Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
9 Case Studies
8 Member Stories
1 Research

What is GERD?

GERD is a serious type of gastroesophageal reflux in which the contents of your stomach flow back (or reflux) into your esophagus resulting in increased inflammation and damage. It is believed that the dramatic increase in GERD rates is a result of the highly processed foods in the American Diet as well as other key risk factors.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back to the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus).  This flowing back of the acid (acid reflux) can irritate your esophagus' lining. Many people experience acid reflux periodically. Approximately 20% of Americans have some type of GERD that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once weekly.

Most Individuals can handle the distress of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to alleviate symptoms.

Your esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to your stomach. When a muscle at the end of the esophagus does not close properly, it allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. This can irritate you at times, and you can taste stomach fluid in the back of the mouth. If you have these symptoms more than twice a week, you may have GERD. You can also have GERD without having heartburn. Your symptoms could include a dry cough, asthma symptoms, or trouble swallowing.

Anyone, Including babies and kids, can have GERD. If not treated, it can lead to more serious health issues. However, many people can improve their symptoms by lifestyle changes and proper dietary recommendations.

See: GERD Cough Natural Treatment

What causes GERD?

When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow to your gut. Then the sphincter closes again. If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. It happens as the result of acid in the stomach passing back into the esophagus. Normally, when you swallow food or drink there is a circular band of muscle at the end of the esophagus (called lower esophageal sphincter) that relaxes allowing contents to transfer in the stomach. It should then close up and not allow anything back through.

With GERD, there's some amount of lower esophageal sphincter dysfunction. This sphincter can get weakened or overly relaxed and, as a result, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus. This causes constant reflux and a state of inflammation. Acid reflux can occasionally progress to GERD. GERD is the more severe form of reflux.

The cells of the esophagus can become irritated from the flow (reflux) of stomach acid backward to the lower portion of the esophagus. If the patient describes indigestion about frequent or intense heartburn, the doctor will consider gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as a possible cause. In 2001, a study revealed that obesity impairs the anti-reflux activity. The ones who are obese have more severe reflux than several individuals. Another study found that acid flux contributes to cough and wheezing problems, especially in people with asthma.

GERD also affects some infants and kids and is a frequent reason for babies spitting up the formula. Typically, the condition resolves itself, but children older than one year with frequently occurring pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen can be of concern. If a child is bothered by these symptoms during sleep or activities, a doctor should be consulted.

This group also includes people who find their indigestion is relieved by taking antacids or ingesting a tiny bit of food. H. pylori is a rod-shaped bacterium that lives in the cells of the intestine and causes irritation of the mucous lining of the gut walls.

Eating the right kinds of foods, using natural supplements, and changing lifestyle habits all help to prevent, treat and cure GERD. It should be noted that GERD isn't the result of too much stomach acid. Rather, it's an issue with a lot of stomach acid in the wrong place (i.e. in the esophagus).

See: GERD Cough Natural Treatment

What are the typical symptoms of GERD?

The typical signs and symptoms of GERD are:

• Chest pain

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Dry cough

• Difficulty swallowing


For those who have nighttime acid reflux, you might also encounter:

• Chronic cough

• Laryngitis

• Disrupted sleep

See: Home remedies for GERD & acid reflux

What are the risk factors of GERD?

These are the risk factors for GERD:

• Obesity

• Pregnancy

• Chronic high inflammation

• Leaky gut syndrome

• Emotional stress


Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

• Smoking

• Eating large meals or eating late at night

• Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fried or fatty foods

• Drinking certain drinks, such as coffee or alcohol

• Taking certain drugs, such as aspirin

See: How to lose belly fat naturally

GERD Complications

Over time, chronic inflammation in your esophagus can lead to:

- The scar tissue narrows the food pathway, resulting in problems with swallowing. Stomach acid may eliminate tissue in the gut, causing an open sore to form. 

- An esophageal ulcer can bleed, cause pain, and make swallowing difficult.

- Precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus).  Damage from acid may cause changes in the tissue lining the lower esophagus. These changes are correlated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.

See: Esophageal Stricture Natural Treatments & Home Remedies

Natural remedies for GERD

Lifestyle and dietary changes may help in relieving GERD. What are the best ways to cure GERD naturally? Let's count the ways.

Lifestyle modifications:

Some research indicates that melatonin can help increase the discharge of gastric bicarbonate (a mucous coating) and enhance the action of the lower esophageal sphincter by decreasing nitric oxide2. 

- Lose weight: Being overweight or obese increases one's risk for GERD because it raises intra-abdominal pressure, which may lead to the backflow of stomach acid. You want a complete gut-immune barrier to guarantee a healthy and properly functioning gastrointestinal tract. In addition, you require a balanced bacterial flora. Get tested for leaky gut and have a look at our leaky gut protocol. 

- Manage your stress:  Stress causes an elevated sympathetic tone, which increases heart rate and depresses bodily functions including those of the digestive tract. 

- Drink chamomile tea: This herbal tea treatment has anti-spasmodic effects on the gastrointestinal tract and aids in reducing inflammation. Additionally, chamomile tea is good for the heart. Exercise regularly

- Exercise is important to overall digestive and gastrointestinal functions. Furthermore, movement helps stomach emptying and places less strain on the lower esophageal sphincter leading to better tone and purpose of the sphincter. 

