Tag Archives: Pepto Bismol

Bleeding in the Digestive Tract

Introduction:-
Bleeding in the digestive tract is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Bleeding can occur as the result of a number of different conditions, some of which are life threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. The cause of bleeding may not be serious, but locating the source of bleeding is important.

The digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or colon, rectum, and anus. Bleeding can come from one or more of these areas, that is, from a small area such as an ulcer on the lining of the stomach or from a large surface such as an inflammation of the colon. Bleeding can sometimes occur without the person noticing it. This type of bleeding is called occult or hidden. Fortunately, simple tests can detect occult blood in the stool.

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Causes:-
Stomach acid can cause inflammation that may lead to bleeding at the lower end of the esophagus. This condition, usually associated with the symptom of heartburn, is called esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus. Sometimes a muscle between the esophagus and stomach fails to close properly and allows the return of food and stomach juices into the esophagus, which can lead to esophagitis. In another, unrelated condition, enlarged veins (varices) at the lower end of the esophagus may rupture and bleed massively. Cirrhosis of the liver is the most common cause of esophageal varices. Esophageal bleeding can be caused by a tear in the lining of the esophagus (Mallory-Weiss syndrome). Mallory-Weiss syndrome usually results from vomiting but may also be caused by increased pressure in the abdomen from coughing, hiatal hernia, or childbirth. Esophageal cancer can cause bleeding.

The stomach is a frequent site of bleeding. Infections with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), alcohol, aspirin, aspirin-containing medicines, and various other medicines (NSAIDs, particularly those used for arthritis) can cause stomach ulcers or inflammation (gastritis). The stomach is often the site of ulcer disease. Acute or chronic ulcers may enlarge and erode through a blood vessel, causing bleeding. Also, patients suffering from burns, shock, head injuries, cancer, or those who have undergone extensive surgery may develop stress ulcers. Bleeding can also occur from benign tumors or cancer of the stomach, although these disorders usually do not cause massive bleeding.

A common source of bleeding from the upper digestive tract is ulcers in the duodenum (the upper small intestine). Duodenal ulcers are most commonly caused by infection with H. pylori bacteria or drugs such as aspirin or NSAIDs.

In the lower digestive tract, the large intestine and rectum are frequent sites of bleeding. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of visible blood in the digestive tract, especially blood that appears bright red. Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in the anal area that can rupture and produce bright red blood, which can show up in the toilet or on toilet paper. If red blood is seen, however, it is essential to exclude other causes of bleeding since the anal area may also be the site of cuts (fissures), inflammation, or cancer.

Benign growths or polyps of the colon are very common and are thought to be forerunners of cancer. These growths can cause either bright red blood or occult bleeding. Colorectal cancer is the third most frequent of all cancers in the United States and often causes occult bleeding at some time, but not necessarily visible bleeding.

Inflammation from various causes can produce extensive bleeding from the colon. Different intestinal infections can cause inflammation and bloody diarrhea. Ulcerative colitis can produce inflammation and extensive surface bleeding from tiny ulcerations. Crohn’s disease of the large intestine can also produce bleeding.

Diverticular disease caused by diverticula—pouches in the colon wall—can result in massive bleeding. Finally, as one gets older, abnormalities may develop in the blood vessels of the large intestine, which may result in recurrent bleeding.

Patients taking blood thinning medications (warfarin) may have bleeding from the GI tract, especially if they take drugs like aspirin.

Some Most Common Causes:-

 

Esophagus:-
*inflammation (esophagitis)
*enlarged veins (varices)
*tear (Mallory-Weiss syndrome)
*cancer
*liver disease

Stomach:-
*ulcers
*inflammation (gastritis)
*cancer

Small intestine:-
*duodenal ulcer
*inflammation (irritable bowel disease)
*cancer

Large intestine and rectum:-
*hemorrhoids
*infections
*inflammation (ulcerative colitis)
*colorectal polyps
*colorectal cancer
*diverticular disease

Symptoms and Recognition:-
The signs of bleeding in the digestive tract depend upon the site and severity of bleeding. If blood is coming from the rectum or the lower colon, bright red blood will coat or mix with the stool. The stool may be mixed with darker blood if the bleeding is higher up in the colon or at the far end of the small intestine. When there is bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum, the stool is usually black or tarry. Vomited material may be bright red or have a coffee-grounds appearance when one is bleeding from those sites. If bleeding is occult, the patient might not notice any changes in stool color.

