Indigestion Causes and Natural Remedies

What is Indigestion?

I was kind of surprised to find out that when you say indigestion to people in general they think you mean acid reflux commonly known as heartburn or a stomachache and that an antacid is all you need. And if you ask them what the cause of it is, they think it was a one time overindulgence of too much fat or spice or overeating.

This has convinced me that there is a great need for some general education on the digestive system. Did you know that according to a consensus of the ancient schools of medicine, which was done before time of Hippocrates, the primary thing to go wrong, causing any disease, occurred in the digestive system first? One of Hippocrates' sayings was “All disease begins in the gut”.

Well, think about it. If the nutrition of the whole body depends on the efficiency of the food you eat being broken down and utilized for all the systems of the body and the elimination of waste not needed, then it's easy to see how this would be, right? I mean you could eat the best, cleanest, most nutritious food in existence, but if you can't digest it, it can't help you and you get undernourished anyway.

We all know that the body has to inhale and exhale air. That's obvious because if the flow of that stops you don't get a disease, you die. Well it's the same with the flows of the digestive system, only it happens much slower so you have the time to develop all the gradients of disease from a little constipation to death.

The Digestive System

Any natural health and healing system has to address the digestive system in order to affect a complete handling of any malady. This is the reason for juicing, fasting, enemas/colonics and colon cleanses, and herbs that help the digestive system. It is to get that flow going again and to give the digestive system the opportunity to heal. That's why natural healing systems have any sick patient start on those things before anything else is done.

So technically, indigestion would be anything that was less than the digestive system's optimum performance. Heartburn because of one meal is pretty late on the chain of wrongnesses. The time to start thinking about indigestion should have been when waste didn't come out the frequency and consistency it was supposed to or some other minor symptom happened like needing to eat more food than normal before you felt nourished.

Backed up waste causes a lot of trouble and is probably the first thing that goes wrong with a digestive system. This causes other things to go wrong like exhausting your digestive enzymes and depleting the hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach.

Not having enough stomach acid is terrible. You can not only absorb the proper vitamins and minerals, but you can't kill any microbes or parasites in your food. And this makes you open season for all kinds of sicknesses and problems that start in your gut. And parasites can come from vegetables as well as meat or any kind of food. You are ideally not supposed to kill your nutrition by overcooking your food to prevent parasites, you are supposed to have a good digestive system that will make a meal of the suckers along with the food.

This shortage of acid, believe it or not, also causes heartburn because the modulating minerals couldn't be absorbed from the food due to a shortage of HCL. Antacids can make the shortage of Hydrochloric acid in the stomach worse. That's why in some cases it gets worse and worse until you seem to live on antacids.

Causes and Solutions

Well what causes this backed up waste?

Oh let me count the ways! These are the most important:

  • Overeating. When you put too much in, it just can't move through the system properly. The food can't stay in each point of digestion long enough and gets rushed through without thoroughly being broken down and the organs themselves can't work properly all stretched out.

Then undigested food gets all sticky in the colon and builds up on the side of the now distended walls. New food from the next meal is forced through the middle and that stuff just decays stuck on the colon wall and it forms layers over the years. When this builds up, then the body begins to absorb a certain amount of waste back into the system when the body pulls the water out of the colon in the last part of digestion, making a stool to be pushed out of the anus.

Also these layers of buildup become full of microorganisms and can overwhelm the natural good bacteria. Not having these natural lactobacteria compromises digestion because these help digest the waste and provide B vitamins. These layers of waste are also a great place for parasites to get a stronghold all without telling you. Meaning there isn't any overwhelming symptomology regarding this until a full blown problem occurs seemingly out of the blue.

