Acid reflux, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a health problem which affects 1 in 2 Americans. Most adults suffer from heartburn at least once in their lifetimes. Also known as peptic ulcer disease, Acid reflux is characterized by heartburn, a burning sensation behind breastbone that also travels up to the throat. The sensation, at times, is so intense that it is mistaken for a heart attack.
While it is widely believed that Acid reflux is caused by excessive acid in stomach, the condition is actually caused by too little acid in the stomach. Widely prescribed acid-blocking drugs thus do little for relief.
Causes of Acid reflux/Heartburn
During the process of digestion, food reaches stomach through esophagus and once the food is inside the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes; this prevents food/ acid from moving back. However, when LES inappropriately relaxes, it allows acid from stomach to move up into esophagus. Most common reasons for Acid Reflux/Heartburn:
- Hiatal Hernia
- Helicobacter pylori ( pylori) infection: H. Pylori is bacteria which affects 50 percent of the world’s population. It has also been identified as a group1 carcinogen by WHO. The hypothesis that H.Pylori is a major factor in causing acid reflux symptoms was given in 1980s by Dr. Barry Marshall.
Many people who suffer from Hiatal Hernia are also infected by H. Pylori. The bacteria cause inflammation of lining of the stomach which results in ulcer and associated symptoms. A trained chiropractor could provide physical therapy for Hiatal hernia.
Heartburn is also caused by OTC (Over the Counter) medications. If heartburn is caused due to OTC medications, you would need to address how, when and what are you taking. Adding one more medication for countering the effect will not help.
Natural remedies/treatment for Acid reflux
Restoration of gastric balance is the most crucial step for treating acid reflux/heartburn. The bacterial balance of the stomach and intestine gets disturbed when large amount of processed food is consumed. Natural food items, vegetables and fruits help in restoring natural gastric balance. It is also important to cut down caffeine and alcohol.
Also, good bacteria from cultured food sources play an important role in improving the condition. These help in restoring gastric balance, promoting digestion and assimilation of the system. These may also help in naturally eliminating H.pylori bacteria. Cultured food items can be consumed in various forms:
- Yoghurt/ Curd
- Fermented vegetables
Encouraging body to sufficiently produce acid: Heartburn may be an indication that your body is not producing sufficient stomach acid. You need to regularly consume more raw food, so that your body produces enough of hydrochloric acid. Consumption of unprocessed (high-quality sea salt) also provides chloride required by the body to synthesize Hydrochloric acid. Unprocessed sea salt also contains 80 mineral traces which aids body to biochemically perform optimally. Cabbage juice also helps in improving digestion by stimulating stomach acid production.
Besides above practices, below natural remedies are also very effective:
- One tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar taken with water helps in improving acid content of stomach.
- Half cup of Aloe juice taken before meals helps in reducing inflammation naturally and thus improves condition of acid reflux.
- Traditionally used for treating gastric disorders, ginger has gastro-protective properties which help in blocking acid and in suppressing Pylori. According to a study conducted in 2007, Ginger water can be prepared by keeping 2-3 slices of fresh ginger in hot water for half hour. This ginger water can be consumed 20 minutes before meals.
- Optimum level of Vitamin D is essential for producing 200 antimicrobial peptides which help in eradication of any infection. Adequate exposure to sun or vitamin D3 supplement (along with vitamin K2 intake) helps.
- Amino acid Glutamine helps in addressing damage caused by Pylori according to a research published in 2009. Glutamine is found in dairy products, chicken, fish, beef and in certain fruits and vegetables.
- Folic acid consumption is found to be associated with at least 40 percent reduction in acid reflux. Vitamin B consumption reduces chances of acid reflux. Folate is abundantly available in foods such as spinach, beans, asparagus etc.