Natural Remedies for Heartburn and Indigestion

Use these natural remedies for heartburn and indigestion that will take care of gastrointestinal problems, including a number of herbal and fruit-based preparations to soothe your stomach.
By Charles Dickson, Ph.D
December 1996/January 1997
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Papaya fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme that aids the digestion of meats, thus helping your tummy to do less growling after a steak or a hamburger.
ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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Here are some simple natural remedies for heartburn and indigestion for stomach disorders you can make easily and inexpensively to relieve the discomforts of stomach irritation. 

Gastrointestinal problems are epidemic in industrial societies. Whether they are attributable to toxins in food, pesticides, stress, or simply the fact that we were designed for a simpler diet than we are getting, ulcers, hiccups, heartburn, diarrhea, and the host of other ailments that you are only too familiar with afflict over 50 million Americans each year. For the most part, they are treated with antacids, very simple components of acid-neutralizing bases. There are some simple herbal remedies, however, you can make easily and inexpensively to relieve the discomforts of stomach irritation.

Indigestion usually produces a combination of symptoms including stomachache, nausea, heartburn, vomiting, and gas. And as Murphy's Law would have it, this problem always seems to happen at the most inopportune times. What can you do to deal with it? Try these natural remedies for heartburn and indigestion: Eat a large radish, but don't do it just before you're getting ready to pick up your favorite brunette for a romantic evening. It will help your stomach, but your breath may drive her away. Instead substitute peppermint tea made by placing some peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water, allowing it to steep for 10 minutes. This has a very soothing effect on the gastric mucus.

If you live in an area where grocery stores sell papaya, buy some and eat it fresh, or drink some papaya juice. This fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme that aids the digestion of meats, thus helping your tummy to do less growling after a steak or a hamburger. You can also bring to boil a teaspoon of alfalfa seed in a cup of water and let it steep for five minutes. Drink this tea half an hour after meals to aid digestion. Hiccups is another common gastrointestinal problem, and sometimes it seems they are impossible to stop. A hiccup is actually a spastic contraction of the diaphragm, which is the large circular muscle separating the chest from the abdomen. For hiccup problems, drink a glass of pineapple or orange juice. Or mix one teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of warm water and drink. You can also try a couple of teaspoons of honey. The sugar in the honey usually breaks up the hiccups. One final radical treatment is to gently inhale a little pepper. This should make you sneeze, and sneezing generally relieves hiccups.

What about diarrhea? It can be caused by a number of factors, including overeating, bacterial infection, food poisoning, emotional anxiety, or extreme fatigue, Diarrhea depletes the body of potassium and magnesium, leaving you feeling depressed and dehydrated. Drink some blackberry juice or blackberry brandy. These are very ancient remedies that have stood the test of time. You can also boil a halfcup of brown rice in six cups of water for half an hour. Strain and sweeten the water with a little honey. Drink a cup of the rice water—honey mix every hour and the diarrhea should soon disappear.

Stomach and intestinal gas, known as flatulence, is not usually painful but can be painfully embarrassing. To prevent development of gas, place a half teaspoon of powdered ginger in a cup of boiling water. Drink the tea slowly. Flatulence can also be prevented by placing one teaspoon of peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water and allowing it to steep for 15 minutes. Drink hot or cold. These are preventive measures, but what if the problem already exists? Try adding one teaspoon of bay leaves to a cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep for five minutes, then strain it and drink the tea. You can also make the same type of preparation using aniseeds in place of bay leaves.

What about ulcers? While recent medical research has shown that many ulcer problems are caused by a bacterial infection known as heliobacter pylori, and can be treated with antibiotics, this treatment isn't effective in 100 percent of cases. If you are one of those who hasn't responded to antibiotic therapy, try adding two tablespoons of red clover to a cup of boiling water and allowing it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey. You should experience some relief from pain after a cup or two of this remedy. Finally, you can boil some Irish potatoes and save the water you boiled them in and drink it. Do this on a daily basis for relief from painful ulcers.


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