Functional Dyspepsia – A Thing of the Past

Standing at the stove all day with functional dyspepsia: Tomás Vieira shows how plant-based remedies can help.


Tomás Vieira suffers from functional dyspepsia. The symptoms used to be so bad that they kept him awake at night. Until he discovered the healing power of nature. Now that Tomás, who is a chef and hails from Portugal, is taking a plant remedy, he can look forward to Christmas again.

Water, please”. Tomás Vieira would rather have had a latte macchiato. “I love coffee, but if I drink too much I have problems with my stomach,” he says. “It starts complaining, and I get a really unpleasant feeling of pressure and pain.” Which is why he played it safe and ordered a glass of water in the café of the Düsseldorf Intercontinental.

The chef at the luxury hotel suffers from functional dyspepsia, a chronic condition with symptoms that about one third of people worldwide experience. Whenever he eats too much, too much fatty food or too late in the evening, he suffers from stomach pain, a sensation of fullness and heartburn. Nicotine and caffeine make the symptoms worse. “Sometimes my stomach feels like a lump of iron,” the 38-year-old says. “Particularly after a big meal. Or it complains so much at night that I can’t get back to sleep.”

100 million

nerve cells criss-cross the gastrointestinal tract.

The technical term for these problems is functional dyspepsia. The patient experiences pain and unpleasant sensations in the upper abdomen either repeatedly or in some cases permanently. There are many contributing factors and so far, the condition is not fully understood. An over-sensitive nervous system in the gastrointestinal tract may play a role, as may an underactive GI tract. The problems can also be caused by increased tension or spasms in the stomach muscles. Stress, psychological pressure and eating too fast or unhealthily can also contribute to functional dyspepsia. The condition may be accompanied by a very wide range of symptoms including stomach pain, a feeling of fullness, heartburn, vomiting or intestinal gas.

This is how a healthy stomach works!

Vieira believes that his problem was probably caused by stress. When it first occurred, about six years ago, the whole of southern Europe was being rocked by the financial crisis – and Vieira was afraid of losing his job. At the time he was working as a sales rep in his home city of Lisbon. “Unemployment shot through the roof, nobody’s job was safe and nobody knew what would happen next.” The psychological pressure intensified and he was constantly plagued by fear of what the future might hold.

Those were the years in which Christmas lost its magic. What had previously been a time of jolly celebration with his extended family, turned into an occasion during which he barely managed to eat. “In my family, we traditionally celebrate Christmas with very fatty, heavy food served in several courses,” he explains. “I simply couldn’t enjoy it, my stomach was complaining all the time.”

Vieira ultimately followed his heart to Germany. That was four years ago. He set about earning a living and worked hard, first as an assistant cook in a Portuguese restaurant, later as a chef in a trendy place in Düsseldorf. “I started cooking because I thought the job had a future,” he says. “But as time went on, cooking became my passion.” Yet as he immersed himself deeper in the world of spices, ingredients and flavors, prepared ever more exquisite dishes and honed his culinary skills, his stomach continued to rebel against spicy, fatty and heavy food of any description. Vieira was at the end of his tether. “I went to see a lot of doctors – it felt like a never-ending journey,” he recalls. “Most of them prescribed tablets that didn’t work.” Until he tried Iberogast™.

Iberogast is a plant-based, prescription-free medicine that tackles the complex causes and many symptoms of functional dyspepsia with a combination of nine medicinal herb extracts. This multi-target principle provides a broad spectrum of action. It soothes the gastric nerves, regulates the activity of the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, and protects the mucous membrane lining the stomach.

Corinna Groß

In the treatment of multiple, interconnected digestive symptoms, a herbal medicine can be even more effective than conventional medicine.

It is the only plant-based medicine in Germany approved for the treatment of both functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel, and is recommended by authoritative medical societies. “Usually, functional gastrointestinal disorders do not involve just one symptom; rather, they comprise a variety of symptoms. In this context, it is very helpful to use a so-called multi-target substance which has different modes of action and acts on different sites in the digestive system,” explains Professor Hans-Dieter Allescher, a doctor from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. “In the treatment of multiple, interconnected digestive symptoms, a herbal medicine can be even more effective than conventional medicine.”

Vieira was surprised at how well the drops work. “I never expected a purely plant-based medicine to be so effective,” he says. “I have been taking it regularly for three years and my symptoms are now well under control.” His career has really taken off too. About a year ago Vieira was hired as chef de partie at the Hotel Intercontinental, where he now cooks for the 270 or so people who work there. “It’s a great job,” he enthuses. “The team is really nice, very international and open to new ideas, which means I can try out a lot of recipes.” His Königsberger meatballs and Hungarian goulash are already firm favorites.

He’ll be taking vacation at Christmas this year, and wants to spend the holiday with his wife in Luxembourg. Totally romantic with candlelight, a real fire – and a special dinner with several courses. That’s something he’s finally able to enjoy again.