see also Indigestion During Pregnancy, Indigestion in Children
A blanket term for hiccups, belching, vague discomfort after eating, heartburn, chest pain, stomach ache, acidity (see Acid Secretion Problems), and wind. The mechanisms of digestion - the automatic muscle contractions of the gut, and the secretion and flow of various digestive fluids, enzymes, and hormones - can be upset by emotions such as Anxiety, rage, fear, resentment, and impatience; they also become less efficient as we get older; and they can be aided or hindered by the kind of food we eat.
Citrus fruits, fruit skins, cooked cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, beans and pulses, nuts, bread, pork, spices, wine, neat spirits, fizzy drinks, and rich fatty foods are all quite difficult to digest and cause flatulence unless eaten in small quantities; tea, coffee, and refined carbohydrates also interfere with stomach function. Eating too much at once, eating too quickly, or swallowing air while eating also cause indigestion. Pregnancy, smoking, Constipation, and Obesity also reduce digestive efficiency.
Most minor indigestion problems are amenable to the self-help measures outlined below. However, if indigestion is long-standing and chronic, constitutional homeopathic treatment is recommended. Over-the-counter antacid preparations may give temporary relief, but they should not be taken on a regular basis, nor if you suffer from High Blood Pressure, kidney disease, Kidney Stones, or any form of intestinal bleeding.
If digestive problems do not seem to be related to any of the factors mentioned above, or if digestive patterns change over a period of 1-2 months without obvious reason, see your medical doctor; other possible causes of ‘indigestion’ are food Allergy, Hypoglycaemia, Candidiasis, Hiatus Hernia, stricture of the oesophagus, reflux oesophagitis (see Hiatus Hernia), Gallstones, Cholecystitis, Pancreatitis, cancer of the pancreas (see Cancer), Peptic Ulcer and cancer of the stomach (see Cancer).
If indigestion is accompanied by vomiting, with blood in vomit, contact Emergency Medical Services and give Phosphorus 30c every 5 minutes for up to 10 doses. If there is agonising pain radiating towards back, with or without vomiting, consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours.
Specific remedies to be given every 10-15 minutes for up to 7 doses during acute attacks
- Stomach feels full of wind even after eating plainest food, belching gives some relief, digestion seems slower than usual, faint burning sensation in stomach goes through to back, craving for fresh air Carbo veg. 30c
- Heartburn ½ hour after eating, painful retching leaves putrid taste in mouth, attack brought on by too much food, too much alcohol, or too much work, person irritable Nux 30c
- Attack brought on by rich food, beginning 2 hours after eating, attacks worse in evening, feeling of pressure under breastbone, pounding heart, bad taste in mouth, headache around eyes, nausea with or without vomiting, weepiness Pulsatilla 30c
- Heartburn after food, worse in small hours of morning, stomach feels as if there is a stone weight in it, person retches and vomits until exhausted, then feels chilly and restless, but better for warmth and small sips of water, peptic ulcer suspected Arsenicum 30c
- ‘Heavy stone in the stomach' feeling comes on soon after food, with heartburn, nausea, and faintness, mouth fills with bitter tasting fluid (waterbrash) person gulps down cold drinks, feels worse for pressure or slightest movement, but better for lying on back Bryonia 30c
- Stomach full of wind, bloated feeling not relieve belching, recent loss of body fluids (sweat, blood, semen), person sluggish and apathetic, feels worse at night, stools have 'chopped egg' appearance China 30c
- Indigestion comes on 1 to 2 hours after meals, though can be delayed by eating again, foul taste in mouth, stomach feels blocked up, cold drinks make things worse, urge to pass stool ineffectual, person tends to be forgetful, peptic ulcer suspected Anacardium 30c
- A lot of belching, especially after sweet foods, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, fluttery feeling in stomach, suspected peptic ulcer Argentum nit. 30c
- Sudden empty feeling in stomach, especially in evening, relieved by eating, craving for pickle and acid foods, tongue white-coated, sour taste in mouth, a lot of flatulence, tenderness over liver, person nauseated by smell of food, feels better lying on right side Sepia 30c
- Heartburn, stomach bloated and full of gas, person quickly feels full up even when hungry, mainly because food causes almost instant indigestion, discomfort not relieved by belching, constipation, suspected peptic ulcer Lycopodium 30c
- Burning sensation in chest, craving for ice-cold water, which is vomited up as soon as it becomes warm in stomach, likely peptic ulcer Phosphorus 30c
- Burning hunger pangs relieved by food or hot drinks (especially milk) but soon followed by indigestion, person nauseated by sweet things, suspected peptic ulcer Graphites 30c
- Nausea and vomiting after drinking beer, a feeling that all digestive processes have stopped, stomach distended and painful in a particular spot, likely peptic ulcer Kali bichrom. 30c
Self-help: Relax or meditate for a few minutes before you eat; eat calmly, sitting down; and try to relax for at least 30 minutes after eating. Avoid late-night eating and foods which particularly upset you. Reduce coffee, tea, alcohol consumption and try to stop smoking. If flatulence is the main problem, steer clear of pulses, onions, cabbage, etc. and try cooking your food with cumin, aniseed, or ginger.
If stomach is not producing sufficient hydrochloric acid, there are acid-containing supplements available; however these should only be taken under direction of your medical doctor.