Gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a very common condition when the stomach contents come back up into the oesophagus. Quite often it is due to the failure of the sphincter muscle that closes up this part of the digestive tract.
There could be a temporary GERD, which doesn’t lead to complication, but when GERD becomes frequent and lasts, the acidity of the gastric liquid irritates the mucous membrane of the oesophagus and can be responsible for an inflammation called esophagitis. This is a very frequent symptom in adults as well as in babies.
What are the symptoms?
There are many symptoms such as burning, acid regurgitation, hiccups, belching, or epigastric pain, chronic cough, chronic laryngitis, hoarseness, asthma, or even dental erosion.
What are the causes?
In natural medicine, we can identify several types of causes:
The very first cause is a lack of enzymes, or en a lack of gastrin (depending of the thyroid), which doesn’t allow the correct emptying of the stomach.
Other possible causes are a lack of acidity of the stomach. In fact the stomach normal pH is between 1.5 and 3.0, on a scale of 0-14, so it stays very acidic, and needs to stay acidic in order to brake down proteins and kill eventual bugs.
Another common cause is food intolerance, which causes indigestion and let the food stagnates in the stomach, which induces fermentation (gas and bloating) .
Of course consuming excess amount of sugar, and eating too much in quantity can also contribute to acid reflux.
A mechanical cause could be a hiatal hernia, which is a bump in the stomach. This will makes the food and stomach content come up, especially when lying down.
Then there could be a bacterial such as Helicobacter Pylori, or a fungal infection such as candida which can paralyse the sphincter muscles.
Lastly, heavy metals, other pollutants, and medication can all contribute to acid reflux.
What are the consequences?
The main consequences are bloating, constipation, food intolerance, anaemia, lack of nutritional absorption, intestinal dysbiosis, fatigue, etc. but also gastritis, ulcers, or even certain types of digestive cancers
What are Natural Remedies ?
First of all, you have to eliminate the causes, which can include stress, and start drinking broths. Broth is a Real « medication » for the entire digestive system, including stomach.
If you have a gastritis/ulcer, we need to calm inflammation with plants such as liquorice, marshmallow, chamomile, or slippery elm.
If you have burning attacks, use sodium bicarbonate and it will stop burning immediately!
It is very important to REST : if possible start fasting, either intermittent fasting or longer fasting.
If you lack acidity: use apple cider vinegar, lacto-fermented vegetable juice, sea salt, Quinton, or Betaine HCL
If you lack pancreatic enzymes, then add digestive enzymes and /or fresh vegetable juice.
To accelerate the emptying of the stomach content, use peppermint, fennel, ginger, star anise and gentian.
For improving liver function, use milk thistle, dandelion, black radish, rosemary, or artichoke.
For the small intestine: broths!, or L-glutamine.
And finally, for the colon, broths, probiotics, lacto-fermented vegetables, eventually probiotics.
This is it !!!
Chronic GERD can be stopped, eradicated, and avoided, by following these simple steps. Of course, you should always consult your health care practitioner to investigate further.
Yours in health,
Béatrice Levinson, Naturopath and CGP