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Indigestion / Heartburn


Indigestion involves a whole family of symptoms, each one more uncomfortable than the next. You might feel bloated, full, gassy, or nauseated, or even have a burning sensation in your throat or chest. Pleasant, right? Lots of people think of indigestion and heartburn as the same thing, but heartburn is actually a symptom of indigestion. Heartburn happens when a little bit of stomach acid creeps up into your esophagus. Indigestion—otherwise known as dyspepsia or a good old-fashioned bellyache—is a blanket term to describe a feeling of general discomfort in the upper abdomen. Heartburn and indigestion can sometimes be caused by overindulging—think a big meal, too much booze, or smoking—or they can be symptoms of food sensitivities or other diseases or conditions. Indigestion has been seen in later stages of Lyme, and it’s a symptom of a number of GI conditions like stomach ulcers, gastritis, gall bladder problems, celiac disease, and certain cancers. Indigestion and heartburn are also familiar experiences to people who are pregnant (in fact, no matter what stage of pregnancy you might be in, indigestion and heartburn are pretty reliable companions). Some foods can make heartburn and indigestion worse, including coffee, spicy foods (sorry, sriracha!), fried foods, tomato sauce, wine, bell peppers, black pepper, chocolate, garlic, raw onion, orange juice, and peppermint. On the whole, digestive issues are extremely common and can usually be managed by treating the underlying cause. If you experience indigestion frequently, or you’ve started to experience indigestion suddenly, talk to your practitioner about potential reasons. In the meantime, do what mama said and eat slowly, chewing your food carefully and completely, and avoid triggers like alcohol and stress. Ginger, chamomile, and fennel all may be helpful natural methods for coping with indigestion, and—bonus!—they all make yummy herbal teas. Taste the relief!

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