Posted on

Remedies for Digestive Problems

The gut is a major focus for healthcare providers these days, with our knowledge that poor gut health usually means poor general health. We know that we need to work on our digestive health regularly and consistently and we need to nourish ourselves with wholefoods, not just take a few probiotics.

Many of my clients have made themselves experts on their gut health and some have even bravely done the GAPS diet – take a look if you don’t know about this! Whatever we do in our lives, we need to understand about the problems associated with eating processed foods, diets high in sugar, salt and saturated and trans-fats. It’s ok to have MacDonald’s occasionally or a little dark chocolate, but Coke, white bread and biscuits as a regular part of the diet is going to do damage in the long term.

More than anything these days we need to learn to read the labels to understand what is actually being included in our food. Colors, preservatives, soy bean isolate, high salt and high sugar are all on my list of “don’t eat” ingredients.

More than anything these days we need to learn to read the labels to understand what is actually being included in our food. Colors, preservatives, soy bean isolate, high salt and high sugar are all on my list of “don’t eat” ingredients.

Social media and advertising generally tell us people are getting on board with this and demanding healthier, more natural foods when they eat out, which has always been a problem if you’re watching your diet or have food intolerances.

Allergies and intolerances are a major issue today, much more so than when I first started in practice in 1998. A few kids back then had allergies or intolerances, although not many, but now it is more uncommon to find children who don’t have issues.

While we often consider vaccination and medications a major factor in poor gut health, my own view is a little broader spectrum. I believe we are starting to see the long term impact of the way our food is produced and the generations who have now been subjected to constant intake of the artificial fertilizers and chemicals which are used to grown our foods, plus of course the results on our land of environmental events such as cloud seeding, industrial pollution and Cherynobyl/Fukishma, etc. I frequently ask the question, in the light of all of this,how organic is organic??

What are the triggers for digestive issues?

Some of the triggers for more chronic digestive problems such as reflux, constipation and diarrhea are food allergies and intolerances, parasites, vaccination, bacterial infections like giardia and obviously inherited tendencies. These allergens cause many other problems in terms of compromised health, but we are going to focus primarily on the gut here.

While naturopaths tend to see gut health as the cause of most health problems, the homeopathic view is that if your gut is not working properly, it’s not down to the gut in isolation but the system as a whole.

It’s obviously important to manage gut health with pre- and probiotic foods and supplements and by limiting suspect foods among other things, but poor gut health is a symptom in itself – not the cause. The cause is usually something more deep seated and often long standing. It may be any of a multitude of causes and will be unique in each case.

While each case with gut symptoms may look the same, to a homeopath there are hundreds of remedies that address gut problems, but usually only a handful that address the individuality of each patient. Treating the whole person rather than the gut in isolation, will bring the best results and many clients already recognise this, incorporating visits to the naturopath and the homeopath into their lifecare program.

Causes are many but might include acute or chronic anxiety, trauma (including birth trauma), stress, grief and general inherited susceptibility, all of which compromise immune function and allow the immune system to become vulnerable to a negative reaction. And of course we know now that the state of the mother’s gut in pregnancy also has an impact on the gut and general health of the baby.

Even very small children presenting with tummy aches frequently turn out to be suffering stress perhaps from disharmony at home or school, or maybe because a pet has died or a friend has moved away. People under stress often find it difficult to rebalance their gut and in turn their overall health. Sounds simplistic, but it is in fact fundamental and needs to be addressed to achieve the best outcomes!

If you suffer from digestive problems, constitutional treatment to look at the whole picture can be very helpful, alongside some dietary changes. Do be aware if thinking about this route that if you’ve had a problem for months or years, a single consultation is not going to “fix” the issue. It takes time to get well, just as it took time to become unwell.

If you find this blog interesting, you might also like to read our post on Bowel Nosodes.

Cause for concern

If you experience any of the following symptoms consult with your GP before undertaking home prescribing. Alternation of diarrhea and constipation or other change in bowel habits. Blood or mucous in or with the stool. Severe abdominal pain with or without vomiting.

General Nutrition

This is basic nutritional information. If your case is more complex you may want to consult a qualified nutritionist, but my advice is to look at the system as a whole, not just the gut, rather than endlessly eliminating foods to the point where the quality of your diet is compromised. This is particularly the case with children.

