ACID REFLUX, GERD, HEARTBURN
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Although the terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are often used interchangeably there are some differences between these conditions:
Acid reflux is a pain in the oesophagus area defined as heartburn and it is caused by the backward flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus. Heartburn occurs in the oesophagus and involves mild to severe pain in the chest which is often mistaken for heart pain due to the same location. The lining of your oesophagus is much more delicate than that of the stomach. Therefore, whenever some acid in the oesophagus causes a burning sensation in your chest. The pain can feel sharp, burning, or like a tightening sensation.
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the chronic or frequent acid reflux (causing heartburn), more severe form of acid reflux.
Heartburn is just a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.
Hiatal hernia is a frequent cause of acid reflux. Diaphragm helps separate the stomach from the chest and in hiatal hernia the upper part of the stomach protrudes above the diaphragm, allowing acid to escape.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to improper functioning of the sphincter that prevents stomach acid from entering oesophagus.
In pregnancy the foetus can put extra pressure on the oesophageal valve, causing the release of acid.
Overweight put extra pressure on the valves and sphincter that allow release of acid.
Acidic foods: meat products, dairy, coffee, cola, chocolate, sugar, refined products, etc.
Large meals and snacking close to bedtime. Overloaded stomach increases pressure on the diaphragm, causing acid to travel upward.
Smoking impairs muscle reflexes and increases production of acid.
Medications, including ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. can cause acid reflux.
Helicobacter pylori, which is very common today cause of stomach ulcers contributes to heartburn.
Excessive exercise after meals can cause acid reflux by putting extra pressure in the abdominal cavity.
Inflammations cause tissue damage in the oesophagus.
The three main types of medicines to treat acid reflux symptoms are antacids, proton pump inhibitors and histamine type 2 receptor antagonists. Continued use of these drugs — such as Nexium, Pepcid, Zantac, Prevacid, Prilosec and others causes harmful side effects including serious vitamin B12, calcium and magnesium deficiency. The same drugs can also contribute to anaemia, fatigue poor digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and other problems.
– Centaurium tincture (Vogel). This is probably the most important remedy and it helped many people suffering from acid reflux. The following short testimonial by a person with hiatus hernia is an example of effectiveness of this herb: “This is the best medicine ever for stomach trouble. Mine is hiatus hernia and I have taken centaurium for years. Through taking it I feel normal every day and it helps me to digest. Before it I felt very ill. It keeps me going and I live a normal life because of it.”
– Slippery Elm is another very effective remedy. It protects the mucus membranes of the oesophagus against inflammation caused by acid. In addition slippery elm also reduces acidity by stimulating mucus production.
– Charcoal tablets or powder might be very helpful too (requires drinking more water in between meals).
– Chlorella (requires drinking more water in between meals). It is very effective in lowering acidity, detoxifying the body, boosting energy and regenerating damaged tissue.
– Good probiotic formula to increase number of beneficial bacteria in your intestines.
– Formulas with variety of digestive enzymes will improve digestion. Fresh raw sprouts are 30 times higher in digestive enzymes than other healthy foods!
– Magnesium citrate to relax stomach muscle and intestines: 2 times a day 200-400mg 1 hour before meal and 1-2 hours before bed. MagCitra (HealthAid is an excellent magnesium citrate as it is high in elemental magnesium).
LIFESTYLE AND DIET RECOMMENDATIONS
– Please read carefully and implement principles included in the Health Recovery Plan >
– Go on plant-based unrefined 50-85% raw diet. Hallelujah diet is the best example.
– Avoid: overeating, caffeine (coffee, cola, black and green teas, etc.), and decaffeinated coffee, chocolate (extremely acidic), alcohol, meat, dairy, sugar, glucose, fructose syrup, refined foods, white flour products, white rice, hot spices, antibiotics, refined salt.
– With your meals use mild spices such as marjoram, fennel, cumin, oregano, etc. to improve digestion
– Drink 3 times a day about 3 glasses of water 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after meals. Try to drink only distilled water. Never drink water or other liquids with meals (except ½ glass of juice).
– Avoid constipation >
– If possible avoid drugs (nitrates, sedatives, theophylline in black and green tea, calcium channel blockers) that can make reflux worse as they may decrease the pressure of the lower oesophageal sphincter. Even peppermint tea or peppermint oil can have similar effect and should be avoided.
– If the symptoms are stronger at night, elevate the head of your bed by six to eight inches (to prevent stomach acid from refluxing while you’re lying down).
– Use an acid reflux wedge pillow as it will relieve symptoms by elevating the upper body.
– Learn to control stress.
– Fast walking every day.
– Don’t eat within three hours of bedtime.
– Don’t lie down after meals. Light physical activity such as walking is most beneficial after meals.
– Avoid acid-suppressive drugs as they have significant side effects and cause rebound increase in acid production.
– Consume more alkaline foods and avoid or reduce acidic products:
Increase fibre intake.
Increase probiotic bacteria in your gut with probiotic-rich foods and supplements.
Avoid acidic foods: Meat products, dairy, coffee, cola, chocolate, sugar, refined products, etc.
Avoid: Alcohol, carbonated beverages, sugary drinks or energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, and processed foods.
Avoid fried foods especially with animal fats or commercial oils, vegetable oils, including canola oil.
Use only healthy fats like raw coconut or cold-pressed olive oil and flax oil.
Consume foods that help improve acid reflux: fresh vegetable juices, fresh organic (if possible) vegetable salads (especially leafy greens, parsley, beets, carrots, squash, artichoke, asparagus and cucumbers).
Don’t overeat. Eat smaller meals to allow foods to properly digest, as large meals and overeating put extra pressure on the sphincter.
Give up smoking.
Eat slowly and chew foods more thoroughly.
If you are overweight lose weight.
© 2016 Slawomir Gromadzki – All Rights Reserved
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