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Natural treatment for acid reflux

Monday June 8, 2015 at 8:31am
Natural treatment for acid reflux

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn) is a common condition where acid from the stomach leaks out of the stomach and up into the oesophagus (gullet). About 1 in 5 people are thought to experience at least 1 episode of acid reflux a week, with 1 in 10 people experiencing symptoms of acid reflux on a daily basis.The primary symptom of acid reflux is “heartburn”—a burning sensation behind your breastbone that sometimes travels up your throat.

What causes acid reflux?

Conventionally, acid reflux is thought to be caused by excessive amounts of acid in your stomach, which is why acid-blocking drugs are typically prescribed or recommended.

Medical treatments such as antacids, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) – may be recommended by your doctor. Antacids neutralise the effects of stomach acid, and PPIs and H2RAs reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces.

Reducing acid in the stomach may be the wrong solution

It is important to understand that acid reflux is not normally caused by excessive acid production in your stomach; rather it's a symptom more commonly related to:

  1. Hiatus hernia
  2. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection (about 40% of people in the UK have H. pylori in their stomach so it is very common)

It is believed by many medical professionals that reducing the amount of acid in the stomach is a serious medical misconception that adversely affects hundreds of millions of people, as the problem normally results from having too little acid in your stomach.

When stomach acid production is low, the food sits in the stomach for a longer period of time without the nutrients being broken down properly. Thousands of articles in medical literature show that suppressing stomach acid does not address the problem. It only temporarily treats the symptoms.

According to Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health "about 60 to 70 percent of people taking acid suppressing drugs have mild heartburn and shouldn't be on them." Part of the problem with PPIs is that when you suppress the amount of acid in your stomach, you decrease your body's ability to kill the helicobacter bacteria. So if your heartburn is caused by an H. pylori infection, it actually makes your condition worse and perpetuates the problem.

Eat unprocessed foods and probiotics

It is important to make sure you're getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet. This will help balance your bowel flora, which can help eliminate H. pylori bacteria naturally without resorting to antibiotics. It will also aid in proper digestion of your food. Probiotics can be obtained in your diet from fermented foods such as yoghurt and sour cream, mackerel or fermented vegetables (chutneys or pickles). If you aren't eating fermented foods, you may need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis.

Addressing low acid production

Because heartburn is typically a sign of having too little stomach acid, it is important to help encourage your body to make sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid).  Unprocessed sea-salt will help to provide you with the chloride your body needs to make hydrochloric acid.

Natural supplements to help fight heartburn and acid reflux

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for addressing any infectious component. Good vitamin D levels ensure that the body can produce hundreds of antimicrobial peptides that will help your body eradicate infections. 

Astaxanthin: This powerful antioxidant was found to reduce symptoms of acid reflux in patients when compared to a placebo, particularly in those with pronounced helicobacter pylori infection. Best results were obtained at a daily dose of 40 mg.

Glutamine: Research published in 2009 found that gastrointestinal damage caused by H. pylori can be addressed with the amino acid glutamine, found in many foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine is also widely available as a supplement.

B vitamins: Research suggests B vitamins can reduce your risk for acid reflux. Higher folic acid intake was found to reduce acid reflux by approximately 40 percent. Low vitamin B2 and B6 levels were also linked to an increased risk for acid reflux. The best way to raise your folic acid (vitamin B9) levels is by eating folate-rich whole foods, such as liver, asparagus, spinach and beans.


Monday June 29, 2015 at 1:05pm by Marcia AbrahaMS
An excellent article, much appreciated because I know a young lady who has been treated for this condition for years, to no avail. All because doctors are trained to see to symptoms and not causes !
Replied to on: Tuesday June 30, 2015 at 9:34am
Thank you for your kind comments.
Monday June 29, 2015 at 7:29pm by Peter Chapman
Yes what you say is true but if you do have a Hiatus Hernia then you can only take PPI's or have an operation.
Replied to on: Tuesday June 30, 2015 at 9:41am
If you do have a hiatus hernia, then yes, you may be given PPI's or require an operation, but you may also be able to address the symptoms using some of these techniques. Thank-you for your comments.
Monday June 29, 2015 at 8:07pm by Pete
I have been on PPI for about 15 years now I can't get off them due to symptoms returning. Have you got any ideas of how to wean off them?
Replied to on: Tuesday June 30, 2015 at 9:46am
I'm afraid that is out of our area of expertise, but if you could help address the symptoms some other way then maybe the need for you to take the PPI medication would be likely to diminish. Maybe try some of these techniques in conjunction with your existing medication, then if you see some progress you could speak to your health professional.
Monday June 29, 2015 at 8:23pm by Margarette
I have a severe belching problem and have had endoscopy which shows a lot of acid reflux and oesophagitus, I have NO pain and NO Heartburn. I have been prescribed medication. Would previous help? Or Any other supplements?
Replied to on: Wednesday July 15, 2015 at 10:29am
Yes, all of the supplements in the article above have shown benefits for acid reflux, so maybe you could start with (say) Astaxanthin and see how you go. Do let us know how you get on. Maybe some of our other contributors could offer some advice too?
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