If sudden massive bleeding occurs, a person may feel weak, dizzy, faint, short of breath, or have crampy abdominal pain or diarrhea. Shock may occur, with a rapid pulse, drop in blood pressure, and difficulty in producing urine. The patient may become very pale. If bleeding is slow and occurs over a long period of time, a gradual onset of fatigue, lethargy, shortness of breath, and pallor from the anemia will result. Anemia is a condition in which the blood’s iron-rich substance, hemoglobin, is diminished.

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Recognition in blood in the stool and vomit:-
*bright red blood coating the stool
*dark blood mixed with the stool
*black or tarry stool
*bright red blood in vomit
*coffee-grounds appearance of vomit

Symptoms of acute bleeding:-
*any of bleeding symptoms above
*weakness
*shortness of breath
*dizziness
*crampy abdominal pain
*faintness
*diarrhea

Symptoms of chronic bleeding:-
*any of bleeding symptoms above
*weakness
*fatigue
*shortness of breath
*lethargy
*faintness

Diagnosis:-
The site of the bleeding must be located. A complete history and physical examination are essential. Symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, stool color (to black or red) and consistency, and the presence of pain or tenderness may tell the doctor which area of the GI tract is affected. Because the intake of iron, bismuth (Pepto Bismol), or foods such as beets can give the stool the same appearance as bleeding from the digestive tract, a doctor must test the stool for blood before offering a diagnosis. A blood count will indicate whether the patient is anemic and also will give an idea of the extent of the bleeding and how chronic it may be.

Endoscopy:-
Endoscopy is a common diagnostic technique that allows direct viewing of the bleeding site. Because the endoscope can detect lesions and confirm the presence or absence of bleeding, doctors often choose this method to diagnose patients with acute bleeding. In many cases, the doctor can use the endoscope to treat the cause of bleeding as well.

The endoscope is a flexible instrument that can be inserted through the mouth or rectum. The instrument allows the doctor to see into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum (esophago-duodenoscopy), colon (colonoscopy), and rectum (sigmoidoscopy); to collect small samples of tissue (biopsies); to take photographs; and to stop the bleeding.

Small bowel endoscopy, or enteroscopy, is a procedure using a long endoscope. This endoscope may be used to localize unidentified sources of bleeding in the small intestine.

A new diagnostic instrument called a capsule endoscope is swallowed by the patient. The capsule contains a tiny camera that transmits images to a video monitor. It is used most often to find bleeding in portions of the small intestine that are hard to reach with a conventional endoscope.

Other Procedures:-
Several other methods are available to locate the source of bleeding. Barium x rays, in general, are less accurate than endoscopy in locating bleeding sites. Some drawbacks of barium x rays are that they may interfere with other diagnostic techniques if used for detecting acute bleeding, they expose the patient to x rays, and they do not offer the capabilities of biopsy or treatment. Another type of x ray is CT scan, particularly useful for inflammatory conditions and cancer.

Angiography is a technique that uses dye to highlight blood vessels. This procedure is most useful in situations when the patient is acutely bleeding such that dye leaks out of the blood vessel and identifies the site of bleeding. In selected situations, angiography allows injection of medicine into arteries that may stop the bleeding.

Radionuclide scanning is a noninvasive screening technique used for locating sites of acute bleeding, especially in the lower GI tract. This technique involves injection of small amounts of radioactive material. Then, a special camera produces pictures of organs, allowing the doctor to detect a bleeding site.

Click to learn more about gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding

Treatment:-
Endoscopy is the primary diagnostic and therapeutic procedure for most causes of GI bleeding.

