How About Those Health Supplements?

HOW ABOUT THOSE HEALTH SUPPLEMENTSProbiotics are the friendly bacteria for our digestive health.  They contain living organisms.  Other than bacteria, a type of yeast is also part of the probiotics and good bacteria in the gut that will help with digestion.  You may receive relief from diarrhea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome might also be provided by probiotics.  

Licorice or DGL is used to treat symptoms of indigestion like heartburn and acid reflux.  They are the cooling factor for heartburn.  Scientific evidence does not back these uses as of now.  In the unpurified form, licorice can have the side effect of contributing to high blood pressure in some people.  DGL is a specific extract of licorice that has a certain chemical removed and doesn’t seem to have as many side effects, however, pregnant women should NOT take it, or any other supplement, without consulting with the obstetrician.

To ease IBS, try peppermint oil.  Several studies out there suggest that peppermint oil may lessen pain and bloating that accompanies IBS.  The enteric-coated capsules don’t dissolve in the stomach but pass through to the small and large intestines where the oil is released.  It seems to appear safe if used in small doses.

Chamomile is more than a soothing tea.  It is used widely for multiple ailments, one of which is to treat digestive problems as upset stomach, colic, nausea, anxiety and insomnia.  If you have a plant allergy like ragweed, you could have an allergic reaction to it.  Discuss your proposed use of Chamomile with the doctor.

Try ginger for comforting the stomach.  Ginger has been used in Asian medicine, and in the West, it is used to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.  It comes in powder form, capsules or tablets, or even as freshly cut root.  It is considered safe when taken in small doses.

Glutamine is found naturally in your body and supports the intestines and other organs.  Experts believe that the supplement L-glutamine may help relieve diarrhea induced by surgery, infections or stress and help some people to better absorb nutrients.  Even the people with too much unfriendly bacteria in their digestive tract, those taking cancer drugs and people who have had some of their intestines removed, could be helped taking this supplement.  However, more research is needed currently on these uses.

Use psyllium, which is fiber and can be used for constipation.  This is used as an ingredient in bulk laxatives because of the high fiber content.  It’s also able to absorb water in the intestines and makes the stool bulky and easier to pass.  Be sure to drink plenty of fluids as this helps you avoid dehydration or a worse case of constipation.  Those who are allergic to English plantain pollen, grass pollen or melon, could end up with a serious allergic reaction when taking psyllium, so consult your doctor.

Using artichoke leaf extract can relieve stomach upset.  If used daily, the extract seems to lessen nausea, vomiting, gas and abdominal pain.  This might also help treat IBS and reduce cramps and abdominal pain and so far, has no known interactions with drugs.  It might cause allergic reaction for those who are allergic to ragweed and related pollens.

Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated by the FDA, so be sure to check with your doctor prior to using.  There is no guarantee of their quality, effectiveness or safety.  Read all labels carefully.  If you have an existing medical condition or if you are pregnant, be especially sure that you do check with your doctor first.

– Dr Fredda Branyon

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