Digestive disturbances are not a normal feature of healthy digestive function.
Your digestive system is considered the ‘seat’ of your health.
Not only does your digestive system process the foods you eat, it plays an equally important role in maintaining your immune health and can communicate with your brain to help maintain healthy cognitive function and mood.
Digestive disturbances, if left untreated, can continue to cause discomfort and ultimately lead to health issues in other areas of your body.
Symptoms of digestive disturbances include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Irritable bowel conditions
- A feeling of fullness
- Reflux or heartburn
Causes of many digestive disturbances
- Low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach
Hydrochloric acid is essential for breaking down foods in your stomach, the absorption of nutrients and to protect against disease. Low levels of hydrochloric acid also impact bile production in the liver and pancreatic enzymes, leading to symptoms such as reflux or heartburn, nausea, indigestion, flatulence and abdominal discomfort.
An imbalance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, or dysbiosis, within the digestive tract allows other organisms such as yeasts, bacteria, viruses and parasites to thrive and grow.
- ‘Leaky’ gut
Compromised digestive barrier function allows many more compounds to pass directly from your digestive tract into your bloodstream than would normally be possible. Leaky gut is often associated with dysbiosis and low levels of hydrochloric acid.
Natural ways to reduce digestive disturbances
- Globe artichoke may relieve symptoms of non-specific dyspepsia, indigestion, digestive disturbances, abdominal discomfort, a feeling of fullness and medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. Globe artichoke is traditionally used as a bitter digestive tonic that stimulates the upper digestive tract, including the stomach, liver and pancreas, to relieve symptoms of digestive complaints such as bloating, flatulence and a feeling of fullness
- Licorice root is traditionally used for the relief of indigestion, bloating, a feeling of fullness, heartburn, reflux and digestive discomfort in the upper abdomen. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice, known as DGL, helps soothe inflammation of the stomach and can be used long term as it doesn’t have the same impact on blood pressure as a standard Licorice preparation
- Senna and Butternut are traditionally used in herbal medicine for the relief of constipation. Senna has a stimulating laxative action, whereas Butternut provides a gentle laxative action
- Dill is quite often used in combination with laxative herbs to help offset any intestinal spasms or pain, and to help relieve flatulence, bloating and griping pain. Dill is traditionally used to aid digestion
- Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria by inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria and helping to re-establish good bacteria for healthy digestive function
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The Digestive System viewed on 01/03/2017 at http://membes.gesa.org.au/membes/files/Consumer%20Information/Digestive%20System.pdf
Ulbricht et al.2011, An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Senna (Cassia senna) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Journal of Dietary Supplements, 8(2):189–238.