Acid reflux is a common condition that features a burning pain, known as heartburn, in the lower chest area. It happens when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is caused by stomach acid backflow into the esophagus; due to weakness in the muscle that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. This causes what is known as heartburn. The acid can cause major damage to the esophagus if left untreated.
I decided to write this blog because I experienced this very debilitating symptom. Speaking about it with others, I found that it is a common but not a well understood digestive issue. Mild heartburn, if unchecked, can lead to GERD, which is difficult to get rid of.
I went for months trying everything to rid myself of the symptoms. I slept sitting up; I watched my diet because the gas was so debilitating; I lost weight because although I was hungry, I could not eat most foods. I went to the hospital to see if there was something more serious wrong, but they could not find anything.
I went to my doctor, and he prescribed Omepresole (Nexium), which is a protein pump inhibitor. It helped for a few days, and then my symptoms got worse. The problem with taking these PPIs is that they can cause esophagus cancer if taken for more than a few weeks, and they most often, as in my case, make things worse.
I took antacids which worked for short periods, but then the symptoms would return, so it was a short-term fix. I ate and drank so much ginger tea I started to look like it! I was desperate to start eating normally again.
Finally, I woke up, and I decided to analyze the problem, as the herbalist I am, instead of thinking modern medicine could do something faster and better.
Wonderful herbs for the GI tract are licorice, acerola, slippery elm, chamomile, ginger, cat’s claw, as well as pectin and zinc. I put together this combo and tried it. They made me feel much better and calmed the acid reflux, but I knew this would not be an overnight fix, and that my digestive tract had been seriously compromised and needed some loving care.
I also realized that my digestive enzymes were obviously depleted, and these would need to be boosted. I went to my natural products store and discussed the best kind. I noticed an immediate difference. No bloating, very little gas, and a wonderful feeling of “I am on the mend.” I also upped my intake of Nova Scotia Organics pre and probiotics to increase my GI biome, which I felt had to be restored as well.
We don’t think about our digestive enzymes enough. I had believed that I also had a gluten intolerance when I was trying to figure out what was wrong. I have since suggested that people who think they have a gluten issue try taking digestive enzymes, and they have agreed that they make a difference.
One of the most exciting things I learned was how important pectin is for us. I heard that apples were good for GERD and acid reflux, so I started eating more apples. I noticed a distinct decrease in acid reflux after I ate them. Then, I thought, why not take apple sauce, which is very soothing on the esophagus. I started taking a little before I went to bed and found I had no issues with GERD-triggered insomnia. We always wonder why they said, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
I started to think more about this problem and how many people in the world struggle with this issue and never get rid of it because no one can tell them how. We live in such a stressful, fast-paced world. We don’t stop to think about what we are doing to our digestive system. We just expect to eat fast, eat highly processed foods, abuse our bodies, and they will always recover. Our bodies are resilient, but when we overstep the bounds, they will tell us, and we must learn to listen if we want to continue a healthy life. You have to be your advocate.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux and GERD:
- Eat slowly. Acid reflux is caused by stress. Eating slowly will relax you, and then you don’t inhale as much air when you eat, which causes reflux.
- Eat foods that soothe the esophagus, such as sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, oatmeal, and bananas.
- Drink coconut milk, water, and almond milk. These beverages will soothe the esophagus.
- If you have trouble finding foods that don’t cause acid reflux, supplement with Nova Scotia Organics’ plant protein powder mixed with almond milk to make sure you are getting the proper protein intake.
- Build up your digestive enzymes by supplementation and healthy organic foods.
- Take pre and probiotics. This will help restore the GI biome by putting beneficial flora into the GI tract.
- Eat a little every two hours, so there is something in the stomach to absorb the acid. Eat less before sleep and don’t eat large meals, which can stress the GI system.
- Stay away from sugar and dairy. Sugar especially contributes more than anything to acid reflux.
- Don’t eat too many processed foods.
- Goji berries help with digestive tract disorders and, along with exercise, will help prevent acid reflux. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help with other digestive issues such as Gastroenteritis, Gastritis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Goji berries have the specific anti-inflammatory SOD enzyme that reduces the inflammation caused by stomach ulcers.
- Don’t go to sleep until 3 hours after you have eaten your meal. It is best to eat a big meal earlier in the day and just have something light in the evening.
- Limit your alcohol, caffeine, chocolates, too much salt, carbonated drinks, and acidic juices.
- Make sure you eat enough dietary fibre. Green leafy vegetables are always a great source. A good diet that contains low fat and sugar helps in the easy digestion of one’s stomach contents. If you don’t have time to cook, then supplement with a green powder such as Nova Scotia Organics Nova Greens or a green powder of your choice.
- Sleep with your head elevated.
- Meditation is effective when healing GERD. Relax for 15 minutes and focus only on your breathing. This will center you and help the food digest.
- Exercise daily!
If you do these things, from my experience, you can help soothe the GERD and acid reflux symptoms and live a normal life naturally!
This material is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care practitioner before making any health care decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
Nancy Smithers | President and founder of Nova Scotia Organics. With over 25 years of experience, Nancy has an encyclopedic knowledge of organics, plants, and herbs. Her greatest wish is for you to reach your health and wellness goals.