The term “indigestion” means different things to different people, and the territory of troubles it covers is huge. Just to clear up any confusion, indigestion and heartburn are two different problems. Heartburn produces a painful or burning sensation in the center of your chest, due to acid spilling upward into your esophagus. Indigestion happens further south: It produces bloating, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness during or after a meal, or pain or burning concentrated in the upper abdomen. Smokers, pregnant women, and people who are overweight are especially susceptible. Luckily, indigestion symptoms are especially easy to tame by employing easy home remedies.
1. Make a four-seed chew.
Mix a batch of this seedy chew, which combats indigestion by helping your system expel excess gas. Take 1 teaspoon each of fennel, dill, anise, and caraway seeds and blend. Chew up a half-teaspoon or so, slowly, when you’re having indigestion after you’ve eaten a big, spicy, or fatty meal. You might see this same mix in Indian restaurants, where it is often put in bowls for customers to sample as they leave.
2. Order up some mint or chamomile.
A steaming cup of one of these teas will quickly dispel that dyspeptic feeling. Simply use one of either kind of tea bag to a cup of water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes before drinking. Many restaurants stock these two calming brews, so have it after dinner if you’ve eaten something rich that might not agree with you.
3. Sip this before eating.
If you know you’re going to indulge in foods that will make you sorry later, try this folk remedy first. Add 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink it 30 minutes before you dine.
4. Soda to the rescue.
Stir a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water, add a few drops of lemon juice, and drink it. If your stomach is too acidic, this solution neutralizes stomach acid and helps relieve painful gas. In very rare cases, baking soda has been known to explode in the stomach and cause tearing, so squirt the lemon juice into the water first, to dispel some of the gas before it hits your stomach.
5. Nibble on candy.
Candied ginger, that is. Ginger slices that have been dried and sugared are sold in supermarkets and health or natural food stores. They keep forever in the pantry and taste yummy. Two or three pieces can tame your tummy woes. This makes a great remedy for children’s minor stomach aches.
6. Have half a bitter beer.
Beers that have a bitter bite are rich in hops, an herb that helps stimulate digestion. But don’t get carried away — more than a half glass of beer will depress your digestion.
Weird & Wacky
It’s no surprise to us that a condition so ubiquitous would rack up scores and scores of crazy treatments. But these three tickled our funny bones:
• Bend over, turn over a rock, and walk forward without looking back.
• For a child’s indigestion: Pass him backward around a table leg seven times.
• Execute a somersault.
When to Call the Doctor
The vast majority of indigestion cases are simple, one-time affairs, easily cured with home remedies. But call 911 if you experience nausea along with sweating or an ache or pain in the chest; you may be having a heart attack. See your doctor if you have intense abdominal pain, especially if you also have black or bloody stools or if you’re vomiting. And you need a checkup if indigestion lingers for more than a couple of weeks, despite your best attempts at self-care.