As we enter into the holiday season with all its celebrations we tend to draw focus to our digestive system with overindulgences in eating and drinking. Also, for many reasons, there can be an increase in stress and anxiety levels that can be felt in the gut.
Although the holiday season may tempt us, for many people issues with the digestive system can plague us all year round from pain and discomfit, gas and bloating, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation to mention a few.
The cornerstone for functioning of the body is the digestive system as digestion supplies the energy for your body. Good digestion begins in the stomach.
The stomach is designed to secrete hydrochloric acid (HCL). This acid has many important functions.
Dyspeptic pain (indigestion) is an important signal for the human body. According to F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., dyspepsia is a thirst signal that denotes dehydration. Instead of reaching for antacids to quell indigestion and heartburn, consider that most heartburn is due to too little acid in the stomach rather than too much acid.
The stomach needs water in two important ways related to HCL. First, water in the body is required to produce HCL itself at the proper PH (the water is not actually in the stomach but needs to be in the body when HCL is created). Secondly, water is important in producing the mucous stomach lining to prevent stomach acid coming in direct contact with stomach tissue (direct contact can result in stomach ulcers).
Together with water, the body needs adequate chloride to produce HCL. The best source of chloride is salt. Salt, along with water, has a lot to do with good digestion.
Dehydration and/or lack of salt results in a stomach acid that is insufficiently acidic. When the contents of the stomach are not acidic enough (hypochlorhydria) the pylorus valve from the stomach to the duodenum is not triggered to open. The stomach wants to get rid of its contents so tries moving in the other direction, namely up into the esophagus.
Even though the stomach contents are not acidic enough, they are still acidic enough that acid burns the esophagus producing heartburn. The pylorus valve eventually does let the stomach contents pass, even though they are not acidic enough. But, since the contents are not sufficiently acidic, it will not trigger the release of pancreatic enzymes and acid neutralizing juices as effectively. As a result, the contents can stay acidic as they pass through the small intestine instead of being converted into an alkaline state. Unfortunately, the good digestive bacteria that like the alkaline state don’t function in an acidic state so food does not properly digest and supply the nutrients the body needs.
Another factor affecting the digestive system is our emotions.
Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, a massive, highly interactive nerve supply, in the gut (sometimes referred to as the body’s second brain) that communicates with the central nervous system. When anxiety hits or stress activates the “fight or flight” response in the central nervous system, digestion can shut down.This shut down can result in reduced blood flow to the gut, affect contractions of digestive muscles and, decrease secretions needed for digestion.
Anxiety or stress can cause the esophagus to go into spasms (choke with emotions), can reduce the acid in the stomach causing indigestion and, can cause the colon to react in a way that causes diarrhea or constipation.
Homeopathic remedies can be instrumental in healing our emotions as the root cause of our physical ailments. The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica is a commonly indicated remedy for the holiday season overindulgences and is a recognized ‘hangover’ remedy.