Naturally Soothing the Gut

August 2018

By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph. 

With every bite of food that we eat, our bodies go into high gear. One of the actions of food in the stomach is to stimulate gastric (stomach) acid secretion, which is imperative to the process of digestion. However, this same beneficial digestive fluid can also be harmful due to its highly acidic nature. In a healthy body, the lining of the stomach is lined with a thick layer of mucous that protects it from the stomach acid. But, if there is a weakening in this protection, painful irritation can result. In the case of an actual breach in the stomach lining, ulceration can occur.

As pharmacists, we are often asked about what can be taken to help with this irritation. There are many conventional over the counter agents such as Zantac®, Tums® or Gaviscon®. These can all provide adequate relief for sporadic episodes of heartburn by reducing the amount of stomach acid, neutralizing the stomach acid, or providing a temporary protective coating on the stomach lining, respectively. One downfall with many conventional treatments is that the body may become tolerant to their effects with repeated exposure over time.

For those who have suffered from heartburn or other issues associated with a weakened gastric barrier, long-term solutions are required…and these often go towards soothing or rebuilding the gut lining. ALOE VERA juice can be very soothing to an irritated, inflamed stomach lining. Make sure to choose one sourced from the inner filets of the aloe leaf to minimize the risk of triggering a latex allergy.

 The herbal medicine, DEGLYCYRRHIZINATED LICORICE (DGL) increases the mucous secretion by Goblet cells in the gastro-intestinal mucosa, thus increasing the body’s protection against the corrosive effects of gastric acid. Anyone who has heard about the use of licorice causing increased blood pressure need not worry! DGL is different from regular licorice because the glycyrrhizinic acid  (i.e., the blood pressure increasing portion) has been removed.

GASTROEASE+™ is a very popular supplement in our stores due to its effectiveness.. It is a combination of DGL, MASTIC GUM, MARSHMALLOW ROOT, CHAMOMILE and FENNEL SEED. Together, these ingredients reduce inflammation in an irritated lining, increase the mucous volume and viscosity, and reduce the presence of  Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium implicated in some cases of gastric ulcers).

L-GLUTAMINE and N-ACETYL GLUCOSAMINE are nutraceuticals that are important in the healing of the gastric lining.

 An extract from AGED MANDARIN ORANGE SKIN can improve the connectivity of the cells in the gastro-intestinal tract, thus improving its integrity and resistance to attack.

Remember lifestyle modification is an integral part of holistic management:  quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, drugs, hot spicy food, known irritants, and known allergic foods are all key. Stress management and regular exercise also contribute to a healthy stomach.

            Also remember that “stomachaches” sometimes turn out to be more ominous issues (including, but not limited to stomach cancer, hepatitis, gall stones, pancreatitis, panic attack syndrome, or even heart attack).  Thus, make sure you have your symptoms checked out by your physician before you attempt any self-treatment.

Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-owned and operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use.  Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.  Remember: before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.

***All information posted and shared by Cloverdale Pharmasave is offered to provide information and choices regarding nutritional support for various health concerns, none of which is intended to be a treatment protocol for any disease state. The information does not replace seeking professional advice from your physician. Consult your health care practitioner before taking dietary supplements.

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