If you are worried about heartburn this holiday season, bookmark this page! GERD (Gastro-intestinal reflux disorder) or more commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn, is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when the acidic content of the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus. We all experienced this at some point in life – the burning sensation felt in our chest.
I like to look at heartburn/acid reflux not as a disorder, but as a clue that something else is going on with your digestive tract. Stomach acid doesn’t just aggravate your esophagus for no apparent reason. There is usually a cause behind your heartburn, whether it is lack of stomach acid (yes, you read that right), overproduction of stomach acid, hiatal hernias, H. pylori infection, or a lax/malfunctioning esophageal sphincter, and treating the cause is the way to go for long term relief.
While over the counter medications are available, a lot of them focus on decreasing your stomach acid. This may bring on some relief, but it is only a temporary fix that might make matter worst because we know that hearburn isn’t usually caused by high stomach acid.
Here are some helpful remedies for GERD and acid reflux that will provide you lasting relief while supporting a healthy digestion:
1. Chewable DGL: Not only is this product fantastic at relieving heartburn, it may also have an antiulcer effect, protecting your esophagus from the backflow of stomach acid. (1) Think of DGL as the Band-Aid you put on a paper cut so that when you are peeling your orange, the acid won’t get into the cut and cause discomfort and burning. DGL coats the digestive tract, particularly the esophagus and the stomach, and protects it from acid. You can try this product: Enzymatic Therapy DGL Ultra –Chocolate.
2. Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar: A common cause of heartburn is an imbalanced stomach pH. The way it works is it lowers the stomach pH to maximize digestion and restore the optimal pH. Use of antacid medications leads to an elevated pH, compromising digestion and absorption of nutrients. You can easily improve the acid content of your stomach by taking one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water before a large meal.
3. Ginger Root: Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and may relieve gastrointestinal and esophageal irritation caused by blocks acid and suppresses helicobacter pylori. (2) According to a 2007 study ginger is far superior to lansoprazole for preventing the formation of ulcers, exhibiting six- to eight-fold greater potency over the drug! (3) To make a tea, grate up to 1 inch of fresh ginger root to two cups of hot water. Let steep for about half an hour. Drink about 20 minutes or so before your meal. Adding a bit of honey while the tea cools will make it taste amazing. Stevia and lemon also work well in this tea.
4. Slippery Elm: Slippery elm is a warm soothing blanket for your whole digestive system, from the mouth, to the throat, stomach, and intestines. It has the power to increase mucus secretion in the gut lining that protects it against ulcers and excess acidity. It works in a similar way to DGL, as a demulcent, to reduce inflammation, and protect the entire intestinal tract. Make sure to look for a product that is powdered inner bark. (4) (7)
5. D-Limonene: D-limonene is found in citrus oils and often used as a flavouring agent. It is a great agent for relief of heartburn because it neutralizes gastric acid and supports a healthy digestion through increasing peristalsis. In clinical studies, it was shown to be beneficial leading to complete relief of symptoms in over 85% of participants. (5) It appears that the beneficial effects of this supplement develop overtime, making it great for daily use, but not so great on an as needed basis.
6. Probiotics: Since bacterial overgrowth can contribute to heartburn and GERD, restoring and maintaining a healthy gut flora is an important part of the treatment plan. (6) It can also help get rid of H. pylori if this is the cause of your symptoms. Please be warned that die off of yeast in the intestinal tract might cause bloating as a temporary healing crisis but it will subside. Also, pay attention to the ingredients on your bottle – some contain inulin or dairy.
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1. Larkworthy W, Holgate PF. “Deglycyrrhizinized liquorice in the treatment of chronic duodenal ulcer: A retrospective endoscopic survey of 32 patients.” Practitioner. 1975;215:787–792.
2. Nanjundaiah S. et al. “Gastroprotective effect of ginger rhizome extract: role of gallic acid and cinnamic acid in H+, K+ - ATPase/H pylori inhibition and anti-oxidative mechanism.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 13 pages.
3. Siddaraju M., Dharmesh S. “Inhibition of gastric H+, K+-ATPase and Helicobacter pylori growth by phenolic antioxidants of Zingiber officinale.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007; 51(3): 324-332.
4. Patrick L. “Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): a review of conventional and alternative treatments.” Altern Med Rev. 2011; 16(2): 116-133.
5. Sun J. “D-limonene: safety and clinical applications.” Altern Med Rev. 2007; 12(3): 259-264.
6. Dajani A. et al. “Do probiotics improve eradication response to Helicobacter pylori on standard triple or sequential therapy?” Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2013; 19(3): 113-120.
7. Yarnell E., Abascal K. “Herbs for gastroesophageal reflux disease.” Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011; 16(6): 344-346.