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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Natural Treatments

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a serious, chronic condition involving a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that results in acid reflux and additional symptoms, like heartburn. The term GERD is often used interchangeably with acid reflux or heartburn, however the conditions have distinct differences.

The following is information on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease natural treatments.

Overview

Acid reflux

Acid reflux is the action of acid flowing back into the esophagus, and occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach, does not function properly. Chronic episodes of acid reflux constitute Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.i

Heartburn

Heartburn is a single or infrequent solitary event of stomach acid leaking back to the esophagus that creates a burning sensation and can be caused by specific food and drink, like alcohol, black pepper, chocolate, coffee, fatty food, fried food, ketchup, mustard, onions, orange juice, peppermint, soft drinks, tomato sauce, or vinegar. Heartburn should not be confused with the condition GERD/acid reflux since it is only a symptom of the condition. When acid refluxes into the esophagus, it stimulates nerves that produce a “burning” sensation, often behind the breastbone, commonly felt by heartburn sufferers.ii

How Does GERD Feel?

GERD presents with symptoms that include acid leaking into the esophagus, regurgitation of refluxed liquid or food into the mouth, heartburn, coughing, wheezing, nausea and/or vomiting.

Depending on one’s individual case, heartburn may be infrequent or frequent. Episodes tend to occur periodically, whereby they may present regularly for a timeframe of several weeks or months and then begin to occur less frequently, or may even be absent for several weeks or months.

In most cases of GERD, only small amounts of liquid typically reach the lower esophagus. In occasional cases, larger amounts of liquid, sometimes containing food, may reflux and reach the upper esophagus.Individuals who suffer from GERD may experience nausea and/or heartburn. While nausea is uncommon in patients with GERD, it may be frequent and can occasionally result in vomiting. In patients who experience unexplained nausea and/or vomiting, GERD is one of the first considered conditions. Yet it is not understood why some people with GERD develop mainly heartburn and other patients develop mainly nausea.iii

How Is GERD Conventionally Treated?

Many individuals suffering from the symptoms of GERD, like nausea or heartburn, will likely visit their primary care physician (PCP) first.iv Gastroenterologists, who treat the digestive system, are the specialists for GERD when primary care physicians, such as Family Practice and Internal Medicine physicians, are unable to assist the patients with controlling their GERD symptoms.

GERD can be diagnosed via a series of tests. Gastroenterologists may use esophageal pH monitoring, endoscopy, or manometry to ascertain whether a patient’s symptoms constitute GERD. Esophageal ph monitoring provides a direct physiologic monitoring of acid in the esophagus during a 24-48 hour period, and is mainly performed to rule out GERD if one’s symptoms are not typical for acid reflux. Endoscopy uses a flexible tube with light and video camera on the end to examine the esophagus for inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), narrowing of the esophagus (strictures), and for an abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus (Barrett’s esophagus). Manometry determines problems of movement and valve pressure in the esophagus, and allows doctors to measure function of the LES.v

Once GERD is confirmed, physicians may treat the condition by suggesting certain lifestyle changes and/or by prescribing over-the-counter antacids, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and prescription drugs. Medication is used to neutralize acid or improve gastric emptying. Treatments done with an endoscope are performed and,in rare cases, surgery is necessary.vi

Three types of drugs are generally used to treat GERD. They include antacids such as Maalox, Rolaids, and Tums, antistamine H2-blockers such as Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac, and proton pump inhibitors such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Kapidex, Dexilant, and Zegerid. Taking antacids may be helpful for the initial treatment of minor or infrequent symptoms of GERD. H-2 blockers cut the stomach’s production of acid and are most effective for people with chronic, mild GERD. They are available in half strength doses OTC and in prescription doses as well.

For people with moderate or severe GERD, doctors may initially prescribe H-2 blockers or choose a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs are stronger than H-2 blockers, since they turn off acid pumps that stimulate the production of acid from the stomach. They are available in prescription strength, and Prilosec OTC, Prevacid 24hr, and Zegerid OTC are available over the counter. For complicated or chronic GERD, proton pump inhibitors are taken indefinitely. Consulting a physician to assess GERD and its associated symptoms prior to taking OTC or prescription medication is highly recommended so that more serious problems are not being overlooked.vii

Holistic Healing for GERD Sufferers

GERD is often challenging to treat even with clinically prescribed medication. Holistic healing for GERD offers a broad whole-body approach to potentially resolving both symptoms and the root cause of GERD. Several holistic healing modalities present healing methods for treating GERD including Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yoga & Meditation, Aromatherapy and Homeopathy.

