Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. The high blood sugar of diabetes can cause damage to the vagus nerve. People may also develop gastroparesis from some medications, after surgery on the stomach, from viral infections, from eating fast foods frequently, thyroid problems, anorexia or bulimia. Sometimes though, a cause is not apparent.
The American College of Gastroenterology advises that “At the present time there are few medications available or approved to treat gastroparesis and their use can be limited by undesirable side effects and limited effectiveness.” These are those medications.
Metoclopramide acts on dopamine receptors in the stomach, intestine and in the brain. Use of this medication often causes agitation, restlessness, insomnia, depression, painful breast swelling and nipple discharge in both men and women. It is not recommended that this medication be taken long term.
Erythromycin is a commonly used antibiotic that binds to receptors in the stomach and small intestine. The beneficial effect of erythromycin can be short lived as individuals who use it frequently develop tolerance to it. There are side effects from most antibiotics that disturb the digestive system.
Cisapride can improve gastric emptying. It was taken off the market in the 90’s due to heart and kidney problems that developed in patients who were using this drug. It has been made available again anyway.
Diet changes are essential, along with the help of herbs, homeopathic remedies, and cell salts. Be sure to eliminate tobacco, alcohol, coffee, black tea and sodas as well as fast food. Drinking aloe vera juice (just the inner fillet) 20 minutes before meals is very helpful.
Herbs for Gastroparesis
Peppermint – stimulating and improves digestion
Ginger – stimulates digestion and helps nausea
Lavender – digestive stimulant as well as nerve calming
Melissa – digestive stimulant as well as nerve and cardio protective
Cell Salts to Help Gastroparesis
#3 Calc sulph 6X – pain, burning, weakness in stomach
#9 Nat mur 6X – feels empty, burning, belching
#10 Nat phos 6X – over acidity
#12 Silicea 6X – pressure in pit of stomach, sour vomiting
Gastroparesis Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are non-toxic natural medicines safe for everyone including infants and pregnant or nursing women. Most remedies will have a description of symptoms on the bottle so that you can match them with your symptoms.
Acupuncture has been shown in randomized trials to be effective for gastroparesis. A study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology in May, 2008, found that ginger accelerates gastric emptying. Another natural remedy that may prove useful is Swedish bitters - an herbal concoction. Sometimes hypnosis and music therapy can be helpful.
The Ayurvedic formula for gastroparesis includes these herbs prepared in a specific way: Ajamoda, Marica, extract of lemon, Jiraka, black salt, Jangha Haritaki, and Hingu. This formula is not on my website because people need counseling with the diet, not just the herbs.
Many people do not know there are natural ways to bring the body into balance from gastroparesis. Since you know now it may seem worthwhile to try some of these more gentle treatments before resorting to drugs.
Athena Wolf is an Ayurvedic physician practicing in New Mexico. You can contact her with questions at curanderahealing.com. Please see your health practitioner for health problems. These brief articles are not meant to be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.