Work out food triggers by doing an elimination diet of the most likely foods. Gluten and dairy are common allergens, as are things like eggs, nuts, sulphites in wine and dried fruits. Triggers are unique to the individual so you need to eliminate what you suspect for 2 weeks then gradually reintroduce.

I find with children that the best way can be to eliminate on weekdays and reintroduce on the weekend. This is often enough for slightly older children (over 5) to see how different they feel with and without the food. Some things will need to be eliminated long term. Other things may be reintroduced in small amounts when the immune system is stronger and certainly with, for example, milk intolerance, it’s evident that many people can tolerate a little milk and milk products when they are in good health overall. Long term elimination of too many foods can be an issue for nutritional health.

Cut out processed foods, excessive coffee and alcohol, sugar and preservatives. This includes white bread, cakes, packet foods, white rice, white pasta, etc. Again learn to read the labels to see what is in the food you are buying and think how your food has been treated since it’s been grown! Is it as nature intended?

Eat more wholegrains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat (which is actually a berry)). Read up on gluten to understand why some grains may affect you and some not. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic) and include legumes (beans and pulses). Include pre-biotic foods in your diet. These help the gut to produce more beneficial bacteria naturally and include sweet potatoes, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichokes. Read up to see what else is pre-biotic.

Eat pro-biotic foods everyday such as yogurt, miso, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kim chi, or make your own. Yogurt can be ok in some dairy intolerant people because it is fermented or you can buy coconut yoghurt or make your own.

Ensure you eat plenty of natural fibre which comes in most fruits and vegetables. Apple is particularly good for the gut and can be grated into muesli or porridge. Soak chia seeds and add to breakfast or add to a smoothie, or use linseed or psyllium. Fibre is good for both constipation and diarrhea.

Aloe Vera juice and coconut water are soothing for a sore tummy or take slippery elm ½ hour before meals, particularly if you are on medication as it can inhibit absorption of drugs.

To stimulate digestive enzymes take a teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in warm water before meals.

Eat slowly and chew well. Don’t eat if you are stressed, irritable or angry as this inhibits digestion. Don’t eat too close to going to bed. Eating late in the evening can be an issue with digestion. Ensure you eat regularly and don’t skip meals. Little and often is better than just one meal in a day and will help with energy and thought processes too.

Remedies for Digestive Problems

Short term and acute cases may well respond to some home prescribing. Below is a list of the most common remedies for digestive issues. As always if your remedies don’t appear to be of benefit, do contact your homeopath or healthcare provider for advice. If there is no change with your remedies in a week or two it is unlikely changes are going to occur. Do also be aware that often if you don’t change your diet, remedies are not going to help.

Alumina – There is often no urge for stool and the stool can be hard and knotty or soft, sticky and unformed but hard to pass. No desire to pass stool until rectum is completely full. May be indicated for babies on formula and is commonly indicated in vaccinated children who develop chronic constipation. These cases should be treated by a registered homeopath.

Argentum Nitricum – Sugar is often the big aggravator in these cases and while they frequently crave it, they are much worse for it. Craving for both salt and sugar. Symptoms include bloating, belching and distention, particularly if anxious, and may also lead to diarrhea if fearful or stressed about something. Constipation alternating with diarrhea, fluttery feeling in stomach.

Arsenicum Album This is a good remedy for many digestive complaints, but particularly diarrhoea and vomiting which can be burning and cramping and quite severe. Think of traveller’s diarrhoea and similar. Burning pains are common – in the throat and stomach, so with reflux, extending all the way to the rectum. Weakness is usually out of proportion to the illness and they will be quite chilly and restless. They cannot stand the sight or smell of food and have a strong thirst but can take only sips at a time. These people are often quite anxious when they are sick!

Bryonia is helpful for nausea that is aggravated by motion (just getting up or bending over can bring on vomiting) and they are worse for motion generally. Their tummy may be very sensitive to touch but they are often a bit better for lying on it, so firm pressure. They are worse in a warm room and from heat and may feel better in cool or open air and from resting. Often very thirsty especially for cold drinks. Digestive symptoms may be accompanied by frontal headache, which can be worse for moving the eyes! This is a big constipation remedy with dry, burnt-looking, hard stool, which is painful to pass, and also for painful hemorrhoids which bleed and are worse for movement. No stool may be passed for days!