  • Not chewing thoroughly enough. Believe it or not, you are supposed to chew your food till it is a liquid slurry. I did not even believe this was possible the first time I heard about it. Our white kitchen table sticks out in my mind because it felt like I stared at it forever while chewing one mouthful of food testing this out. And lo and behold it suddenly liquified. The second bite didn't take that long at all. Funny how that was. Well I barely chewed my food three times before I heard about this, so it was a drastic change for me. It made a big difference in my digestion. I didn't get bloated after eating anymore. It also stopped me from overeating because I got the nutrition fast and so the hunger was abated making me feel satisfied faster.
  • Not drinking enough pure clean water. The rule of thumb in heath circles is that you should drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. That means if you are 100 pounds, you should drink 50 ounces of water a day. 50 ounces of water, Not tea, not coffee, not juice and definitely not soda - Pure water - Preferably filtered to get the residual plastic out of it if you don't buy it in glass. Quality of water is a whole other blog subject, it makes a big difference. And you have to drink enough or your “pipes” get clogged starting with the ones in your digestive system.

Oh and there's a little catch. Don't drink the water during meals. You won't have to if you chew your food enough. The idea is not to dilute your digestive juices that are being released onto the food. You can drink ten minutes before eating and an hour after, optimally.

  • Eating food that really isn't food and can't be digested. There is an amazing amount of stuff one can put into their mouth that really doesn't have any right being there. We as human beings have no limit to our creativeness, which is good for us spiritually, but physically, as a body, Oy!! I don't think I have to tell you much about this. You know. If you look at a “food” and you can't tell whether it came from a plant or an animal, it is not ideal. Pretty much everything in the supermarket that isn't along the outside walls is not fit for consumption with some exceptions of course. But the majority of stuff found in the aisles of a grocery store are really too processed and preserved to be healthy.

The further you get from nature's recipe the more undigestible it is. Processed foods cause havoc in a body. We are kind of used to this havoc, so we don't notice it as a problem. As a culture we think it's normal to fall apart as we age. People do not think there is anything out of the ordinary when such a percentage of humans get heart attacks or diabetes or any other disease. It has become rather commonplace. But it wasn't commonplace before we started processing our foods and putting poisons in them to preserve shelf life among other agendas. 

  • Eating Preserved foods. Did you know that preservatives don't stop preserving just because you chew and swallow them? Preservatives are supposed to make food resistive to the digestive enzymes of microbes that naturally eat pure food. BUT that means that more times than not, it makes it so YOU can't digest it either. And where does the bulk of this undigested food wind up? It adds to those layers in the colon I told you about. It's no wonder it's harder and harder to have a flat stomach as we get older.

I have to interject this here because it is an important fact that is not very well known. Fat is good for the body. It is necessary to make hormones and skin, lubricates the whole body, makes your hair shiny and oh So many things. It actually is the thing that keeps a body young and alive.

Fat without food preservatives gets readily absorbed and utilized, not stored. But what happens to fat you can't digest because of preservatives? Well it goes round and round in the bloodstream because the proteins that would take it to a needed place to be utilized can't work with this unbroken down fat. And if it manages to get out of the bloodstream before glombing onto something, causing havoc in the circulatory system, it gets stored under your skin and wherever the body can stick it, as fat that willNever go anywhere because it cannot be used.

Preserved fat should be labeled with a skull and crossbones. But also, even if you eat fat with no preservatives and you eat it with another preserved food, the preservatives from that other food can also inhibit digestion of the fat too.

Food Combining and Digestion

And finally, not combining your foods correctly. The rules of food combining go back to the Ayurveda. It was based on the different speeds that food takes to digest vs. how fast that food would start decaying in the system. And you didn't want to mix fruit with anything so it would go through fast. And you didn't want to mix certain fruits like citrus with other fruits. And you get the old saying eat melon alone or leave it alone. 

And you didn't want to mix meat with starch for that reason as well. That last little rule there I think is the most important.

Then later after food chemistry was explored, it was said that pH had a lot to do with it. Chemical processes of the body usually require a certain pH to operate in. If the pH isn’t right no reaction occurs. In school they had us mix certain chemicals together that were supposed to react and change color, but only at a certain pH. We were given dropper bottles of HCL and NaOH, Sodium Hydroxide, a base (the opposite of acid) to adjust the pH. I was fascinated that the color did not change no matter the stirring or any heat applied until the exact pH read on the pH meter. Above or below that pH, the color would disappear. So it was convincing. pH made the difference.

