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{I hope you all will give a warm welcome to my dear, dear friend Lori Roop! Lori is a clinical herbalist and such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to healing and herbs. She is also one of the kindest and sweetest people I know. In addition to practicing herbalism, Lori also has an amazing brand of organic, herbal skin care products (L.c. of Acirema) that I just adore. You can learn more about Lori on her site here, and stop by Etsy to check out her incredible products here.}

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This is the first of a multi-part series on herbs for common stomach problems. This specific post takes a close look at getting to the root of heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and GERD. Then, I’ll show you some easy, quick-fix herbs to take, and help you create a game plan with herbs and food for a long-term solution. Following posts in this series will continue to look at other common tummy troubles and herbs and diet changes that have been known to help. ~Lori Roop, CCH

Herbs for Common Stomach Problems

Skin and digestive problems are typically two of the most common complaints that herbalists see. Topical and palliative solutions can be short-term band-aids, so getting to the root of the problem is the key to creating improved long-term health.

But, where the heck do you start?

Let’s first look at some of the most common digestive complaints. Chris Kresser points out in his article, “What Everybody Ought to Know (But Doesn’t) about Heartburn and GERD”, that Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a more serious form of acid reflux, is the most prevalent digestive disorder in the US. So, considering how prevalent it is, let’s start by looking at the digestive issues of indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD, because they really all go hand-in-hand.

There is a common misconception that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid. So, why do studies show that stomach acid levels decline with age, and OTC heartburn meds and acid-suppressing drugs increase with age? (1,2,3)

That doesn’t make sense. What does make sense, and also what studies support, is that the vast majority of people who suffer from these digestive complaints have too little stomach acid – the complete opposite of what we have been taught. Chris Kresser’s has posted some extensive and informative posts on the topic of heartburn. I also recommend checking two articles, “Digestion 101” and “The Digestive System: An Herbalist’s Perspective”, to get a refresher course on digestion from two different practitioners’ perspectives.

So, what are two of the main causes of heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and GERD?

1. Bacterial overgrowth. This happens when bacteria is allowed to overgrow in the gut due to low stomach acid. Symptoms include bloating, gas, burping, and acid reflux.

2. Maldigested carbohydrates. This happens when carbohydrates are not fully digested due to a cascade of digestive functions that were unable to be performed by your digestive system. All of it starts with low stomach acid. The fermentation of carbohydrates that haven’t been digested properly produces bloating, gas, burping, and acid reflux.

Causes of Maldigested Carbohydrates and Bacterial Overgrowth

What then, contributes to bacterial overgrowth and maldigested carbohydrates?

Excess grains, sugars and processed foods [among many], cause bacterial overgrowth.” Mercola

In addition, fructose and artificial sweeteners also contribute. Since we know that these problems often start with a lack of stomach acid, we must ask, what causes low stomach acid?

1. Not being able to get into the parasympathetic nervous system state, which is also known as “rest and digest”. In other words, you are stuck in fight or flight. Being in the parasympathetic nervous system state allows your body to secrete the necessary hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). Adaptogens, whose definition is exactly how the name sounds; are herbs that help you adapt and cope with stress. Adaptogen herbs such as Eleuthero, Holy Basil, American Ginseng, Licorice, and Ashwagandha are often used to help the body balance your autonomic nervous system, which for many people means to get them out of sympathetic and back into parasympathetic. While it is possible that you could see results immediately from taking an adaptogen, often times to see optimal results, the adaptogen needs to be taken for at least 6 months. As always, discontinue use if negative effects occur and consult your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet or adding any new herbs.

2. Low stomach acid is often exacerbated by an overgrowth of H. pylori. Try taking raw garlic or an aged garlic supplement, as garlic is a prebiotic and has been proven to kill off bad bacteria and leave beneficial bacteria. (5) Other useful herbs for an overgrowth of H. pylori are Thyme, Licorice, and Turmeric.

3. Antacids and acid-suppressing drugs. (Big surprise, right?)

4. Thyroid disorder. Dr. Kharrazian, in his book, “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal”, states on page 121, ”Whenever a pattern of hypochlorhydria is observed, a thyroid disorder should be ruled out, and any time thyroid malfunction is observed, hypochlorhydria must be considered.”

