Indigestion is a medical condition that occurs when stomach acid comes in contact with the protective and sensitive lining of the mucosa (digestive system).
When this happens; the lining breaks down. This leads to irritation and inflammation which are very painful. It is also believed to be caused by increased sensitivity of the mucosa to stretching and acidity.
According to WebMD; it is a sign of an underlying health problem like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallbladder disease, and stomach ulcer. It is not a condition of its own. This condition is mostly characterized by a pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen or a burning sensation behind the breastbone.
This is a common problem that affects many people; it is not a serious problem, it is mild and occurs occasionally, but it can be painful and discomforting when feeling it and that is why we will be looking at effective home remedies to help you overcome this condition and give you quick relief.
Indigestion needs to be treated quickly and lifestyle changes are needed to prevent it from happening frequently because severe and frequent indigestion can lead to long-term problems with the digestive tract. It can scar the esophagus and cause other damages.
Signs and symptoms of Indigestion
Dyspepsia (abdominal pain), heartburn, bloating or feeling of fullness, nausea, vomiting, belching, acidic taste, regurgitating foods back into the esophagus, anxiety, depression, emotional problems and stomach upset.
Causes of Indigestion
Many think only bad foods cause indigestion; this is one cause but there are many other causes like smoking, excessive drinking, stress, side effects of medications like aspirin and pain relievers, pregnancy and presence of worms or parasites in the body.
Other underlying medical conditions can cause this and some of them are thyroid disease, GERD, stomach cancer (though rare), stomach ulcer, stomach infections, gastroparesis (in this condition the stomach does not empty properly and it occurs mostly in people with diabetes), chronic pancreatitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Medications can cause this; some of them are thyroid medicines, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), naproxen and other painkillers; estrogen and other contraceptives (oral), steroid medications and certain antibiotics.
Lifestyle lived can also contribute to this condition; unhealthy lifestyles that cause indigestion are smoking and drinking, overeating, eating too fast, eating lots of high-fat foods, eating when stress, chronic stress, and fatigue.
Eating fast can make one swallow excessive air which can increase the symptoms of bloating and belching; some people can have persistent indigestion which may not be caused by any of these, this is called functional or non-dyspepsia and those experiencing this should meet a doctor or a naturopath for help.
Natural remedies for Indigestion
Below are effective home remedies that can relieve indigestion and its symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar: This is an effective remedy for stomach upset and indigestion; it kick-starts a slow stomach and has an alkalizing property that soothe indigestion and stomach troubles. Add a tablespoon of ACV to a glass of water and drink this solution three times daily for quick relief.
Aloe vera juice: Aloe vera has powerful nutrients that protect the digestive systems and boosts its functions; take ¼ cup of aloe vera juice daily before meals.
Amla: Also known as Indian Gooseberry; this fruit is rich in diuretic, laxatives, aphrodisiac, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It enhances proper digestion; cures acidity, heartburn, and indigestion; it is one of the most effective home remedies for indigestion, it relieves the symptoms and discomfort and stimulates the digestive system.
Coconut oil: This oil is rich in healthy fats like lauric acid and Capric acid; these soothe the stomach, neutralize and expel microbes, and boost easy digestion of foods. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil on a daily basis; you can take it raw or add it to smoothies, salads and healthy beverages. If it is not too expensive where you live; you can replace your normal cooking oil with coconut oil.
Fennel seeds: This is an age old remedy for indigestion caused by spicy and oily foods; it contains volatile oils that help in reducing nausea and flatulence. Take fennel tea daily and you can chew a spoonful of the seeds till you get relief.
Buttermilk: The liquid left behind when milk is churned into butter is called buttermilk; this drink can treat indigestion, it has a rich content of lactic acid which helps in neutralizing stomach acid. Take a cup of cold buttermilk when experiencing indigestion; to increase its effectiveness, you can add crushed fennel seeds or ginger powder.
Peppermint oil: This essential soothes abdominal pains and spasm; it prevents nausea and treats other symptoms of indigestion. Take peppermint tea using the dried leaves; you can add a drop of the oil to a glass of warm water and drink or take the capsule according to the dosage.
Lemon and ginger tea: This powerful herbal tea is effective in boosting digestive functions and preventing digestive problems like indigestion; it treats stomach acidity and fights inflammation. Take this tea three times daily; click here to learn how to make this wonderful tea and to see other tremendous health benefits it has to offer.
Ginger: This herb stimulates the production of digestive juices and enzymes; this helps proper digestion of foods and prevents indigestion and digestive problems. It can treat indigestion caused by overeating.
You can take ginger tea after eating a heavy meal; you can also add it to your meals during preparation.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is rich in fiber which helps in preventing digestive problems; it absorbs excess stomach acid and thereby prevents or treats indigestion. Take a bowl of cooked oatmeal once daily when suffering from indigestion.
Chamomile: This is an old treatment for indigestion; it soothes intestinal spasms and calms stomach upset, take chamomile tea three times daily till you get relief from indigestion.
Turmeric: Turmeric is effective in healing digestive problems and disorders; it treats indigestion and other problems like bloating, heartburn, intestinal cramps, and diarrhea and stomach pain.
