The most common pharmaceuticals sold on earth are for acid reflux and indigestion. These are some of the most common health problems in the world, and affect just about everyone at some point in their life. If you have an uneasy, burning sensation in the stomach rising towards the heart it could be acid reflux.
On this page, you will find useful natural tips and a simple Herbal program you can follow to gain relief. We will discuss the symptoms, causes, conventional treatments, natural dietary and herbal advice for acid reflux and offer you a suggested program to help reduce this problem long-term.
ACID REFLUX DESCRIPTION
Acid Reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus. Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion. (1) Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is one of the most common illnesses in the United States. The prevalence of diagnosed GERD cases is estimated to be 13-19% worldwide and about 25% of the Western population suffers from heartburn or acid regurgitation at least once per month; 12% have symptoms at least weekly and 5% experience heartburn daily. (10) It often happens when you have overeaten, especially after too much rich food, alcohol, meat, and desserts, however, there could be a lot more going on behind the scenes.
ACID REFLUX SYMPTOMS
If you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you may taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth. The most common symptom of GERD is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn. (1) Other common GERD symptoms include:
Bad breath; Nausea; Pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen; Problems swallowing or painful swallowing; Respiratory problems; Vomiting; and/or The wearing away of your teeth. (1)
WHAT CAUSES HEARTBURN?
Acid reflux happens when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. This can happen due to certain things, such as:
Lack of Digestive acids and enzymes in the stomach; Increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant; Chronic metabolic or respiratory acidosis may contribute; Certain medicines, including those that doctors use to treat asthma, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants; Smoking, or inhaling second-hand smoke; or Overeating.
You may be able to control acid reflux by:
Not eating or drinking items that may cause GERD, such as greasy or spicy foods and alcoholic drinks; Not overeating or binge eating; Not eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime; Losing weight if you’re overweight or obese Check your ideal weight here; Quitting smoking; and/or Stop taking over-the-counter medicines where possible (1).
Commonly prescribed over-the-counter drugs for acid reflux include Antacids to alkalize the gut; H2 blockers to block acid production; and/or Prokinetics or antibiotics to empty your stomach faster.
These treatments are symptomatic and only provide temporary relief. It does seem odd to give drugs to treat acid reflux when they actually contribute to the problem in the first place. One report demonstrates that some of the medications used to manage symptoms may actually create new medical imbalances. (3) This is why we should consider natural alternatives and look closely at our diet in order to reverse the disease process over the long term.
HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN AND ACID REFLUX
Recommended product – Digezaid
Digezaid contains herbs that support comfortable, healthy digestion and maintains intestinal health. The formula also contains the enzymes Papain, Bromelain, and Kiwifruit to improve the digestion of proteins and soothing herbal agents such as Peppermint, Ginger, and Fennel to calm digestive discomfort such as bloating and gas. Cayenne and Licorice are included to support intestinal wall healing and to control negative bacteria that can cause ulcers and inflammation of the gut wall. Click on the individual ingredient names for more information on how each herb works.
Digezaid (120 Capsules)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) leaf
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seed
- Pineapple (Ananas comosus) extract (Bromelain)
- Papaya (Carica papaya) extract (Papain)
- Kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) whole fruit
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome
- Cayenne (Capsicum annum) fruit
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root
Over the past decade, the incidence of acid reflux has shown an increasing trend resulting from factors, including lifestyle and dietary habits. (7)
Some of these are outlined below.
Late Night Snacking
One study indicated dietary habits such as picky and irregular eating, snack preference, a preference for liquid foods, late-night eating, and a shorter dinner-to-bedtime interval had a significant correlation with acid reflux. (2) This showed that fussy eaters and snacking just before bed is contributing factors.
Alcohol, Canned and Fast Food
Another study provided new data on the overlap of GERD and indigestion (functional dyspepsia). It reveals that these disorders may be associated with the consumption of canned food, fast food, and alcoholic beverages. (4)
Two Meals with Liquids in between
In one pilot study patients followed advice to take a meal twice a day with consumption of only drinks, fruit juices, tea, coffee, water, etc in between and no medication for two weeks. On the 14th day, 15 patients (75%) were free of reflux symptoms. It is concluded that two meals a day with an intake of only fluids in between (whenever the patient feels hungry or thirsty), is a useful dietary regimen for the management of GERD. (5)
The difference between a predominantly Mediterranean (frequent consumption of composite/traditional dishes, fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, and fish) versus largely non-Mediterranean (frequent consumption of red meat, fried food, sweets, and junk/fast food) was studied. Findings point to a beneficial effect of a Mediterranean diet in the occurrence of GERD. (6)
Weight Loss diet
An overall weight loss of at least 10% (6-10kg) is recommended in all patients with GERD in order to boost the effectiveness of medications for reflux symptom relief and to reduce chronic medication use. (8)
Smaller More Regular Meals
In one study it seemed that patients should be recommended to eat more than three meals a day and eat dinner and supper at appropriate times instead of one big meal in the evening. (9) This fits with another study which showed 2 meals and liquids in between were beneficial, consuming smaller more regular meals rather than one big meal. (5)
Soft Drinks and Fried Food
Those with moderate to severe acid reflux symptoms or frequent heartburn symptoms were likely to consume large portions of meals and were even more likely to consume soft drinks and tea, eat fried foods, and high-fat diet. Fats particularly include fried foods e.g. French fries, fried chicken, fish, and doughnuts. (11)
Late-night snacking; Alcohol; Canned food; Fast foods; Very Large meals; Soft drinks; and Fried foods.
