Words that end in the Greek derived suffix “itis” indicate a condition that involves significant inflammation. Gastritis is specifically referring to inflammation of the stomach lining. Exposure to chronic irritation over time can cause damaging changes to the gastric tissue, which can eventually lead some to experience ulceration.
Where abdominal pain, heartburn, reflux, nausea, vomiting, anemia or dark stools may be signs of gastritis, not everyone experiences these symptoms. Ultimately, this is diagnosed based on imaging studies and biopsy of the stomach (also known as endoscopy) by a gastroenterologist. (1)
Where does it come from?
This inflammation can be rooted in a few sources, including but not limited to (1,2):
- H. pylori infection
- Bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections
- Acid reflux or heartburn (chronic)
- Autoimmunity and treatment, including Crohn’s disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Family history
- Smoking tobacco
- Moderate to excessive alcohol use
- Long term use of certain medications (ie. NSAIDs such as Ibuprophen, etc.)
- Significant psychological stress
How can naturopathic medicine help?
Diet & Lifestyle Counseling:
A key goal in managing gastritis is to lessen the impact of stress on the system, whether that be identifying foods that are irritating to your GI tract or discussing a plan to offset the stress in your life.
When our stomach lining is inflamed, our ability to absorb nutrients properly goes down and deficiencies may result (Ie. Iron, B12, zinc, vitamin C, etc.). Once the inflammation is calmed, repleting these nutrients is key to supporting overall health, immune function, mood, sleep, and energy levels. (3)
Botanical medicines are a valuable modality when it comes to lowering inflammation in general, especially when it is rooted in the gastrointestinal tract.
One of my favorite botanicals to use in gastritis is licorice because it (4):
- Directly eases irritation of the GI lining
- Has been shown to heal gastric ulcers (5)
- Supports the immune system
- Has antibacterial and antiadhesive effects against H. pylori (5)
- Acts as an adaptogen, which helps improve our resilience to the physical manifestations of stress
2.) Marshmallow, Slippery Elm & Aloe vera:
When you think of marshmallows, a puffy white sugar cube likely comes to mind. Althea officinalis is the scientific name for the marshmallow root, which is rich in a gummy substance called mucilage. Other botanicals rich in mucilage include slippery elm and aloe vera which gives them a “demulcent” or soothing action. Akin to how you would rub Aloe vera on a sunburn to ease the pain, these botanicals can be consumed as an tea or mixed in water to ease the burning symptoms of gastritis. (6)
3.) Cranberry & Mastic Gum:
If H. pylori is identified as a contributing factor by either biopsy or non-invasive tests (Ie. breath, stool, or blood testing), then Cranberry and Mastic gum are two botanical medicines that would support conventional treatment in clearing these bacteria from the system. Cranberry helps to keep the bacteria from adhering to the lining of the stomach, and mastic gum has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and tissue healing properties. (7,8,9)
Ready to discuss which approaches are most appropriate for you? Schedule your complimentary discovery call today!
- Azer SA, Akhondi H. Gastritis. [Updated 2022 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544250/
- Feldman M, Jensen P. Gastritis: Etiology and diagnosis. UptoDate. Updated: July 29, 2022.
- Gaby A. Nutritional Medicine. Second edition. Fritz Perlberg Publishing; 2017.
- Murray MT. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice). Textbook of Natural Medicine. 2020:641–647.e3. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-43044-9.00085-6. Epub 2020 Jul 10. PMCID: PMC7348626.
- Wang Q, Yao C, Li Y, Luo L, Xie F, Xiong Q, Feng P. Effect of polyphenol compounds on Helicobacter pylori eradication: a systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2023 Jan 5;13(1):e062932. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062932. PMID: 36604137; PMCID: PMC9827256.
- Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press; 2003.
- Soulaidopoulos S, Tsiogka A, Chrysohoou C, Lazarou E, Aznaouridis K, Doundoulakis I, Tyrovola D, Tousoulis D, Tsioufis K, Vlachopoulos C, Lazaros G. Overview of Chios Mastic Gum (Pistacia lentiscus) Effects on Human Health. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 28;14(3):590. doi:10.3390/nu14030590. PMID: 35276949; PMCID: PMC8838553.
- Abdi S, Ataei S, Abroon M, Majma Sanaye P, Abbasinazari M, Farrokhian A. A Comprehensive Review of the Role of Complementary and Dietary Medicines in Eradicating Helicobacter pylori. Iran J Pharm Res. 2022 Jun 18;21(1):e127030. doi: 10.5812/ijpr-127030. PMID: 36060908; PMCID: PMC9420233.
- Mastic: Pistacia lentiscus. Natural Medicines Database. Updated: 10/4/22.