5. Age and other factors can contribute to low stomach acid.

6. Could the lack of bitter taste and bitter foods in the American diet be exacerbating low stomach acid?

Quick-fix Herbs for Common Stomach Problems like Gas, Bloating, Burping and Acid Reflux

Peppermint: A simple cup of Peppermint tea can do wonders for gas, bloating, and many other digestive complaints. Put 1 Tablespoon of Peppermint into a cup, fill with boiling water, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Peppermint is a carminative, which means that it helps to expel gas. Peppermint is very common, and an easy, go-to herb for digestive complaints. Please note that there is a small percentage of people that experience an increase in heartburn symptoms from drinking Peppermint tea, so discontinue if you experience this. Peppermint is also contraindicated in pregnancy unless under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Chamomile: Another common, easy herb that has so many great digestive system actions. This herb is calming to your nervous system (which can often trigger upset stomach), alleviates nausea, soothes intestinal cramping, and helps with many other types of digestive disorders and pain. A favorite among children and Peter Rabbit, its calming, soothing actions also make it an easy choice for any kind of sleep problems. Prepare the same way as Peppermint above. As with any herb, there is always a possibility of allergies to Chamomile. However, to put it in perspective, Rosemary Gladstar has previously written that she had only seen two cases of chamomile-caused allergies in all of her years of practice.

Ginger: This herb does everything! It calms the stomach, alleviates nausea, increases digestive secretions (specifically digestive enzymes from the fresh root), reduces gas, and calms cramping. It helps with burping, pain, colic, and a slow digestive system, and these are just the digestive complaints that Ginger helps! For the dried root, use 1 teaspoon to a cup of boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes. For fresh root, a 1-2 inch of root in a cup of boiling water steeped for 10 minutes. Contraindications are large doses in pregnancy, and caution with those taking blood-thinning medications and/or surgery.

These quick-fix herbs are great for occasional digestive complaints. Any continued digestive complaints should be considered chronic and should be seen by a qualified healthcare practitioner.  

Quick-fix Herbal Remedy for Gas, Bloating, Burping and Acid Reflux

Orange peel candy is a favorite around my house. Because it has so many digestive benefits, I let my kids eat freely, despite it being named “candy”. Orange peel is a slightly bitter carminative, which remember, means to help expel or prevent gas and bloating. It increases digestive secretions and bile flow, supports the liver and reduces intestinal cramping. It also contains pectin, which helps bind and remove toxins from the body.

If you’re interested in learning more about herbs and would like to know who I recommend, check out my Resources page.

Supporting a The Adrenals, Thyroid, and Whole Body Through Herbs

When it comes to supporting overall wellness, herbs are a great tool to have in your toolkit, especially those who may be dealing with chronic illness of some type. Since 2009, when I started this site, I have met thousands upon thousands of people through my work and by far, the #1 health complaints are:

Because of this, I wanted to add in a section into this post about the benefit of using herbs with chronic illness.

If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, I’m sorry to break it to you, but caffeine may not be your best friend. 🙁 While you can find lots of info online in both the pro- and the anti-coffee camps, the fact of the matter comes down to the fact that are a lot of people dealing with chronic illness, especially thyroid and adrenal problems, that simply cannot tolerate coffee and caffeine.

While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can further exacerbate the toxic load on the body.

When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. In addition to dealing with these issues, we suspected that I was having some detox pathway sluggishness so we wanted to also focus on supporting the liver and lymph systems. Most people who are dealing with chronic illness are also going to have issues with detoxification of the body, which is why herbs can play such an important role. 

To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.

But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.

And it sucked.

I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.

Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs.

Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. All of the herbs used in my “coffee” blends have been used for thousands of years to support the body’s normal functions and help everything work a little better — something we all need in today’s toxic world! (psst, dandelion is one of the herbs!)

When it came to creating these blends, if I could get something to not only tasted amazing (and helped me recreate my dearly loved ritual), but also did amazingly supportive things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!

I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.

After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home. 

That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief.

Now in its second edition, this ebook features:

  • All of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
  • A ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
  • Information about all of the herbs used, why I selected them, how to source them, how to prepare and store you “coffees”, and much more.
  • Access to your own personal coffee shop where I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here. Only real food.

This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle 2015 // deliciousobsessions.com

 

References
1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3771980
2. Sharp GS, Fister HW. The diagnosis and treatment of achlorhydria: ten-year study. J Amer Ger Soc 1967;15:786-791.
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15478847
4. Mercola.com, Problems with Digestion? This type of Food May be to Blame…Jan 6, 2011
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22480662

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