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Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity (Holistic)

About This Condition

Halt the heat. Stay away from foods that fuel the flames of heartburn and indigestion. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Use charcoal for gas

    Take 388 to 584 mg of activated charcoal within two hours after a gas-forming meal to reduce flatulence.

  • Relax your gut with traditional treatments 

    Try a carminative herbal blend containing peppermint, caraway, and/or fennel to help relax intestinal cramping and relieve gas

  • Try artichoke

    Take an extract providing 500 to 1,000 mg per day cynarin if your indigestion may be due to insufficient bile production by the liver.

  • Get a checkup

    See your healthcare provider to make sure your symptoms are not related to a medical problem.

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.
  • Slow down at the table

    Take time to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.

  • Try lactase enzymes

    If your symptoms seem to be brought on by milk products, try taking lactase digestive enzymes before eating those foods.

  • Help digestion with pancreatic enzymes

    Taking enzymes at each meal that provide 30,000 USP units (IU) of lipase and also include protease and amylase enzymes can improve digestion.

  • Check for food sensitivities

    Work with a practitioner knowledgeable about food intolerance to see if certain foods make your symptoms worse.

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.

About

About This Condition

“Indigestion” refers to any number of gastrointestinal complaints, which can include gas (belching, flatulence, or bloating) and upset stomach. “Heartburn” refers to a burning feeling that can be caused by stomach acid regurgitating into the esophagus from the stomach, by gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach), or by an ulcer of the stomach or duodenum (also called peptic ulcer). “Low stomach acidity” refers to the inability to produce adequate quantities of stomach acid that will affect digestion and absorption of nutrients.

In some cases, such as lactose intolerance, symptoms of indigestion are due to a specific cause that requires specific treatment. Sometimes symptoms associated with indigestion are caused by diseases unrelated to the gastrointestinal tract. For example, ovarian cancer may cause a sensation of bloating. Anyone with symptoms of indigestion should be properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional before assuming that the information below is applicable to their situation.

The most common cause of heartburn is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach is not functioning properly. Another, related cause of heartburn is hiatal hernia, in which a small portion of the stomach protrudes through the aforementioned sphincter.

According to Jonathan Wright, MD, another cause of heartburn can be too little stomach acid.1 This may seem to be a paradox, but based on the clinical experience of a few doctors such as Dr. Wright, supplementing with betaine HCl (a compound that contains hydrochloric acid) often relieves the symptoms of heartburn and improves digestion, at least in people who have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). The amount of betaine HCl used varies with the size of the meal and with the amount of protein ingested. Typical amounts recommended by doctors range from 600 to 2,400 mg per meal. Use of betaine HCl should be monitored by a healthcare practitioner and should be considered only for indigestion sufferers who have been diagnosed with hypochlorhydria.

Medical researchers since the 1930s have been concerned about the consequences of hypochlorhydria. While all the health consequences are still not entirely clear, some have been well documented.

Many minerals and vitamins appear to require adequate concentrations of stomach acid to be absorbed optimally—examples are iron,2 zinc,3 and B-complex vitamins,4 including folic acid.5 People with achlorhydria (no stomach acid) or hypochlorhydria may therefore be at risk of developing various nutritional deficiencies, which could presumably contribute to the development of a wide range of health problems.

One of the major functions of stomach acid is to initiate the digestion of large protein molecules. If this digestive function is not performed efficiently, incompletely digested protein fragments may be absorbed into the bloodstream. The absorption of these large molecules may contribute to the development of food allergies and immunological disorders.6 , 7

In addition, stomach acid normally provides a barrier against bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that are present in food and water. People with inadequate stomach acidity may therefore be at risk of having “unfriendly” microorganisms colonize their intestinal tract.8 , 9 Some of these organisms produce toxic substances that can be absorbed by the body.

