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Homeopathic help for indigestion

With the holiday season upon us, the topic du jour seems to be indigestion from overindulgence in rich holiday foods. Although it is tempting to immediately reach for a homeopathic medicine or other over-the-counter digestive aid, don't always think of these events as "Three-Nux Nights"! Always ask yourself, "Do I really need to take something for this? Or do I need to take a walk, drink a glass of water, sit and talk with friends ...?"
     If your indigestion occurs only once a year after "The Big Family Holiday Dinner," it can probably be considered an occasional event in your health history, and homeopathic self-care can be appropriate. Indigestion after every meal, however, is not normal health, and therefore needs the attention of a professional. Know yourself and your symptoms! Severe pain of any kind needs immediate medical attention; so do dehydration or excessive vomiting and diarrhea.
     There are also many more homeopathic remedies than the famous Nux vomica that can help with digestive upsets. Most good introductory and homeopathic first-aid books devote a section or even a chapter to "stomach ailments." It is helpful to familiarize yourself with these likely remedies before misery strikes during the holidays. For those who repertorize symptoms, Kent's Repertory is full of useful rubrics, found in the Stomach section, such as:
     Stomach, Indigestion
     Stomach, Distension
     Stomach, Eructations
     Stomach, Fullness
     Stomach, Heartburn
     Stomach, Heaviness, eructations ameliorate
     Stomach, Nausea, fats, after eating.
     When you are studying these rubrics, don't forget to also look up modalities (things that make you or your symptoms better or worse) and concomitants (symptoms that accompany the chief complaint you're experiencing, for example, a headache or restlessness with your indigestion).

Remedies for indigestion
Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the most commonly used remedies for acute digestive problems, with some modalities. Most of these remedies can be found in homeopathic home-care kits.
     You might find that more than one of these remedies seems to describe your condition. If so, read more about those remedies in a materia medica in order to differentiate among them. Since you already know that the remedies cover your indigestion symptoms, consider other factors such as concomitants and modalities (e.g., time of day when you feel better or worse). Give extra weight to new symptoms that affect the whole person (e.g., "I feel chilly.").
     Aconite: flatulent colic, sudden onset, nausea and vomiting, nausea with perspiration, excessively anxious. Modalities: worse touch.
     Arsenicum album: burning pains (stomach, stool), vomiting everything, vomiting and diarrhea alternating or even simultaneously. Modalities: worse touch, cold drinks, after midnight; better heat.
     Belladonna: violent colic, burning distension, high fever, dilated pupils, frequent ineffectual urging to stool. Modalities: worse motion, light, noise, being jarred; pain is better when bending forward.
     Bryonia: stomach sore and tender to touch, cutting pains lead to diarrhea; bitter taste; irritable. Modalities: thirsty; worse motion, eating, becoming overheated; better applying heat, lying flat and perfectly still.
     Carbo veg: flatulence, belching, diarrhea with offensive stool, offensive cold sweat. Modalities: better belching, being fanned.
     Chamomilla: colic with burning pains, distension after eating, green diarrhea, eructations and diarrhea smell of rotten eggs, violent retching with cold sweat, cannot tolerate pain. Modalities: worse belching.
     Cinchona (China): bloated, distended abdomen, not relieved by belching, painless diarrhea, hiccups, nausea, vomiting, bitter taste. Modalities: worse motion, cold, at night after eating; better warmth, pressure.
     Colocynthis: violent colic, cramping pains, vomits from pain. Modalities: worse at rest, motion, even a little food; better passing gas, hard pressure, lying on stomach.
     Dioscorea: severe colic not better from stool, passes a lot of gas, early morning diarrhea, sour eructations, irritable and depressed from pain. Modalities: pain is worse when doubling up, better when stretching out or standing up.
     Ipecac: constant nausea, vomits everything but with little relief, colic with nausea and green stools, sharp colic pains, burning with involuntary and ineffectual straining, clean tongue, very pale. Modalities: worse overeating, rich foods; better rest, fresh air.
     Lycopodium: distended with flatus even after little food, must loosen clothing; rumbling noises, heartburn, vomits bile, sour eructations, flatulence. Modalities: worse cold food, 5--8 p.m., after eating; better warm drinks.
     Magnesium phos: colic, cramps and spasms; radiating pains; clean tongue. Modalities: worse night, touch, motion; better doubling up, hard pressure, warmth.
     Nux vomica: colic with shooting pains, putrid bitter taste in mouth, flatulence, strains at stool, retches and strains to vomit ("wants to but can't"). Modalities: worse rich spicy food, morning, cold, noise, smells; better heat, lying down.
     Phosphorus: burning pains; gurgling precedes diarrhea, with involuntary and ineffectual straining; vomiting cold drinks as soon as they get warmed in the stomach. Modalities: worse warm drinks, touch; better cold things, naps.
     Podophyllum: cramping pain, frequent explosive diarrhea, sore rectum, nausea with gagging. Modalities: worse pressure; better lying on abdomen, passing stool.
     Pulsatilla: colic, bloat, cutting pains, pains are changeable in intensity and location, watery diarrhea can alternate with constipation, bitter taste or loss of taste. Modalities: worse morning, fatty foods; better fresh air, gentle movement.
     Veratrum album: violent cramping pain causes patient to bend double, simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea, profuse cold perspiration, prostration. Modalities: better walking around.

About the author:
Kristy Lampe, DIHom, currently wears three hats for NCH. She teaches theCharlotte Affiliated Study Group (ASG), she is the Volunteer Regional Coordinator for study groups in the south, and she is the ASG Coordinator (ASG Workshop at NCH Summer School, ASG Day at Conference, ASG Lending Library). She also works extensively to promote animal care using homeopathy and natural diets.