An apple a day might keep the doctor away but apples don't agree with everyone, especially if you have a delicate stomach. If your digestion is your weak spot then of course it makes sense to look at your diet and lifestyle. But what if symptoms persist even though you've eliminated your trigger foods and you're living like a monk?
It may be that your problem isn't an intolerance to certain foods but a disruption to your entire digestive system or Gastroparesis, a little known but quite common condition that is also known as 'Delayed Gastric Emptying'.
Symptoms of gastroparesis include a feeling of fullness after eating (even a small snack), intermittent or even constant nausea, belching, bloating, stomach pains and constipation, and in severe cases even vomiting of undigested food. This is caused by the slowing down or even stopping of the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine and faulty peristalsis. For a more detailed look at the mechanisms of digestion and gastroparesis see this article by hopkinsmedicine.org here.
While many women may suffer from some of the above symptoms during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, there are others who live with them on a permanent basis due to chronic illness such as diabetes, CFS, Parkinsons and MS, previous gastric surgery, collagen disorders, or even depression and anorexia.
Those with disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System like POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) also suffer because the ANS is failing to send the right messages to the intestines to get on with their work such as secreting digestive enzymes or initiating peristalsis.
While a diagnosis is important, in homeopathy we focus on a patient's individual symptoms to guide us to the right treatment so, whatever the cause, there are remedies that can target your particular gastroparesis symptoms exactly.
A homeopath would want to know your whole picture to find a bullseye remedy for your overall health, but sometimes, when gastroparesis is your main complaint and the symptoms are clear, there are several go to remedies that you can try to ease your discomfort right now. However, the queen for all your gastroparesis symptoms is Nux Vomica so be sure to keep a bottle of 30c or 200c potency in the house:
For Nausea and Constipation:
Ant Tart: Nausea (and vomiting) with faintness and a hot sweaty face. Other symptoms include frequent retching with belching tasting of food, both bitter and acidic.
Cuprum Met: Excessive nausea and vomiting that are better for drinking cold water. A telltale sign is that the stomach gurgles loudly on drinking. There will also be hiccoughs before the attack and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Ipepac: This has a constant sensation of nausea but vomiting brings no relief. Other symptoms include increased thirst and sweat, and the breath will smell foul.
Nux Vomica: The go to remedy for a bad attack of gastorparesis on all fronts. Nux's key symptoms are nausea and/or constipation with 'ineffectual urging'. Other symptoms include a feeling of a 'stone' in the stomach and heartburn a few hours after eating. Stomach pains are usually relieved by passing wind, and nausea by vomiting. It's also an excellent hangover remedy.
Silica: A well known remedy for constant nausea or chronic constipation particularly where the whole bowel feels slow and sluggish. Stools are large and hard and may often recede into the rectum when trying to pass stool.
Pulsatilla or Cocculus - Both are great if the nausea is made worse by drinking.
For Painful Bloating:
Arg Nit - Ineffectual belching of air or nasty acidic 'waterbrash' is a key sign for this remedy as well as a swollen distended stomach that's as tight as a drum, often with one painful spot that radiates all over the abdomen. There can be nausea, retching, and vomiting too. Cravings for salt and sweets is common. People needing this remedy are usually very jittery by nature, feel worse when they get hot.
Carbo Veg: Highly indicated where your digestion feels excessively slow, your stomach is painfully swollen with gas and you have sour rancid belching like the food has putrified before it can be digested. Passing wind and belching only gives temporary relief. Cramping pains that can force you to bend double.
Lycopodium: This is a key remedy for gastric problems with trapped gas often accompanied by cramping or griping stomach pains. Other symptoms include a feeling of fullness even after eating a little food. Bloating is another key feature which is not relieved by passing wind or belching. Symptoms are typically worse 4-8pm. Often indicated in IBS.
Nux Vomica (See above)
Pulsatilla: Another great remedy for painful trapped wind and a feeling that food is lodged under the sternum. Bad taste in the mouth and no thirst. Another good IBS remedy.
For indigestion or heartburn:
Calc Carb: Burning sensation in the stomach with acidic belching and often accompanied by nausea. Symptoms include a feeling of pressure over the stomach. This remedy is also great for constipation where there is no urging, even for days, but the person feels no worse for the constipation.
Carbo veg: Rancid or putrid belching straight after eating or drinking. Waterbrash and burning in the stomach that can extend to the back and along the spine.
Pulsatilla: Heartburn with a horrible taste in the mouth, especially after fatty foods or pastries. Food tastes bitter and there is belching which is acidic or tastes of food. The tongue is coated white with no thirst.
Pulsatilla: Vomiting food that has been eaten up to five or six hours before.
Kreosotum or Sulphur: Vomiting of food eaten up to two or three hours before.
Aethusa: indicated if you have 'obstipation' where you feel as if your entire bowel has stopped working. Often accompanied by pain with soreness in hypochondriac region (under the ribs).
Lycopodium or Nux Vomica: (see above)
Natrum Mur: A key remedy for constipation when a stool is passed only every other day. Other symptoms are a feeling of constriction in the rectum, as well as a tearing pain in the anus with smarting and burning. There will usually be increased thirst and either a desire or aversion to salt.
Silica: (see above)
What's the correct dose? You should take one dose (one pill) in the 200c potency if you have it to hand, and then wait (unless you are a sensitive person - ie. a tendency to allergies - in which case you should use 30c potency only). Repeat after 20 minutes if necessary. If you only have 30c potency then you can give more ie. three or four times, 20 minutes apart each time. If the patient does not feel any relief, try the next remedy on the list that appears to fit best to the patient's symptoms.PS. Put the remedy under the tongue and let it dissolve in the mouth. If possible avoid eating and drinking for 10 minutes before and after taking the remedy, as well as touching it with your hands - try tipping it into your mouth from the bottle lid, or with a clean spoon.
A word on Tissue Salts
Tissue Salts can be very helpful as a daily support to the digestive system that can help you between homeopathic remedies. You can learn more about tissues salts here but in principle there are 12 salts altogether but I would recommend the following for gastroparesis:
Calcarea Sulphurica 6X A good support for indigestion.
Natrum Muriaticum 6X Indicated for belching, nausea, vomiting and burning pains in the stomach.
Natrum Phosphoricum 6X This can be taken after every meal if gastric emptying is slow or weak..
Silicea 6X A great remedy where gas is a big issue.
Other Self Help Remedies
While the right homeopathic remedy can target your exact symptoms there are plenty of self help measures you can try such as chewing gum to increase salivation and get the gastric juices going, or Pysillium husks to promote peristalsis. There are plenty of articles on the internet on the subject but my favourite is '28 Best Home Remedies to treat Gastroparesis' by Homeremedyhacks and 'Gastroparesis Diet: 8 tips to help delayed stomach emptying'.
If you're suffering from gastroparesis or other digestive problems then please get in touch or make an appointment. I work internationally via Skype/Zoom
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Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.