Gastritis is the medical term used to describe “inflammation in the stomach lining”. It most commonly causes heartburn-like pain, but can also cause abdominal pain, indigestion, bloating, and nausea. If left untreated, it could lead to ulcers in the stomach.
How is it diagnosed?
We most commonly see this diagnosis as a result of an endoscopy with no other significant findings. It’s usually diagnosed as “heartburn” when we don’t have an endoscopic report, but from your doctor’s perspective they’re treated the same.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis can be caused by an infection called H. pylori (this should have been tested for during your endoscopy, but it can also be tested through blood or breath tests), NSAID use (Aspirin, Advil, naproxen), inflammatory foods, or stress. The cause isn’t always easy to pinpoint, and we often see this diagnosis given when a patient is experiencing stomach pain of unknown origin.
Here’s where this gets tricky. You would think we would use anti-inflammatories to treat an inflammatory condition, right? Well, anti-inflammatory medications cause gastritis, so your MD is left to treat it using antacids and proton pump inhibitors. While these medications can be helpful, they don’t necessarily treat the cause and they come with their own list of side effects.
Note: if you have H. pylori, it should be treated using a medication protocol known as “triple therapy”. As an ND, I advise my patients to use medications in this circumstance.
The Naturopathic Perspective
Think of inflammation in the stomach lining the same way we would think of inflammation anywhere else in the body. The easiest comparison is a sprained ankle. If you have a sprained ankle, you stay off of it to avoid aggravating the injury, ice it to reduce redness and swelling, allow time for it to heal, and then make changes to prevent future injuries.
We treat gastritis in a similar way. First, we avoid foods that may aggravate the stomach lining. Note that this is a short-term diet plan. This includes avoiding tomatoes, dairy, citrus, mint, coffee, spicy and greasy foods. Next, we use supplements and herbs to reduce inflammation and heal the stomach lining (#treatthecause). Unlike anti-inflammatory medications, the appropriate anti-inflammatory supplements do not cause gastritis. Finally, we take steps to prevent future flare-ups, which may include correcting stomach acid or digestive enzyme deficiencies and eating a healthy diet.
Book an appointment to address the cause of stomach pain and gastritis so you can get back to eating the foods you love.