Some researchers have found that people with certain diseases are more likely to have an inability to produce normal quantities of stomach acid. However, this does not mean these diseases are caused by too little stomach acid. Jonathan Wright, MD, usually tests patients’ stomach acid if they suffer from food allergies, arthritis (both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis), pernicious anemia (too little vitamin B12), asthma, diabetes, vitiligo, eczema, tic douloureux, Addison’s disease, celiac disease, lupus erythematosus, or thyroid disease.10

Symptoms

The symptoms of indigestion or upset stomach may include painful or burning sensations in the upper abdomen, bloating, belching, diffuse abdominal pain, heartburn, passing gas, nausea, and occasionally vomiting. The appearance of these symptoms is often associated with eating.

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Choose your drinks wisely
Doctors have observed that heartburn and indigestion may be relieved in some people by avoiding or reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
Doctors have observed that heartburn and indigestion may be relieved in some people by avoiding or reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol. In addition, some people with symptoms of indigestion appear to have food allergies or intolerances. Avoiding such foods may improve digestive complaints in those people. While most doctors believe there is an important connection between diet and intestinal symptoms, there are few published data documenting such associations. Dietary modifications should be undertaken with the help of a healthcare practitioner.
Slow down at the table
Take time to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
People who eat too fast or fail to chew their food adequately may also experience symptoms of indigestion or heartburn.
Check for food sensitivities
Work with a specialist to see if certain foods make your symptoms worse.
Doctors have observed that heartburn and indigestion may be relieved in some people by avoiding or reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol. Some people with symptoms of indigestion also may have food allergies or intolerances. Avoiding such foods may improve digestive complaints in those people. While most doctors believe there is an important connection between diet and intestinal symptoms, there are few published data documenting such associations. Dietary modifications should be undertaken with the help of a healthcare practitioner.
Go decaf
Doctors have observed that heartburn and indigestion may be relieved in some people by avoiding or reducing the intake of caffeine.
Doctors have observed that heartburn and indigestion may be relieved in some people by avoiding or reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol. In addition, some people with symptoms of indigestion appear to have food allergies or intolerances. Avoiding such foods may improve digestive complaints in those people. While most doctors believe there is an important connection between diet and intestinal symptoms, there are few published data documenting such associations. Dietary modifications should be undertaken with the help of a healthcare practitioner.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
3 Stars
Artichoke
500 to 1,000 mg cynarin in a standardized herbal extract three times per day
Extracts of artichoke have been repeatedly shown in research to be beneficial for people with indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.11 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.12. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Artichoke , in addition to being an edible plant, is a mild bitter. Extracts of artichoke have been repeatedly shown in double-blind research to be beneficial for people with indigestion.13 Artichoke is particularly useful when the problem is lack of bile production by the liver.14 Extracts providing 500–1,000 mg per day of cynarin, the main active constituent of artichoke, are recommended by doctors.

2 Stars
Bitter Orange
3 cups of tea daily, prepared with 1 to 2 grams of dried peel
Bitter orange has traditionally been used as a digestive aid.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.15 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.16. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Very little published research is available on the traditional uses of bitter orange as a digestive aid and sedative. The German Commission E has approved the use of bitter orange for loss of appetite and dyspeptic ailments.17 One test tube study showed bitter orange to potently inhibit rotavirus (a cause of diarrhea in infants and young children).18 Bitter orange, in an herbal combination formula, reportedly normalized stool function and completely eased intestinal pain in 24 people with non-specific colitis and, again in an herbal combination formula, normalized stool function in another 32 people with constipation.19 , 20

2 Stars
Caraway
50 mg of oil plus 90 mg of peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules taken three times per day for indigestion only
One trial found that a combination with peppermint, caraway, and fennel was useful in reducing gas and cramping in people with indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.21

Among the most notable and well-studied carminatives are peppermint, fennel, and caraway. Double-blind trials have shown that combinations of peppermint and caraway oil and a combination of peppermint, fennel, caraway, and wormwood have been found to reduce gas and cramping in people with indigestion.22 , 23 , 24 Generally, 3–5 drops of natural essential oils or 3–5 ml of tincture of any of these herbs, taken in water two to three times per day before meals, can be helpful. Alternately, a tea can be made by grinding 2–3 teaspoons of the seeds of fennel or caraway or the leaves of peppermint, and then simmering them in a cup of water (covered) for ten minutes. Drink three or more cups per day just after meals.

