If you have ever personally experienced the discomfort of Acid Reflux you will have a good idea of how uncomfortable it can be. There are many natural treatments and cures for it but we are going to focus on the best ways of how to treat Acid Reflux naturally. But what is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux is a disease that causes heartburn when the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) muscle relaxes and acid from the stomach flows up into the oesophagus - the long tube from the throat to the stomach, that carries food. This disease is commonly referred to as GORD or Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease as well as acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach creeps up and irritates or burns the oesophagus. The stomach liquid can inflame the oesophageal lining and cause damage, although this doesn't occur in most people. The regurgitated stomach liquid usually contains acid and pepsin – a powerful enzyme that breaks down proteins.
Causes and Symptoms of Acid Reflux
It's generally thought that eating highly acidic foods and producing too much stomach acid causes acid reflux, however the opposite is true. Low stomach acid and poor digestion are more likely the causes.
The following factors that cause acid reflux are a result of the body parts not functioning properly. These include; hiatal hernias, oesophageal contractions, the lower oesophageal sphincter, and emptying of the stomach.
There are quite a few risk factors that increase the risk of acid reflux. These are being overweight, smoking, alcohol consumption, being pregnant, eating specific foods, age, certain medications, peptic ulcer, hiatal hernia, and gastroparesis.
It is relatively easy to control some of the risk factors for acid reflux like avoiding certain foods, losing weight, not drinking alcohol or smoking, and generally taking care of oneself.
Some of the risk factors like pregnancy aren’t necessary to avoid just for the sake of avoiding acid reflux because it usually goes away after the baby is born. Medical conditions like a peptic ulcers, hiatal hernia, and gastroparesis are risk factors for acid reflux and can’t necessarily be avoided either, although a living a healthy lifestyle will reduce their occurrence.
There are many different acid reflux symptoms and sufferers may experience one or several of them.
- A burning feeling just behind the sternum occurs frequently after a meal and might last for hours or just a few minutes
- Digestive symptoms such as queasiness, bloating, belching, and stomach pain
- A burning taste or a sour taste in the mouth
- Chronic coughing
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of voice
- Babies spit up or vomit after almost every meal
The symptoms of acid reflux are frequently interpreted as a heart attack. Sometimes, an individual with a history of acid reflux will mistaken real heart attack symptoms for acid reflux. Individuals should never just assume symptoms are acid reflux and not heart attack symptoms as this may delay treatment!
How to Prevent Acid Reflux Naturally By Diet
Naturally preventing acid reflux and GORD is desirable for those who suffer from it. However, GORD may not be able to be prevented 100% although may be reduced significantly in occurrence and irritation.
One method of natural prevention is avoiding certain foods. These include spicy food, chocolate, spearmint, caffeine, peppermint, coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol, all of which either adversely change the pH level of stomach acid, or cause the sphincter muscles to relax and open - letting acid into oesophagus.
Also, avoid high-fat foods, as dietary fat causes the body to produce a hormone that weakens the oesophageal valve, again letting acid into the oesophagus. Citrus fruit such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit should be avoided while all other fruits and vegetables are consumed.
Some foods that help to reduce acid reflux naturally are; kefir, yoghurt, bone broth, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar, coconut water, coconut oil, green leafy vegetables, artichokes, asparagus, cucumber, wild-caught tuna and salmon, healthy fats (ghee), almonds and honey.
Here's some Do's and Don'ts to prevent Acid Reflux:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals so the body produces less acid
- Cut back on saturated fats - especially deep-fried foods - and alcohol, coffee, tea, white sugar and unrefined carbohydrates
- Elevate the head of your bed to prevent acid reflux during sleep
- Lose weight and loosen your belt to take away any additional pressure
- Eat a large meal before bedtime
- Lie down for a nap after eating
- Eat spicy foods, onions and acidic juices, such as citrus or tomato
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen) unless you absolutely must, as these drugs can further irritate the oesophageal lining
These dietary changes and lifestyle modifications won't cure your acid reflux overnight, but you can find significant relief if you stick with a healthier way of living.
Natural Treatments for Acid Reflux
In addition to making lifestyle changes, treating GORD naturally using herbs can prove quite effective for acid reflux and heartburn.
Along with avoiding problem foods, stay away from members of the herb group called carminatives - fennel, lemon balm, peppermint, and spearmint - which relax the lower oesophageal sphincter.
Here are a couple of herbs which stop acid reflux naturally:
Herbal Treatments for Acid Reflux
Liquorice: studies have shown liquorice to accelerate the healing of intestinal ulcers. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that soothes. To use liquorice for heartburn or acid reflux, choose a special kind called DGL (deglycyrrhizinated) liquorice, which is a chewable form of the herb. This form of liquorice is thought to be more effective than regular liquorice.
Typical dosage: Take 1 or 2 chewable tablets 3 times daily on an empty stomach.
Caution: do not use whole liquorice for more than 6 weeks. Avoid if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, kidney, thyroid, or liver disease, or if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Aloe: Aloe gel contains special sugar molecules that have been shown to help heal burns, ulcers and inflamed intestinal walls. Ensure you use aloe intended for internal use, one that is a pure source of aloe pulp and not the rind, which can cause diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Also avoid commercial aloe juices that contain citric acid, which can aggravate reflux.
Typical dosage: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in 4 tablespoons of water just after meals or when symptoms occur. Increase to 1 or more teaspoons if needed.
Supplements and Natural Health Products for Acid Reflux
Apart from following a healthy diet and lifestyle, using natural health products can assist the body in the natural treatment of acid reflux.
Moringa powder: is a beneficial supplement for treating ulcerous, gastric and digestive disorders. You can buy Moringa powder here.
Organic raw apple cider vinegar: helps get rid of acid reflux naturally by helping to digest food in the stomach.