Contrary to popular belief, in most cases heartburn is not caused by too much stomach acid, but too little.
Although we feel heartburn in our chest area, the actual root of the problem lies in our stomach and digestive system. Without help from our digestive enzymes and digestive juices, our body doesn’t get the essential nutrients it needs for healthy immunity, healthy bone development, and a balanced nervous system. These fluids are essential in making sure that our entire system is running smoothly. And they are the key to understanding heartburn.
After we swallow our food it passes through the esophagus into the stomach, and a valve made of muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter, closes, preventing both food and the acid produced in the stomach to move back up. Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter is forcibly pushed open (by overeating), relaxes inappropriately, or is weak, allowing for stomach acid from your stomach to work its way into your esophagus. The result is usually irritated tissue and discomfort.
The straightforward and holistic approach is to soothe the tissue, improve diet and support proper function of digestive muscles and digestive juice secretion.
Much of what is out there conventionally (like antacids) turns off or neutralizes the production of stomach acid. We need that acid to digest and assimilate our food properly! So it doesn’t heal the root of the problem, it only temporarily fixes the symptoms. Thankfully some solutions help both short term and down the road.
We all know the feeling; we get a little queasy, or bloated, there’s a tight knot in the pit of our belly, or those nervous butterflies. Sometimes, our body is rejecting whatever we just ate, or the balance of our gut bacteria is off, or we just have a queasy stomach to begin with. Other times, nervousness and the body’s stress response can show up as symptoms in our gut.
When it comes down to it, everything in our body is interconnected, and research has shown that the brain and the gastrointestinal system are directly linked in more ways than one.
When you experience psychological responses, such as a stress response, it can influence the basic function of the digestive system and lead to abdominal discomfort. Our gut is like a second brain that produces its own set of chemical messengers in the digestive process, and when digestion is disrupted, it sets off alarms to the nervous system that exacerbate the symptoms of our stress or “fight or flight” response. If you are busy and run down, it is important to recognize this unique relationship between the gut and our brain as it can offer insight and guidance to your overall health and well-being.
Whether for a nervous butterfly stomach, an upset tummy or gas and bloating, the following herbs can be helpful for a number of reasons.
Many people know chamomile for its calmative power and the gentle support it offers the nervous system. What not everyone knows is that this familiar flower embodies very similar qualities when it comes to […]
What happens if you eat too much sugar?
Sugar is a primary life source, and our bodies require it for energy. The body responds quickly to sugar as a fast-acting fuel. Complex sugars in whole foods offer a balanced response to sustaining our blood sugar as they are most often nutrient-rich, and the energy is obtained by breaking down these foods in our digestive process. Refined sugar is unnatural, and gets used quickly in the body as an efficient boost when we need it most, so sometimes it comes in handy. However, the more we count on it, the more our body craves and depends on it. Sugar also triggers the pleasure hormone, dopamine, which leaves us reaching for more as part of our reward and pleasure system.
While cravings can mean many things—including the need to strengthen the adrenal system, monthly hormonal changes, food sensitivities, etc.—cravings are also directly affected by our diet and lifestyle habits. When our blood sugar is low from lack of carbohydrates, protein or fat (the energy-producing nutrients, we crave sugar to keep ourselves going.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sugar cravings are seen as a a sign of an underlying deficiency. Essentially, we are craving nourishment. Traditionally nourishing and building foods like rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, dates, etc. are all sweet in flavor, but also healing and full of substantial nutritional value.
How to curb sugar cravings:
1. Stabilize your blood sugar
Not only will this support a healthy endocrine (hormonal) system, it takes away the need for sugar […]
If you ask an herbalist, they will be sure to tell you that what you put into your body matters, and that digestion is the root of great health. Research suggests that there are over 100 trillion living bacteria organisms, making up a whole ecosystem within our body called the microbiome. We are in some sense more microbiome than we are human, which is to say, we have a greater number of microbes living inside us than we have human genes. Only recently have researchers turned their attention to the intricate microbial relationships at play in our bodies and how our microbiomes affect our moods, skin, and overall health.
A healthy gut has always been one of traditional medicine’s top priorities and is the foundation for great digestion, glowing skin, and a strong, healthy immune system.
Today, having digestive upset or an unbalanced gut is considered almost normal, and is often overlooked. A lack of education within our food system and lack of access to nutritional advice leads to years of diets containing processed foods and loads of sugar; there is also the over-prescription of antibiotics (which kill harmful bacteria, but also the good) to contend with. These recurring situations leave us with all sorts of imbalances in our bodies and show up in ways other than just digestive upset.
Science is also beginning to study the unique relationship that our gut has with neurotransmitters—the chemical messages in the brain like GABA, serotonin, or dopamine—that can influence anxiety and depression.
Feeding and supporting the gut and its bacteria is age-old knowledge that now has the backing of science, and should be at the forefront of our […]