- Eat a high fiber diet like a Paleo diet. A high fiber diet can help prevent symptoms of GERD and promote intestinal health. The Paleo pyramid is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, which foster the development of good gut flora and reduces inflammation.

- Prevent your food triggers when recovery GERD. Individual food triggers may include spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cow's milk, citrus juices, or tomato juice. Know what is connected to the beginning of your GERD, which will assist in treatment.

- Supplements can enable you to heal the source of your GERD. Proton pump inhibitors just treat symptoms and create a whole host of other difficulties. The objective is to reach the root cause of GERD. Heal leaky gut with nutritional supplements, lower inflammation with nutritional supplements great at controlling inflammation and take melatonin to assist in repair of GERD.

Other remedies include:

Preventing alcohol and spicy, fatty, or acidic foods that trigger heartburn

Eating smaller meals

Not eating near bedtime

Losing weight if needed

Wearing loose-fitting clothes


Natural Remedies

Holistic professionals, dietitians, nutritionists, Ayurveda, Homeopathic, or Naturopathic practitioners may suggest the following to enhance digestion:

• Stay away from foods that may include hot, fried, medicated, or junk foods, caffeine.

• Eat milder but more regular meals.

• Avoid smoking.

• Adopt a high fiber diet Improve regularity and treat these digestive problems like gout, a high fiber diet

• Increase water intake. Proper Hydration aids the digestive system work better.

• Boost poor digestive enzyme works with hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzyme supplements like lipase, amylase, and protease.

• Thickening a baby's food can help with reflux (add 1 tablespoon of dry rice cereal to each ounce of formula or breast milk). Hold babies upright after feedings rather than putting them down straight away.


Learn more about Ayurvedic treatments for GERD & acidity


TCM, Acupuncture & Herbal Medication 

Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine might recommend medicines derived from peony (Paeonia lactiflora), hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), or Hare's ear (Bupleurum chinense) to deal with indigestion. Western herbalists have been Officinalis), or peppermint (Mentha piperita) to relieve stomach cramps and heartburn.

There is limited evidence to support the use of herbs and GERD. However, you might find them helpful in combination with what your doctor recommends for GERD. You should always check with your doctor first before use.


Learn more about Acupuncture treatments for GERD & acidity


Homeopathy

Homeopaths tailor their treatments into the patient's overall personality profile as well as the particular symptoms. Based upon the individual's response to the Indigestion and a number of its probable causes, the homeopath might choose Lycopodium, Carbo vegetalis, Nux vomica, or Pulsatilla.


Diet and stress management

Many patients take advantage of the doctor's reassurance that they don't have a serious or fatal disorder. The patient may also be asked to keep a record of food intake, daily schedule, and symptom severity. Food diaries sometimes reveal dietary or psychological factors that may also influence indigestion.


Other holistic treatments

Some complementary treatments are aimed at reducing the individual's stress level or changing beliefs and attitudes that result in indigestion. These treatments and practices include Reiki, reflexology, hydrotherapy, therapeutic massage, yoga, and meditation.

See: Soothe Your Acid Reflux And Prevent GERD With This Yoga Series

Prevention of GERD

Indigestion can often be avoided by attention to an individual's diet, overall stress level, and way of managing stress. Specific preventive measures include:

• quitting smoking

• preventing foods which are highly spiced or packaged with fat

• eating slowly and keeping mealtimes relaxed

• practicing yoga or meditation

• not taking aspirin or other medications on an empty belly


See: Natural inflammation remedies for chronic pain

References

1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940

2. Treatment for GER & GERD. (2014). niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/treatment

3. Dossett ML, et al. (2017). Integrative medicine for gastrointestinal disease. DOI: 10.1016/j.pop.2017.02.002

4. Heartburn. (2017).  familydoctor.org/condition/heartburn

5. Moazzez R et al. The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux. Journal of Dental Research. 2005;84(11):1062-5.

6. Siddaraju MN et al. Inhibition of gastric H+, K+-ATPase, and Helicobacter pylori growth by phenolic antioxidants of Zingiber officinale. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2007;51(3):324-32.

7. Kiefer DS. (2015). Stress-related GERD: Strategies for an integrative treatment approach. DOI:10.1089/act.2015.21201

8. McRorie JW Jr et al. Evidence-based treatment of frequent heartburn: the benefits and limitations of over-the-counter medications. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 2014;26(6):330-9.

9. Strugala V et al. A Randomized, controlled, crossover trial to investigate times to onset of the perception of soothing and cooling by over-the-counter heartburn treatments. The Journal of Internal Medical Research. 2010 Mar-Apr;38(2):449-57.

10. Al-Abri SA et al. Baking soda can settle the stomach but upset the heart: case files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2013;9(3):255-8.

11. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

12. https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/digestive-and-liver-health/gerd-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease

13. Gayle Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine

14. Zoler, Mitchell L. “Nighttime GERD Affects 79% of Adults with Heartburn.” Internal Medicine News (October 15, 2001).

See: Acupuncture And Traditional Chinese Medicine helps with GERD and Digestion Problems

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