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Stomach Soothers
This Holiday, Halt the Heat of Heartburn & Indigestion

Take care of your tummy this holiday season! “Indigestion” refers to any number of gastrointestinal complaints, which can include gas (belching, flatulence, or bloating) and upset stomach. “Heartburn” refers to a burning feeling that can be caused by stomach acid regurgitating into the esophagus from the stomach, by gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach), or by an ulcer of the stomach or duodenum (also called peptic ulcer). “Low stomach acidity” refers to the inability to produce adequate quantities of stomach acid that will affect digestion and absorption of nutrients.

In some cases, such as lactose intolerance, symptoms of indigestion are due to a specific cause that requires specific treatment. Sometimes symptoms associated with indigestion are caused by diseases unrelated to the gastrointestinal tract. For example, ovarian cancer may cause a sensation of bloating. Anyone with symptoms of indigestion should be properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional before assuming that the information below is applicable to their situation.

The most common cause of heartburn is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach is not functioning properly. Another, related cause of heartburn is hiatal hernia, in which a small portion of the stomach protrudes through the aforementioned sphincter.


The symptoms of indigestion or upset stomach may include painful or burning sensations in the upper abdomen, bloating, belching, diffuse abdominal pain, heartburn, passing gas, nausea, and occasionally vomiting. The appearance of these symptoms is often associated with eating.

What You Need to Know

If the holiday parties challenge your digestive system, try to stay away from foods that fuel the flames of heartburn and indigestion. If you end up enjoying one too many eggnogs, cookies, or deviled eggs, according to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.

Reducing Your Risk

  • Slow down at the table: Take time to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
  • Try lactase enzymes: If your symptoms seem to be brought on by milk products, try taking lactase digestive enzymes before eating those foods.
  • Help digestion with pancreatic enzymes: Taking enzymes at each meal that provide 30,000 USP units (IU) of lipase and also include protease and amylase enzymes can improve digestion.
  • Check for food sensitivities: Work with a practitioner knowledgeable about food intolerance to see if certain foods make your symptoms worse.

Living with It

  • Try for some over-the-counter relief: Take simethicone (Mylicon, Gas-X) or Pepto-Bismol to help relieve symptoms of indigestion.
  • Use charcoal for gas: Take 388 to 584 mg of activated charcoal within two hours after a gas-forming meal to reduce flatulence.
  • Relax your gut with traditional treatments: Try a carminative herbal blend containing peppermint, caraway, and/or fennel to help relax intestinal cramping and relieve gas.
  • Try artichoke: Take an extract providing 500 to 1,000 mg per day of cynarin if your indigestion may be due to insufficient bile production by the liver.
  • Get a checkup: See your healthcare provider to make sure your symptoms are not related to a medical problem.

Copyright © 2009 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Aisle7 content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Aisle7. Healthnotes Newsletter is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Aisle7 shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. AISLE7 is a trademark of Aisle7.

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