Monday, January 16, 2012

Gastroparesis Series - Part II: Natural Remedies

For my GP, I use a combination of the following herbs, supplements, and lifestyle changes to get me through the day.  On tough days, pharmaceuticals are sometimes the only thing that help, and on really tough days even they don't do the trick.  Luckily, my GP is usually pretty well behaved and I can manage it with only minimal discomfort when I use the natural methods listed below.
  • PEPPERMINT - peppermint is known to stimulate digestion and ease abdominal discomfort.  I usually drink a cup of Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Tea each night after supper, and I generally take a few peppermint capsules between meals throughout the day.
  • GINGER - ginger is a well known anti-nausea remedy and anti-inflammatory.  You can take this in the form of a tea, pill, or even a lozenge.  Personally, I like to drink a cup or so of Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid Tea each day, and I also take a few Ginger/B6 Capsules (by Karuna).  There is some research that suggests that ginger in high doses (greater than 1200 mg) can help stimulate digestion.  Read more about ginger, here.
  • DIGESTIVE ENZYMES - there are many to chose from, although I take a pretty basic chewable papaya enzyme.  Here is a similar formula, with a nice description of how the enzymes work.  
  • DGL - this is licorice, with the glycyrrhizin component (that is known to raise blood pressure) removed.  It is said to be a great stomach soother and many people report great results for indigestion and upset stomach.  I use Enzymatic Therapy's unsweetened formula.  Read reviews of this formula on Vitacost.
  • ALOE - I use the formula from Nutrametrix, in the strawberry-kiwi flavor and it is delicious!  This may be due to the fact that my first bottle of aloe juice from the Vitamin Shoppe tasted and smelled like a raw aloe plant, so I really had nowhere to go but up after that experience.  The formula from Nutrametrix is more like a juice and goes down quite easy.  I take a 2 oz "shot" on an empty stomach in the afternoon.  This product was recommended to me by my nutritionist.  I have not done an extensive amount of research on aloe, although she cautioned that many products have a laxative effect because they contain latex.  This product does NOT.  
  • YOGA - there are several yoga poses that can help stimulate the digestive tract.  I love the Gaiam DVD, "Yoga Remedies for Natural Healing" because it contains an 8 minute chapter that includes yoga poses for indigestion.  Watch it for free on Hulu.  You can also check out the article "10 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Digestion" on Care2.  There are pictures and descriptions to help explain the poses.
  • MEDITATION & RELAXATION - stress has a nasty effect on your GI function, so it is very important to try to find some balance in your life.  I know that chronic pain can cause a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety, but it is important to try to do what you can to lessen your stress.  In some scenarios, this may just mean accepting that there is nothing that you can do and going into survival mode until a flare comes to an end.  In other scenarios, this might mean doing daily guided relaxations or meditating daily to keep the stress levels low.  Do what's right for you at the time.  For a list of free podcasts that are great for helping with pain and providing nice guided relaxations, check out this old post
  • WALKING - I try to take a walk at least once a day.  This is a great way to get a little exercise, some fresh air, and to get that digestive tract stimulated.
While I know it is far from a cure, I hope that this information is helpful for some of you suffering from GP!

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