Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common, chronic disorder in which stomach acid or bile enters the esophagus. This causes heartburn and can even destroy your esophagus if left untreated. Holistic treatments can offer significant relief by addressing the underlying cause of GERD, rather than just treating the symptoms. As a result, they don’t come with the unwelcome side effects of common GERD medications, including vomiting, stomach pain, or even seizures.
Your lifestyle can cause or exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux. Avoiding some key upset areas can do wonders in clearing up the problem. A few activities that can make acid reflux worse include:
- Overeating. Overeating causes the lower esophageal sphincter valve (LES) to loosen.
- Eating too much fat. Fatty foods weaken the LES over time.
- Smoking cigarettes. Smoking also weakens the LES.
- Lying down after a meal. Remaining upright aids digestion and avoids GERD symptoms.
- Eating before exercise. Aim to eat after you work out. Eating before exercising can exacerbate your acid reflux.
- Trigger foods. Some people have specific trigger foods, such as tomatoes or oranges. If you know which foods trigger your GERD symptoms, you can avoid them.
Know your body and its specific needs. If you can treat the problem with lifestyle changes, this is always the easiest and safest way to address it. Many of these tips are common sense for a healthy lifestyle.
Supplementing your diet with the right nutrients can help your body combat GERD holistically. Rather than suppressing your body’s manufacture of stomach acid, as most medications do, these supplements address the root cause of GERD:
- Digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes decrease distension in the stomach, which in turn makes the LES tighter. You can get enzymes at just about any health food store—just make sure they’re acid-resistant so that they go to work in your stomach, rather than the intestine.
- Calcium. You can tighten up your LES with some extra calcium. Make sure that you take your calcium in powder form, not pill, as the powder form begins digestion instantly.
- Vitamin D. Abundant and freely available from sunlight, vitamin D helps your body produce antimicrobial peptides.
If you obtain all of these in powder form, you can easily combine them into a single drink.
Lifestyle changes and supplements can take a while to bring about noticeable changes in your GERD. Fortunately, there are holistic methods you can use right now to alleviate your GERD symptoms and provide immediate relief:
- Apple cider vinegar. Drinking apple cider vinegar seems counterintuitive, as it actually increases acid in the stomach. No one knows why precisely this works, but there are numerous testimonials to its effectiveness.
- Baking soda. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with half a cup of water for immediate relief. Increase the effects by using aloe water.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice. A favorite recommendation of Dr. Andrew Weil, deglycyrrhizinated licorice can be found in either tablets or powder.
- Cayenne pepper. Another surprising treatment, cayenne pepper appears to relieve symptoms of GERD. John Christopher, a master herbalist, believes that it cured his stomach ulcer.
All of the above can be found in most regular supermarkets or health food stores. Combined with long-term solutions, these short-term holistic treatments can help you live life to the fullest again.
Beating Acid Reflux
While many people turn to medication for GERD—a great deal of which has potentially harmful side effects—there are other holistic, practical, safe alternatives. The natural world provides a number of ways for you to treat the disorder without resorting to pharmaceutical medication. Try out some of the above cures and see what works for you. Lifestyle changes, short-term treatments, and long-term fixes can help free you from the burdens of GERD.