2 Stars
Charcoal
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with charcoal may help relieve gas.

Activated charcoal has the ability to adsorb (attach to) many substances, including gases produced in the intestine.25 , 26 In a small, controlled trial, people were given a meal of gas-producing foods along with capsules containing 584 mg of activated charcoal, followed by another 584 mg of activated charcoal two hours later. Using activated charcoal prevented the five-fold increase in flatulence that occurred in the placebo group. Another, small controlled study found that taking 388 mg of activated charcoal two hours after a gas-producing meal normalized flatulence by the fourth hour.27 However, a preliminary human study found no effect on flatulence or abdominal symptoms when healthy volunteers took 520 mg of activated charcoal four times per day for one week.28

2 Stars
Digestive Enzymes
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
Lipase, a pancreatic enzyme, aids in the digestion of fats and may improve digestion in some people.

Lipase , a pancreatic enzyme, aids in the digestion of fats and may improve digestion in some people. In a double-blind trial, a timed-release form of pancreatic enzymes was shown to significantly reduce gas, bloating, and fullness after a high-fat meal.29 Participants in this study took one capsule immediately before the meal and two capsules immediately after the meal. The three capsules together provided 30,000 USP units of lipase, 112,500 USP units of protease, and 99,600 USP units of amylase. However, the amount of pancreatic enzymes needed may vary from person to person, and should be determined with the help of a doctor.

2 Stars
Fennel
1/2 tsp (2 to 3 grams) of ground or crushed seeds three times daily, taken directly or as tea
Studies have found that a combination of peppermint, caraway, and fennel is useful in reducing gas and cramping in people with indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.30

Among the most notable and well-studied carminatives are peppermint, fennel, and caraway. Double-blind trials have shown that combinations of peppermint and caraway oil and a combination of peppermint, fennel, caraway, and wormwood have been found to reduce gas and cramping in people with indigestion.31 , 32 , 33 Generally, 3–5 drops of natural essential oils or 3–5 ml of tincture of any of these herbs, taken in water two to three times per day before meals, can be helpful. Alternately, a tea can be made by grinding 2–3 teaspoons of the seeds of fennel or caraway or the leaves of peppermint, and then simmering them in a cup of water (covered) for ten minutes. Drink three or more cups per day just after meals.

2 Stars
Ginger
2 to 4 grams daily fresh ginger or equivalent for indigestion
Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, has a history of use in treating gastrointestinal complaints, from flatulence to ulcers. It has been shown to enhance intestinal movements that aid digestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.34

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.35 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.36 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.37 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

Ginger is a spice well known for its traditional use as a treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal complaints, ranging from flatulence to ulcers. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties. Ginger has been shown to enhance normal, spontaneous movements of the intestines that aid digestion.38

2 Stars
Greater Celandine
4 to 8 mg chelidonine in a standardized herbal extract three times per day
One study found that a standardized extract of greater celandine could relieve indigestion symptoms (such as abdominal cramping, sensation of fullness, and nausea) significantly better than placebo.

Caution: Based on several reports of liver toxicity from greater celandine, it connot be recommended as a treatment for indigestion.39

 

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.40 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.41 Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

A double-blind study found that a standardized extract of greater celandine could relieve symptoms of indigestion (such as abdominal cramping, sensation of fullness, and nausea) significantly better than placebo.42 The study employed an extract standardized to 4 mg of chelidonine per capsule and gave 1–2 tablets three times daily for six weeks. However, recent reports of hepatitis following intake of greater celandine have raised concerns about its safety for treating indigestion.43

2 Stars
Linden
Several cups of tea per day, made with 2 to 3 tsp of dried flowers per cup of hot water, for indigestion
Linden has a long tradition of use for indigestion. It has antispasmodic action and may help people who suffer from upset stomach or excessive gas.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.44

Linden has a long tradition of use for indigestion. Older clinical trials have shown that linden flower tea can help people who suffer from upset stomach or from excessive gas that causes the stomach to push up and put pressure on the heart (also known as the gastrocardiac syndrome.)45 , 46 The reputed antispasmodic action of linden, particularly in the intestines, has been confirmed in at least one human trial.47 Linden tea is prepared by steeping 2–3 tsp of flowers in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Several cups per day are recommended.

