Acid Indigestion
.Indications and causes of Acid Indigestion
              Acid indigestion may be a symptom of a disorder in the stomach or the intestine, or it may be a disorder in itself.  Symptoms can include abdominal pain, allergic symptoms, belching, a bloated feeling, a burning sensation after eating, chronic bowel irritation, chronic fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, gas, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, nausea, rumbling noises, skin disorders, sugar cravings, and vomiting. It is also accompanied with heartburn.
    Swallowing air by chewing with the mouth open, talking while chewing, or gulping down food, and excessive use of raw foods can cause indigestion. Other things can also contribute of acid indigestion are overeating and poor food combination. Drinking liquids with meals contributes to indigestion because it dilutes the enzymes needed for digestion (a lack of digestive enzymes can cause intestinal problems).  Certain foods and beverages can cause acid indigestion because they are irritating to the digestive tract.  These include alcohol, caffeine, greasy, spicy, or refined foods, and vinegar.  Other factors that can cause or contribute to acid indigestion include intestinal obstruction, lack of friendly bacteria, mal-absorption, peptic ulcers, and disorders of the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas. Food allergies and intolerances (such as lactose intolerance) also can cause acid indigestion   if food is not digested properly; it ferments in the stomach and upper intestines, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and organic acids.
    Acid indigestion is a type of indigestion involving an excess of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.  Frequent occurrence of acid indigestion can lead to aggravation of the duodenum or to an aggravation of the lining of the stomach, both of which can lead to ulcers which can be life-threating.   It should be distinguished from heartburn, which typically involves aggravation of the esophagus.
    Some foods are responsible for gas because they are difficult to digest, and therefore are most likely to yield undigested particles on which the intestinal bacteria act.  Undigested food and bacteria present in the gut can produce toxins that can damage the mucosal lining, causing leaky gut syndrome. Acid indigestion is also caused by acid leaking upwards from the stomach into the esophagus, or swallowing tube.  This is called reflux esophagus.  Normally, the muscular esophagus acts like a one-way valve allowing food to enter your stomach after swallowing, but not letting anything go back up.  When your esophagus is too loose where it connects to the stomach, strong stomach acid seeps back through the opening and causes heartburn.  Because your esophagus doesn’t have protective lining like the stomach, it can be burned by the acid causing pain and sometimes damage. Acid can also cause night time cough, wheezing, and in some cases difficulty swallowing food due to scarring of the esophagus.  Acid indigestion can also lead to ulcers which can be life-threating.  It should be distinguished from heartburn, which typically involves aggravation of the esophagus.  Common contributors to acid indigestion are, eating foods with too much fat in them, eating foods with too much spice, excess consumption of, alcohol and caffeine.  Other factors are smoking, overeating, and eating too late in the evening, or eating just before sleeping.

