Gastritis - Reflux - Heartburn - GORD (Gastro-Oesophageal- Reflux-Disease)

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Finding a good herbalist

Gastritis, reflux, heartburn and GORD are really just different names to describe the same problem.
Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Gastritis formula

Gastritis, reflux, heartburn, indigestion, whatever name you call it, has been successfully treated by herbalists for many thousands of years with simple, easy to obtain, remedies. .

One in particular has given such consistently good results that it can be broadly recommended to anyone who has need of it, we call it Gastritis Formula, and it is made as follows:.

Catnip Leaf 40 mls
Fennel Seed 40mls
Licorice root 20 mls

These are liquid extracts or tinctures, best obtained from a trusted herbalist or herbal dispensary. The amounts shown above will make 100mls, larger or smaller amounts can be made using the same proportions.

~ Catnip (also called Catmint) is a soothing, cooling herb for gut tension & inflammation, more here
~ Fennel helps to relieve the cramping, griping discomfort of indigestion, more here
~ Licorice heals damage in the gut lining and quickly reduces inflammation, more here

Nepeta cataria (Catnip or Catmint)


Dosage notes on the formula

Dosage is vital to the success of all herbal medicines. The Gastritis formula must be taken on an 'as needed' basis, meaning you take it as freely and frequently as required until the symptoms are resolved and the condition is cured.

As soon as you start getting symptoms of indigestion, reflux, gastritis etc. take approximately 4-5 mls of the formula either straight or mixed with just a few mls of water.

The medicine will start working immediately but will take up to 20 minutes to get the full effect. If things settle down and improve from just the one dose then great, put it aside and wait until you need it again. However, if the relief is only slight or temporary, you should keep taking doses, at least 20 minutes apart, until the condition has greatly improved. You can safely take up to 8 doses in a day for at least a few days if things are very bad.

If you have a bad condition, or perhaps if you are coming off some form of Omeprazole, you may need to use a lot of the formula for a few days and this may mean that you end up taking quite significant levels of Licorice root over a short time-frame.

For some people, i.e. those who already tend towards high blood pressure, taking substantial amounts of Licorice may cause their blood pressure to rise. Given the short time-frames that we generally expect to need to use high doses of the Gastritis formula, this should not create any kind of problem but, if you know you that this could be a problem for you, then keep an eye on it, ideally with a home, self-monitoring machine.

This said, high blood pressure only creates serious health risks when it goes on for a long time and there is very little danger in having a mild increase in pressure for the short periods of time that this treatment usually needs.

Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)


GI Tea

The Gastritis formula has been seen to work marvellously well for many hundreds of patients over the years and it is always the first line of treatment but the following tea can also be useful. Especially when the initial problem has improved and you want to do something natural to prevent it from returning.

Chamomile flowers
Fennel Sees
Caraway seeds

The above herbs are in dried form and are made in what is called 'equal parts' which means you mix them together by the same weight of each herb. The method of use is to take one large cup of freshly boiled water and three heaped tsps of the tea and put together into a vessel that can be covered, e.g. a tea-pot or a coffee plunger, or even a small saucepan.

Make sure the container is well covered so that no steam can escape and allow the herbs to steep for a good 10 minutes. Strain off the liquid and sip whilst hot. Note that it is ok to add honey and for some people this will have some added benefits itself on a sore stomach.


Slippery elm powder

If you have taken plenty of the Gastritis formula, and possibly the GI tea as well, and are not experiencing rapid and significant relief, you have to consider the chance that you have some tissue inflammation or damage in your gut lining that will require you to take a further step for healing. The best herb on earth, and no doubt one of the best medicines on earth, to bandage a wounded gut is Slippery elm powder.

It is such an important and well-known herb now that you should have no problem obtaining some but, if at all possible, because of its endangered status, do as we do and get your Elm from trees that have been sustainably harvested. It is just a matter of asking around to where to get the right stuff.

Taking Slippery elm is not always the easiest. The traditional method of cooking it like a porridge is very effective and can be highly recommended. People who are game to take anything that will work, and the potential agonies of indigestion would put a lot of folks into that category, can get an instant dose of it by simply rapidly slurrying a heaped tsp into a large glass of water.

Put the herb in a dry cup first and then quickly stir them in as you slowly add water, by the time it is full, so long as it has been well mixed, you should be able to drink the whole lot down in one go but, be warned, if you are a little slow then it will turn into a thick and potentially undrinkable substance rather rapidly!

