Gastritis is where the stomach lining (gastric mucosa) becomes irritated, inflamed, swollen and frequently painful. It can occur suddenly and briefly (acute gastritis) or be ongoing (chronic gastritis), or occur as a consequence of another health condition.
Symptoms may include a burning sensation or pain in the upper abdomen often accompanied by burping, bloating, nausea and feelings of fullness after eating.
Often described as indigestion, gastritis can present with some or all of the following symptoms:
Investigating the cause of these symptoms is important to rule out and ensure that more serious health conditions do not develop.
Common causes of gastritis are some medications, alcohol, smoking, microbiome dysbiosis, poor diet, autoimmunity, food allergies and intolerances, bacterial overgrowth, and poor digestion.
Gastritis can be associated with other health conditions such as rosacea, iron deficiency anaemia, B12 deficiency and pernicious anaemia and autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Surprisingly, in recent research, it has been found that there is a declining incidence of infectious gastritis caused by bacterial H. pylori infection and an increase in autoimmune gastritis in western populations.
More common in older rather than younger age groups, there are a variety of causes and contributing factors of the stomach inflammation and irritation of gastritis, including:
Left untreated, gastritis can lead to the following complications:
Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.
These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.
Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected.
The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.
Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).
Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.
Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.
Your GP may first refer you to a gastroenterologist for examination and testing to exclude other causes, and look for signs of inflammation and irritation to the gastric lining. The gastroenterologist may perform:
Gastroscopy - A gastroenterologist may perform a gastroscopy (endoscopy), where under sedation a tiny camera on a long flexible tube is passed down the oesophagus and into the stomach to look for stomach inflammation, irritation or damage such as ulcers. A biopsy may be taken.
Blood tests - to check your red blood cell count, and your iron levels. This may indicate gastric blood loss.
Faecal occult blood test - to check for blood in the stool as a sign of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
Breath test - testing for H. pylori can be revealed by the production of particular gas by-products and detected on the breath. Your GP can also arrange for this test.
Following this testing your GP may recommend dietary changes such as avoiding spicy or hot foods, and eliminating alcohol consumption and smoking as part of your treatment. They will recommend avoiding over the counter and prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen as they can aggravate gastritis. In addition, treatment will likely include medications such as:
If gastritis is detected in asymptomatic patients (by chance) during endoscopy and provided there is no sign of H. pylori or other features, then no treatment may be given.
Many of these approaches simply mask the symptoms rather than provide lasting solutions. This is why many people with gastritis turn to functional medicine specialists for more comprehensive treatment.
Our functional medicine gastritis specialists will take a thorough case history, considering your full medical history, genetic and family history, diet and lifestyle. From there, a personalised treatment plan will be created which seeks to resolve the underlying factors involved in causing gastritis.
Natural gastritis treatments will aim to restore the digestive tract back to a healthy state, and may include repairing digestive tract lining, reducing inflammation, restoring healthy microbiome species and diversity and restoring the pH of the stomach. To achieve these goals, the following natural, evidence-based treatments may include:
Functional medicine is a holistic, personalised practice based on the latest scientific research and years of skilled practitioner experience. At Melbourne Functional Medicine, our gastritis naturopaths are functional medicine trained specialists. We treat the whole person, so not only the symptoms of your gastritis - we aim to treat any other conditions or symptoms you are experiencing.
We combine this deep knowledge of gastritis and health in a unique 6-month program that provides you with effective treatment and ready access to your practitioner and health coach team. Your health coach will provide you with the tools to implement the change to become a healthier you. They’ll empower, educate, and support you through your tailored treatment program back to health again.
Click the button below to find out how, then book a discovery call today!
Always rule out heart problems first, and if in doubt seek urgent medical assistance, as gastritis and reflux pain can be confused for cardiac pain.
If the area below the base of your sternum hurts after eating it may be gastritis, due to irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining. If you’re feeling burning up higher in your chest then it may be acid reflux. Often gastritis pain is described as indigestion - though, this is a broad description for general pain in the upper abdomen.
Signs of gastritis:
Signs of reflux / heartburn:
See our acid reflux page for more information
Relieving the symptoms of gastritis may not be the same as healing it. Some medications reduce stomach acid to relieve the symptoms, but this does not address the cause of gastritis.
Bananas can be soothing as they can neutralise stomach acid and provide a fibre source that can help digestion.
Identifying any food allergies and intolerances and eliminating them from the diet can also relieve gastritis symptoms.
Slippery elm powder can provide relief and also is a food source (prebiotic fibre) for gut microbial species, and can help in recovery from gastritis. Identifying and treating the underlying cause is the most effective way to relieve symptoms of gastritis.
No-one can guarantee you a cure for anything, but there are a number of positive steps you can take to achieve your best health. Seeing a specialised practitioner with the time and the skills to drill down and identify the root cause of your gastritis would be a great start.
Next would be identifying the triggers, such as food allergies/intolerances, dysbiosis of the microbiome, other digestive conditions, medications, and stress - to name a few (see above for the full list of potential causes). Once the root cause and other contributing factors are identified, a treatment plan that treats the ‘whole’ person and not just the symptoms is essential to long term healing.
Some changes will be required, such as quitting smoking or alcohol, dietary changes, and / or learning stress resilience techniques - and this is where a health coach can help. They support, educate and empower you to make the changes necessary, to regain optimal health.
In some people gastritis pain can radiate around to the upper back. It may feel like a sharp, burning or stabbing pain in the chest and back. This is due to an overlap of the nerves between the digestive system, and is called referred pain.
Like pain in the upper abdomen, the back pain of gastritis is generally worse after eating.
It depends on how long the symptoms have been occurring and what is causing gastritis. Identifying and treating the root cause and all contributing factors is essential to long term symptom relief from gastritis.
Aloe vera may provide some relief, provided it is a pure aloe vera product. Some drinks available contain aloe vera, but also sugars, flavours and additives that may contribute to symptoms. It is important that a product that contains 100% gel from the inside of the leaf is used, as the outside of the leaf contains astringents that may contribute to symptoms.
Everyone is different, and so the best diet is the one that is best for you. Often gastritis can be triggered by food intolerances and allergies, and these are different for every person. Eliminating these foods, either short or long term may be part of a gastritis diet. A diet for gastritis would include foods that restore nutrient levels, help to support healthy gut linings, digestion, transit times, microbiome diversity and make-up and reduce inflammation are important.
As this approach forms a part of our gastritis naturopathic treatment, one of our gastritis naturopaths, trained in functional medicine can help you identify and treat your gastritis symptoms naturally, and effectively.
3 teaspoons of slippery elm powder mixed in a glass of water, drunk quickly after mixing can relieve symptoms of gastritis. It is essential to ensure that with any fibre supplement, you drink plenty of water - ideally 2 litres per day, to avoid constipation.
Eating a banana may help reduce the acid and the symptoms of gastritis. Eating a diet of fresh, whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables instead of fast, spicy, fatty and highly processed foods can help to reduce symptoms of gastritis.
Identifying your gastritis triggers with the help of a functional medicine gastritis specialist will help you to be symptom free and achieve optimal digestive health.
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