Digestive diseases are no fun. They prevent you from drinking regular milk or lying down after a meal. They send you to the toilet every hour or keep you from it for days. Whether they’re inherited, rare, common, or uncommon, they can be embarrassing to discuss and a hassle on your daily life.

Each digestive disease requires a different treatment, some of which include multiple doctor visits, screenings, hospitalizations, and prescriptions. Recently, the total cost has reached $141 billion per year, according to a new study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).1 This is remarkable, considering that those with common digestive diseases can often be treated naturally and effectively.

Take heartburn. For the 60 million Americans who suffer from it, medicine is not always the answer. Indeed, lifestyle changes can help prevent the problem before it starts. This includes remedies like leading a less stressful life: the National Heartburn Alliance found that nearly 6 in 10 frequent heartburn sufferers say leading a “hectic lifestyle” contributes to their ailment.2 You should also cut back on fatty foods, and, when it comes to orange juice, coffee, and wine, substitute low-acidic beverages for regular. Additionally, some recommend eating ginger to help with heartburn.3

For a common digestive disease like constipation (infrequent bowel movement), the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends eating more fiber (beans, fruit, whole grain breads, brown rice) and drinking 8 glasses of fluids per day, in lieu of unnatural remedies, like laxatives and enemas.4

For some digestive diseases, approaches to treatment vary. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that interferes with the normal functions of the colon. While the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse says most people can control symptoms by taking medicines, reducing stress, and controlling diets, the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle eschews traditional treatments for probiotics, multivitamins, digestive aids, and vitamins and minerals—the only four product types they sell.5

Lastly, if you live in the Midwest, an option is to attend Digestive Disease Week in Chicago, May 30-June 4. There, you’ll be able to speak with dozens of physicians, educators, and researchers, and to view the 300 exhibits from the leading manufacturers, suppliers, and developers of information and technology.6