Millions of people in the U.S. suffers from acid reflux, a condition also known as GERD (gastroesophageal disease) or peptic ulcer disease.
According to Medical News Today:
“Exact figures vary, but diseases resulting from acid reflux are the most common gut complaint seen by hospital departments in the United States. The American College of Gastroenterology says that over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and at least 15 million as often as daily.
GERD is most common in Western countries, affecting an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the population.”
It is manifested by a burning sensation or heartburn around the area of the chest, as a result of the stomach acid that enters the esophagus.
Chi Health lists the most common signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease:
- A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to your throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- A dry cough
- Hoarseness or a sore throat
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
- A sensation of a lump in your throat
In most cases, it is considered to be caused by the excessive production of stomach acid, and these are the main treatment options for this condition:
- H2 blockers, such as cimetidine, ranitidine, and famotidine
- PPIs, like omeprazole, rabeprazole, and esomeprazole
- Alginate drugs, including Gaviscon
- Over-the-counter treatments, such as antacids
The main treatment options for people who chronically suffer from acid reflux are either PPIs or H2 blockers, both of which are medications, that reduce the acid production and lower the risk of damage caused by acid reflux.
Yet, the case if quite the opposite, as this condition is actually a result of too little stomach acid in the stomach.
When the food passes through the esophagus to the stomach, it is prevented to go back up when a muscular valve, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes. Yet, when it relaxes inadequately, the acid flows back into the esophagus.
Acid reflux is often a symptom more commonly linked to a Hiatal hernia and Helicobacter pylori infection. Moreover, it can also be a result of the use of some over the counter and prescription medications, like anxiety medications and antidepressants, pain relievers, nitroglycerin, blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and osteoporosis drugs.
If you suspect that some drug is the reason behind your acid reflux, follow these tips:
- Ask your doctor about the best way you can take it or switch to another medication.
- Do not lay down after taking the medicine.
- Do not take more than the prescribed dose.
- Drink a cup of ginger tea.
Here are the most effective natural ways to heal the digestive tract and prevent and treat acid reflux:
- Apple cider vinegar is a natural way to help digestion and balance the production of acid in the stomach. Add a tablespoon of it to a glass of water and drink it daily.
- Chamomile tea will help you soothe acid reflux, relieve the inflammation in the stomach, and fall asleep easier.
- Magnesium relaxes the muscles, supports a healthy digestion, lowers stress, and eases sleep. Take 400 milligrams of a good-quality magnesium supplement twice daily.
- The regular intake of probiotics balances the digestive tract and prevents a poor nutrient absorption, leaky gut, indigestion, and heartburn.
- Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant, and a daily dose of 40 mg was found to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux
- Betaine hydrochloric supplement is another way to support the healthy digestion of food, soothe the acid reflux, and treat the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
- Aloe Vera juice has strong anti-inflammatory properties that relieve the symptoms of acid reflux. Just drink half a cup of this juice before meals.
- Ginger has powerful gastroprotective properties, which block stomach acid and treat Helicobacter pylori.
- L-Glutamine is found in foods like chicken, dairy, eggs, beef, fish, some veggies and fruits, and it can be taken as a supplement. It effectively treats gastrointestinal damage caused by H. pylori.
- B vitamins, especially folic acid lower the risk of acid reflux and treat its symptoms. Consume foods rich in folic acid, like spinach, okra, beans, liver, and asparagus.
- Digestive enzymes improve the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients and prevent the accumulation of acid reflux. Take them before meals.
Here are some additional tips to help you deal with the discomfort due to heartburn:
- Avoid smoking, as nicotine stimulates the sphincter to relax and thus allows the acid to go up.
- Sleep on the left side, as this will help the acid to pool far from the sphincter.
- Avoid bending or bowing after meals, and stay upright.
- Eat small and more frequent meals during the day.