Ayurveda

Through the lens of Ayurveda, the root cause of GERD is thought to be an initial imbalance of the digestive forces within the digestive system. The imbalance often stems from stress, worry and anxiety and results in a reaction to “fiery” or spicy food. Ayurveda aims to address this imbalance by restoring the digestive system back to a balance state.Natural Holistic Ayurvedic

GERD often presents with an upward moving force pushing food and acid into the esophagus instead of allowing it to be properly digested in the stomach. When sufferers of GERD eat spicy, heating foods that cause gastric irritation, acid in the stomach can leak out of the stomach, resulting in reflux. GERD sufferers often feel nausea prior to this as an early sign.

Ayurveda uses a combination of bodily treatments, diet, and herbal supplements to address the symptoms of GERD and restore the suffer’s energetic imbalances. Ayurveda also uses Yoga and Meditation as complementary techniques for treating GERD.

Ayurvedic body treatments that are particularly beneficial for calming and balancing nervous energy associated with GERD include a bodily oil massage called abhyanga and shirodhara, a method of oil streaming to the forehead to sync scattered neurons.

Abhyanga uses the healing benefits of sesame oil infused with herbs to treat GERD imbalances. Massaging the body invigorates tired, sore muscles and stimulates lymphatic drainage to remove toxins from the circulatory system. Warming the oil prior to its application helps open pores for optimal absorption and calming of the nervous system.

Shirodhara is a unique Ayurvedic treatment that involves pouring a thin stream of warm, herbal sesame oil onto the center of the forehead or space between the eyes known as the ajna chakra. Although the exact mechanism of Shirodhara is still unknown, the current hypothesis points to the regulation of neurons and stimulation of the hypothalamus.viii

An Ayurvedic diet used to treat GERD may include cooling foods that are gently cooked, easy to digest and soothing, such as broth soups, steamed vegetables, lentils or basmati rice. Common Ayurvedic herbs used to treat GERD include avipattikar, slippery elm, amalaki, brahmi and haritaki. An Ayurvedic Practitioner may also use a combination of these as in an herbal formula like Cool Digest from Lifespa.com.

Yoga & Meditation

Ayurveda’s sister science Yoga offers several complementary, self-healing techniques for GERD sufferers. Yoga poses (asanas) that are cooling and restorative can help promote relaxation and decrease heat in the body. Asanas like Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining angle pose), Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose), Viparita Karini (legs up the wall pose) and Savasana (corpse pose) will calm the body.Yoga Meditation

GERD sufferers should avoid Yoga poses that constrict or put pressure on the abdomen such as seated twists, forward folds, and inversions such as shoulder or head stand. They may also wish to adopt a calming, gentle Yoga practice instead of a vigorous one, to relieve digestive and whole body aggravation.

Often, the Yogic regulation of breath, called prayayama, is useful in controlling the upward energy creating the acid reflux, nausea or vomiting associated with GERD. Individuals may wish to try cooling pranayama , such as Sheetali/Sitali (Cooling Breath) ixx or Sitkari Pranayamaxi to rebalance the fire and wind elements.

A renewed Yoga practice combining restorative asanas and calming pranayama with the addition of Meditation may be very helpful in controlling or eliminating GERD. Meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety. As Eastern medicine modalities view the root cause of GERD to be stress, the use of calm, relaxing meditation techniques can be highly beneficial. Through its focus on observation and breathing, meditation helps to calm nerves and stimulate proper functioning of the body’s systems.

For a simple meditation, exhale deeply through your nose. Then, inhale slowly through both nostrils to a fixed count of 4 or 5 and exhale for the same count Repeat five to 10 times, each time focusing intently on your breath. xii

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) supports the idea that our bodies, out of balance due to years of stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices, can be brought back to equilibrium through practices like herbalism, moxibustion, cupping, acupressure, and acupuncture. These practices aim to balance the “Five Elements” (or five elemental qualities) that make up our bodies and all phenomena of the universe.Natural Holistic Chinese Medicine

According to TCM, instances of heartburn and reflux associated with GERD are most often caused by emotional upset and ingesting improper foods. Similar to Ayurveda, TCM views GERD as having an imbalance that arises when the chi (energy) of acid reflux rises when it should sink.