There are loads of Slippery elm capsule products on the market for this precise reason of it being challenging to take in its raw form. They are certainly viable alternatives however, as is always the way with herbs, the right dose is crucial to the success of the treatment. You may need to take at least 4 or 5 capsules at a time, if not more, to get that marvellous, mucilaginous bandage that it produces over the damaged internal surface. Hopefully you won't need it in any case, but if you do, don't hesitate to start using it, more about Slippery elm here

Ulmus fulva (Slippery elm)

Drug Antacids

Massive numbers of people take drugs to reduce or block their stomach acid. In New Zealand, they are the third most widely prescribed medication.

Once upon a time, antacids were given to people to take as needed, nowadays the practice is to prescribe a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) such as omeprazole and the patient seems to be left on them for life. This is despite the view of medical experts that 'PPI's should not be prescribed indefinitely and they should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time', also that ' patients should be warned that rebound acid secretion often occurs following withdrawal of treatment, even after periods as short as four weeks'. 

Drugs that remove stomach acids are deeply problematic, not for their side-effects or because they are especially toxic, but because of what happens to a person's internal nutrition from their continued use

We need protein!

Our body is continually breaking down through wear, tear and aging and we need protein to rebuild our tissues. To absorb protein from food, it has to be turned into the consistency of thin soup, something called 'chyme'. Think about what it must take to render nuts, beans, meat, fish or chicken down to a thin liquid. This is why we make a lot of stomach acid, to break those proteins down to 'chyme'.

When you block or reduce stomach acid, even if you make yourself more comfortable today, you are robbing your body of the proteins it needs for tomorrow. There is an observable pattern that occurs in people who have been using antacid drugs for a long time, their body starts to wear down faster, and then it often gets injuries or illnesses that aren't healed from properly.


Switching from Drugs to Herbs:

The free and frequent use of the Gastritis formula over a period of some days or weeks, can be confidently recommended as a 100x healthier alternative to taking antacid drugs with no end in sight.

However, a person who is switching off drugs and on to herbs must be aware of the phenomenon known as 'rebound hyperacidity' that happens when you stop drugs that have been blocking the production of stomach acids.

There is a critical period that starts after about 2 days and can go for up to about 10 days when, once the suppression of the medication has been lifted, there is an initial rebound in the stomach lining to produce more acids. This is a time that you must have plenty of the Gastritis formula on hand and again, to be sure to use it as freely and frequently as needed.

Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice root)


Treating the cause

Use the Gastritis formula as needed but, especially if the reflux, gastritis, heartburn etc. is a recurring problem, you must try to find and treat the cause of it for a lasting cure. The most common causes are:

Food Allergies or Intolerances

Food allergies or intolerances can cause a great deal of digestive discomfort along with other common health problems that are not usually associated to what you are eating.

Intolerances must be considered as a strong possibility if there is any earlier history of eczema or asthma. Also note that if you frequently suffer from a bloated, uncomfortable belly, then you should also consider this as a possible issue that needs to be explored further, read more here

Anxiety or Tension

Stress and tension are major causes of indigestion. If you believe yourself that stress is the primary cause behind your indigestion, reflux etc. then start treating your nervous with herbs and other approaches that are certain to help if used correctly, more here

A deficiency of stomach acid!

This last cause of gastritis, reflux etc. may seem an unlikely one, and it is rare to find it in a younger person, but it is one of the most common of all causes for chronic indigestion in older people.

What happens is that, as many people get past a certain age, their production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes begins to significantly reduce. The effect of this can be for foods to stay too long in the stomach without being digested and this can cause fermentation and swelling which in turn can cause indigestion and reflux.

Taking a drug to stop acid production will stop the reflux having any real bite to it, because if there is very little acid in what gets regurgitated then it won't do anything much to harm the tissues, but in the long run it makes the poor digestion worse and the person weaker.

Such a person will get enormous benefit from a group of remedies called the 'bitters'. These are certain to get the 'juices' flowing again and one of the best of them is the herb Gentian.


Gentian has been seen to reliably return strength to even the most weakened of systems. More information, including practical instructions on how to use it, found here

Gentiana lutea (Gentian)

Constitutional Health Note:

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. There's a brief introduction here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd