Every year, billions of dollars are spent on medications to treat acid reflux and heartburn. There are numerous prescription and non-prescription medications to treat acid reflux, an afliction which many Americans suffer from. While many people would prefer to not have to pop a pill daily or contantly consume antacids in order to treat their acid reflux; however, that is how acid reflux and heartburn is typically treated through medications.
Whether you have Gastroesophageal Refux Disease (GERD) or Lasopharygneal Reflux (LPR), you likely are taking a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) such as Prilosec or Nexium to treat your acid reflux. Perhaps you want a change and are looking for natural remedies for acid reflux. There are numerous ways to treat acid reflux naturally.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition of stomach acid coming up into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD are typically heartburn, regurgitation, and trouble swallowing. Less common symptoms of GERD include pain with swallowing, increase saliva production, nausea, and chest pain.
LPR or laryngopharyngeal reflux is the retrograde of stomach contents into the aero-digestive tract. LPR is often referred to as silent reflux because unlike GERD, heartburn is typically not a symptom. Common symptoms of LPR include hoarseness, postnasal drip, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, indigestion, wheezing, chronic cough, globus pharyngis and chronic throat-clearing.
Change Your Diet
Change What You Eat
As many suffers of acid reflux are aware, there are certain foods that can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. Therefore, in order to keep your acid reflux in check, it is important that you have an acid reflux friendly diet. Foods to avoid in order to prevent acid reflux include:
- Fried food
- Spicy food
- Citrus Fruits
Change How You Eat
In addition to changing what you eat, you need to change how you eat in order to fight acid reflux. You should avoid large meals which can trigger reflux. Do not eat late at night and never lie down for 2 to 3 hours after you have eaten. When you lie down without your food being given the proper chance to digest, it is easier for the acid and stomach contents to travel back up your esophagus. Therefore, it is important you remain upright after eating.
Avoid Acid Reflux Triggers
Smoking is an acid reflux trigger for the following reasons: it slows the production of saliva, stimulates the production of stomach acid, weakens digestive enzymes, changes stomach acid, injures the esophagus, and slows digestion. Smoking also causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, thus causing acid reflux. It is uncontroverted that smoking is bad for you and has numerous other negative health effects (causes emphysema, lung cancer, etc...), but if you are looking to prevent acid reflux, you should quit smoking.
Stress can be the main cause of acid reflux; therefore, if you are looking to fight acid reflux try to reduce stress as much as possible.
Increased weight on the stomach increases abdominal pressure thus pushing stomach contents into the esophagus. As little as a 10% loss in weight can improve the symptoms of acid reflux.
Sleep on an Angle
As already mentioned, lying down makes it easier for acid and stomach contents to travel back up your esopphagus. Therefore, it is recommended that if you suffer from acid reflux, you sleep on an angle by raising the head of your bed approximately 6 inches. Just using extra pillows to raise your head will not be sufficient as your entire torso needs to be on an incline. Raising your bed using books or cinder blocks is impractical; therefore, another option is to purchase a sleeping wedge which is designed to allow you to sleep on an incline and prevent acid reflux.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural "cure all" that can be used to treat numerous chronic and acute conditions naturally. While it may appear counter-intuitive, to treat acid reflux with apple cider vinegar (an acid)--it really works! Despite being an acid, apple cider vinegar treats acid reflux in a few ways. First, a certain level of acid is required to breakdown food. Apple cider vinegar is a lower pH than stomach acid but provides sufficient acid to assist in the breakdown of food without causing further stomach acid being produced. Thus, lowering the total pH in the stomach and preventing the acid reflux. Similarly, in order for the sphinter on the top of the stomach to remain closed, the stomach needs to have a certain amount of acid within it. Consuming apple cider vinegar ensures the total amount of acid in the stomach is sufficien to keep the top sphincter closed and prevent the stomach contents and acid from going up into the esophagus. Additionally, although apple cider vinegar is an acid, it also has an alkalizing effect of balancing pH levels in the body.