Herbs and medicines in the Chinese tradition function to rebalance chi and body’s digestion process. Several herbs and herbal formulas are available from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner that will address this misdirection of chi, manage the acid reflux and help quell additional symptoms of GERD.
Some common TCM herbs used for GERD include:

  • bai shao
  • shan zha
  • chai hu

Some common TCM formulas for GERD include:

  • xiao yao san
  • si ni san
  • ping wei san.xiii

Acupressure/Acupuncture

A part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture supports the idea that our bodies, while out of balance due to years of stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices, can be brought back to equilibrium through the practice of needling points on energy channels (located throughout the body) called meridians.

AcupunctureAcupressure, or shiatsu, works with the same system of meridians and points but does not use needles. A shiatsu practitioner uses his or her fingers to hold down acupressure points on the body, therefore rebalancing one’s chi, or life force, to promote health.

Some common Acupuncture or Acupressure points xiv used to treat GERD include:

  • Pericardium 6-Nei Guan-Inner Pass/Inner Gate xv
  • Spleen 16-Fu Ai-Abdomen Sorrow xvi
  • Conception Vessel 6/Ren Mai 6-Qi Hai-Sea of Qi/Sea of Energy xvii
  • Conception Vessel 12/Ren Mai 12-Zhong Wan-Middle Cavity xviii

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses the medicinal properties of essential oils drawn from plants and herbs to treat a variety of conditions ranging from skin disorders and infections to stress and immune deficiencies. Luckily, there are specific essential oils which can help treat symptoms of GERD.

aromatherapyAll oils that are being applied to the body should be diluted in a carrier oil before use or may be diluted in water if taking a bath. Alternatively, essential oils can be directly inhaled via drops on a tissue or the use of an aromatherapy diffuser.

Some essential oils and formulas that may help with GERD include:

  • Digestion Support by Heritage Essential Oils

    Containing a mixture of tarragon, ginger, peppermint, juniper berry, anise, fennel, lemongrass, and patchouli oils, Digestion Support helps to relieve acid reflux and heartburn. Ginger essential oil helps eliminate bacteria that can cause acid reflux xix, while tarragon oil has “antispasmodic, antiparasitic, anti-fermentation and digestive aid properties” that can help GERD sufferers.xx 

  • DigestZen by doTerra

    This formula contains ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander, and anise essential oils, all of which work together to restore balance in the digestive system. Fennel oil has long been used to treat stomach disorders like indigestion and acid reflux.xxi Applying peppermint oil in combination with caraway oil in a carrier oil to the body, may reduce feelings of fullness and mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms.

  • Lemon Oil

    Lemon oil’s antibacterial properties may be effective against H. pylori bacteria in the stomach. Application of lemon essential oil in a carrier oil to one’s stomach may temporarily sooth the stomach and has the potential to reduce the excretion of digestive acids associated with heartburn.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy, developed by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann in the early 1700s, strives to relieve emotional and mental imbalances to restore the health of one’s body, mind, and spirit. Homeopathic remedies are made from minerals, animals, and plants, and professional homeopaths consider each individual’s constitutional type: physical, emotional, and genetic, before prescribing remedies. The philosophy of homeopathy follows the idea that toxic substances in diluted quantities can also be remedies; a medicine which in large quantities causes the symptoms of a disease will in smaller amounts cure the disease.

Natural Holistic HomeopathyIn relation to GERD, homeopathic medicines help lessen acidic build-up, strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, and rebalance pH by cleansing and restoring the digestive system.xxii

Some common homeopathic remedies are:

  • Acidil Tablets for Indigestion

    Acidil tablets temporarily soothe occasional heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, or upset stomach. They contain Abies nigra 4C HPUS, which relieves stomach pain after eating, Carbo vegetablilis 4C HPUS, which treats stomach bloating with gas, Nux vomica 4C HPUS (has less than 10-9 mg alkaloids) which combats heartburn due to excessive eating and drinking, and Robinia pseudoacacia 4C HPUS, which relieves heartburn with acid indigestion.