Active bleeding from the upper GI tract can often be controlled by injecting chemicals directly into a bleeding site with a needle introduced through the endoscope. A physician can also cauterize, or heat treat, a bleeding site and surrounding tissue with a heater probe or electrocoagulation device passed through the endoscope. Laser therapy is useful in certain specialized situations.

Once bleeding is controlled, medicines are often prescribed to prevent recurrence of bleeding. Medicines are useful primarily for H. pylori, esophagitis, ulcer, infections, and irritable bowel disease. Medical treatment of ulcers, including the elimination of H. pylori, to ensure healing and maintenance therapy to prevent ulcer recurrence can also lessen the chance of recurrent bleeding.

Removal of polyps with an endoscope can control bleeding from colon polyps. Removal of hemorrhoids by banding or various heat or electrical devices is effective in patients who suffer hemorrhoidal bleeding on a recurrent basis. Endoscopic injection or cautery can be used to treat bleeding sites throughout the lower intestinal tract.

Endoscopic techniques do not always control bleeding. Sometimes angiography may be used. However, surgery is often needed to control active, severe, or recurrent bleeding when endoscopy is not successful.

Click to learn more

Hope through Research:-
NIDDK, through the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, supports several programs and studies devoted to improving treatment for patients with digestive diseases that cause bleeding in the digestive tract, including Helicobacter pylori and inflammatory bowel disease.

For More Information:-
American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)
4900-B South 31st Street
Alexandria, VA 22206–1656
Phone: 703–820–7400
Fax: 703–931–4520
Email: info@acg.gi.org
Internet: www.acg.gi.org

The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered necessary in the context of the information provided. If a product is not mentioned, the omission does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
Phone: 1–800–891–5389
TTY: 1–866–569–1162
Fax: 703–738–4929
Email: nddic@info.niddk.nih.gov
Internet: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 1980, the Clearinghouse provides information about digestive diseases to people with digestive disorders and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. The NDDIC answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about digestive diseases.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bleeding/index.htm

Nausea and Vomiting

Alernative names:Alt Emesis; Vomiting; Stomach upset; Upset stomach

Definition :Nausea is the sensation of having an urge to vomit. Vomiting is forcing the contents of the stomach up through the esophagus and out of the mouth.

Considerations:Your body has a few main ways to respond to an ever-changing, wide variety of invaders and irritants. Sneezing ejects the intruders from the nose, coughing from the lungs and throat, diarrhea from the intestines, and vomiting from the stomach.

Nausea and vomiting are natural, possibly lifesaving, reactions to eating something dangerous or to illness. But occasionally they occur even when there’s no risk to health.

Vomiting is a forceful action accomplished by a fierce, downward contraction of the diaphragm. At the same time, the abdominal muscles tighten against a relaxed stomach with an open sphincter. The contents of the stomach are propelled up and out.

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You may have more saliva just before vomiting.

Vomiting is a complex, coordinated reflex orchestrated by the vomiting center of the brain. It responds to signals coming from:

The mouth, stomach, and intestines
The bloodstream, which may contain medicines or infections
The balancing systems in the ear (motion sickness)
The brain itself, including unsettling sights, smells, or thoughts
An amazing variety of stimuli can trigger vomiting, from migraines to kidney stones. Sometimes, just seeing someone else vomit will start you vomiting, in your body’s effort to protect you from possible exposure to the same danger.

Vomiting is common. Almost all children will vomit several times during their childhood. In most cases, it is due to a viral gastrointestinal infection.

Spitting up,  the gentle sloshing of stomach contents up and out of the mouth, sometimes with a burp, is an entirely different process. Some spitting up is normal for babies, and usually gets gradually better over time. If spitting up worsens or is more frequent, it might be reflux disease. Discuss this with your child’s doctor.

Most of the time, nausea and vomiting do not require urgent medical attention. However, if the symptoms continue for days, they are severe, or you cannot keep down any food or fluids, you may have a more serious condition.

