Churning, burning, gassy sensations - that's what dining means for a good one-third of us. In our hurry-up culture, digestion is a dying art. How to train the tummy to perform the way nature intended? Well, for one thing, take a few deep breaths to relax before you eat. Eat stuff you feel good about - guilt is stomach-churning! Don't try to get work done during meals; focus on enjoying your food. Chew plenty and talk less to avoid swallowing air. In a world that seeks to make workaholics of us all, you can see these measures as a radical reclamation of your right to move at a human pace.
While many of us reach for antacids after we've upset our stomachs, a better approach is prevention, since over-the-counter tummy soothers tend to contain aluminum (sometimes linked to Alzheimer's) and other minerals that can mess with your metabolism. For occasional symptoms, you can also try a homeopathic digestion remedy , available at health food stores.
If the problem persists, pay more attention to what you're consuming. Chocolate, peppermint, fried, fatty or spicy foods, citrus, coffee and cigarettes can all contribute to heartburn and indigestion. Alcohol is especially damaging to an empty stomach.
If you've got severe symptoms or you're eating nutritious grub in a relaxed environment and still can't stomach your food, you need some medical attention to check for ulcers, gallstones, hernia or excess stomach acid. Holistic types will also check for deficient stomach acid and individual food sensitivities. mach acid or too little. If the stomach is not producing enough acid, it can react to food by causing both regurgitation and stomach pain. Citrus, tomato, coffee and anything with mint can be aggravating. I also look at other common food sensitivities to things like wheat, peanuts or dairy. Butterflies in the stomach,' not being able to stomach something': there are a lot of metaphors in our language that (may) relate to some of the mental/emotional stuff going on. I've had good results treating heartburn with acupuncture. Craniosacral therapy can be useful. Sometimes (internal organs) just need to be reorganized a little bit."
MASINA WRIGHT, naturopath " Fennel , anise seed, peppermint , spearmint and camomile have a long history of use for settling an upset stomach. Take a combination of equal parts of all of these herbs, blend them together, and for an adult use one teaspoon of the herbal blend in a cup of just-boiled water. People have used slippery elm inner bark, licorice root, marshmallow root and leaf and meadowsweet as antacids. Very often, people will benefit by taking herbal bitters just before supper and lunch, the two larger meals of the day. Even a few drops will be enough to trigger the digestive secretions. Bitters should not be used if someone is secreting too much stomach acid."
CELINA AINSWORTH, clinical herbal therapist "Used in moderation, antacids are helpful in reducing symptoms rapidly in people with mild or infrequent indigestion. At those doses, the likelihood of complications from aluminum-, magnesium- or calcium-containing compounds is low. Magnesium can trigger diarrhea, calcium can make people somewhat more constipated and can trigger increased acid production, and aluminum can cause constipation. One has to be careful in people with kidney and other diseases. For people with severe disease, stronger medication is required. For people with severe heartburn, (acid lowering) prescription medicines are very effective at alleviating symptoms, which suggests excess acid is the main problem. These are among the most commonly used medications worldwide." DAVID ARMSTRONG , associate professor, division of gastroenterology, department of medicine, McMaster University "The eating environment should be peaceful, quiet and nurturing. Eating with others is fine so long as there's not excess conversation or laughter and you're emotionally compatible. For treatment of hyperacidity, Ayurveda uses aloe vera gel (and dietary adjustments). For improving digestion, boil one teaspoon of equal parts mixed cumin and coriander seeds in two cups of water for two or three minutes, strain it and drink it warm with your meals and throughout the day. If the problem has been going on for some time, see a physician. Angina can present as a burning sensation, fullness, discomfort."
SUSAN VETTICHIRA, MD with Ayurvedic training, Tampa, Florida