Its active ingredient Curcumin helps contract the gallbladder and treats indigestion; take turmeric tea daily and you can also add it to your meals.
Baking soda: Baking soda is an antacid and it can treat indigestion caused by excess stomach acid. Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink it; it neutralizes stomach acid and relieves bloating.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate is an effective natural remedy for indigestion and giddiness; take pomegranate juice when you have indigestion; it will balance stomach acid and treat other causes of this condition. Make it more effective by mixing honey with pomegranate juice.
Licorice: Take the DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated) form of licorice; it is effective. It treats indigestion and clams stomach upset by repairing and coating the lining of the stomach.
Gentian herb: This bitter herb stimulates digestion; prevents indigestion and relieves it symptoms like bloating. It improves the flow of bile which ensures a smooth digestion. Take gentian herbal tea by boiling the dried leaves in water; you can add honey to improve its taste.
Carom seeds: These seeds are rich in digestive and carminative properties; this treats diarrhea, indigestion, and flatulence. Eat half teaspoon of carom seeds to ease indigestion; to make it more effective and to get quicker action, mix carom seed powder and ginger root powder together; add black pepper and add this mixture to a glass of water. Do this twice daily and you will be relieved.
Lemon juice: Lemon juice acid is stronger than that of vinegar; this can help neutralize stomach acid and thereby prevent indigestion. Take lemon water (Lemon juice mixed with equal part of water) when having indigestion. You should use a straw when taking it; that is if you are taking it daily so that it won’t affect your enamel. It relieves those suffering from indigestion.
Lemon essential oil: This essential oil has carminative and alkaline properties; these help in neutralizing stomach acids and treat indigestion. It also cleanses the digestive system due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Add a drop of this oil to a glass of water and drink it 30 minutes before eating.
Cumin: Ayurveda medicine has used this for centuries to treat indigestion and its symptoms like diarrhea, flatulence, and diarrhea. It aids the production of pancreatic enzymes that aids proper and smooth digestion of foods. Take cumin tea to relieve this and also feeling heavy in the stomach.
Ginger essential oil: It has the medicinal properties of ginger; in fact, it is the most potent way to use ginger as medicine, it clams the stomach, treats indigestion and other digestive problems. It is also used in fighting other gastrointestinal issues. Add 2 drops of ginger oil to your herbal tea and take it 30 minutes before eating.
Coriander: This spice boosts the production of digestive enzymes; it calms stomach upset and indigestion. Add a teaspoon of roasted seeds of carom to a glass of buttermilk and drink this solution once a day.
Milk: Take a cup of fat-free skim milk daily when having indigestion; this will buffer stomach acid, avoid full cream milk; it will worsen the situation by aiding the production of more stomach acid.
Holy Basil: Basil leaves is one of the most used leaves to cure acid reflux, indigestion and other digestive problems in Ayurveda medicine; it relieves gas, bloating, and nausea due to its carminative effects. Take basil leave tea three times daily till you see results.
Peppermint tea: Peppermint leaves are rich in menthol; this offers cooling and soothing effects to the whole body; it aids proper digestion by relaxing stomach muscles increasing the rate at which the stomach empties itself. It is also effective against heartburn; take peppermint tea thrice daily after every meal.
Cinnamon: This spice offers great relief from indigestion; it ensures smooth functioning of the digestive system and it relieves cramps and bloating and other symptoms of digestive problems. Take cinnamon tea three times daily.
Organic Honey: Honey is rich in various nutrients and compounds that aid digestion; it contains a good amount of potassium which helps to neutralize stomach acids. Take a tablespoon of honey before every meal and also take it before going to bed.
Please note that it is not safe to combine herbs and drugs; consult with your doctor if you are on any medication and know if it is safe to try any of this herbs.
When to see a doctor?
This is a mild condition and does not require serious medical attention but there are cases where you need to see a doctor because it could mean that there are complications like stomach ulcer or stomach cancer that need to be treated.
Please see a doctor if you notice any of these:
- If you have indigestion frequently
- If you are above 55 years of age
- If you have lost weight without dieting or trying to
- If you have difficulty swallowing
- If you vomit frequently
- If you are having symptoms of anemia or iron deficiency
- If you see blood in your vomit or stools
- If you have a lump or lumps in your stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Black, tarry stools
- Severe pain in the upper right or lower right abdomen
- Discomforts when eating.
How to prevent indigestion?
Indigestion can be prevented and the best way to do it is to avoid what triggers it; like bad foods and other factors. Below are ways you can prevent indigestion.
- Do not overeat so that the stomach won’t work hard or work for a long time.
- Eat slowly and don’t rush your foods
- Avoid or reduce your intake of caffeine
- Reduce stress and learn how to manage it
- Quit smoking because it irritates and damages the lining of the stomach
- Reduce your intake of alcohol or avoid it completely
- Avoid wearing tight clothes especially when eating; they can tighten the stomach and make food to regurgitate into the esophagus.
- Don’t eat and go to bed immediately; wait for at least 3 hours
- Sleep with your head elevated; this will prevent the flow of stomach content and digestive juices into the esophagus.