Acid Reflux
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Acid Reflux
Herbal & Home Remedies Herbal Remedies Home Remedies

Slippery ElmThere are several causes of heartburn - acid reflux. By making changes in your lifestyle there can be ways to prevent acid reflux from occuring.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, or acid reflux, is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates (backs up, or refluxes) into the esophagus. The liquid can inflame and damage the lining of the esophagus although this occurs in a minority of patients. The regurgitated liquid usually contains acid and pepsin that are produced by the stomach. (Pepsin is an enzyme that begins the digestion of proteins in the stomach.) The refluxed liquid also may contain bile that has backed-up into the stomach from the duodenum. (The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine that attaches to the stomach.) Acid is believed to be the most injurious component of the refluxed liquid. Pepsin and bile also may injure the esophagus, but their role in the production of esophageal inflammation and damage (esophagitis) is not as clear as the role of acid.

GERD is a chronic condition. Once it begins, it usually is life-long. If there is injury to the lining of the esophagus (esophagitis), this also is a chronic condition. Moreover, after the esophagus has healed with treatment and treatment is stopped, the injury will return in most patients within a few months. Once treatment for GERD is begun, therefore, it usually will need to be continued indefinitely.

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Symptoms

Symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn (a burning feeling rising from the stomach or lower chest up towards the neck), regurgitation (food or fluid coming up into the mouth), chest pain, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), hoarseness, dental diseases and asthma.

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Causes

 

There are several types of food and activiies that are the most frequent causes of heartburn or acid reflux:

From Sharon Gillson,
Your Guide to Heartburn / GERD.

Coffee, tea, and other drinks that contain caffeine
Caffeine can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents to reflux into the esophagus.

Chocolate
Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine (a compound that occurs naturally in many plants such as cocoa, tea and coffee plants), which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus.

Fried and fatty foods
These foods tend to slow down digestion, keeping the food in your stomach longer. This can result in increases pressure in the stomach, which in turn puts more pressure on a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, allowing reflux of stomach contents.

Tomatoes and tomato-based products
These foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Alcohol
Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. It also increases the production of stomach acid.

Tobacco
The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the lower esophageal sphincter as they pass from the lungs into the blood.

Large meals
A full stomach can put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the esophagus.

Citrus fruits and juices
These foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Eating within 2 to 3 hours prior to bedtime
Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the chances of refluxed food.

Wearing tight fitting clothing
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the lower esophageal sphincter, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts and slenderizing undergarments.

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Home Remedies

Weight loss should be mentioned as one of the natural cures for acid reflux. If you are currently at your ideal weight then you may not need to read this section.

Overweight and obese people are much more likely to suffer from acid reflux, including nighttime acid reflux.

Trying herbal remedies for acid reflux control and making no effort to lose the extra pounds will undoubtedly be disappointing.

Using prescription and/or natural remedies for acid reflux while you are trying to lose weight makes sense.

Avoiding fried and fatty foods is often recommended for people who suffer acid reflux. If you avoid these and eat several small meals during the day then you may naturally lose weight and naturally cure acid reflux.

Eating several small meals every couple of hours is often recommended by diet doctors, because it increases your metabolism and keeps blood sugar levels stable, so you don't feel sleepy after a meal, don't feel a need to lie down and stomach acid is less likely to travel back up into the esophagus

If you have suggestions or know of a proven home remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies for acid reflux include chamomile, meadowsweet, slippery elm, cancer bush, fennel, catnip, angelica root, gentian root, ginger root and other botanicals, including aloe.

Slippery elm was used historically by native peoples to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and other digestive complaints.

Fennel and ginger root were also common "folk remedies" for the relief of indigestion.

Modern herbalists have found that a combination of several of the herbs that had been used for indigestion could be effective natural remedies for acid reflux. Some may call them natural "cures" for acid reflux, but long-term relief of acid reflux is best accomplished by changes in lifestyle and eating habits.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven herbal remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Wellness Program

Once diagnosed, acid reflux can be treated in a variety of ways. There are several acid reflux remedies now available to aid sufferers in leading productive, pain-free lives. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:

People suffering from GERD may be recommended a GERD diet, in which they have to avoid certain foods that have been found to promote GERD. These can include fatty foods, such as milk, dairy products, and chocolates; peppermint; cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach; and cooked acidic fruits such as boiled or stewed oranges and tomatoes. Although recent research has spoken to the contrary, physicians may recommend avoiding acidic drinks such as coffee and alcohol; excess vitamin C supplements; antacids with calcium; and spicy foods as a precaution.

Going through a GERD diet also entails changing eating habits. GERD sufferers are asked to eat more frequent, smaller, fat-free meals, and to avoid eating large meals. Lying down immediately after meals is also not recommended, although physicians will advise GERD sufferers to eat at most two to three hours before their bedtimes.

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