Nothing ruins a good meal more than experiencing a tense stomach shortly after eating it. There is no shortage of medications in the drugstore that relieve upset stomach, and the same goes in the herbal world. An upset stomach could be the work of indigestion, acid reflux or stomach ulcers.
An upset stomach, especially one that is chronically so, indicates that something isn’t right with your digestive system or your acid environment. Acid reflux, for instance, is characterized by chest pain and indigestion and occurs when your stomach acid is pushed up the esophagus where it doesn’t belong.
Many quick healers are herbal in nature. Here are five good options:
1. Linden: This flower, growing in the northern regions of North America, Europe and Asia, has long been known for its ability to relieve indigestion. Drinking a tea with linden flowers has assisted people with gallbladder problems, upset stomach and excessive gas. The herb exerts a soothing, antispasmodic effect. It’s best to steep two to three teaspoons of linden flowers in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. You can drink several cups a day. It is perfectly safe, with no toxic effects or drug interactions. Find it in health stores or specialty herbal shops.
2. Greater Celandine: You may not have heard of this member of the poppy family, which is cultivated in the U.S. because of its medicinal properties, but was originally found on the other side of the Atlantic. It just might ease that stomach upset in minutes. In studies, it’s been found to relieve cramps, nausea and that stifling feeling of fullness after eating — all components of indigestion. It’s important to use dried extracts and not fresh herb, as the latter may actually cause stomach upset. Make sure you ask the herbalist if the celandine has been dried quickly at high temperatures, because it’s thought that this is necessary to keep all those healthful alkaloids. Recommended: extracts with up to four mg of “chelidonine” for each pill (taken three times a day).
3. Peppermint: Like linden, peppermint is a natural antispasmodic, known to relax intestinal muscles, reduce gas and help relieve stomach cramps. It’s been widely studied, so its effects are well known. Peppermint helps the entire digestive process, from the stomach down into the intestine. Whether you have pills or peppermint oil, make sure it is “enteric-coated.” This is believed to be very safe. You can also steep peppermint tea to help smooth the digestive process. Recommended dosage: 0.2 to 0.4 ml, three times a day, in enteric-coated capsules.
4. Licorice: Two kinds of licorice are used in herbal medicine. For upset stomachs you want the “deglycyrrhizinated” kind, also known as “DGL” licorice. It’s been found useful in stomach ulcers, and many people are recommended this extract. This type has “glycyrrhizin” removed. Buy chewable wafers or tablets, and eat them before meals — right away, they could provide a boost to digestion so you avoid stomach pains altogether. It’s been found to do so faster than other means. DGL licorice could help the esophagus and the movement of stomach acid. The recommended dose is between 200 mg and 500 mg before eating and at bedtime.
5. Chamomile: When steeped as tea, chamomile could quickly help settle any stomach upset. It acts as an antispasmodic, which for the record means it could help prevent stomach spasms, better known as cramps, and associated unpleasantness. You can drink it as many times a day as you need. Drinking the tea could relieve esophageal irritation because of its soothing nature on all gastrointestinal tissues, preventing ulcer formation. You can use commercial chamomile teas, or better yet find actual flowers and use two to three teaspoons a cup. If you have any kind of allergies, check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying chamomile.
Note that, while these are all generally considered safe remedies, herbs can react with other medications you’re taking or trigger side effects in some people. Check with your doctor or a knowledgable herbalist or pharmacist before trying them.