As an example of the herbal approach to inflammatory conditions in the digestive system we shall first consider
common condition known as gastritis. Strictly speaking the term gastritis means inflammation of the gastric mucosa, the tissue lining the
stomach, but there are a range of medical sub-divisions based upon the various pathological changes that might have occurred to the
tissue, but from the herbal perspective, these findings are not crucial. The approach described here may be applied in all cases unless there
is a specific problem that is more pressing than the gastritis.

To decide upon the appropriate herbal treatment the
phytotherapist must identify what actions might be indicated for the processes involved in the condition. With gastritis the inflammation
is a primary focus in deciding upon relevant actions and herbs. There are a number of herbal ways in which to reduce the inflammation, but
these do not replace any appropriate dietary of life-style changes that might be indicated.

As discussed previously the
primary options are the use of demulcents to act as a barrier between the acidic stomach content and the inflamed tissues, or
to lessen the inflammatory response within the cells. Simple demulcents are usually quite adequate as the body
will do the healing work itself given the chance. Ant-acids will temporarily relieve the symptomatic discomfort through lessening
of stomach acidity, but have little to offer as the body will respond to this by increase the secretion of hydrochloric to compensate.
Nervines are indicated if stress and anxiety are involved.

One possible prescription


Comfrey root 2 parts
Marshmallow root
2 parts
Chamomile 1 part of tincture, to 5ml in
total 3 times a day

An infusion
of Chamomile or Lemon Balm sipped slowly throughout the day will help.

This supplies:

  • demulcents (Comfrey root, Marshmallow root)
  • anti-inflammatories (Chamomile, Lemon Balm)

  • nervines (Chamomile, Lemon Balm)

Broader Context of Treatment

is fundamental to causation as well as treatment. Food irritants must be avoided. These include chemicals, temperature, fibre. Acid foods,
alcohol, tobacco any thing that elicits the symptoms must be avoided. Stress will aggravate or even cause this problem. Work conditions,
anxiety etc. must be considered. This is discussed in more depth under Peptic Ulceration.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021