Symptoms :

Dehydration is the main concern with most vomiting. How fast you become dehydrated depends on your size, frequency of vomiting, and whether you also have diarrhea.
Sweating and chills.

Common Causes:
The following are possible causes of vomiting:

Viral infections
Medications
Seasickness or motion sickness
Migraine headaches
Morning sickness during pregnancy
Food poisoning
Food allergies
Brain tumors
Chemotherapy in cancer patients
Bulimia
Alcoholism

These are possible causes of vomiting in infants (0 – 6 months):
Congenital pyloric stenosis, a constriction in the outlet from the stomach (the infant vomits forcefully after each feeding but otherwise appears to be healthy)
Food allergies or milk intolerance
Gastroenteritis (infection of the digestive tract that usually causes vomiting with diarrhea)
Gastroesophageal reflux
An inborn error of metabolism
Hole in the bottle nipple may be wrong size, leading to overfeeding
Infection, often accompanied by fever or runny nose
Intestinal obstruction, evidenced by recurring attacks of vomiting and crying or screaming as if in great pain
Accidentally ingesting a drug or poison.

Call the doctor immediately or take the child to an emergency care facility if you suspect poisoning or drug ingestion!

Home Care
It is important to stay hydrated. Try steady, small amounts of clear liquids, such as electrolyte solutions. Other clear liquids — such as water, ginger ale, or fruit juices — also work unless the vomiting is severe or it is a baby who is vomiting.

For breastfed babies, breastmilk is usually best. Formula-fed babies usually need clear liquids.

Do not drink too much at one time. Stretching the stomach can make nausea and vomiting worse. Avoid solid foods until there has been no vomiting for six hours, and then work slowly back to a normal diet.

An over-the-counter bismuth stomach remedy like Pepto-Bismol is effective for upset stomach, nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea. Because it contains aspirin-like salicylates, it should NOT be used in children or teenagers who might have (or recently had) chickenpox or the flu.

Most vomiting comes from mild viral illnesses. Nevertheless, if you suspect the vomiting is from something serious, the person may need to be seen immediately.

There is currently no treatment that has been approved by the FDA for morning sickness in pregnant women.

The following may help treat motion sickness:

Lying down
Over-the-counter antihistamines (such as Dramamine)
Scopolamine prescription skin patches (such as Transderm Scop) are useful for extended trips, such as an ocean voyage. Place the patch 4 – 12 hours before setting sail. Scopolamine is effective but may produce dry mouth, blurred vision, and some drowsiness. Scopolamine is for adults only. It should NOT be given to children.

What Else You Can Do

Lie down with a cool cloth on your forehead to relieve nausea. Focus on your breathing to prevent thinking about how you feel.

Supplement Recommendations:

Ginger
Dosage: 200 mg every 4 hours as needed.
Comments: Standardized to contain gingerols.

Peppermint Oil
Dosage: 1 enteric-coated capsule 3 times a day.
Comments: Each capsule should contain 0.2 ml peppermint oil.

Goldenseal
Dosage: 125 mg standardized extract every 4 hours as needed.
Comments: Don’t use during pregnancy or with high blood pressure.

Simple Home Remedy :
Powdered cinnamon and sliced ginger work by interrupting nausea signals sent from the stomach to the brain. If you are a herbal tea drinker, simply sprinkle powdered cinnamom on the tea and drink. You can also drink ginger-tea to check nausea.
CanTravel – Proven natural healing herbal motion sickness remedy
Motion Sickness Remedy – Home Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting.