Calc Carb – These people often feel better for being constipated and babies don’t seem bothered at all! It is commonly indicated in chubby, sweaty babies.

Carbo VegThis is vegetable charcoal and is well known for its beneficial effect as a dietary supplement. Slow digestion with excessive accumulation of wind mainly in the upper part of the abdomen. Great distension of abdomen with offensive flatulence and/or constant belching, which can seem worse from most foods. They can feel better from the release of gas but it soon builds up again. They may desire fizzy drinks as they feel it helps in releasing it, but only temporarily. Diarrhea from fatty food or shellfish. Useful for post-operative distention and wind. May want a window open, fan on or to be fanned.

Chamomilla – Colicky pain which is severe and unbearable with very drum-like, distended abdomen. May have green diarrhea which looks like chopped spinach, especially during teething, but could apply to other situations. Complaints come on after anger (anger in breastfeeding mother) or child is irritable and angry with the pain. Irritable and constantly crying, can’t be pleased and babies want to be carried. Worse around 9am and 9pm and at night time generally. Better for being carried.

ChinaAbdominal distention with rumbling and wind and sometimes constant belching, which does not relieve. Post-operative distention and wind. Bitter taste in mouth. Extreme weakness after loss of fluids during vomiting and diarrhea. Lethargic and apathetic.

ColocynthisViolent, colicky, twisting pains just below navel. Better passing wind, for bending double, pulling knees up or lying on stomach. Stool copious, frothy and yellow. May writhe around with the pain. Worse after fruit. A great remedy for acute IBS symptoms.

Ipecac – Persistent nausea with griping pains in the abdomen, headache and perspiration. Vomit may contain greenish mucous. Not better for vomiting. Symptoms worse in a car or looking at moving objects.

Lycopodium – Tummy feels bloated, rumbly and full of gas. Usually worse late afternoon and evening. Feels full quickly even when very hungry, mainly because food causes instant indigestion. Discomfort is not relieved by belching. Constipation when away from home. Heartburn rising to the throat. Worse from wind-inducing food such as beans, cabbage, onions, beer, etc. A major liver remedy! A good remedy for unsettled, colicky, windy newborns.

Mag Phos – For colic where the knees are drawn up with sharp crampy pains and for hiccoughs (!!). Symptoms are generally better for warmth, massage, bending double and pressure.

Merc Sol – Very offensive, often slimy and green diarrhea. Often worse at night with great straining but never feels finished.

Natrum Mur – Rectum feels dry and painful when straining and stools are hard and crumbly. May only pass every second day. Stool feels like wind and vice versa.

Natrum Phos This is a homeopathic remedy and a tissue salt and it doesn’t much matter which form you take. The 6x tissue salt can be useful instead of antacids. These people suffer heartburn with sour belching, sour tasting vomit and are worse from fatty or greasy foods. The remedy can help regulate the consistency of bile and aids in sick headaches and colic. Yellow coated tongue is classic. A good remedy for an acid stomach or acid system generally.

Nitric Acid – Constipation which is very hard and painful to pass often with the feeling that the rectum is full of sticks. Pain may last for hours after stool as if something has been torn. There may be burning or itching in the rectum and anal fissures are common.

Nux Vomica – This is a great remedy for many symptoms brought on by too much food, alcohol or work! These people are often “A type” personalities who overindulge in life and neglect their health, suffering indigestion after alcohol, rich, fatty food or coffee. They may experience difficulty sleeping, are prone to waking around 4am and can’t get back to sleep. They often experience the worst symptoms in the morning upon waking and can be very irritable. With constipation there may be an urge but no action and it’s a great hangover remedy! Vomiting 2–3 hours after eating with painful retching, especially after overindulging is common. Feels queasy with headache at back of head or over one eye. Food, tobacco or coffee make symptoms worse. Babies with colic may arch backwards and be worse from over feeding. Generally better from warmth, warm applications (hot pack), and warm drinks.