  • Cinchona Officinalis (Peruvian bark, Cinchona) for Diarrhea

    The main use of Cinchona Officinalis is to treat diarrhea accompanied by gas and bloating, which is accomplished through the main active ingredient, Cinchona officinalis 3X to 30X – 3C to 30C HPUS.

  • Gasalia® Tablets

    Gasalia® Tablets temporarily relieve bloating, pressure, discomfort and pain associated with gas. They contain four active ingredients, all of which perform unique functions. Carbo vegetabilis 6C HPUS soothes stomach bloating with gas, Lycopodium clavatum 6C HPUS relieves a bloated lower abdomen, Nux moschata 6C HPUS eases abdominal bloating accompanied by constipation, and Raphanus sativus 6C HPUS relieves abdominal bloating caused by difficulty passing gas.

Holistic Lifestyle Changes for GERD

Once one is aware of the lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms of GERD, consistent self-care helps enforce the healing process. Lifestyle changes involve cutting out certain foods from one’s diet, supplementing one’s diet with healthy foods, and paying attention to the body.

Elevate Your Head
Elevated Head during Sleep

If symptoms of GERD arise during sleep, elevate the head of your bed at least six inches. Placing a wood/cement block between the box spring and the mattress at the head of the bed may be ideal. The goal of elevation should be to raise your head higher than your stomach, so just increasing the amount of pillows may not work. Elevating your head will help keep stomach acid from rising.xxiii

Lose Weight

Research shows that excess weight creates a greater likelihood of GERD. Belly fat especially puts pressure on the stomach, which in turn causes fluids to rise up and reflux. For those who are overweight, losing as little as 5-10 pounds can help decrease one’s chance of developing GERD.xxiv

Avoid Cigarettes

In addition to the various harmful effects of cigarettes, cigarette smoking raises one’s chances of developing GERD. Smoking slows the creation of saliva, which protects the esophagus with it’s essential acid-reducing chemicals. In addition, smoking can weaken the LES, and it stimulates the creation of stomach acid.xxv

Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake and drink more water
Glass of water

Much like smoking cigarettes, caffeinated beverages and alcohol can raise acid production in one’s stomach. To avoid this, do not exceed 1-2 cups of coffee or tea per day. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation—men should not have more than two drinks per day, and women should not have more than one drink per day.

Make sure to drink water—at least 6-8 cups per day—to neutralize stomach acid and rinse out the stomach acid refluxed into the esophagus.xxvi

Holistic Diet & Nutrition for GERD

citrus fruitCarefully Selecting Dietary Items

Diet plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of GERD. Foods that can trigger GERD include fatty or fried foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, spicy foods, oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, carbonated beverages, chocolate and mint.

GERD sufferers may wish to keep a food journal, observe one’s own reactions to different kinds of foods, and cut out those that trigger symptoms. In addition, supplementing the diet with foods that help to prevent GERD—leafy greens, melons, bananas, oatmeal, tofu, fennel, parsley, and rice is recommended to help soothe symptoms.xxvii

Eliminate fructose and artificial sweeteners

Studies have shown that fructose and artificial sweeteners increase bacterial overgrowth. Eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet completely, and reduce fructose (especially in processed form).xxviii

BranLower or Eliminate Fiber In The Diet

Reducing or avoiding fiber in the diet can restore healthy levels of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. There is a growing body of evidence that less may be more when it comes to fiber. High fiber diets have been shown to contribute to bacterial overgrowth and may worsen GERD. Because about 15-20% of the starch and most of the fiber we consume escape absorption, these carbohydrates that escape digestion turn into food for intestinal bacteria to thrive on.

In addition, pre-biotics (fructo-oligosaccharides), which are fermented foods typically used to restore gut flora and feed beneficial gut bacteria, should probably be avoided in patients with heartburn and GERD for similar reasons to fiber. While these are helpful in restoring bacterial balance for some people, studies show that pre-biotics raise levels of gas produced in the gut, which then affects GERD sufferers.xxix

Furthermore, fiber has the potential of binding with essential nutrients and removing them from the body before they are absorbed. This is especially harmful for patients with GERD, who might be missing key nutrients due to prolonged hypochlorydria (low stomach acid).

Low-carbohydrate diet

Because high carbohydrate diets create the potential for bacterial overgrown, it makes sense to eat less carbohydrates and supplement the diet with other, more symptom-reducing, foods. Bacterial overgrowth is associated with an ongoing decline of digestive function.

