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15 Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux and Ulcers
Do you, or someone you know, suffer from acid reflux? This is an extremely common problem. Perhaps as many as 50 percent of Americans suffer from this problem, which is also called peptic ulcer disease, or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease).
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. A type of burning sensation in the center of the chest, which travels up the throat. Sometimes this pain is so strong; it is occasionally mistaken for a heart attack.
Many doctors believe that acid reflux is caused by excessive amounts of acid in your stomach, so acid blocking drugs are usually prescribed. This is a serious misconception of the problem and it adversely affects millions of people as this problem actually comes from having too little acid in the stomach.
What actually causes heartburn?
When we eat, food goes down your esophagus and into your stomach. At the end of your esophagus there is a valve, with a very strong muscular type of action, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This valve, when working properly, closes and keeps food, as well as acid, from coming back up into the esophagus.
So, acid reflux is actually caused when the LES relaxes and allows the acid from your stomach to flow back into the esophagus. It’s easy to see that it’s not the acid. So what could be causing this? For most people, it’s other issues that cause acid reflux. One is the hiatal hernia and a type of common stomach bacteria called helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori.
Although these two conditions are completely unrelated, many people with hiatal hernias have this bacterial infection. In fact it’s been estimated that as much 50 percent of the world’s population is infected with H. pylori. If you have a hiatal hernia, you might try visiting a chiropractor or physical therapy. Read more why your digestive system is out of whack.
You might also want to consider that many prescription drugs and over the counter medications can cause heartburn. Some drugs that cause heartburn include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, nitroglycerin, and anti-anxiety medications. If your heartburn is being caused by medication, then you should consider how to address the problem that is causing you to take this drug. It’s a mistake to take another drug to counteract the side effects of other drugs.
Heartburn medications can do you more harm than good
One of the drugs that are often prescribed for heartburn and acid reflux are called proton pump inhibitors, or PPI’s. These are truly great drugs for blocking the acid production in the stomach.
There have been numerous studies showing that PPI’s don’t actually fix the problem, they only mask the symptoms of the real problem. Perhaps as many as 70 percent of the people these drugs shouldn’t even be on them. Taking acid reducing drugs reduces your prime defense mechanism for food borne infections. This means it increases your chance of getting food poisoning. PPI drugs themselves also have some serious side effects including bone loss, pneumonia, and very harmful intestinal bacteria known as clostridium difficile.
It’s also important to note that, as you continue to take PPI drugs, your body develops both a tolerance as well as a dependence on them. Never stop taking your PPI drugs cold turkey. Wean yourself off them slowly. Start by getting a lower dosage than what you are taking now, then, once you get down to the lowest dose, start taking over the counter drugs such as Tagamet or Ranitidine. Then you can start implementing a modification program that will remove this problem once and for all.
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Natural foods ad probiotics
The ultimate answer to reflux and heartburn is to restore your gastric function to its normal balanced state. When you eat large amounts of processed foods and sugar, you are simply asking for acid reflux, as this upsets the natural bacterial balance of your stomach and intestines.
Instead, eat plenty of fresh, organic vegetables and other high-quality, unprocessed foods. Also, remove all food related triggers from your diet, including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
Now you need plenty of beneficial bacteria in your diet. This will aid in proper digestion, as well as eliminating the H. Pylori bacteria naturally, without the use of antibiotics. Get these probiotics from fermented foods. If you don’t eat enough fermented foods, you will need to get your probiotics from a supplement. Eat plenty of fermented vegetables, chutneys, yogurt, sour cream, kefir, and fish such as mackerel.
Low Acid Production
As we stated earlier, low acid is what actually causes heartburn, so you want to encourage your body to make more stomach acid.
High quality sea salt, which is an unprocessed salt, or Himalayan salt, will give your body the chloride it needs to make hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). Eating sauerkraut or cabbage juice is also another great stimulant that will encourage your body to make more stomach acid. Just a few tablespoons of the juice from sauerkraut before eating will work wonders for your digestion. Read more about sauerkraut and its benefits.
Besides addressing your daily diet there are other methods that will also help get that heartburn under control, without the use of medication. Here is a list of 15 natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux.
- Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water daily solves many stomach disorders.
- Betaine – This is a supplement available at most health food stores without a prescription.
- Baking soda – one teaspoon dissolved in 8 ounces of water eases most heartburn.
- Aloe juice – This is a great way to naturally reduce inflammation. Drink ½ of a cup before each meal.
- Ginger root or chamomile tea – Ginger has been found to block acid production. Add two or three slices of fresh ginger root to two cups of hot water and let this sit for about 30 minutes. Drink 20 minutes before eating. Chamomile tea can help soothe the stomach and helps you sleep. Try a cup before bedtime.
- Vitamin D – Increasing your intake of vitamin D will help with so many problems. Get yours via the sun or a safe tanning bed. Another option is to take oral vitamin D3 and a vitamin K2 supplement.
- Astaxanthin – 40 mg’s daily work great for those with acid reflux.
- Slippery elm – This herb coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. This is also good for those suffering from inflammatory bowel problems. Take 500 mg 3 to 4 times a day for 6-8 weeks. Or you can drink a cup of tea before every meal.
- Chinese herbs for the treatment of “Gu” – You can read more about how to use these herbs online.
- Glutamine – This is a natural amino acid found in many foods such a beef, dairy, and eggs, or you can always take this as a supplement.
- Folate or Folic acid (B9) – A study done in 2009 showed that higher levels of B vitamins reduced levels of acid reflux by 40 percent. Raise you folate levels by eating more liver, spinach, beans, okra, and asparagus.
You really don’t need drugs to get rid of acid reflux. By restoring your natural gastric balance, you can improve your overall health as well as rid yourself of acid reflux for good.