Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that involves the incorrect closing of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), resulting in acid reflux and additional symptoms like heartburn.
While the term GERD is often used interchangeably with those of acid reflux or heartburn, it is important to note that the conditions have distinct differences. Where heartburn is a single or infrequent solitary event of stomach acid leaking back into the esophagus and creating a burning sensation, GERD is a chronic condition that presents with symptoms such as acid leaking into the esophagus, regurgitation of refluxed liquid or food into the mouth, heartburn, coughing, wheezing, nausea and/or vomiting.
Holistic dietary modifications play an important role in the prevention and treatment of GERD. Simple, manageable changes like limiting or avoiding foods that can trigger GERD such as fatty or fried foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, spicy foods, oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, carbonated beverages, chocolate and mint, can all help reduce the onset of GERD.
Along with making dietary changes to reduce GERD, certain natural supplements can help offset GERD flare-ups and restore balanced digestion.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva), a species of elm native to North America, can be implemented as a natural remedy for GERD. Used by Native Americans for centuries, the inner bark is made into medicine and is used to treat a host of symptoms in GERD patients.
First and foremost, slippery elm bark contains the ingredient mucilage—a substance that turns into a slick gel when mixed with water. Incredibly important, mucilage calms and coats the stomach and intestines, as well as the mouth and throat in GERD-induced coughs and other respiratory conditions.
While mucilage moistens and soothes, the tannins in slippery elm are astringent, which makes this herb an ideal remedy for both soothing inflammations and healing damaged tissues. 1
Even though mucilage is the most prevalent ingredient of slippery elm, the bark also contains amino acids, iodine, bromine, calcium, starch, sugar, and trace amounts of manganese and zinc. All of these work together to manifest a substance which is nourishing and restorative for the body.
In terms of treatment, one can take slippery elm in tea, tincture, capsule, lozenge, or powder form. 2
- Make slippery elm tea by placing two tablespoons (4 grams) of powdered bark into a mug.
- Pour two cups of boiling water over the powder, stir, and let steep for 3-5 minutes.
Drink this healing tea three times per day.
- Take 5 mL of slippery elm tincture in water three times per day.
- Stir the formula before drinking.
Keep in mind that many tinctures contain alcohol.
- In capsule form, take 400-500 milligrams 3 to 4 times daily for 4-8 weeks.
- Take capsules with a full glass of water.
Follow dosing instructions on the label.
- First mix one teaspoonful of powdered slippery elm into a thin, smooth paste with a small amount of cold water.
- Then pour a pint of boiling water over the paste, stirring steadily.
- You can flavor this formula with cinnamon, nutmeg, or lemon rind.
This formula is excellent for treating the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, and if taken at night, it will induce sleep.
Slippery Elm “Food”
- Beat up an egg with a teaspoonful of powdered slippery elm bark.
- Pour boiling milk over the mixture and sweeten it.
In conclusion, slippery elm bark is useful as a healing agent for patients with GERD. Symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, coughing, wheezing, nausea, and vomiting can be lessened with this natural alternative, and GERD may become less chronic over time. That being said, make sure to consult a physician to make sure that slippery elm is safe for you.
Written by Nicole Kagan