2 Stars
Peppermint
90 mg of oil plus 50 mg of caraway oil in enteric-coated capsules taken three times per day, for indigestion only
A combination of peppermint, caraway, and fennel has been shown to reduce gas and cramping in people with indigestion

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.48

Among the most notable and well-studied carminatives are peppermint, fennel, and caraway. Double-blind trials have shown that combinations of peppermint and caraway oil and a combination of peppermint, fennel, caraway, and wormwood have been found to reduce gas and cramping in people with indigestion.49 , 50 , 51 Generally, 3–5 drops of natural essential oils or 3–5 ml of tincture of any of these herbs, taken in water two to three times per day before meals, can be helpful. Alternately, a tea can be made by grinding 2–3 teaspoons of the seeds of fennel or caraway or the leaves of peppermint, and then simmering them in a cup of water (covered) for ten minutes. Drink three or more cups per day just after meals.

2 Stars
Sage
4 to 6 grams daily of dried leaf or equivalent, for indigestion
Sage is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.52

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.53 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.54 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.55 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

2 Stars
Turmeric
500 mg four times per day, for indigestion
In a double-blind trial, turmeric was found to relieve indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.56

In a double-blind trial, the spice turmeric was found to relieve indigestion.57 Two capsules containing 250 mg turmeric powder per capsule were given four times per day.

2 Stars
Vitamin B12 (Delayed Gastric Emptying, Helicobacter Pylori Infection, Vitamin B12 Deficiency)
1,000 mcg daily
Vitamin B12 may be beneficial for people with delayed emptying of the stomach in association with Helicobacter pylori infection and low blood levels of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 supplementation may be beneficial for a subset of people suffering from indigestion: those with delayed emptying of the stomach contents in association with Helicobacter pylori infection and low blood levels of vitamin B12. In a double-blind study of people who satisfied those criteria, treatment with vitamin B12 significantly reduced symptoms of dyspepsia and improved stomach-emptying times.58

1 Star
Andrographis
Refer to label instructions
Andrographis acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.59 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.60. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

1 Star
Anise
Refer to label instructions
Anise is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.61

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.62 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.63 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.64 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

1 Star
Barberry
Refer to label instructions
Taking barberry may help stimulate digestion and relieve an upset stomach.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.65 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.66. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.67

1 Star
Basil
Refer to label instructions
Basil is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.68

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.69 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.70 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.71 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

1 Star
Betaine Hydrochloride
Consult your doctor
Supplementing betaine hydrochloride with meals may improve digestion in people who have been diagnosed with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria).

According to Jonathan Wright, MD, another cause of heartburn can be too little stomach acid.72 This may seem to be a paradox, but based on the clinical experience of a few doctors such as Dr. Wright, supplementing with betaine HCl (a compound that contains hydrochloric acid) often relieves the symptoms of heartburn and improves digestion, at least in people who have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). The amount of betaine HCl used varies with the size of the meal and with the amount of protein ingested. Typical amounts recommended by doctors range from 600 to 2,400 mg per meal. Use of betaine HCl should be monitored by a healthcare practitioner and should be considered only for indigestion sufferers who have been diagnosed with hypochlorhydria.

1 Star
Bitter Melon
Refer to label instructions
Bitter melon acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.73 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.74. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

1 Star
Bladderwrack
Refer to label instructions
Bladderwrack is a demulcent herb, meaning it seems to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a barrier against irritants such as stomach acid.

Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

The mucilage content in slippery elm appears to act as a barrier against the damaging effects of acid on the esophagus in people with heartburn. It may also have an anti-inflammatory effect locally in the stomach and intestines. Two or more tablets or capsules (typically 400–500 mg each) may be taken three to four times per day. Alternatively, a tea is made by boiling 1/2–2 grams of the bark in 200 ml of water for 10 to 15 minutes, which is then cooled before drinking; three to four cups a day can be used. Tincture (5 ml three times per day) may also be taken but is believed to be less helpful. Marshmallow and bladderwrack may be used the same way as slippery elm.

1 Star
Blessed Thistle
Refer to label instructions
Blessed thistle acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.75 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.76. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

1 Star
Boldo
Refer to label instructions
Boldo has a history of use in South America for a variety of digestive conditions.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.77 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.78. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions, although this may have stemmed from its impact on intestinal infections or liver function. Studies specifically showing a benefit from taking boldo in people with indigestion and heartburn have not been performed. Picrorhiza, from India, has a similar story to that of boldo. While it is clearly a bitter digestive stimulant, human studies to confirm this have not yet been completed.

1 Star
Cardamom
Refer to label instructions
Cardamom is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.79

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.80 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.81 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.82 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

1 Star
Centaury
Refer to label instructions
Centaury acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.83 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.84. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

1 Star
Chamomile
Refer to label instructions
Chamomile is effective in relieving inflamed or irritated mucous membranes of the digestive tract.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.85

Chamomile (German chamomile or Matricaria recutita) is effective in relieving inflamed or irritated mucous membranes of the digestive tract. Since heartburn sometimes involves reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus, the anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile may also be useful. In addition, chamomile promotes normal digestion.86 However, modern studies to prove chamomile beneficial for people with heartburn or indigestion are lacking. Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) has not been studied for indigestion though it has traditionally been used similarly to German chamomile.

Typically taken in tea form, chamomile is recommended three to four times per day between meals. Chamomile tea is prepared by pouring boiling water over dried flowers, and steeping for several minutes. Alternatively, 3–5 ml of chamomile tincture may be added to hot water or 2–3 grams of chamomile in capsule or tablet form may be taken three to four times per day between meals.

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Chaparral
Refer to label instructions
People in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico have long used chaparral tea to help calm upset stomachs.

People in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico have long used chaparral tea to help calm upset stomachs. It is unclear into which of the above categories—if any—chaparral fits. This strong tasting tea was used only in small amounts. Modern research has not confirmed the usefulness of chaparral for indigestion, and there are serious concerns about the safety of improper internal use of this herb. Before taking chaparral, consult with a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

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Cinnamon
Refer to label instructions
Cinnamon is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.87

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.88 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.89 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.90 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Cloves
Refer to label instructions
Cloves are a gas-relieving herb and may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.91

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.92 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.93 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.94 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Coriander
Refer to label instructions
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) such as coriander, may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas.
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.95 Carminative herbs such as European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme .96 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach.
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Dandelion
Refer to label instructions
Dandelion acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.97 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.98. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

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Devil’s Claw
Refer to label instructions
Devil’s claw acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.99 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.100. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

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Dill
Refer to label instructions
Dill is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.
Three major categories of herbs are used to treat indigestion when no cause for the condition is known: bitters (digestive stimulants), carminatives (gas-relieving herbs), and demulcents (soothing herbs). Carminatives include anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, European angelica, fennel, ginger, lavender, lemon balm, linden, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and turmeric.101 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach.
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Elecampane
Refer to label instructions
Elecampane has been used by herbalists to treat people with indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.102 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.103. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Horehound contains a number of constituents, including alkaloids, flavonoids, diterpenes (e.g., marrubiin), and trace amounts of volatile oils.104 The major active constituent marrubiin and possibly its precursor, premarrubiin, are herbal bitters that increase the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.105 Similar to horehound, elecampane has been used by herbalists to treat people with indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.106

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European Angelica
Refer to label instructions
European angelica is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.107