In order to treat acid reflux with apple cider vinegar, you can either drink 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in a cup of water before each meal or create a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water using the same proportions and sip it throuhgout the day. Be sure that when using apple cider vinegar that you only use organic apple cider vinegar that states that it has "the mother"--the property within apple cider vinegar that makes it effective. For an acute acid reflux attack, you can drink 2 to 3 tablespoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar.
Baking soda also known as bicarbonate has many uses. In addtion to beused used to kill odors and clean stains, baking soda can be used as a natural antacid. Simply place a spoonfull of baking soda in a glass of water, stir and drink it while it is still fizzing. This will treat heartburn and an upset stomach. Be advised that baking soda is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or on a sodium restricted diet. Get your doctor's advice before using baking soda to treat acid reflux.
Organic Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice is another natural remedy with numerous benefits. Aloe vera juice aides in digestion and thereofre, is used to treat upset stomachs, diarrhea, and even chronic conditions such as ulcerative colitis. Because aloe vera juice aides in digestion, it is effective in treating acid reflux. Mix 1 ounce of organic aloe vera juice with 2 oucnes of water and drink as soon as acid reflux symptoms start.
Glutamine is an amino acid found in milk, eggs, fish, parsley, spinach, and other food sources that acts as an anti-inflammatory. Glutamine's anti-inflammatory properties reduce intestinal inflammation associated with acid reflux thus relieving acid reflux symptoms.
Herbal licorice (the herbal root, NOT the candy) coats the stomach with a protective gel that ie effective at treating acid reflux. You can obtain herbal licorice at most health food stores commonly in the form of a tea.
Chew a piece of sugar-free gum approximately 30 minutes prior to eating. Chewing gum will produce saliva which will dilute acid in the stomach, help to wash away any food or other substances in your esophagus and stomach. Doing so will prevent the symptoms of acid reflux.
Adding a couple of teaspoons of slippery elm, an herb that can be found in natural food stores, into a glass of water can help coat and protect the stomach thereby relieving acid reflux symptoms.
Melatonin is a natural supplement often used as a sleep aide, but it has also been found to protect the digestive tract and alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
Drinking a glass of milk has been shown to cause immediate relief for heartburn and acid reflux. Because milk is a "base" it helps to quickly neutralize stomach acid and relieve acid reflux symptoms.
The simplest natural remedy to treat acid reflux is to simply drink water. Water will dilute stomach acid and wash down anything in the stomach that might otherwise come back up into the esophagus.
Almonds, which have also been known to naturally prevent hangovers, can be used to treat acid reflux naturally. Eat a few almonds in the morning and/or before meals in order to treat acid reflux. Be sure to chew the almonds very well before swallowing.
Chamomile & Fennel Tea
Chamomile and fennel tea can be used to provide relief from acid reflux symptoms. Be sure to prepare the tea at a tepid temperature (follow Goldilock's taste: not too hot and not too cold) and be sure to sip the tea--do not gulp! Chamomile and/or fennel tea will soothe the stomach and ease acid reflux symptoms.
Eating an organic apple after each meal has been shown to alleviate acid reflux.
When you begin to feel the symptoms of an acid reflux attack, chew a piece of candied ginger to relieve acid reflux symptoms. If you do not like eating candied ginger, put a piece of candied ginger in tea, let it sit, and sip the tea after the candied ginger has begun to melt.
Papaya enzyme can be found in pill form in natural health stores. Papaya enxyme is effective at relieving acid reflux symptoms.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that consuming pickle juice will alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Presumably, pickle juice is effective at treating acid reflux for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar is effective (lower pH than stomach acid and can also have an alkalizing effect).
Lemon juice is an effective natural remedy for many ailments because it is effective in flushing out toxins. Many who suffer from acid reflux actually experince acid reflux due to insufficient acid in the stomach. Lemon juice is an acid that is effective in treating acid reflux but helping to balance pH in the stomach to the appropriate level.