Phosphorus – Burning sensation in chest, craving for ice cold water which may be vomited up as soon as it warms in the stomach. Nausea and vomiting. Craving for cold water and may cause vomiting. Vomits as soon as food and drink warm up in stomach. Diarrhea after breakfast, from coffee. Many symptoms come on after fright or from over excitement

Podophyllum is useful for painless, profuse, offensive diarrhea which is expelled with gushing force. May be yellow-green/water with colicky pains or is painless. Can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. There is often a lot of gurgling in the tummy and just before stool a lot of gas is passed. Useful in teething babies. Often worse in the early morning.

Pulsatilla  Indigestion after rich food with a feeling of pressure under breastbone, pounding heart, bad taste in mouth, nausea with or without vomiting and often a bit weepy. Tummy ache, nausea, vomiting from too much rich or fatty food or ice cream, which sits like a stone in the stomach. Diarrhea from pork and other fatty foods. They often feel worse in a warm room.

Sepia – Sudden empty feeling in stomach especially in the evening which feels better for eating. Sour taste in the mouth, white coated tongue and lots of wind, may be nauseated by smell or thought of food. Often craving for pickles and sour food. May feel better lying on the right side. Great for morning sickness if the symptoms fit.

Silica – May have what’s known as ‘bashful stool’ where the stool tends to slip back and is only passed with great straining. Stools may be dry and like sheep poo. These are cold, slim and sometimes sweaty people.

Sulphur – Has frequent desire for stool, especially waking early with a need to go. The stool may be hard, dry, burning and difficult to pass or very loose, burning and offensive.

Veratrum Album – Severe diarrhea and/or vomiting with cold sweat, exhaustion and dehydration. Worse from the slightest movement. Think of this for very bad morning sickness!

Hemorrhoids & Fissures

May result from a short term bout of constipation and are common during pregnancy and after childbirth. Chronic hemorrhoids and fissures require professional treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider for confirmation.

Aesculus – Burning, needle-like pains in the rectum with a sense of fullness and shooting pains up the back. Stool is dry, hard and knobbly.

Arnica – Sore, bruised, swollen during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Hamamelis – Pricking, stinging pain, very tender and bruised feeling and may ooze dark blood.

Nitric Acid – Very painful, often leads to a fissure which can be hard to heal. Bleed easily with sharp, tearing, splinter-like pains.

Nux Vomica – Easy bleeding and very sensitive to touch, often itchy. Sharp, spiky pain extending up the back after stool. Patient is usually very irritable and chilly.

Ratanhia – Burning or stabbing sensation in rectum, worse after passing stool. May have loose stool or be constipated

Sulphur – Rectum feels raw, itchy and pains are burning. Need to stool may drive patient out of bed early in the morning. Worse from bathing and from warmth, especially in bed.

Nausea & Travel Sickness

I’ve included travel sickness under digestion because the remedies are really just nausea remedies.

Aconite – Person is fearful of death and disasters. Symptoms come on suddenly and intensely, often from fear and anxiety.

Borax – Fear of sudden downward motion (such as in turbulence or on a boat).

Cocculus  – Nausea and vomiting from just looking at a boat in motion. Sight of food causes nausea and sudden increase in saliva. Person is dizzy and worn out and wants to lie down. Empty feeling with sick headache.

Ipecac – Persistent nausea which is not better from vomiting.

Nux Vomica – Nausea and a sense of queasiness is often accompanied by a headache over one eye or at the back of head. Food, tobacco and coffee aggravate. Feels chilly, constipation, is usually irritable and there may be painful retching and gagging.

Petroleum – Feels hungry but feels full after a small amount. Sudden increase in saliva with dizziness worse for loud noise or by sitting up. Pain in back of head and neck.

Tabacum – Nauseous, giddy, faint, pale, cold and sweaty with sensation of tight band around the head. Much worse for cigarette smoke.

Melanie Creedy trained in the UK in the early 1990s and holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Homeopathy. She is registered with the Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH) and is a member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association.
She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and is editor of the AHA National Newsletter.
Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australia, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services.  
Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a  suggestion or treatment seek advice from your homeopath.