Home Remedy For Nausea

10 Stomach-Soothing Solutions for Nausea

Call your health care provider if :
Call if the person has:

Vomiting longer than 24 hours
Blood or bile in the vomit
Severe abdominal pain
Headache and stiff neck
Signs of dehydration
Signs of dehydration include:

Increased thirst
Infrequent urination or dark yellow urine
Dry mouth
Eyes that appear sunken
Crying without tears
Loss of normal skin elasticity (if you touch or squeeze the skin, it doesn’t bounce back the way it usually does)
You should also call if:

A young child is lethargic or has marked irritability
An infant is vomiting repeatedly
A child is unable to retain any fluids for 8 hours or more
The vomiting is recurrent
An adult is unable to retain any fluids for 12 hours or more
Nausea persists for a prolonged period of time (in a person who is not pregnant)

The following diagnostic tests may be performed:

Blood tests (such as CBC with differential and basic electrolytes)
Urinalysis
X-rays of the abdomen
If dehydration is severe, you may need intravenous fluids. This may require hospitalization, although it can often be done in the doctor’s office. The use of antivomiting drugs (anti-emetics) is controversial, and they should be used only in severe cases.

Prevention:

Chewing a couple of cloves while traveling will relieve motion sickness.
A number of medicines are effective at preventing vomiting. Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe these because, in most situations, the vomiting is an important part of getting well. In some situations, however, preventing the vomiting makes life much better.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

Source:http:www.nlm.nih.gov and www.rd.com

Hangovers: Prevention, Intervention and Cures

Prevention:    For those who are really worried about a hangover, the best piece of advice is don’t get drunk. But, here’s some tips on drinking…..….click & see

1. Don’t keep up with the boys. Women do not have the tolerance for alcohol that men do, even when they are the same size. For men the standard is two drinks per evening. For women a better limit should be one drink for smaller women (less than 120 lbs.) and one and a half for all others. A drink is defined as one mixed drink, 4 oz of wine, or 12 oz of beer. A “half drink” is a light beer, or a wine cooler.

2. Drink clear alcohol. Dark alcohol tends to contain a substance called cogeners. These types of alcohols are more likely to cause hangover symptoms. White wine, vodkas, light rum are examples of clear alcohols. Red wine, dark rum, sherry, brandy are high in cogeners. Beer is in between, mostly depending on how dark it is. This difference has no effect on how drunk a woman can get, only the liklihood and severity of hang-overs.

3. The food thing. Everyone knows this already. Eat something before and during alcohol consumption. This slows the absorption of alcohol. Fats and carbohydrates are best for slowing absorption. Sugars intake prevents hang-overs. Cakes and pastries are the party food that has lots of all three.

4. The water thing. Dehydration is a big part of hang-overs. Combat it while you are drinking. Intersperse the measily ration of drinks a woman has, with water-based drinks. Try to avoid ones with caffeine and acids. Carbonation? Depends on how easily upset the woman’s stomach gets. If she has a weak stomach, skips the bubbles. Get some more sugar in here too.

5. Think about how fattening getting drunk and preventing the hangover is. Six alcohol drinks, 2 brownies, and 4 sugar-based drinks–a whopping 2100 calories. Will a woman’s social life improve by becoming a fat, drunk woman?

Post-Drunk, Pre-Sleep Intervention

1. More Water. The dehydration of getting drunk actually stimulates the body to absorb water from the brain, which in fact shrinks a bit. This causes the headaches, dry mouth, and part of the general malaise of the hangover. By drinking water prior to going to sleep a person helps prevent dehydration, and speeds up the flushing of alcohol from the body. Some people even suggest drinking Gatorade or a sports drink before going to bed. Sugar based drinks can help too. Again, no caffeine, such as coffee should be avoided as they only act to further dehydrate a person and sleep will be the best escape anyway. Avoid carbonation and acidic drinks (like orange juice) if the stomach is upset. Apple juice, Hawaiian Punch, and Gatorade are good drinks. Milk can be hard to digest at this point. If nauseated, clear water at room temperature, taken in small sips will be the easiest to hold down.

2. More Sugar. This helps because alcohol breaks down sugar stores in the liver that need to be replaced. Without these sugar stores we often feel lightheaded and weak.

3. Pepto Bismol or Antacid.If you are suffering from an upset stomach, brand names such as Pepto-Bismol, Tums or Maalox can help counter the discomfort. – click & see 

4. Maybe Some Ibuprofen. If stomach is not upset and there is no history of ulcers or bleeding problems, and the woman is NOT a regular, heavy drinker, a couple of ibuprofen or similar pain-relievers can help. Be careful. Both alcohol and these medications irritate the stomach and increase the tendency to bleed. It isn’t worth adding to the problem. Advil, Aleve are acceptable alternatives.

