Acidity & GERD are caused by an imbalance of stomach acid (HCl) and an improperly functioning esophageal sphincter. In Ayurvedic Medicine, we call this acid, “Pitta”. Pitta is a bio-humor responsible for several physiological functions but is not limited to its association with Hydrochloric Acid. In these conditions, the increase of pitta in the stomach region is the prime factor responsible for the manifestation of their symptoms. The improper functioning of the esophageal sphincter is a problem of the nervous system.
Depending on the severity, there are two options here:
1. Reduce and manage symptoms with medicinal herbs.
2. Treat the cause (Hyper-secretions) and completely expel it, as well as improve functionality of lower esophageal sphincter.
I recommend both, especially in GERD. However, the second part should be done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor.
1. Indian Gooseberry (Amla/Amalaki)
This is an age old remedy for instantly reducing acidity and normalizing the secretions in the stomach and GIT. Indian Gooseberry is cold in potency and counteracts the heat and burning caused by acidity. You can consume a supplement of Amla in a dose of 1 gram of powder, 5ml fresh juice or eat one fruit.
2. Licorice Root
Licorice Root is extremely cooling in nature and is used extensively in Ayurvedic Medicine for reducing acid related complains. Half teaspoon of Licorice root powder in a glass of room temperature water should do the trick. This can be taken twice a day. Do not consume too much as it may cause nausea and may increase blood pressure. If you already have a blood pressure problem, try DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). A 500mg tablet of DGL can be take 40 minutes before meals, twice a day.
3. Clarified Butter (Ghee)
Ghee reduces the symptoms of heartburn, acidity and GERD. Adding this to your food with help prevent heartburn after eating. You can add it to your meals while eating or cook with it. (Ghee contains HDL cholesterol, making it a healthy option) Ghee does not contain milk solids and is safe for people whom are lactose intolerant.
4. Yogic Breathing (Sheetali Pranayam)
This breathing exercise will cool down your entire body due to its refrigerant effect. According to the ancient yogic texts, it helps in weak digestion, acidity and other heat related issues of the stomach, chest and throat.
Here are the steps:
Sit up straight and keep your palms on your knees.
Roll the tongue from the sides so that it forms a tube. The tongue should be folded from both the sides and the edges and almost meet at the center on the top.
Breathe in slowly via the mouth through this tube you have made with your tongue. Fill up the abdomen, chest and neck. The air will feel very cool going down.
Bring the tongue back to its normal position, close you mouth and breath out through your nose. This is one round of yogic breathing.
Repeat this a few times for 2-3 minutes.
(Simple remedies like baking soda etc, work as well. However, like i said before, I prefer to get rid of the problem from its root. In this case, the cause is the hyper-secretions of the stomach or GIT aka excess pitta.)
Treat The Cause:
The cause of GERD remains a mystery in many cases, however, several theories do exist. These theories indicate the following potential causes:
-Too little acid
-Too much acid
-H. Pylori infection
Speak to a doctor about identifying the causative factor and use the following under a doctors supervision.
– Too little acid
In the case of too little acid, supplementing the body with healthy acids can help. Healthy acids such as acetic acid and citric acid come from Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and Amla juice. Consuming one tablespoon of Apple cider vinegar in half a glass of warm water, twice a day, is a good way to start.
– Too much acid
The GIT can be rid of excessive acid secretions in multiple ways. The best way, is to purge the system using specific kinds of laxatives/purgatives (Not just any laxative will do the trick). Before doing this, remember that laxatives are habit forming and should not be used long term. Always do this under proper medical supervision as it can be harmful if you have other existing conditions.
This procedure must be done under a doctors supervision
The options include:
2. Picrorrhiza Kurroa
3. Avipattikar Choorna
The safest option is “Triphala”. Triphala, apart from reducing acidity, improving digestion and restoring proper digestive health, also tones up the tissues that make up the digestive tract. Triphala has been the formulation of choice in digestive ailments since the origin of Ayurvedic medicine. Its regulatory and nourishing abilities are known for improving overall function of the digestive tract and is believed to solve the problem of improper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter.
Either take 2500mg of triphala tablets or one heaped tablespoon of Triphala Powder in a glass of lukewarm water at night, one hour before bed. Repeat this for 5-7 days. You can add a little raw cane sugar to help with the taste if it’s too bitter for you (though it may work better without the sugar)
The following morning, you will have loose motions around 2-3 times. Make sure that when you get up, consume 500-750ml (2-3 glasses) of room temperature water immediately. This will initiate the peristaltic movements and stimulate the urge to use the toilet.
While doing this purge, make sure you consume light foods like rice, lentils and soups as well as fruits like apples, grapes, blue berries and veggies like cucumber, celery and lettuce. Consume small quantities of meat during this week and avoid all sodas, candies, chocolates, chips and other junk foods. Try to eat your last meal, at least 3-4 hours before bed.
Once you have completed the purge, make sure to consume enough fiber, water, and healthy fats like ghee and pure butter.
In the case of inflammation, consuming foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature can be of great benefit. Using a Curcumin supplement can help as well, however avoid using Turmeric, as the whole herb can increase acidity. Curcumin is just the active ingredient and does not increase acidity.
– H. Pylori
This bacteria is actually a lot simpler to clear than one might think. Licorice root has been seen to eradicate it and can be used safely as in the form of DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). The general dose is 500mg, taken 40 minutes before food, twice a day.