Acid reflux syndrome (GERD, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease or simply heartburn) occurs when acid, bile and other stomach contents flow back or reflux into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn and nausea. It can be more than irritating and painful – it could actually lead to inflammation and actual damage of the esophagus. The causes of acid reflux are still unknown but it is more likely to occur if you suffer from obesity, hiatus hernia, recurring vomiting or scleroderma. Treatment of acid reflux can either be preventative or solution based. Here are a few possible holistic treatments for acid reflux, GERD or heartburn:-
A Few Foods that can Help Prevent Acid Reflux
According to food scientist, Lee-Ann Van Den Berg – one of the best natural treatments for acid reflux would be to eliminate the foods that personally cause it in you. The culprits are generally fatty foods, carbonated beverages, acidic fruits (lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes) and their juices, acid vegetables (tomatoes, raw onions), coffee and tea, chocolate and chilli pepper. In addition to identifying the foods that upset your system, the next step is to look at the manner in which you eat. It is recommended that you rather eat smaller meals more frequently – and chew thoroughly.
Fruits that Help with Acid Reflux
Nutritionist, Gillian McKeith, recommends sipping apple and pear juice slowly to soothe your digestive system. You could juice two apples and two pears together and add some pure water with a dash of ginger (powdered or fresh) – and sip slowly. Alternatively, you can blend a banana with pear or mango juice. It should soothe an inflamed stomach.
Herbal Treatments that can Help Soothe Heartburn
According to ‘Reader’s Digest: Natural medicine’, it may benefit you to see an herbal practitioner. They may recommend the herbs: marsh-mallow, slippery elm or a specially made tincture. Also drinking fennel, catnip, chamomile or thyme teas should help with the discomfort suffered.
The Original Swedish Bitters (a bitter but highly effective herbal tincture) - founded by the Swedish physician Dr Samst is believed to stimulate the body’s digestive system thereby assisting with the symptoms of acid reflux syndrome. It is a 100% herbal concentrate which can be taken neat, in an herbal tea or simply in water. Please consult with a medical practitioner (even a pharmacist) before taking any herbs medicinally as they are highly effective and may have contra-indications.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) as a Natural Treatment for Acid Reflux
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great digestive tonic. Apple cider vinegar is most effective in treating acid reflux when it is of the raw variety. Raw apple cider vinegar is a naturally fermented food which is unfiltered and un-pasteurized. In the raw apple cider vinegar you will see a cloudy concentrate (sediment-like) which is called the ‘mother’. The mother is rich in enzymes. Taking a small quantity of apple cider vinegar before or at the beginning of a meal is recommended by many nutritionists. A small amount should be taken in a glass of water and sipped through a straw. Alternatively, you can take it as a shot, thrown rapidly to the back of the throat (this is because there is concern that the apple cider vinegar may ruin the enamel of the teeth). Best be safe rather than sorry.
Can Acupuncture Really Help with Acid Reflux?
According to many professionals, the answer is a resounding: yes! It is a natural treatment for acid reflux that you should, by no means overlook. Acupuncture is believed to be therapeutic in many circumstances including in the relief of many digestive disorders. It really helps when there is excessive acidity and inflammation of the stomach lining. It is definitely worth adding to the ‘natural tools’ list.
In conclusion, acid reflux could be masking other internal problems - this is why you should consult a doctor if it does not ease up even after trying various holistic treatments. There are medical doctors who have further training in various holistic practices; they may be able to work out a program for you if none of the above suggestions work for you. Always remember that your overall lifestyle features highly here. This means that small changes can do big things for your health. Also, smoking and drinking will simply exacerbate matters. Another often overlooked cause of acid reflux is prescription medication – chat to your doctor about alternatives, if you suspect this culprit. Examine your lifestyle closely, pick one holistic treatment for acid reflux that connects with you…and try it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
1. Holford, P. New Optimum Nutrition Bible. London: Piatkus, 2004
2. McKeith, G. You are what you eat. London, Penguin, 2007
3. Reader’s Digest: Natural Medicine. Cape Town, 1992
4. Gastrointestinal disorders http://www.naturalstandards.com