Well the same thing is said to happen in the digestive system to some degree. Certain enzymes require an acid environment and certain enzymes require a basic environment. Foods require certain enzymes. Well what happens if you combine a food that needs an acid environment enzyme with one that requires a basic environment enzyme? Well one of them or both are not going to get digested and you get another layer down there in that already overloaded colon festering away.

But I know that foods themselves have mixtures of proteins, fats and carbs, so I don't really think that all of it is completely understood, but for some reason certain foods don't mix.

Despite the old meat and potatoes and spaghetti and meatballs one should never mix a meat and a starch or an acid with a meat. Like lemon on the fish. One should eat nuts and seeds by themselves. Anything can be combined with non-starchy greens. Starchy vegetables can be eaten with greens, including salad, but not with a protein.

More on Food Combination

Salads should be eaten with concentrated foods to increase their ability to move through the "pipes" in the digestive system. A concentrated food is a more condensed, higher calorie food like a meat or potato or squash. It is usually the entrée, the main dish in other words. Oh and don't overeat is also added there.

I don't really remember every single rule of food combining to tell you here because I eat a very limited diet designed for me by special testing and I haven't had to think about it for a while.

At the time I learned the rules it was all a buzz. Gary Null was on the radio preaching it. Norman Walker had his booklet. And then the popular book Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond was a very good explanation of it. They sure made the point of don't overeat. There was I think 2, maybe 3 pages that just repeated, "Don't overeat, don't overeat" over and over so you couldn't miss it and the humor of it made it unforgettable. There were a whole host of others explaining it too. Everybody had their own way of fitting it into their particular system. I remember liking Fit for Life the best. It made a big effect on me and put me down to an ideal weight without too much attention on it at all. It was astonishing. I lost 7 lbs almost immediately. And it wasn't fat I lost. It seemed like swelling went down that I didn't even know I had. I adopted those rules for life! And everytime I broke them I could feel the difference.

If people would change their ways and eliminate the above habits, antacid companies would go out of business and people would be much healthier. But the difficulty in doing that is that everything is geared to doing the above habits and your announcement that you don't do that can make you the odd one out. I was kind of always the odd one out anyway, so it didn't bother me.

My hope is that people will pass this on to people they love and this will be how to educate the whole population in a way that can not be stopped by interests that make money from our ignorance and suffering.

Rebuilding the Digestive System

Now what should a person do that has completely wrecked his digestive system already? Well they should begin by changing the above habits and this will give their bodies a rest and allow the body to catch up on making stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

If they are really bad off they might want to go to an alternative health practitioner who can test them and find out what food based supplements and/or controlled fasting could help speed it along.

Doing something mechanical to get rid of the build-up of undigested waste in the colon can also be utilized. These include colon cleanses, enemas, colemas and colonics. There are various cleanses to choose from which should help get the flow going and help strip off the built up layers so they can be eliminated with bowel movements. But generally this does not get everything completely and you have to repeat the cleanses regularly.

The last 3 mechanical actions mentioned use water put in through the anus into the colon to help dislodge and eliminate this build up. An enema uses a small bag that allows for one in and out of water into your toilet. A colema uses a 5 gallon bucket and allows for 4 or 5 in and outs into your toilet. A colonic is done with special equipment and depending on the machine provides 10 gallons to unlimited gallons and the out goes through a see-through tube so the colonic hydrotherapist (and you if you wish to look) can see what is being eliminated. Sometimes you can even see the parasites going bye bye.

My Personal Journey with Colon Cleansing

When I was a little kid, enemas were very commonplace. My mother used to give my siblings and I enemas whenever we got sick. It wasn't pleasant, but it always broke the fever and felt better afterwards. Now I know why. I didn't think to ask back then. It was just something that you did. That, like the stay at home mom thing seemed to evaporate in the whole neighborhood all at once and no one seemed to notice a big change at the time. I wonder what influenced that.

