Ugh… that old familiar burn you get after you have eaten. It may feel as though a volcano has erupted in your esophagus. The pain and burn of acid reflux affect millions of people daily.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Digestive Diseases states that over sixty million people experience heartburn at least once a month and twenty-five million experience symptoms each day.
GERD ( Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) affects millions of people each day and is a more serious form of acid reflux. It is the most common digestive disorder in the United States. In fact, Americans alone spend more than $15 billion on acid blocking medications each year.
It is possible that you have found some relief from your condition by using over-the-counter pills or even some prescription medication. The problem with either of these options is that they don’t address the root of the issue, they only cover up the symptoms.
Although it seems like acid reflux and GERD or the “burn” as you may describe it, is the result of too much acid, it is the result of too little acid. That’s right, an interesting point supporting this theory is both heartburn and GERD increase as we age, however, the amount of stomach acid that we have decreases.
Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington state found that people who are suffering from heartburn and GERD have low, not high, stomach acid. In fact, in all of Wright’s twenty-five years of observation, he very rarely ever saw anyone with too much acid.
Understanding what is going on
Now, you may ask if heartburn and GERD are the results of too little acid, why do antacid medications take away the uncomfortable symptoms? It is important to understand that what causes the burn is stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus. Any amount of acid in the esophagus will cause discomfort because it is not designed to protect from this. You don’t have to have too much acid to cause the reflux or the pain – any amount will do this.
Simply taking an antacid will not get to the root of the problem, it is only suppressing a symptom of the larger issue. Western medicine is notorious for doing this – suppressing a symptom without dealing with the larger problem at hand.
GERD is caused by an increase in pressure of the intra-abdominal area. Reflux happens with the pressure causes bloating that pushes the contents of the stomach (including acid) through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter ) into the esophagus. There are many factors that contribute to this including, overeating, obesity, bending over after eating, lying down after eating and eating spicy or fatty foods.
According to microbiologist Norm Robillard, low stomach acid causes bacterial overgrowth and carbohydrate malabsorption leading to the pressure and acid reflux. We know that one of the jobs of stomach acid is to prevent bacterial overgrowth. If not enough acid is present, overgrowth occurs.
When there is enough acid present, and carbohydrates are consumed in moderation, they are broken down into glucose, and the body readily absorbs them. But, if there is not enough acid or large amounts of carbohydrates are consumed, some of the carbs will not be absorbed and will end up being fermented by intestinal microbes.
H Pylori Infection
Although it is often challenged, one school of thought is that a common infection known as Helicobacter pylori can cause ulcers and reflux. You can get a blood or breath test to see if you have this issue. This condition is treatable with antibiotics.
It may also be possible that food sensitivities such as gluten and lactose may cause reflux. Ask your doctor for a food allergy and celiac test to rule these out.
Yeast gone mad
Candida or yeast overgrowth in the small intestine can also lead to reflux and is a condition that is not difficult to reverse. There are some things that can cause yeast overgrowth, including overuse of antibiotics, a highly processed diet, stress, environmental factors, and obesity.
9 Natural Remedies For Acidity, Acid Reflux & Heartburn
The end goal of any natural therapy is to restore balance to the gut. Here are just a few things you can do to reinstate the peace in your digestive tract.
Consume a low carbohydrate diet
According to the Weston Price Foundation, adopting a low carbohydrate diet is one the best things you can do for your gut. In one study, researchers found that even when participants drank coffee, smoked and participated in GERD- unfriendly habits, their symptoms were eliminated within one week of eating a low carb diet (20 grams a day). The participants were able to stop all medications and were symptom-free even as they increased their carbohydrate intake to 70 percent.
Adopt a wheat-free diet
Many people find that when they do away with wheat, their acid reflux improves or disappears altogether. Be sure that you know of all the places where gluten hides such as in salad dressing, candy, deli meat, wheat products, soups, sauces, processed foods, etc…
Stop eating junk
Fast and processed food ( especially sugar) will only exacerbate issues with heartburn and GERD. It is paramount that you stop eating these type of foods if you want to heal your digestive tract. Stick to small meals throughout the day – based around whole foods. Lightly steamed veggies, organic broths, rice, fish and free range organic chicken are best. Avoid too many raw foods until your condition improves. Eliminate spicy foods and coffee and don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime.
Address yeast overgrowth
There are a number of natural ways to address issues with yeast overgrowth. Wondered, Gymnema space Sylvestre, a tropical vine also known as cowplant, has for its ability to prevent and even reverse yeast overgrowth.
Olive leaf extract contains powerful antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. The active ingredient, oleuropein, is converted in the body to elolenic acid, which can boost immunity and fight against pathogens including yeast fungi. Also, this extract has 400% more antioxidant power than vitamin C and 200% more than green tea.
Another popular addition to your diet that can help kill Candida is garlic. Garlic contains powerful anti-fungal properties in its active ingredient alliin and allicin. Add more garlic to your diet, up to one clove for a day or you can take freeze-dried supplements to help keep yeast at bay.
Other natural ways to ease gut stress
Here are some more tips for healing your digestive distress:
- Take 2 or 3 digestive enzyme capsules with each meal
- Take a high-quality probiotic or eat more probiotics
- Take 3 to 5 grams of glutamine powder twice a day
- Chew 2 to 3 chewable tablets of DGL 15 minutes before meals
- Mix 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with warm water and a teaspoon of raw honey – drink a few times a day – especially before meals
If you are one of those who turns to antacids when heartburn or acid reflux strikes, try implementing some of these natural measures above. Give your body time to adjust, be patient and persistent and you will be surprised at how great you can feel!