Homeopathy and Digestive Complaints
One of the most common complaints in the clinic is around mild to moderate digestive problems including chronic wind, bloating, acid reflux, irregular or incomplete bowel movements, food cravings or sensitivities, symptoms around hunger, and general feelings of being unwell or tired after eating.
When patients come to me with symptoms involving sensitivities to specific foods, the foods they respond to (wheat, dairy, eggs, fat or fried foods, etc) are often the indicators of remedies that will help to strengthen the digestive system and improve general assimilation and elimination. These are not food allergies, which are severe in nature and warrant conventional treatment and sometimes medication. Sensitivities to specific foods range from feeling full quickly, bloating, wind, cramping, and discomfort, loose stools, reflux, and generally feeling unwell after eating. The consultation will review details of the foods, the symptoms, general eating patterns including food cravings and aversions, as well as details of health history, sleep, moods, and any other chronic health complaints. The remedies prescribed will help to improve digestion and strengthen the immune response which often addresses chronic symptoms.
In treatment I often recommend that the patient consider pro-biotics for a minimum of 3 months to help strengthen the gut. Many people ask if they can resume the foods that cause the symptoms especially if the foods are dairy, wheat or soy, which are increasingly difficult to avoid as they are in many prepared foods. I recommend that they refrain from the foods in the early weeks/months of treatment and as the digestion improves, they try a small amount of the food to assess how their gut responds. Eating these foods on a regular basis may not suit them constitutionally but many find that they don’t experience the severity or intensity of the digestive symptoms as they did before – making going out to eat or holidays more enjoyable.
Another common issue for many is irregular or incomplete bowel movement where the person feels that their bowels are not emptying completely. On average a person should move their bowels at least once daily. Symptoms such as chronic constipation or loose stools, need to be checked by a GP to assess any underlying issue. If there is none, then homeopathy can help to improve the elimination process in conjunction with pro-biotics. A good book with general information on health and nutrition, such as Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch or the Nutrition Almanac by John Kirschmann, can also provide support.
Patients often report that they notice mood changes when hungry or that they feel tired after eating. Mood changes when hungry can indicate a mild fluctuating blood sugar which can leave people feeling irritable, anxious or even depressed. This is not be confused with diabetes which again warrants conventional treatment and medication. Alongside homeopathic treatment, I will recommend a change in eating habits through eating small amount of food frequently, and while reaching for sweets can be convenient and tempting, a more stable source of energy can be a handful of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit. Again, a good book on nutrition, consulting informational websites, or meeting with a nutritionist or dietician can be helpful in establishing good lifestyle habits.
Feeling tired or heavy after eating meals can be caused by simply eating too much food, too quickly. Again, eating smaller portions or grazing on healthy foods is best for more balanced energy supply. Most of us eat on the go and find that we eat very quickly, so simply slowing down can be very helpful. A friend of mine once did an experiment by eating with chopsticks to force her to eat more slowly and mindfully!
Other common complaints include acid reflux, wind, and bloating that can leave a person feeling uncomfortably full after eating, with embarrassing symptoms that affect social situations and engagements. One woman came to me with wind and reflux that triggered a gag reflex, which was so severe that she was unable to leave the house, causing her to feel completely isolated. Her GP had prescribed medications that didn’t work in her case. After only a few days after taking the homeopathic remedies that I prescribed, her symptoms eased considerably. Within a few weeks she was completely free of the reflux, and now out of the house again with friends and family!
This again is a brilliant case where complementary medicine was able to provide a solution that conventional medicine could not.