Advice on Digestive problems

At Napiers we see increasing numbers of patients with digestive problems including:
• Irritable Bowel
• Peptic Ulcers
• Constipation
• Heartburn
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease
• Gallstones
• Indigestion 

Many of these conditions can be helped using simple herbal remedies together with diet or lifestyle changes. The old saying —you are what you eat“ should really read —you are what you digest and absorb“.

No matter how good your diet is, if the food you eat is not properly broken down and absorbed, your body will lack the building blocks it needs for the best of health and vitality. Stress is one of the major factors in many digestive disorders. The release of adrenaline as part of the body‘s response to stress causes a reduction in blood flow to the digestive organs, which in prolonged stress, can lead to digestive problems. See our page on Stress problems for suggestions on how to deal with stress using relaxation and herbal medicine. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a blanket term for a wide range of common digestive symptoms including abdominal cramping, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, wind and bloating. The most common triggers for IBS are stress, anxiety and food sensitivities. It is important to identify triggers for your symptoms and to avoid them where possible. IBS can be considerably helped by herbs, probiotics and nutrition.

Peptic Ulcers 

Herbal medicine can offer symptomatic relief while also providing essential support to the digestive system by using herbs such as meadowsweet, chamomile and marshmallow root. We strongly recommend that you consult with a medical herbalist for the most effective treatment of this condition. 

Constipation 

The bowel is one of the major routes for ridding the body of waste products, and if blocked can contribute to major health problems and a general lack of vitality.Causes of chronic constipation include a low fibre diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, nervous stress and poor muscle tone. Your herbalist can advise on diet and lifestyle, and use herbal medicines to gently improve your bowel function. 

Heartburn and Hiatus Hernia 

The burning sensation of heartburn can be worsened by smoking,drinking coffee or alcohol, eating fatty, rich foods or by overeating. Herbs such as slippery elm powder and meadowsweet have traditionally been used for these conditions. 

Indigestion 

Indigestion can be caused by eating too quickly, overeating, stress, hiatus hernia or by a lack of digestive enzymes or stomach acid. Herbal remedies such as meadowsweet and chamomile can provide occasional relief. However, indigestion can be a symptom of more serious disease and should be investigated if persistent. 

Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis 

Inflammatory bowel disease can be debilitating, difficult to manage and can have long-term health consequences. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can be caused by immune dysregulation, genetic influences and, possibly, infectious agents. Herbal practitioners are qualified to treat these conditions and their underlying causes, while monitoring your nutritional status and general health. 

Diverticular Disease 

There is strong evidence that this condition is caused by a low fibre diet and can be greatly improved by increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and fluid in your diet. Herbal supplements such as slippery elm and psyllium husks can also help to improve bowel motility, reduce inflammation in the bowel and prevent infection. 

Gallstones 

Gallstones can cause a great deal of pain and may lead to inflammation and infection of the gallbladder. There is a strong tradition of using herbal medicines to treat this condition. Please see a qualified medical herbalist and do not try to self-treat this condition.

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Articles and research papers on related conditions and topics

Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used as a digestif or tea to settle the digestion after meals for centuries.

Don't struggle alone

If you have chronic health problems, we advise you to see a medical herbalist at Napiers or through the  National Institute of Medical Herbalists

Fennel

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) was traditionally used in 'gripe waters' to soothe colic and flatulence in children.

Slippery Elm

Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) bark powder releases a mucilage that soothes, coats and protects the walls of the intestinal tract.

Psyllium husks

Psyllium husks (Plantago ovata) act as a gentle dietary fibre. Remember to follow psyllium with a full glass of water.

 
Napiers, Mailorder Dept, 24 Tennant Street, Edinburgh EH6 5ND • Telephone 0845 002 1860 • Caring for you naturally since 1860