Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, occurs when the stomach takes too long to empty food.
Experts are not yet very clear what leads to gastroparesis. However, damage to the vagus nerve that controls the stomach muscles can cause it.
This kind of damage can be due to several factors, including uncontrolled diabetes, abdominal surgery, radiation therapy, hypothyroidism and several nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia also increase your risk of developing gastroparesis.
Some common symptoms of gastroparesis are upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, low appetite, swollen abdomen, fluctuation in blood sugar levels, feeling full even after eating a very small amount of food, malnutrition and unintended weight loss.
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can vary from person to person.
It is important to get medical help for gastroparesis, as it can cause severe dehydration, malnutrition, fluctuations in blood sugar and affect your quality of life. In addition, some simple home remedies as well as diet and lifestyle changes can offer some relief.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for gastroparesis.
1. Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide many digestive benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. These microorganisms help your body break down food and absorb its nutrients.
- Eat probiotic foods, such as Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, buttermilk, and sour pickles.
- You can also try probiotic supplements, after consulting your doctor.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is very good for people suffering from gastroparesis. It helps with digestion and regulates bowel movements.
Its laxative nature supports the proper functioning of the digestive system and helps relieve bloating and stomach pain.
- Drink 1 cup of aloe vera juice every morning after waking up for proper bowel movement. To make aloe vera juice, blend 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 1 cup of water or orange juice in a blender.
- You can also drink some aloe vera juice before eating your meals.
Note: Do not consume aloe vera juice containing more than 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel in a day.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also effective for treating gastroparesis. It has an alkalizing effect in your bodythat helps relieve abdominal pain, heartburn and bloating, as well as improves digestion.
A 2007 study published in the BMC Gastroenterology journal analyzed the effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus.
Researchers found the vinegar’s effect on the rate of gastric emptying was statistically significant.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water.
- Drink it 15 to 20 minutes before every meal.
4. Vitamin D
Maintaining a good vitamin D level in the body is a must for people suffering from gastroparesis. The sunshine vitamin plays a key role in the health of the enteric nervous system.
Without adequate vitamin D, your immune, digestive and neurological health suffers.
A 2013 study published in Hormone and Metabolic Research shows the link between increase in vitamin D levels and improvement in gastric motility in patients with gastroparesis.
- Enjoy early morning sunlight, without using any sunscreen, for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
- Eat foods high in vitamin D, such as fortified milk, fortified cereals and soy products.
- You can take a high-quality vitamin D supplement daily, after consulting your doctor.
5. Acupressure and Acupuncture
Acupressure and acupuncture alternative medicine techniques in which acupoints are pressed with fingers or thin needles are inserted in lines on the body called meridians, can relieve gastroparesis symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and bloating. They also help improve neurological functions as well as boost immunity.
Furthermore, these therapies promote circulation of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, which helps the digestive system function properly.
A 2004 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine concluded that in addition to the routine treatment for controlling blood sugar, acupuncture can provide therapeutic effects on diabetic gastroparesis.
Pressing acupressure points PC6 (located on the wrist) and ST36 (located on the front of the leg, below the kneecap) for a few minutes can help relieve stomach problems.
To treat gastroparesis symptoms with acupuncture, consult an expert.
6. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an effective way to deal with a weak digestive system. It can help stimulate your vagus nerve and increase blood flow to the digestive tract to ensure proper digestion and regular bowel movements.
It helps fight symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. As a bonus, deep breathing is good for both the heart and soul.
- Sit in a comfortable position and place your hands on your abdomen.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your stomach and abdomen to expand.
- Hold your breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Breathe out through your mouth, allowing your exhalation to last longer than your inhalation.
- Repeat this breathing exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Enjoy a short session of deep breathing a few times daily.
7. Coconut Oil
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are extremely good for the digestive system. These fatty acids do not require pancreatic enzymes and bile salts for their digestion.
Coconut oil also helps fight inflammation and build the immune system, which is critical for overall as well as digestive health.
- Add 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to ¼ cup of water. Warm this solution in the microwave or on the stove to help the oil melt thoroughly in the water. Drink this before every meal.
- Another option is to add 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to a cup of hot tea or add in your smoothies.
Another good natural treatment for gastroparesis is ginger. It stimulates digestive juices and the flow of enzymes needed to properly digest food. This in turn accelerates emptying of the stomach naturally. It can even get rid of nausea.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of ginger juice in a cup of warm water. Drink it 20 to 30 minutes before eating a meal.
- Alternatively, drink a few cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, boil 1 to 1½ cup of water, add 5–6 ginger slices in it and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. You can also add a little lemon juice and honey in it to improve its taste.
- Another option is to take ginger supplements. However, consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
Peppermint helps relieve nausea and vomiting, two of the most common gastroparesis symptoms. It also aids digestion and helps treat bloating and intestinal cramps.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology shows that peppermint oil enhances gastric emptying.
- To stop nausea, put a few drops of peppermint oil on a handkerchief and sniff it from time to time.
- To improve digestion, drink peppermint tea once or twice a day. Make the tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink it.
- Alternatively, you can take enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, under your doctor’s guidance.
People suffering from gastroparesis should drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Water helps to avoid insufficient alkalizing pancreatic juices, which helps prevent the pyloric valve from opening. This in turn reduces the severity of discomforts associated with gastroparesis.
Furthermore, people suffering from diabetes-related gastroparesis often digest fluid normally.
- Sip water at regular intervals. It is also recommended to drink water while eating food.
- Fruit juices and vegetable juices are also recommended.
- Consuming clear soups and broths can also be helpful.
- Instead of the traditional 3 meals a day, start eating 5 or 6 small meals. Space these smaller meals at least 2 hours apart.
- Pay attention to the consistency of food and opt for liquids and low-residue foods to avoid fiber. For instance, instead of eating a whole apple, opt for applesauce.
- Follow a very low-carbohydrate diet with very little or even no fat. This means cutting bacon, salami, cheese, whole grains, cabbage, corn and beans out of your diet.
- Avoid foods that are hard to digest, such as dairy products, hot and spicy foods, oily foods, and raw fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber.
- Avoid eating fatty foods that trigger the release of hormones that slow down stomach emptying.
- Include tuna, scallops, egg whites, low-fat cheese, and yogurt in your diet.
- Eat well-cooked vegetables and fruits as much as possible.
- Take time to eat and enjoy your meal, while chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing.
- If nausea is a problem, stay away from strong-smelling foods.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol and avoid smoking.
- Try meditative chanting to stimulate a vibratory sensation inside the body, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve function.
- Avoid lying down immediately after a meal. Instead, take a short walk or do some light exercise to aid the digestive process.
- Make necessary efforts to control underlying conditions that may be aggravating gastroparesis.