5.Tylenol or aspirin probably won’t touch it. In addition, Tylenol (actominophen) can cause liver damage and should be avoided if the woman is a regular, heavy drinker. This is defined as 3 or more drinks a day. Asprin can also contribute to stomach bleeding.

6. Put extras of all the above next to the mattress, which should be put on the floor. Put a solid sided wastebasket or bucket nearby too. Unhook the phone.

The Treatments:

Usually your body will crave just what it needs.
A method that combines all of these helpful hints:
Step 1. Start with Pepto Bismol
Step 2. A large glass of water (16-32 oz a standardized-size canned drink is 12 oz) OR A large glass of orange juice, if the stomach is OK (with or without extra sugar added)
Step 3. A big chocolate chip cookie or brownie
Step 4. Followed by 2 ibuprofen (if meet the above criteria)
Step 5. Remember this moment
Step 6. Repent
Step 7. Unhook the phone, go back to bed.

Source:     /www.estronaut.com

Herbal Tea As Stomach Soothers

A user-friendly guide to herbs that can help settle your tummy.
If you’re the type of person who keeps Rolaids in her pocket and Pepto-Bismol in her desk drawer, consider adding herbal teas to your stash. Since what we eat and drink (especially dairy products, sugar, alcohol, and coffee) often triggers gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea, how better to treat these common gastrointestinal problems, herbalists say, than by ingesting herbs that naturally offset the culprits?

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But with the ever growing variety of herbal teas and home remedies clogging the shelves of health food stores, it’s hard to know which ones will really help. There are numerous herbs that can affect the gastrointestinal system, according to Walter Kacera, Ph.D., an herbalist at the Apothecary Clinic in the Garden in London, Ontario. Luckily, you don’t need to buy out the entire store to get relief. Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger are the three herbs most commonly used to soothe abdominal symptoms. “They’re versatile and a good place to start,” says Jill Stansbury, N.D. (doctor of naturopathy), chair of the botanical medicine department at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore.

Peppermint
Chamomile
Ginger
Teas to Ease an Aching Stomach

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) can do a lot more after dinner than just freshen your breath. The herb’s essential oil contains menthol, a volatile substance that has a direct antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. In addition, the pleasing smell of peppermint tea may help soothe nerves (and thus a nervous stomach). The ability to calm cramping stomach and intestinal muscles makes it a superb treatment, herbalists say, for symptoms of indigestion including heartburn, gas, stomachache, and the “I ate too much” feeling. It also makes peppermint a popular alternative treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements in about 5 million Americans, most of them women.

Science is starting to back up some of mint’s claims. A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997 found that IBS patients taking peppermint-oil capsules for symptom relief experienced an approximately 40% greater reduction in abdominal pain and a 50% greater reduction in bloating and flatulence than those patients receiving a placebo.

A carminative (gas-relieving) herb, peppermint in the form of tea has long been used as a home remedy for flatulence. A 1996 German study validates this usage, finding that patients with chronic indigestion not caused by an ulcer who were treated with an herbal preparation of peppermint oil combined with caraway oil (a bitter herb also believed to relieve gastrointestinal ailments) experienced about half as much abdominal pain due to gas as did people who received a placebo.