Try smaller more regular servings; Stop eating a couple of hours before bed; Have more liquid during the day; Try eating a Mediterranean diet (see recipes), and Consider a weight loss diet (check your weight).
ACID REFLUX REMEDIES – HERBAL TREATMENT PROGRAM
One of the major areas largely overlooked by conventional medicine in the treatment of GERD is the underlying digestive health. Using the holistic model In herbal medicine, we look at the person as a whole to see how the patient’s entire body is connected to the condition. The goal is to balance the body which in turn allows healing to take place naturally. This holistic approach can often bring short-term relief but also promotes long-term health. For example, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation are often present simultaneously and are directly connected with an increase in GERD symptoms.
Gastro-Intestinal disorders frequently overlap with each other and with GERD
One study showed that overall symptom frequency and work productivity losses both increased when these three conditions overlap. Over 12 months, 43.7% of single-condition, 49.9% of two-condition, and 66.5% of three-condition respondents consulted a physician about Gastrointestinal symptoms. (12) Acid reflux frequently presents with chronic bloating and constipation and usually overlaps with irritable bowel syndrome. The severity of GERD symptoms is associated with a higher rate of overlapping with functional bowel diseases. (13)
Recommended Herbal Medicines would include:
Herbal Teas for symptomatic relief:
Peppermint – studies demonstrate a relaxation effect on gastrointestinal (GI) tissue, analgesic, and anesthetic effects.
Herbs to Improve Bowel Motility (Reduce constipation):
Cascara sagrada – Has a gentle laxative effect. (Due to the anthraquinone glycosides and cascarosides)
Licorice – The findings of one randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial on Licorice, revealed a significant decrease in almost all individual symptoms in the management of (Indigestion (functional dyspepsia).
Psyllium husk – Psyllium husk significantly increases the level of stool moisture and both wet/ dry stool weight, this is why it has such a great effect on relieving constipation and improving bowel health.
Aloe Vera – Aloin, present in the gel, is metabolized by the colonic flora to reactive Aloe-emodin, which is responsible for the strong laxative activity.
To help improve digestion:
Pineapple extract (Bromelain) – Bromelain aids digestion by enhancing the effects of the digestive enzymes trypsin and pepsin. It can also help to prevent heartburn.
Ginger – Ginger is also used as a home remedy and is of immense value in treating various gastric ailments like constipation, dyspepsia, belching, bloating, gastritis, epigastric discomfort, gastric ulcerations, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. Scientific studies have validated these traditional uses.
Dandelion – studies lend support to the traditional use of dandelion as a bitter digestive stimulant.
Recommended product – BodiClenz
BodiClenz contains all of the herbs mentioned above in a simple ‘all in one’ drink powder. Simply add a scoop of BodiClenz powder to your smoothie each morning and see your digestion improve rapidly.
When looking at acid reflux it pays to consider the underlying health of the entire digestive system. Food intake habits, general digestive health, and bowel activity are all relevant factors. Treating the entire digestive system with all the herbs mentioned above along with a good diet plan would be advised. I hope this article has been helpful
Brett Elliott ©
(1) Gastro-esophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Adults. PUBMED https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ger-and-gerd-in-adults/Pages/all-content.aspx
(2) Dietary habits and gastro-esophageal reflux disease in preschool children. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27588031
(3) Nutritional Interventions for Gastro-esophageal Reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Hypochlorhydria: A Case Report. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991651/
(4) The role of diet in the overlap between gastro-esophageal reflux disease and functional dyspepsia. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26728864
(5) An old dietary regimen as a new lifestyle change for Gastro-esophageal reflux disease: A pilot study. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26408867
(6) Adherence to a predominantly Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of gastro-esophageal reflux disease: a cross-sectional study in a South Eastern European population. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26175057
(7) Gastro-esophageal reflux disease and non-digestive tract diseases. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25665699
(8) Voluntary and controlled weight loss can reduce symptoms and proton pump inhibitor use and dosage in patients with gastro-esophageal reflux disease: a comparative study. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25516110
(9) Risk factors for gastro-esophageal reflux disease: the role of diet. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25396005
(10) Dietary guideline adherence for gastro-esophageal reflux disease. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4139138/
(11) Dietary guideline adherence for gastro-esophageal reflux disease. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4139138/
(12) Symptom burden and consulting behavior in patients with overlapping functional disorders in the US population. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27403308
(13) [The characteristics of gastro-esophageal reflux disease overlapping with functional bowel diseases in the gastrointestinal clinic]. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24378054