Medical herbalist Nicola Parker explains how to heal the stomach lining
Symptoms of gastric inflammation include stomach pain, often a burning or gnawing sensation, nausea, indigestion, bloating and black stools.
Recently, I wrote about indigestion and how bitter herbs can help to tighten the valve that prevents stomach acid from rising into the gullet to cause heartburn. It seems that it was an apt moment to discuss the problem, because in the last month, I have seen a sudden influx of people in my clinic complaining of exactly this issue.
Unfortunately, bitter herbs are not suitable for everyone. The valve I spoke about, the oesophageal sphincter, tightens in response to the production of stomach acid. The bitters, working like an “on switch”, increase digestive secretions, including the acid that can be problematic for those with a weakened stomach lining.
When the stomach lining becomes inflamed, this is known as gastritis, a condition that is quite different to acid reflux, but may happen in conjunction with it. In reflux disorders, acid and digestive juices leave the stomach, damaging tissues it should not come into contact with. In gastritis, it is the stomach itself that is inflamed, so increasing digestive juices with bitters will only worsen the pain and damage to the inflamed mucosa.
Gastritis is linked to H-Pylori, bacteria that burrow into and live in the lining of the stomach. It is usually nothing to worry about, infecting almost half of the UK population without issue. Though in some cases, it can cause inflammation and ulcers within the stomach, requiring antibiotic therapy to keep the bacteria under control.
Symptoms of gastric inflammation can last long after successful treatment of H-Pylori. Symptoms include stomach pain, often a burning or gnawing sensation, nausea, indigestion, bloating and black stools. This last one indicates that the stomach has started to bleed, so if you notice this, contact your doctor right away.
Luckily, there are a number of ways you can help to speed up the healing of your stomach lining. While bitters will make the problem worse, it’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol, caffeine and foods high in sugar. Instead, choose easy to digest foods that are low in fat. If you are experiencing loss of appetite, broths, soups and vegetable juices can be a good way to keep your nutrient levels up while you are healing.
I use a remedy call Carnozin. It is a type of zinc, specifically designed to heal the stomach lining. It breaks down slowly in the stomach and works directly on the damaged tissues, meaning there is no need to absorb it first. For this reason, the results I see are rapid, in some cases, easing symptoms in a few days.
Carnozin helps to bring down the inflammation and promote repair of the tissues of the stomach lining. By increasing this repair, recovery time is reduced and pain can resolve quicker than expected. Studies show that it does this by improving the secretions of protective mucous while reducing secretions of acid that can irritate and worsen the inflammation.
I recently spoke to a lady who had been recovering from H-Pylori treatment for a number of weeks but still didn’t feel any better. After two courses of antibiotics, she’d been discharged from her doctor and told that the burning pain, bloating and nausea would simply take time to heal. The problem was that these symptoms were so uncomfortable, she was off her food, losing weight and with the world opening up again, she had been excited to start attending social events. Instead, she was at home, crippled with gnawing, burning sensations that left her bloated and uncomfortable.
Having tried a number of things that she had bought online, she came to complain that nothing was working, so I suggested the Carnozin. Dubious, but willing to try anything she took it away and agreed to give it a shot. Withinfive days, she returned and bought the rest of the stock I had on the shelf. So rapid the relief had been, that she was fearful she might run out and be back at square one. I often recommend Carnozin as an afterthought if my usual herbs don’t work, but her response has renewed my love for it and it has gone back to being my main recommendation for gastric inflammation.
l For more information on this, or to book an appointment with Nicola, contact her clinic on 01524 413733.