In a study done at Duke University, professors took a look at five patients with GERD that also had other medical problems like diabetes. All of the patients had failed conventional GERD treatments before the study, and even though some of the patients continued to drink, smoke, and take other GERD-unfriendly habits, in each patient’s case symptoms of GERD were eliminated within one week of taking on a very low carbohydrate diet.

In another study, professors at Yale examined how the VLC (Very Low Carbohydrate ) diet on eight obese subjects with severe GERD could help. Measuring the esophageal pH of the subjects before and after the study, all five patients were able to decrease levels of acid in the esophagus. Because obesity is a risk factor for GERD, the benefit of a low-carb diet is that it also promotes weight loss.

VLC diets do not have to be continued for long periods of time: once one has recovered his or her digestive function, a diet low to moderate in carbohydrates is adequate to prevent a recurrence of symptoms.xxx

GAPS diet/Specific carbohydrate diet

In this diet, patients focus not on the quantity of the carbohydrates that they eat, but on the quality, or type, of carbohydrates that they eat.

Specific Carbohydrate DietDeveloped by Sidney V. Haas, M.D., the Specific Carbohydrate Diet helps cure the unbalanced relationship between carbohydrates and intestinal microbes. It is this imbalance that often causes gastrointestinal disorders: bacteria multiply and food absorption declines in the gastrointestinal tract, and the body has difficulty digesting carbohydrates because of microbial overgrowth and toxins.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet follows that longer-chain carbohydrates (monosaccharides) do not pose a problem; while all grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables are eliminated, fruits and specific non-starchy root vegetables, like turnips, winter squash, rutabaga, and celery root, can be eaten.

According to Elaine Gotschall, M.Sc., if this diet is rigidly followed, many intestinal disorders “appear to be cured at the end of a year.” This diet focuses on eliminating all cereal grains in any form, while at the same time cutting out dairy products and processed foods.xxxii 

Mastic Resin (resin from the variety of the pistachio tree)

Mastic, a resin obtained from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern varieties of the pistachio tree (Pistacia lentiscus), is often called “Arabic gum” or “Yemen gum” in pharmacies and natural health food stores. Mastic resin has been used to relieve gastritis xli, inflammation in Crohn’s patients xlii and may inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori), a bacteria which may impair one’s ability to recover from GERD.xxxiii 

Bitters
fennel

Bitter herbs, or “bitters”, have been used to improve digestion in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Recently, studies have confirmed bitters to increase the flow and quality of digestive juices, including HCL, bile, pepsin, gastrin and pancreatic enzymes.xxxiv

Bitters are usually taken in small doses (just enough to create a strong taste of bitterness).

Some common bitter herbs commonly used in Western and Chinese herbology include barberry bark, caraway, dandelion, fennel, gentian root, ginger, globe artichoke, goldenseal root, hops, milk thistle, peppermint,wormwood and yellow dock. See a licensed herbalist to tailor herbal treatments to your own constitution.xxxv

Eat Foods Containing Probiotics

Since bacterial overgrowth is a major factor in heartburn and GERD, restoring a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria is an essential part of treatment. Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, help create balanced intestinal levels, and they also protect against potential pathogens. Like bitter herbs, probiotics help treat H. pylori infections.

Contrary to what a lot of the marketing of commercial probiotic manufacturers say, you can get your probiotics from the foods you eat.

Apple Cider VinegarFor thousands of years, fermented foods have been consumed for their probiotic health benefits, and foods like yogurt and kefir generally have high concentrations of beneficial microorganisms. Apple cider vinegar, raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut and pickles, and kombucha are time-tested, fermented remedies that often relieve symptoms of heartburn and GERD.

Although these remedies may resolve symptoms, they do not increase nutrient absorption and assimilation to the extent that HCL supplements do. This may be important for those who have been taking acid suppressing drugs for a long period. Furthermore, fermented milk products like kefir and yogurt offer more nutritional benefits than beneficial bacteria alone, including amino acids, vitamins, minerals, protein, L-carnitine, fats, CLA, and antimicrobial agents.