Even in the absence of abdominal symptoms, some herbalists recommend regular consumption of peppermint tea, saying it allows the entire gastrointestinal system to function more fluidly. But, despite the enthusiastic reports, many doctors say that peppermint can lower the sphincter pressure of the esophagus, actually causing some people to have more heartburn. Even Dr. Stansbury avoids treating heartburn with peppermint. If, however, people do experience relief from indigestion with peppermint or any other herbal therapy, Col. Peter McNally, D.O. (doctor of osteopathy), a gastroenterologist at the Evans Army Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo., sees no harm in continuing to use the herb. “At the very least, the extra consumption of water (through the teas) can be quite helpful in aiding digestion,” he says.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), considered to be one of the safest medicinal herbs, is frequently recommended as a gentle treatment for common gastrointestinal problems. In Germany, where herbalism has long been considered conventional, tradition holds chamomile to be so useful that it has been dubbed alles zutraut, or “capable of anything.” Indeed, for gastrointestinal ailments, it’s somewhat of a superherb. Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and carminative, chamomile can act upon the digestive system in a number of healing ways. It relieves flatulence and heartburn by mildly sedating and soothing the mucous membrane of the digestive tract. Its natural sedative properties can also relax the entire body, which may help if your digestive discomfort is caused by stress or worry.

A caveat: While some research has found chamomile to be effective in relieving diarrhea in young children, Dr. Stansbury strongly cautions against self-treating diarrhea with herbal remedies (for children or adults) until you have consulted with a medical professional. “The body may be trying to rid itself of a toxin or harmful substance, and you don’t want to interrupt that process,” she advises.

Though widely used and highly praised as a safe natural remedy, chamomile may cause allergic reactions in individuals with sensitivities to ragweed, asters, and chrysanthemums.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale), like peppermint and chamomile, is a carminative and can be used to treat gas, along with its associated bloating and pain. In botanical medicine it’s considered a warming herb, one that causes the inside of the body to generate more heat. Herbalists say this can help regulate sluggish digestion, though Dr. Stansbury points out that some find this extra warmth uncomfortable and may instead prefer peppermint or chamomile teas.

But what makes ginger a standout among herbs is its effectiveness in treating nausea and vomiting. (Remember Mom giving you ginger ale when you had a stomachache?) Herbalists now know that ginger works against both nausea and vomiting, making it an excellent preventive against motion and morning sickness. And unlike its drug counterparts, ginger doesn’t cause drowsiness. Perhaps that’s why it’s a favorite in many a sailor’s first-aid kit.

Teas to Ease an Aching Stomach

“Teas are the best way to take herbal gastrointestinal remedies,” says Jill Stansbury, N.D. (doctor of naturopathy), chair of the botanical medicine department at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore. The warm liquid is easy to digest and allow the remedy direct contact with the stomach and intestinal walls. Herbs in pill form can be hard to digest, and most tinctures contain alcohol, causing them to be absorbed largely in the mouth. The one exception: Irritable bowel syndrome sufferers may use peppermint or chamomile tea and may also take peppermint in capsule form. The capsule allows the mint to maintain its potency until it reaches the intestines, where it calms the spasms characteristic of IBS. Look for enteric-coated capsules containing .2 milliliter of oil; take one or two, up to three times a day between meals.

How to Choose Tea
When selecting a tea, Walter Kacera, Ph.D., an herbalist at the Apothecary Clinic in the Garden, recommends looking for aromatic herbs: Can you smell the peppermint or ginger through the teabag? If not, the herb is probably past its prime. Look for a tea that has the date the herbs were harvested on the box; aromatic herbs should be less than a year old.

Next time your digestive system flares up, try one of these teas:

Peppermint        pepperment tea

For a minty fresh herbal aid, the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo., recommends the following ratio of peppermint to water: Steep one to two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves, or one tablespoon of fresh leaves, in one cup of hot water for five to 10 minutes; sweeten as needed with honey; and drink in the morning and after dinner.

Chamomile
Substitute dried or fresh chamomile flowers for the peppermint leaves in the above tea preparation.

Ginger
Steep ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dried gingerroot powder in one cup of hot water. Sweeten with honey and drink at night as a digestive aid, or prepare as needed to prevent motion sickness.

Fresh ginger is delicious and just as effective as the dried kind. Dr. Stansbury suggests simmering three ¼-in. peeled slices of the root in one cup of water for 10 minutes, or to desired strength. Flavor with lemon and honey.

If you need immediate help on hand for your next trip to the amusement park, dried or candied ginger will also do the trick.
Source:Reader’s Digest