Have Indigestion Or Heartburn? A Doc Says This Kitchen Staple Is The Cure
Regardless of the frequency of our indigestion, heartburn, or reflux, we have become far too accepting of these symptoms. In my patient consultations, I inquire about symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, and reflux and often get the same response: "Doesn't everyone have that to some degree?" It always reminds me that, as a society, we normalize and accept most of our symptoms. We especially normalize our symptoms when they are not frequent or come and go.
For indigestion and reflux, these symptoms include burning in the chest, a lump in the throat, a feeling of choking, chest pain, and waking in the middle of the night.
For these symptoms, we often default to over-the-counter medications or prescriptions. These approaches are definitely necessary in specific patient cases, but there are options beyond what is conventionally recommended. There is a commonly known herb that has proved to have massive benefits on the health of the gut while palliating the symptoms of indigestion. We'll get into that in a second, but first, let's talk about what causes indigestion and heartburn.
What causes indigestion and heartburn?
Most of us are under the impression that our indigestion symptoms are triggered by an overabundance of stomach acid, an idea that we validate when some sort of antacid relieves our discomfort. Hold on to your seats, because I'm about to blow your mind: 99 percent of the time your indigestion-type symptoms are due to a lack of stomach acid. Let me break this down.
When you have inadequate amounts of stomach acid, food enters the stomach and doesn't have the ability to be broken down properly. This causes the food to sit there longer than it normally would. The food starts to putrefy, which causes an abundance of harmful acids also known as rancid acids, which start to create massive discomfort.
Unfortunately, low stomach acid is not the only contributor to the discomfort. A lesser known fact is that every time we eat food, including our healthy salads, we are exposed to microorganisms, bacteria being the most common. Our immune system naturally has the defenses to fight off these harmful microbes, which allows them to pass through our gut and exit through a bowel movement. However, if our stomach acid is low and our immune system is stressed, these strains of bacteria can become part of our gut microbiome. This means that the bad bacteria can hang out in your stomach and multiply by eating up all of the sugars and carbs from your diet. If you're thinking, "that is definitely not my problem—I only get indigestion when I eat cheese or fried food"—well, think again, my friend.
Most of the time, when people start to acquire food intolerances, allergies, or taste aversions, it's due to the pesky microbes that inhabit our guts. Bad microbes, especially H. pylori, in the stomach specifically can contribute to indigestion, heartburn, reflux, and GERD. Long-standing H. pylori can also cause stomach ulcers. More commonly, bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus are present in the stomach, which can also lead to discomfort.
All of which brings us back to rosemary.
Studies have shown that rosemary decreases bacterial and fungal infections of the gastrointestinal system. In a recent study, the antibacterial activity of rosemary essential oil was expressed on Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Shigella, which are all bacterial infections that are associated with gut disease and symptoms. The same study also showed a significant rate of antifungal activity in the gut. The most common fungus found in the gut is known as Candida, which causes an array of symptoms such as gas, bloating, fatigue, and irregular bowel movements.
In another study, rosemary has also been proved to improve probiotic levels to create a healthy gut microbiome, and decrease E. coli counts. Rosemary supplementation also showed the impressive effects on the health of the microbiome in the small intestine.
How to use rosemary to alleviate heartburn and indigestion.
You can get benefits from various forms of rosemary, teas and essential oils included, but it is best consumed as food. Rosemary in its raw form will provide the most benefits. Some best practices to get maximum benefit are infusing olive oil with fresh rosemary or using rosemary in pestos, marinades, or salad dressings. For a therapeutic dose, I recommend that my patients get 2 tablespoons of rosemary daily.
In conclusion, indigestion, heartburn, reflux, and GERD can often have the same root cause. The root is often related to inadequate stomach acid and/or overgrowth of bad bacteria. Rosemary has been proved to soothe the symptoms of indigestion and reflux due to its array of benefits for the gut. The powerful antimicrobial benefits help to eradicate bad bacteria while balancing the stomach acid and promoting healthy levels of probiotics.
While rosemary has been found to be very helpful in indigestion, as always, do not take this article as a replacement for medical advice or advanced diagnostic testing. The best way to get tested for stomach and small intestine bacteria is through a breath test using labs such as Biohealth or Genova. Specifically, testing for H. pylori is best done through stool antigen, for which my preferred lab is Doctor's Data.