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.108 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.109 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.110 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Fructo-oligosaccharides
5 grams per day
Supplementing with fructo-oligosaccharides may help relieve abdominal discomfort, fullness, constipation, urgency, and diarrhea.
In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 5 grams of fructo-oligosaccharides per day for six weeks was significantly more effective than a placebo at relieving symptoms of dyspepsia such as such as abdominal discomfort, fullness, constipation, urgency, and diarrhea. The average symptom severity decreased by 44% in the group receiving fructo-oligosaccharides.111
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Gentian
Refer to label instructions
Gentian is a bitter herb thought to stimulate digestion by increasing saliva production and promoting stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.112 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.113. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

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Goldenseal
Refer to label instructions
Goldenseal is a digestive stimulant widely used in traditional medicine in North America.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.114 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.115. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.116

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Horehound
Refer to label instructions
Horehound’s major active constituent increases the flow of saliva and gastric juice.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.117 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.118. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Horehound contains a number of constituents, including alkaloids, flavonoids, diterpenes (e.g., marrubiin), and trace amounts of volatile oils.119 The major active constituent marrubiin and possibly its precursor, premarrubiin, are herbal bitters that increase the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.120 Similar to horehound, elecampane has been used by herbalists to treat people with indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.121

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Juniper
Refer to label instructions
Juniper acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.122 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.123 Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

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Lavender
Refer to label instructions
Lavender is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.124

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.125 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.126 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.127 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Lemon Balm
Refer to label instructions
Lemon balm is a gas-relieving herb that is used traditionally for indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.128

Lemon balm is a carminative herb used traditionally for indigestion.129 Lemon balm, usually taken as tea, is prepared by steeping 2–3 teaspoons of leaves in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes in a covered container. Three or more cups per day are consumed immediately after meals. Three to five milliliters of tincture can also be used three times per day.

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Licorice
Refer to label instructions
Licorice protects the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract by increasing the production of mucin, a compound that protects against the adverse effects of stomach acid and various harmful substances.

Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

Licorice protects the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract by increasing the production of mucin, a compound that protects against the adverse effects of stomach acid and various harmful substances.130 The extract of licorice root that is most often used by people with indigestion is known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Glycyrrhizin, which occurs naturally in licorice root, has cortisone-like effects and can cause high blood pressure, water retention, and other problems in some people. When the glycyrrhizin is removed to form DGL, the licorice root retains its beneficial effects against indigestion, while the risk of side effects is greatly reduced. The usual suggested amount of DGL is one or two chewable tablets (250–500 mg per tablet), chewed and swallowed 15 minutes before meals and one to two hours before bedtime.131 Although many research trials show that DGL is helpful for people with peptic ulcers, the use of DGL for heartburn and indigestion is based primarily on anecdotal information.

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Marshmallow
Refer to label instructions
Marshmallow is a demulcent herb, meaning it seems to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a barrier against irritants such as stomach acid.

Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

The mucilage content in slippery elm appears to act as a barrier against the damaging effects of acid on the esophagus in people with heartburn. It may also have an anti-inflammatory effect locally in the stomach and intestines. Two or more tablets or capsules (typically 400–500 mg each) may be taken three to four times per day. Alternatively, a tea is made by boiling 1/2–2 grams of the bark in 200 ml of water for 10 to 15 minutes, which is then cooled before drinking; three to four cups a day can be used. Tincture (5 ml three times per day) may also be taken but is believed to be less helpful. Marshmallow and bladderwrack may be used the same way as slippery elm.

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Oregano
Refer to label instructions
Oregano is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.132

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.133 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.134 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.135 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Oregon Grape
Refer to label instructions
Oregon grape may stimulate digestion and relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.136 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.137. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.138

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Picrorhiza
Refer to label instructions
Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.139 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.140. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions, although this may have stemmed from its impact on intestinal infections or liver function. Studies specifically showing a benefit from taking boldo in people with indigestion and heartburn have not been performed. Picrorhiza, from India, has a similar story to that of boldo. While it is clearly a bitter digestive stimulant, human studies to confirm this have not yet been completed.

