You can improve your digestion. Many approaches to digestion rely on restricting the things you can eat (strict allergy diets), or taking something to replace what the body should be producing on its own (digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid), or controlling an activity from the outside so that your body doesn’t control the process anymore (acid blockers, laxatives). There are of course situations where foods that create an allergy need to be taken out of the diet, or when acutely replacing or controlling a process brings a needed respite, but you can probably sense that these steps do not necessarily help shift the process in the long term. There are other ways to work with digestive problems which help you consciously influence your digestion, and natural medicines that can stimulate and support good digestive activity (yes, the possibility of a medicine that makes you stronger over the long term, not just dependent on it for the rest of your life! ) Even though digestion can seem like a mysterious and largely unconscious process, you can learn to strengthen the way your body works with the food you take in.
How you take in the world and make it your own depends on:
- the variety and quality of the foods you eat
- the rhythms of when you eat and what type of food you eat, as the body is better able to digest some foods in the morning and others later in the day
- your body’s own ability to break down the foods (through the activities of digestive organs like the stomach, liver, and pancreas)
- and absorbing what you body needs, and effectively eliminating the rest.
The first two steps are accomplished by taking the initiative to work with your life patterns around food choices and meals. The second two are generally best addressed through natural medicines and therapies.
Many people have already tried herbal treatments for digestion, like chamomile tea for stomach ache and cramps, or ginger for nausea. There is a long and effective tradition of using natural medicines to soothe, and stimulate good digestive activity. Anthroposophic medicine builds on this tradition, but has also developed new remedies that support balanced activity of the liver, gallbladder, small and large intestines. They work gradually over time, not overnight–just like it takes rhythm and repetition to change a habit. But people usually notice changes within a month, and may find that they no longer need the medicine after a 3-6 month treatment course. We often use these in combination with external treatments (like ointments, body oils, or compresses), treatments you can receive (rhythmical massage and organ embrocation), and treatments you can actively participate in to stir and awaken your own body’s activity (therapeutic eurythmy and painting therapy).