I experimented with colemas but it always felt like it wasn't enough. Boy did I get great results from colonics! After I had my first colonic, I never used the colema board again. The only drawback to a colonic is that you have to pay for them, but it was so nice to have the colon hydrotherapist massaging things to get more out and the fact that you just lay there and there is no smell. Everything is in a contained system and you get to relax.

As I mentioned before, I for what? 30 years hardly chewed my food, was a big overeater, food combining was all wrong - the only thing I didn't do all the time was eat preserved food which I thank my Italian mother for. So although I wasn't fat and was in pretty good shape I always had this lower stomach squishiness. It was puffed out. Well this disappeared completely after a series of colonics. I had to do like 10 of them to get a lifetime (well 3 decades at that time) of built-up undigested crap out. I couldn't believe how many layers were in there.

After those colonics I felt like I was a teenager again and my stomach was totally flat. My energy was never ending. It gave me back years of life. After that I was told that I should get one colonic every year to maintain. Mnn. I dropped that out. Anybody know a good Colon Hydrotherapist in LA? I'll meet you there! 

Herbs for Digestion

Now all of that covers how not to mess up the digestive system and how to get it back to health. There are also herbs that can help with this and also enhance the digestion of a healthy digestive tract. Actually there are a lot of herbs, but since you're probably tired of reading at this point I will tell you about only the heavy hitters.

  1. Artichokes are wonderful for the digestive system. It soothes everything and helps bile flow. It is also good for the liver which works very closely with the digestive system and it is good for the kidneys also.
  2. Dandelion helps digestion because it enhances digestive secretions, makes bile flow and also helps the liver.
  3. Ginger strengthens the stomach.
  4. Slippery Elm soothes and cleans out the surface of the digestive tract. It makes everything just slide right out.
  5. Milk Thistle improves digestive functions as well as helping the liver.
  6. Peppermint soothes and makes bile flow. It also helps with gas. Just smelling the peppermint can alleviate discomfort associated with gas.
  7. Cranberry strengthens the digestive tract as well as the urinary tract.
  8. Mushrooms help the intestines grow the right kind of bacteria and Lion's Mane particularly increases the brain and digestive system connection.

Two other things that help the digestion are apple cider vinegar and rejuvelac/sauerkraut.

ACV helps reserve the stomach's HCL because of its own action on digesting the food, since it is also an acid. This could give the stomach a chance to catch up or get ahead on producing HCL.

Rejuvelac is wonderful. It rejuvenates with fresh lactobacteria. People used to make it with grains like wheat berries and millet. During that heyday, it was all the rage to make it with cabbage. You just use a big jar, put the shredded cabbage in (or whatever you are using to make the ferment) pour water in to cover it and cover the jar with a cheese cloth and in a few days when you see bubbles on the berries or cabbage, you pour the liquid in a glass and drink. It is the most wonderful fizzy drink. Then you pour more water in and let it sit for another little while. If you are using cabbage you can really milk this many times. When the cabbage starts to turn straw colored you just let it continue till it turns to sauerkraut. And eating that helps digestion as well as keeping your intestinal bacteria up.


Well, I am sorry for the sheer length of this blog, but I didn't want to skimp on this subject because this is the most important information you should know about keeping you and your family and friends healthy.

We have a wonderful Mushroom blend that includes the mentioned Lion's Mane. We have Milk Thistle. We have Ginger. We have ACV in a convenient - meaning you don't have to taste it - capsule and we have cranberry with nettle which provides a great synergistic effect.

You know almost every herb we carry does something that helps the digestive system especially, in addition to what was mentioned. Turmeric, Beet Root and St John's wort are especially good. Nature's bounty is plentiful.

Check out our list of herbs and pick out what attracts you. We would be happy to fill your order. Click here.

*This article is intended for informational purposes. The statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Rosalie Roder got her Bachelors' degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Mary Baldwin University in 1983. After graduation, with that background, her real education on natural health and healing and human potential began. It is a never ending study and she is always happy to share what she has found out so far.