One caveat to treating GERD with fermented milk products is that they are relatively high in carbohydrates, which may create problems for people with severe overgrowth of bacteria. In these cases, small amounts of kefir and yogurt may be therapeutic. Homemade kefir and yogurt are best, as the microorganism count will be much higher. If you want to avoid dairy, but also want the health benefits of kefir, make water kefir, a Mexican remedy. Water kefir grains, also known as sugar kefir grains, allow fermentation of juice or sugar water to produce a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage.xxxvi

Bone Broth

Since many factors can lead to a damaged gut lining including bacterial overgrowth, chronic stress, medications, restoring a balanced stomach lining is important in recovering from GERD. The mucosal lining of the stomach protects it from its own acid, so a damaged stomach lining can lead to irritation, pain, and even ulcers.

Homemade bone broth soups work to restore a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. They contain collagen and gelatin, which have been shown to help people with ulcers. Bone broths are also high in proline, a non-essential amino acid that is an essential precursor for the creation of collagen. Glutamine is also present in bone broth, and is a crucial metabolic fuel for cells in the intestine. It has been shown to help the gut lining in animal studies.xxxvii

Products and Equipment to Help Relieve GERD

MedclineRest/Sleep

  • Medcline
    Medcline is a specially designed pillow used for preventing acid reflux/GERD when one sleeps. Use it if you experience symptoms of GERD while sleeping. The goal of Medcline is to position the head higher than the stomach.

Supplements

  • GES-5

    A product called GES-5 helps prevent the action of reflux so commonly associated with GERD. In the form of a chewable tablet, it contains alginic acid, sodium alginate, slippery elm, and deglycyrrhized licorice. The combination of these ingredients when joined with saliva and gastric juices helps create a foamy layer of froth. This layer, functioning as a barrier to prevent acid and food reflux, sits on top of gastric contents of the stomach. It prevents refluxed material from coming into contact with the esophagus lining so that pain, discomfort, and further damage to the lining of the esophagus can be avoided.In addition, slippery elm and deglycyrrhized licorice are demulcents that calm irritated esophageal tissue. They also help the lining of the esophagus heal. Two tablets should be chewed and swallowed after a meal, and drinking a glass of water after chewing the tablets is suggested. Keep in mind that the “alginic raft” endures for about two hours, which is sufficient time for the stomach to break down a meal.xxxviii 

  • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)

    Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) raises the concentration of prostaglandins, compounds which promote mucous secretion, stabilize cell membranes, and inspire new cell growth. All of these actions help create a healthy gut lining.It is important to note that chronic stress and the use of NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) suppresses production of prostaglandins, so if using DGL to treat GERD, manage stress and avoid the use of NSAIDs whenever possible.xxxix 

Aromatherapy

  • Digestion Support by Heritage Essential Oils

    Containing a mixture of tarragon, ginger, peppermint, juniper berry, anise, fennel, lemongrass, and patchouli oils, Digestion Support helps to relieve acid reflux and heartburn. Ginger essential oil helps eliminate bacteria that can cause acid reflux xix, while tarragon oil has “antispasmodic, antiparasitic, anti-fermentation and digestive aid properties” that can help GERD sufferers.xx 

  • DigestZenDigestZen by doTerra

    This formula contains ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander, and anise essential oils, all of which work together to restore balance in the digestive system. Fennel oil has long been used to treat stomach disorders like indigestion and acid reflux.xxi Applying peppermint oil in combination with caraway oil in a carrier oil to the body, may reduce feelings of fullness and mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms.

  • Lemon Oil

    Lemon oil’s antibacterial properties may be effective against H. pylori bacteria in the stomach. Application of lemon essential oil in a carrier oil to one’s stomach may temporarily sooth the stomach and has the potential to reduce the excretion of digestive acids associated with heartburn.

Homeopathy

  • AcidilAcidil Tablets for Indigestion

    Acidil tablets temporarily soothe occasional heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, or upset stomach. They contain Abies nigra 4C HPUS, which relieves stomach pain after eating, Carbo vegetablilis 4C HPUS, which treats stomach bloating with gas, Nux vomica 4C HPUS (has less than 10-9 mg alkaloids) which combats heartburn due to excessive eating and drinking, and Robinia pseudoacacia 4C HPUS, which relieves heartburn with acid indigestion.

  • Cinchona Officinalis (Peruvian bark, Cinchona) for Diarrhea

    The main use of Cinchona Officinalis is to treat diarrhea accompanied by gas and bloating, which is accomplished through the main active ingredient, Cinchona officinalis 3X to 30X – 3C to 30C HPUS.

