What is GERD?
Are GERD symptoms significantly impairing your quality of life? Do you suffer from sleepless nights due to chronic heartburn symptoms of GERD? Well, You don’t have to worry about the symptoms much, because, naturopathy treatment for GERD involves treating the symptoms of GERD with ease and with negligible side effects.
The current management strategies for GERD include lifestyle modifications, pharmacological therapies, endoscopic procedures, and surgical fundoplication. However, Naturopathic treatment for acidity/ GERD is an ideal approach that can effectively control symptoms of GERD, heal the injured esophageal mucosa, and prevent complications in a convenient and inexpensive fashion.
GERD occurs when what’s inside your gut — stomach acid, food or additional compounds –backs up from the stomach to the esophagus (the tube which connects your mouth and stomach) and maybe all of the ways in your mouth and throat. If acid touches your stomach (or what seems like your throat), it can cause a burning sensation in your chest or throat, called heartburn.
Most people will have occasional heartburn, however, once your symptoms are bad and frequent enough to affect your sense of well-being, it could be GERD. Even though GERD is not life-threatening, it can considerably decrease your wellbeing by changing your daily activities, your sleep and what you have the ability to eat. Heartburn is the most frequent symptom of GERD. Heartburn can often be prevented through changing certain habits (such as when, how much and what you eat and drink). Occasional heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. If symptoms do not go away or get worse after a couple of weeks, talk to a gastroenterologist. You might need some tests to rule out other health difficulties.
How does Naturopathy view GERD?
In regular care, gastroenterologists will normally dose proton pump inhibitor drugs to patients presenting with GERD symptoms. If it works, the identification is made. There are a few imaging tools that they use, too, like an EGD, an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, whereby a long tube is inserted into a temporarily anesthetized individual to rate the tissues to determine if they’re changing in any significant manner, and check for the pressure fluctuations in the lower esophageal sphincter.
A conventional MD creating a GERD diagnosis will inform patients to lose weight, avoid chocolate, alcohol, citrus juices, tomato products, peppermint, coffee, onions; they should eat small meals several times a day; they shouldn’t lie down for many hours after ingestion and elevate the head of their bed at night to attempt and stop reflux during the night.
There are lots of medications for GERD patients. The over-the-counter antacids contain calcium carbonate (causes rebound acidity), aluminum hydroxide (aluminum is toxic) and magnesium hydroxide (unabsorbable magnesium); and they aren’t that effective. Other OTC meds are the H2 receptor antagonists, such as Zantac. They block about 70 percent of acid production.
However, the normal medication a patient is prescribed is the Proton Pump Inhibitors: Nexium, Aciphex, Prilosec, and Prevacid (their lowest dose is OTC; greater is prescribed), Protonix, and Kapidex. PPIs were created for short-term usage, to heal up a peptic ulcer, but patients remain on them for weeks or even years. There are enormous side-effects to using these: dyspepsia, belching, diminished absorption of B12, iron, calcium, magnesium; bone fractures; diminished gallbladder operation; increased risk for food poisoning, pneumonia, and infections.
A holistic approach considers many variables of health and disease, taking into account physical, psychological, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Naturopathic physicians seek to find and deal with the underlying cause of a disorder, instead of treating symptoms as isolated and unrelated issues. Naturopathic doctors receive extensive training in understanding the intricacies and interrelations of digestive health and total body health. We’re well versed in natural health approaches to certain digestive disorders like IBS, heartburn, and ulcers in addition to less obviously digestive-related conditions like autoimmune disease, allergies, and migraines.
A particular area of emphasis for many naturopaths involves helping individuals struggling with gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a type of protein that is found in several kinds of cereal, bread, and pasta grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is a really common food allergy. Research has demonstrated that 40 percent of Americans have some level of negative response to gluten. Gluten can be very hard for us to digest and may be among the main causes of inflammation in the digestive system along with the body. Low energy, weight gain or weight loss, skin rashes, and a host of other health issues (even without gastrointestinal disorders ) are typical symptoms. Establishing a healthy diet for an individual with Gluten Sensitivity is essential, and is all in a day’s work for a naturopathic doctor.
Naturopathic physicians see digestion as a crucial part of any naturopathic plan. Various approaches to digestive wellness may include dietary modification, food allergy identification and desensitization, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, immune support, highquality probiotics, and additional testing. A holistic and individualized approach is essential for the health of our digestive system and the health of our entire body
Naturopathic medicine treatment for GERD
GERD is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that may arise due to various conditions like unexplained sleep disturbances, Eosinophilic esophagitis that may be due to IGG food allergies, metabolic syndromes and sedentary lifestyle habits. Naturopathic treatment for GERD is a mixture of both traditional and complementary medicine. Naturopathic interventions are typically tailored for the individual and may involve dietary and lifestyle modifications, mind-body therapies, physical or manual therapies, and ingestible medicines with complex chemical compositions and multiple actions. Some of the naturopathic interventions for GERD are mentioned below
Peppermint/ spearmint oil – is reported to show beneficial effects in providing relief from various symptoms of GERD like it may help ease heartburn, upset stomach, and nausea. Research studies have also shown that peppermint oil can accelerate gastric emptying, by relaxing the pyloric valve and decreasing the resting time of lower esophageal sphincter muscle.
Iberogast– STW 5 (Iberogast) is a commercial ethanolic extract formula that comprises of nine botanicals: Iberis Amara, Carum carvi, Matricaria chamomilla, Mentha piperita, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root), Melissa officinalis, Silybum marianum, Chelidonium majus, and Angelica archangelica. Numerous research has shown the effectiveness of Iberogast as a phytomedicine in treating various symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders including GERD. Iberogast formulation helps increase the motility of the distal stomach and inhibit the function of the proximal stomach.
Raft-forming Agents – Natural substances like alginate, pectin, and carbenoxolone (derived from licorice root) are known to be used in the symptomatic treatment of GERD where it helps treat heartburn and esophagitis. The raft forming agents are known to form a foamy raft when it comes into contact with gastric contents. This raft moves into the esophagus ahead of acidic gastric contents and prevents the reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus. Thus, these raft forming agents provide a barrier to reduce acid contact with the esophageal mucosa. This combination is also known to prevent relapse of healed reflux esophagitis.
D-limonene an active component found in citrus oils is known to protect mucosal surfaces of the stomach and esophagus from gastric acid and support normal peristalsis helping GERD patients from chronic heartburn conditions.
Artemisia Asiatica– a potent antioxidant compound that is known to lower the levels of reactive oxidant species that are found to be in higher amounts in patients suffering from GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Artemisia Asiatica is found to be more effective in preventing esophageal erosion caused due to excessive gastric acid secretion in GERD.
Curcumin/ Quercetin and alpha-tocopherol – An active constituent extracted from Curcuma longa or turmeric has shown to prevent the expression of inflammatory cytokines in human esophageal tissue. Similarly, quercetin and alpha-tocopherol are also known to lower the levels of esophageal inflammation through its antioxidant effects and promotes decreased acid and pepsin production in the stomach. Both antioxidants also raised levels of glutathione and other antioxidant enzymes while decreasing collagen production, indicating an anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effect.
Milk thistle seed for GERD might protect the mucosal cells from oxidative stress by exerting antioxidative properties. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and lowers the production of inflammatory cytokines whose production is increased during injury to the esophageal mucosa, thus promotes healing of the mucosa in due to the erosion caused by acid reflux.
Melatonin– Melatonin an important factor that not only regulates the sleep cycle of an individual but also identified to play an important role in gut motility by stimulating the contractile activity of the LES. Melatonin exerts its effects by maintaining healthy communication between the gut and the liver. Melatonin also inhibits gastric acid secretion, while increasing gastrin release. Melatonin has also been shown to prevent acid-pepsin-induced esophagitis in animals.
Studies in Naturopathic medicine for GERD
Efficacy and Safety of a Natural Remedy for the Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Double-Blinded Randomized-Controlled Study 
A randomized double-blinded controlled clinical study was conducted on 118 patients who experienced around 2 to 6 days of GER episodes/week. The patients were divided into two groups each group containing fifty-nine patients.
Group 1 – Received Verum (6 g/day) a formulation containing extracts from Opuntia ficus-indica and Olea europaea on sodium alginate/bicarbonate based formulation.
Group 2 – Was administered a placebo treatment, for around 60 days.
After 60 days of treatment, the Disease-Health-Related Quality of Life (GERD-HRQoL)
and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Symptom Assessment Scale (GSAS) were assessed
before treatment and at the end of the treatment. Results indicated a statistically significant reduction of GERD-HRQoL and GSAS scores, along with a reduction in heartburn and acid regurgitation by Verum. Results indicate that verum formulation provides an effective and well-tolerated treatment for reducing the frequency and intensity of symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux.
Naturopathic treatment for GERD is a traditional medicinal approach that constitutes products that are part of the herbal and natural medicine. There are a number of researches that has shown naturopathic treatment to be effective in promoting good health of gastrointestinal mucosa in diseases like GERD. However, there are no rigorous studies conducted for evaluating the efficacy of naturopathic medicine. In such cases it is important to consult your naturopath doctor to avail the best of naturopathic treatment that is specially tailored for you and may help exacerbate reflux in conditions like GERD.