Millions of people around the world suffer from acid reflux, heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People often resort to antacids and if these don’t work then they may be prescribed proton pump inhibitors and acid blockers. These drugs are not without side effects and the most common one is depleting the body of many vitamins and minerals, referred to as nutrient malabsorption.
The herb Gentian, when used regularly,can help decrease the incidence and severity of the above concerns. Gentian is one of the best herbs for digestion as it enhances the body’s natural digestion process and does not work against it.
The digestive process begins with the secretion of saliva in the mouth to start the digestion of carbohydrates, as well as proteins to a lesser extent. The stomach produces hydrochloric acid to further break down proteins; the body, through its other glands, secretes various digestive enzymes from the gall bladder, liver and pancreas to further assist in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The stomach and the intestines engage in peristalsis, a rhythmic movement that ensures that every bit of food is in contact with digestive enzymes in order to maximise the nutrient availability from food.
Gentian is a very bitter herb, which is precisely why it works. When you eat something bitter, the first response is, in most cases, to spit it out. This is instinctively the body trying to protect itself from a potential poison. But if you do end up swallowing Gentian, then the body tries to eliminate it quickly by producing digestive enzymes to break it down and to encourage peristalsis. Gentian is not poisonous and the increase in digestive enzymes and movement in the gut helps to counter acid reflux, GERDs and heartburn by ensuring the complete breakdown of all food groups.
The best way of taking Gentian is slightly different from taking other herbal preparations. Whilst most other supplements are swallowed quickly, with Gentian you ideally need to use 15-30 drops in some water and sip the mixture slowly allowing its bitter action to stimulate salivary, stomach and intestinal digestive enzymes.
The Gentian tincture supplement I tend to recommend is Gentian Angelica Bitters Tincture by Eclectic Herbs. This supplement contains wild crafted Gentian extract with the addition of several excellent digestion enhancing and soothing herbs such as Fennel, Liquorice and Angelica. Angelica contain volatile oils that have an anti-inflammatory action on the digestive system, easing colic, wind and reducing flatulence. For those who cannot tolerate anything bitter, you can disguise the taste in some orange juice.