Appropriate Diet Using Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Foods
Primary Foods:  Whole grains, 20%-30% of the diet.  Protein, including animal protein, tofu, tempeh, and beans. 20-%-30% of the diet (Beans are also high in carbohydrates and should be consumed in smaller portions; vegetable sources of protein, such as tofu and tempeh, are not high in carbohydrates but need to be consumed in large volume to equal a corresponding amount of animal protein.  Consume well balanced meals with plenty of fiber rich foods.  One should always eat accordingly to what one can digest and assimilate.  Foods that are either too easy or too hard to digest can cause physical weakness.  The occasional use of low-fat unleavened, freshly mulled whole-grain flour products as in many traditional cultures, offers an easier-to-follow alternative to a health diet.
Secondary Foods:  Fresh seasonal vegetables, (mostly lightly cooked), 30%-40%.
The secondary foods are fresh, local seasonal vegetables, which provide important vitamin and mineral nutrients.  These foods however are eaten raw or cold and those cooked being more balanced and stimulate the process of elimination. Excessive use of these foods will lead to over elimination, leaving the body weak and cold, often with excess water. Therefore these foods should make up 30%-40% of the diet. In therapy where elimination of toxins is called for and where the individual has been eating too much meat and processed foods, vegetables such as most valuable vegetables are the seaweeds, such as hiziki, dulse, kelp, wakame, arame and Irish moss.  These are very high in essential minerals and vitamins.
Tertiary Foods:  Dairy eggs, and fruits -5%-10% of the diet; fats, ghee-2%.  This third level of foods are those we may eliminate entirely or should consume in smaller amounts or portions.  These include the extremes of fruits and red meat or such congesting foods as milk. They represent the end cycle of a plant before a seed is formed.  They are best consumed according to their natural cycle in each season.  Of all foods, fruits are most capable of altering the chemistry of our blood to help us better . Adjust to the seasons and climates where we live.  Fruits are appealing and light and easy to digest.  We seem to crave them in hot weather which is not good.  In tropical areas people realize they should not consume large amounts of fruit because it has high sugar content and over stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, which actually causes lethargy from low blood sugar. Fruits imported from warmer climates and over consumed by people living in colder climates cause imbalance. Fruit juice is also a refined food that has a strong eliminative and weakening energy.
Role of Vitamins, Proteins and Fats in the Diet
    The notion that deficiencies of a certain vitamin or nutrient should be remedied by concentrated doses or supplements is both false and possibly very dangerous.  If our diet is properly balanced, we have no need for supplements.  We forget that most deficiencies are caused by a breakdown of physical metabolism rather than a particular nutrient missing from the food we eat.  If our diet is properly balanced, we have no need for supplements. We forget that most deficiencies are caused by a breakdown of physical metabolism rather than particular nutrient missing from the food we eat.  If our diet is in balance, our body has capacity to produce enough of the necessary vitamins needed to maintain health.  More important than vitamins in our diet are assailable minerals.  Minerals are the components whereas vitamins are the lighter components.  Mineral deficiencies are most severe in people who have eaten a primarily imbalanced “vegetarian” diet high in fruits, juices, liquids and raw salads.  To supplement possible trace mineral deficiencies, one need only add a small amount of sea vegetable such as kelp, dulse, nori, kombu, wakame, arame or hiziki to the daily diet. And  Oils are important to the one’s health, not to mention that they add to the delectability of foods.  In fact when one lowers carbohydrate consumption and increases protein consumption, foods not only taste better, but appetite is satiated, carbohydrate craving are lessened, and protein production is supported; the use of unsaturated fats and oils, such as olive oil, sesame oil and clarified butter (ghee), in moderation actually assists in the burning of stored fat. It has been found that a certain amount of fat is essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.  The American Heart Association recommends getting between 15-30 percent of our calories from fat.
Sample Diet
Breakfast: Whole grain cereal, rice cream, buckwheat cream, or miso soup.  If desired, the cereal can be sweetened with raisins, chopped apple, dried fruits, walnuts or sautéed nuts; onions and mushrooms can be used with tamari sauce.
Lunch:  Sushi rolls, brown rice balls, or tempeh or tofu burger with pressed salad.  If a warm lunch is possible, one can have kicharee soup, with pressed salad in the summer.
Dinner:  Miso soup, whole grain dish, steamed or sautéed vegetables with tofu slices and kuzu-tamari sauce, baked apple for dessert or agar-apple juice jello.
Beverages:  Roasted dandelion root tea, chamomile tea, chrysanthemum tea, hibiscus tea, Bancha twig tea, mu tea, unabashed tea, yanoh (a roasted whole grain and bean beverage).
Role Of Kitchen Spices When Cooking
    The key to total nutrition is a balanced diet.  Herbs are useful as a part of the balanced diet and also as an aid in remedying a long-term nutritional deficiency.  This is done in two ways:  The tonic herbs improve the assimilation of vital nutrients by the organs (sometimes referred to as a Yang tonic). 
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The nutritive herbs provide substantial amounts of balanced minerals and vitamins in a form that is easy to assimilate (sometimes referred to as Yin tonics). A convenient place to discover the medicinal value of herbs is the kitchen spice shelf.  The common culinary herbs and spices so often added to foods for flavor also have considerable medicinal use and it is likely that they were originally added to foods for those reasons as well.  Most herbal spices are carminatives (preventing and relieving gas), stimulants and aids to digestion.  Many of them are also used to relieve nervousness, spasms and coldness.  They are often regarded as “crisis medicine,” being useful for the first acute stages of disease.  Thus the kitchen spice shelf can be thought as a safe and natural alternative to the synthetic drugs found in the medicine cabinet.  It has been said that spices and herbs can be used to help the body with problems such as bleeding, diarrhea and headache to heart attacks.  Some of the spices and herbs are anise, basil, bay, black pepper, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, garlic and many others.

Herbs to Support the Digestive System
    Alfalfa supplies needed vitamin K and trace minerals. It can be taken in tea, liquid or tablet form.  It has been said that Aloe Vera is good for heartburn and other gastrointestinal symptoms.  Anise seeds have been known to help relieve a sour stomach.
Chamomile, fennel, parsley, have also been said to help a sour stomach or indigestion.  Ginger is a time honored remedy for nausea. Slippery elm may help inflammation of the colon.
Method of Application of Herbs
Aloe Vera - Take ¼ cup of aloe Vera juice on an empty stomach in the morning and at bedtime.
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Anise seeds - Chew the whole seeds or grind them and sprinkle on food.
Catnip - It is best taken in tea:  steep one ounce of the dried leaves, covered, in a pint of boiling water until cool enough to drink. Take before retiring in the evening.
Chamomile - Standard infusion; of the tincture, 10-30 drops.  Caution:  Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, and avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed.
Fennel - Can be used in “00” capsule form, taking 2 capsules in the morning and 2 before retiring.
Parsley - A few sprigs of fresh parsley, or ¼ teaspoon of dried taken with a glass of warm water has been said to help relieve indigestion.

    This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any type of ailment.  Always consult your health care provider before using herbs or alternative ways...
Walks With Hawks/Harvey

Balch, P. A., Balch, J. F. (2000), Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Indigestion, 460-463.
Duke, J. A., (1997), The Green Pharmacy, Indigestion, 334-338
Mabey, R. (1988), The New Age Herbalist, The way to use herbs and spices, 168-169.
Tierra, M. (1998), The Way With Herbs, A Balanced Diet, Ch.7, Ch8.

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