Digestive distress, constipation, indigestion - Alternative remedies
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Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms

The Menopause Self Help Book by Susan M. Lark, M.D.,
The Wild Rose Scientific Herbal by Terry Willard, Ph.D.,
Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way by Susun S. Weed
are drawn heavily upon for this segment. All references are provided here.

DIGESTIVE DISTRESS

Menopausal constipation and indigestion are generally due to the slowing of the gastrointestinal tract and heavy demands on the liver. Eating while stressed, overeating, or eating too many 'junk' foods all contribute to making our digestive life miserable. One common cause of poor digestion is simply eating too fast.

The primary purpose of herbal tonics is to restore strength, particularly to the digestive system, for the health of the entire body depends on digestion, absorption and assimilation. Tonics are slow acting but considered very effective in the long run. In his clinical practice Dr. Terry Willard uses meadowsweet, goldenseal root, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, lobelia and gentian in a combination formula for improved digestive function.35 Barberry and Oregon grape, Peruvian bark, while poplar, blessed thistle, myrrh are also considered tonics in his Textbook of Modern Herbology.

Using digestive enzymes, acidophilus, herbal tonics, chewing food well and keeping the digestive tract clean are all strategies that improve digestion.

Digestive enzyme complex breaks down food for storage in the liver or muscles for use when needed. There are three main categories of digestive enzymes: amylase, protease and lipase. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates and is found in saliva, pancreatic and intestinal juices. Protease helps digest protein and is found in the stomach juices and pancreatic and intestinal juices. Lipase aids fat digestion and is found in the stomach and pancreatic juices and is also present in food fats. Digestive enzymes should be taken after a meal, unless you are eating processed and/or cooked foods, in which case it is best to take them during the meal.1

Acidophilus relieves chronic constipation and may be used freely. Capsules, or plain unsweetened yogurt containing live and active culture, will help relieve digestive and gas pain, as well as restore good levels of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

Ginger as tea or in capsule form aids digestion and helps prevent the formation of abdominal gas.35

Yellow dock contains anthraquinones that promote bile needed for proper digestion and also tannins that counteract the cathartic action on the bowel.13

Dandelion is a cholagogue used for inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall bladder. It is one of the best natural sources of potassium (up to 5%) and is the most bioavailable source of iron from plants.13 The most prominent uses in Western folk medicine include treatments for stomach upset and liver and kidney disorders. Dandelion is commonly used to promote good digestion.23

Catnip is a powerful diaphoretic and as a carminative with antispasmodic properties, catnip eases stomach upsets, dyspepsia, flatulence and colic.31

Psyllium seeds are a healthful way to keep the colon healthy and clean in case of constipation. The seeds are covered with mucilage that swells into a gummy, gelatinous mass when it absorbs fluid in the intestines, thus lubricating the gut wall. The increased bulk stimulates the gut wall, encouraging peristalsis. In addition to helping maintain regular and healthy bowel function, psyllium has been found to lower cholesterol.23

Avoid the use of bran for relief of constipation as it prevents absorption of calcium.31

Avoid the use of aloe, senna, cascara sagrada or combinations containing them, as they are addictive and destroy intestinal muscle tone. For constipation, drink more fluids and eat soft foods such as prunes or prune juice, rhubarb with maple syrup, or figs.31

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Researched and written by the ProjectAWARE group, 2000

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated 09/29/2010