  • Gasalia® Tablets

    Gasalia® Tablets temporarily relieve bloating, pressure, discomfort and pain associated with gas. They contain four active ingredients, all of which perform unique functions. Carbo vegetabilis 6C HPUS soothes stomach bloating with gas, Lycopodium clavatum 6C HPUS relieves a bloated lower abdomen, Nux moschata 6C HPUS eases abdominal bloating accompanied by constipation, and Raphanus sativus 6C HPUS relieves abdominal bloating caused by difficulty passing gas.

Community Resources for GERD

American Gastroenterological Association

Updated: October 2014


Written by Nicole Kagan

Reviewed & edited by Dr Jeffrey Lederman and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD

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  • ii http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburngerd/basics/risk-factors/con-20019545
  • iii http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/page4.htm#what_are_the_symptoms_of_uncomplicated_gerd
  • iv http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
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  • viii http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215320/
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  • xiii http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27754
  • xiv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw4RbC1qyMQ
  • xv Lian, Y. (2005). The pictorial atlas of acupuncture: an illustrated manual of acupuncture points. Marburg: Könemann.
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  • xviii Lian, Y. (2005). The pictorial atlas of acupuncture: an illustrated manual of acupuncture points. Marburg: Könemann.
  • xix 5 Natural Ways to Fix Acid Reflux. (2014, January 3). The Institute For Natural Healing . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://institutefornaturalhealing.com/2014/01/5-natural-ways-to-fix-acid-reflux/
  • xx Di-Gize Essential Oil Takes On Stomach Challenges and More!. (n.d.). Experience-Essential-Oils.com . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.experience-essential-oils.com/di-gize-essential-oil.html
  • xxi Fennel Essential Oil. (n.d.). www.yogawiz.com . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.yogawiz.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-essential-oils/fennel-essential-oil.html#continued
  • xxii Homeopathic Treatment of Acid Reflux. (n.d.). American Medical College of Homeopathy . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.amcofh.org/homeopathic-treatment-acid-reflux
  • xxiii http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/say-goodbye-gerd?gallery=true&page=7
  • xxiv http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/say-goodbye-gerd?gallery=true&page=7
  • xxv http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/say-goodbye-gerd?gallery=true&page=4
  • xxvi http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/say-goodbye-gerd?gallery=true&page=5
  • xxvii http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/say-goodbye-gerd?gallery=true&page=2
  • xxviii http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxix http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxx http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxxi Trivieri, L., & Anderson, J. W. (2002). Gastrointestinal Disorders. Alternative medicine: the definitive guide (2nd ed., p. 718). Berkeley: Celestial Arts.
  • xxxii http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxxiii http://www.life-enhancement.com/magazine/news-articles/595-got-heartburn-try-mastic
  • xxxiv Wright, Jonathan M.D. Why Stomach Acid is Good For You. M Evans 2001. p.142
  • xxxv http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxxvi http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxxvii http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xxxviii http://www.needs.com/product/HWC06-DGH-06/l_Heartburn
  • xxxix http://chriskresser.com/get-rid-of-heartburn-and-gerd-forever-in-three-simple-steps
  • xl http://www.medcline.com/
  • xli http://www.bioidenticalhormones101.com/Heartburn_Reflux_PPI_Drug.html
  • xlii http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066008/
Categories
Natural Health News and Articles

Slippery Elm for GERD

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

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

Tea

  1. Make slippery elm tea by placing two tablespoons (4 grams) of powdered bark into a mug.
  2. 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.

Tincture

  1. Take 5 mL of slippery elm tincture in water three times per day.
  2. Stir the formula before drinking.

Keep in mind that many tinctures contain alcohol.

Capsule

  1. In capsule form, take 400-500 milligrams 3 to 4 times daily for 4-8 weeks.
  2. Take capsules with a full glass of water.

Lozenge

Follow dosing instructions on the label.

Formula

  1. First mix one teaspoonful of powdered slippery elm into a thin, smooth paste with a small amount of cold water.
  2. Then pour a pint of boiling water over the paste, stirring steadily.
  3. 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”

  1. Beat up an egg with a teaspoonful of powdered slippery elm bark.
  2. 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

  1. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/slippery-elm-herbal-remedies.htm
  2. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/slippery-elm#ixzz3It4EIJGC

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP