Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion

Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion: Overview

This is a vague problem that is functional in nature and usually not due to an underlying structural cause.  Belching, distension and abdominal sounds often occur in association with abdominal or epigastric pain.  Dietary factors are often important in reducing symptoms; because similar symptoms may be due to more serious conditions, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis. The upper GI tract consists of the organs where food is initially taken into the body and digestion begins, including the esophagus, stomach, pylorus and duodenum.  Numerous conditions are possible in this area, some of which are:

  • Cardiospasm: Dilation of the esophagus due to the gastroesophageal sphincter failing to open properly and allow food into the stomach.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Incompetent cardiac sphincter, causing backward flow of acid from the stomach up into the esophagus.
  • Gastric Mucosal Tears: Lacerations in the mucosa of the gastroesophageal junction, where the esophagus passes through the diaphragm, or in the lining of the lower esophagus.  Generally caused by repeated vomiting or retching (repetitive contractions of the abdominal muscles), it can cause profuse hemorrhaging.
  • Esophageal Stricture: Narrowing of the esophagus due to scar tissue, resulting in difficulty swallowing.
  • Esophageal Obstruction: Blockage of the esophagus caused by tumors or other foreign bodies such as improperly chewed food (often large pieces of meat) impacted in the lower esophagus.
  • Esophageal Varices: Enlarged veins in the lower esophagus are a common complication of liver cirrhosis.  If these veins rupture, massive bleeding may result.
  • Hiatal Hernia: Movement of the upper part of the stomach up into the chest cavity resulting in retention of acid and other stomach contents which can then easily reflux into the lower esophagus.
  • Dumping Syndrome: Rapid gastric emptying caused by the lower end of the small intestine (jejunum) filling too quickly with undigested food from the stomach.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, shortness of breath, weakness, and dizziness.  Stomach surgery is the main cause.
  • Hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria: Insufficient stomach acid to sterilize the stomach and start protein digestion.
  • Menetrier's Disease: A chronic condition with an unknown cause.  Giant folds of tissue, possibly inflamed or containing ulcers, grow in the wall of the stomach and can interfere with the body's absorption of some proteins.
  • Whipple's Disease: A malabsorption disease caused by bacteria.  Although it can affect any system of the body, it usually attacks the small intestine.  It interferes with the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients, causing weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin, and malfunctions of the immune system.  The disease can be cured, but if not recognized, it is usually fatal.
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome: Another disease of unknown cause leading to gastrin-secreting tumors in the pancreas, which promote an extreme form of peptic ulcer disease in both the stomach and duodenum.
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD): Over 20 million Americans will suffer from a peptic ulcer in their lifetime.

Conditions that suggest Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion:

Circulation

Digestion

Infections

Blastocystosis (Blastocystis hominis) often suggests Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Blastocystosis (Blastocystis hominis)

In a person with weakened digestion or weakened immune response, blastocystis can produce a host of symptoms which appear to come and go and are very unpredictable.

Metabolic

Skin-Hair-Nails

Psoriasis often suggests Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Psoriasis

Incomplete protein digestion or poor intestinal absorption of protein breakdown products can result in elevated levels of amino acids and polypeptides in the bowel.  These are metabolized by bowel bacteria into several toxic compounds.  The toxic metabolites of the amino acids arginine and ornithine are known as polyamines (e.g., putrescine, spermidine, and cadaverine) and have been shown to be increased in individuals with psoriasis.  Polyamines contribute to the excessive rate of cell proliferation.  Lowered skin and urinary levels of polyamines are associated with clinical improvement in psoriasis, so digestive function should be evaluated.

Risk factors for Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion:

Circulation

Diet

Digestion

Environment / Toxicity

Fluoride Toxicity may increase risk of Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Fluoride Toxicity

Studies have shown that ingested fluoride damages gastroduodenal mucosaGastrointestinal discomfort can be an early warning sign of fluorosis, so fluoride toxicity should be considered a possible reason for non-ulcer dyspepsia and gastrointestinal discomfort in the form of dyspeptic symptoms should be an important diagnostic feature when identifying fluorosis patients and should not be dismissed as non-specific.  [Susheela AK, Das TK, Gupta IP, Tandon RK, Kacker SK, Ghosh P, and Deka, Fluoride ingestion and its correlation with gastrointestinal discomfort, Fluoride, 1992, 25:l, pp.5-22]

The gastro-intestinal system is one of the most sensitive systems in the body to react adversely to fluoride toxicity.  There are now many case histories available to establish the correlation of fluoride toxicity to gastro-intestinal problems.

Organ Health

Symptoms - Food - Preferences

Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion can lead to:

Infections

Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion sometimes leads to Blastocystosis (Blastocystis hominis) Blastocystosis (Blastocystis hominis)

In a person with weakened digestion or weakened immune response, blastocystis can produce a host of symptoms which appear to come and go and are very unpredictable.

Skin-Hair-Nails

Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion sometimes leads to Psoriasis Psoriasis

Incomplete protein digestion or poor intestinal absorption of protein breakdown products can result in elevated levels of amino acids and polypeptides in the bowel.  These are metabolized by bowel bacteria into several toxic compounds.  The toxic metabolites of the amino acids arginine and ornithine are known as polyamines (e.g., putrescine, spermidine, and cadaverine) and have been shown to be increased in individuals with psoriasis.  Polyamines contribute to the excessive rate of cell proliferation.  Lowered skin and urinary levels of polyamines are associated with clinical improvement in psoriasis, so digestive function should be evaluated.

Recommendations for Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion:

Botanical

Cayenne Pepper often helps with Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Cayenne Pepper

Although a few sources have recommended cayenne pepper as a potential treatment for dyspepsia, gastritis and even peptic ulcers, most modern herbal texts suggest avoiding the herb for persons with these conditions.  A small clinical trial suggests that cayenne may be beneficial in some persons with functional dyspepsia.  Approximately 850mg of cayenne powder in a capsule was given 3 times per day just before meals (0.7mg capsaicin per gram).  [NEJM 2002;346: pp.947-48]

Diet

Therapeutic Fasting is highly recommended for Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Therapeutic Fasting

Fasting gives the digestive system a much-needed rest.  After fasting, both digestion and elimination are invigorated.

Reduced Water Consumption may help with Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Reduced Water Consumption

Although dyspepsia is a sign of dehydration, it is generally recommended that you do not drink during a substantial meal, or from 1/2 hour before to 2 hours afterwards.

Digestion

Hydrochloric Acid (Trial) is highly recommended for Dyspepsia / Poor Digestion Hydrochloric Acid (Trial)

Upper digestive symptoms are often due to hydrochloric acid (HCl) or pancreatic insufficiency and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.  The easiest way to find out is to do both an HCl and digestive enzyme trial, one at a time.  Often a doctor's assistance is helpful in conducting these trials.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests; often increases risk of
May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for