GERD Natural Treatment
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a common condition in which the acidic contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus. Because the esophagus doesn’t have the protective mucous barrier found in the stomach, this causes inflammation, irritation, and pain. Antacids, the primary treatment for GERD, neutralize the acid and hence relieve the pain. They do not, however, prevent the reflux – they just prevent the pain caused by the reflux. It is important to understand that GERD is not caused by excess stomach acidity, but by the reflux of acid into the esophagus where it should not be. Antacids therefore don’t treat the cause of the problem, just the symptom.
The acid being neutralized in the stomach is there for a reason – it is an important step in the digestive process. Stomach acid plays a role in the digestion of protein, the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and helps to sterilize food as it passes through the stomach, which reduces the likelihood of intestinal infections.
GERD natural treatment focuses on addressing the underlying cause of GERD. Key approaches to GERD natural treatment include:
Reduce the pressure: High pressure in the stomach against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that closes off the esophagus where it meets the stomach, will increase the likelihood of GERD. Eating large meals increases the pressure in the stomach, and lying down puts that pressure against the LES. Avoiding large meals for several hours before bed is therefore particularly important.
Eliminate common food triggers: Alcohol and coffee are very common triggers for GERD. Mint is a less common trigger.
Stop smoking: Smoking is a major cause of GERD
Identify food allergies: In addition to the above foods, anything an individual is allergic to can trigger GERD. The most common food allergens are dairy, gluten, and eggs, but many other foods cause allergies as well. For most people, the easiest and most effective way to diagnose food allergies is through blood allergy testing.
Correct low stomach acid: Even though the primary conventional treatment of GERD is the use of antacids, as mentioned above, excess acidity is not the cause of GERD. In fact low stomach acidity can trigger GERD in some people. When stomach acidity is low, food takes longer to digest in the stomach, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux. Testing and treating low stomach acid should only be done under the supervision of a physician.
Take herbal medicines: One of the most effective herbal medicines in GERD natural treatment is citrus peel, found in a product called Heartburn Free. This extract increases the tone of the LES, which helps to prevent reflux. It is typically only necessary to take it for 3-6 weeks for lasting effect. Another useful medicine is Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), a licorice extract that soothes and heals an inflamed esophagus and stomach.
In some people, addressing one factor such as caffeine and/or alcohol intake may be adequate to treat GERD naturally, while others will require a comprehensive approach employing many of the above techniques.
Naturopathic doctors are physician experts in treating the underlying cause of disease and using natural medicines to help people get and stay well. To see a naturopathic doctor for GERD, to be tested for food allergies, or for assistance with other health concerns, please make a selection below.