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Prickly Ash
Refer to label instructions
Prickly ash acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.141 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.142. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

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Rooibos
Refer to label instructions
Rooibos is traditionally used as a tea as a digestive aid.

Rooibos is traditionally used as a tea as a digestive aid. Unfortunately, no clinical trials have yet been published on this herb, so its efficacy is still unknown. Typically 1 to 4 teaspoons (5 to 20 mg) of rooibos is simmered in one cup of water (236 ml) for up to 10 minutes. Three cups of this tea can be drunk per day.

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Rosemary
Refer to label instructions
Rosemary is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.143

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.144 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.145 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.146 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Slippery Elm
Refer to label instructions
Slippery elm may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the stomach and intestines, and its mucilage content appears to protect against the damaging effects of acid on the esophagus.

Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

The mucilage content in slippery elm appears to act as a barrier against the damaging effects of acid on the esophagus in people with heartburn. It may also have an anti-inflammatory effect locally in the stomach and intestines. Two or more tablets or capsules (typically 400–500 mg each) may be taken three to four times per day. Alternatively, a tea is made by boiling 1/2–2 grams of the bark in 200 ml of water for 10 to 15 minutes, which is then cooled before drinking; three to four cups a day can be used. Tincture (5 ml three times per day) may also be taken but is believed to be less helpful. Marshmallow and bladderwrack may be used the same way as slippery elm.

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Thyme
Refer to label instructions
Thyme is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.147

There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.148 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.149 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.150 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.

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Vervain
Refer to label instructions
Vervain is a digestive stimulant widely used in traditional medicine in North America.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.151 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.152. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.153

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Vitamin B-Complex (Vitamin B12 Deficiency)
Refer to label instructions
For people who have inadequate absorption of vitamin B12 due to low stomach acid, supplementing with vitamin B complex can help correct a deficiency.
Vitamin B12 supplementation may be beneficial for a subset of people suffering from indigestion: those with delayed emptying of the stomach contents in association with Helicobacter pylori infection and low blood levels of vitamin B12. In a double-blind study of people who satisfied those criteria, treatment with vitamin B12 significantly reduced symptoms of dyspepsia and improved stomach-emptying times.154
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Vitamin B-Complex
Refer to label instructions
People with achlorhydria (no stomach acid) or hypochlorhydria may not metabolize B vitamins properly, putting them at risk of developing various nutritional deficiencies, which could presumably contribute to the development of a wide range of health problems.
Many minerals and vitamins appear to require adequate concentrations of stomach acid to be absorbed optimally—examples are iron,155 zinc,156 and B-complex vitamins,157 including folic acid.158 People with achlorhydria (no stomach acid) or hypochlorhydria may therefore be at risk of developing various nutritional deficiencies, which could presumably contribute to the development of a wide range of health problems.
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Wormwood
Refer to label instructions
Wormwood is believed to stimulate digestion and relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.159 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.160. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Wormwood is sometimes used in combination with carminative (gas-relieving) herbs for people with indigestion. One double-blind trial found that a combination with peppermint, caraway, and fennel was useful in reducing gas and cramping in people with indigestion.161 The amounts used are the same as the general recommendations for bitters when they are employed for the treatment of indigestion.

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Yarrow
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is a digestive stimulant widely used in traditional medicine in North America.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.162 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.163. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.164

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Yellow Dock
Refer to label instructions
Yellow dock is a digestive stimulant widely used in traditional medicine in North America.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.165 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.166. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.167

References

1. Wright JV. Dr. Wright’s Guide to Healing with Nutrition. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1990, 155.

2. Murray MJ, Stein N. A gastric factor promoting iron absorption. Lancet 1968;1:614.

3. Sturniolo GC, Montino MC, Rossetto L, et al. Inhibition of gastric acid secretion reduces zinc absorption in man. J Am Coll Nutr 1991;10:372–5.

4. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin conditions. South Med J 1945;38:235–41.

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