin to be most helpful for general digestive health support.

Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)

Chewing a half-teaspoon of fennel seeds at the end of a meal, or any time you feel the beginnings of indigestion, will ease gas and bloating.

Fenugreek Seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

There are big benefits from these small seeds. Used as a tea, powder, or tablets, fenugreek soothes gastrointestinal spasms, pain, and irritation.

Fermented Foods

Sauerkraut, yogourt, kefir, miso, tempeh, and Korean kimchi are examples of fermented foods used to improve digestive health around the world. Adding fermented foods to your regular food choices especially benefits intestinal microflora.


Remember to eat high-fibre foods every day for good digestion. Fibre relieves constipation, adds bulk to the stool, eliminates toxins, and satisfies appetite. Forty grams of fibre daily is ideal.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

A daily cup of ginger root tea alleviates nausea, strengthens the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract, and protects against ulcers and parasites.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Just the smell of peppermint makes one feel better immediately. Therapeutic peppermint products work quickly and pleasantly to alleviate digestive upsets and irritable bowels. They are available in capsule, tablet, and liquid forms.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

The powdered inner bark of this native tree should be in every family medicine cabinet. It acts almost immediately to coat irritated digestive membranes, soothe burning stomach ulcers, and promote healing of the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. It can also relieve constipation.


Based on the principles of Ayurvedic healing traditions, triphala is a combination of three therapeutic fruits that tone the large intestine and promote bowel regularity.

You can help your digestive system deal with the challenges of living and eating in our modern world. Always have a few natural digestive aids readily available in your kitchen cupboard. Combined with a high-fibre diet, fermented foods, and enzyme-packed fresh fruits and vegetables, they offer the best and safest relief for indigestion.


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