MAKE YOUR OWN
HEALTH TIPS & NEWS
MAKE YOUR OWN
HEALTH TIPS & NEWS
What is Acid Reflux ?
Acid reflux is when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the esophagus - into the gullet, which moves food down from the mouth.
The stomach contains a strong acid, hydrochloric acid, to help with the efficient digestion of food and to protect against, for example, bacteria.
The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to produce this acid, and also to protect the digestive organ against its own corrosive secretion - but the higher gut is not protected from this acid.
A ring of muscle - the gastroesophageal sphincter - normally protects the esophagus from the contents of the stomach by acting as a valve by closing the entrance to the stomach. When this fails, the symptoms of acid reflex are felt, such as heartburn. This is also known as pyrosis or acid indigestion.
The American College of Gastroenterology says that over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and at least 15 million as often as daily.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease has the highest burden in western countries, where prevalence across the populations is around 20 to 30 percent, according to academic estimates. Americans are especially prone to the disease, which has lifestyle risk factors.
Causes of Acid Reflux :
Just like other health conditions, there is not one specific cause of Acid Reflux and Heartburn. However, a malfunction of a band of muscle tissue called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) can ultimately lead to many of the problems and symptoms associated with Acid Reflux and Heartburn.
The LES is a complex area of smooth muscles and various hormones, which is responsible for the opening and closing of the lower end of the esophagus when we eat and swallow. It normally keeps the stomach contents from regurgitating, but due to certain physical conditions it can weaken and lose its contraction control. If this happens, the LES fails to close up and cannot maintain the pressure barrier between stomach and esophagus. As a result, acid and pepsin from the stomach can back up and cause acidity and heartburn in the esophagus.
We all may experience acid reflux occasionally, often associated with certain food and drink. Recurrent acid reflux that leads to disease has other causes and risk factors, and is termed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or GORD).
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is seen in people of all ages, sometimes for unknown reasons (idiopathic). Often the cause is attributable to a lifestyle factor, but it can also be due to effects that cannot be prevented.
A hiatal hernia is one cause that can develop, an anatomical abnormality that allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, by letting it push up through the diaphragm - this sometimes leads to GERD.
Pregnancy also sometimes causes acid contents from the stomach to be pushed up into the esophagus.
Causes of Acid Reflux and Heartburn include :
• some antidepressants and sedatives
• elevated hormone levels during pregnancy
• eating before going to bed
• eating large meals
• slower emptying of the stomach
• frequently eating greasy, fried, and fatty foods
• drinking lots of bubbly (carbonated) beverages such as soda
• diseases that weaken the esophageal muscle (such as scleroderma,
mixed connective tissue disease, or hiatal hernias)
• smoking (active or passive)
• high intake of table salt
• low dietary fibre
• low physical exercise
• medications, including drugs for asthma, calcium-channel blockers,
antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, and antidepressants.
One commonly used "natural" heartburn remedy is calcium. It's also the active ingredient in many over-the-counter antacids.
If you find yourself popping antacids like candy and you're having heartburn more than a couple of times a week, or if you are using antacids for longer than two weeks, it's time to see the doctor. You may have a condition called GERD -- gastroesophageal reflux disease. Frequent heartburn can lead to long-term problems. It can cause inflammation and strictures in your esophagus. In rare cases, it may even lead to cancer. But stopping the acid reflux can help prevent complications in the future.
Melatonin, a supplement used to aid sleep, has been suggested to help relieve heartburn. But the research is conflicting as to whether it is effective for this or any other any gastrointestinal symptoms.
Before you decide to take any herbal remedy or supplement, check with your doctor. Some supplements can have side effects or can interact with medications you're already taking.
You may have heard that drinking a glass of milk can relieve heartburn. While it's true that milk can temporarily buffer stomach acid, nutrients in milk, particularly fat, will stimulate the stomach to produce more acid.
Even though milk might not be a great heartburn remedy, however, it's a rich source of bone-building calcium. Try fat-free skim milk and don't overdo it. Drink no more than 8 ounces of skim milk at a time -- as a snack in between meals. Overfilling the stomach may increase heartburn.
• CHEWING GUM
It may sound strange, but gum stimulates the production of saliva, which is an acid buffer. Plus, chewing gum makes you swallow more often, which pushes those nasty acids back out of your esophagus. When you pick a pack of gum, just make sure it's sugar-free so you also protect your teeth.
In a small study from the Journal of Dental Research, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms experienced heartburn relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal.
• BAKING SODA
Old wives' tales will tell you the best way to beat heartburn is with a little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Baking soda is OK for most people with heartburn. Because it's a base, it helps neutralize stomach acid.
Mix between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water. But avoid making baking soda your go-to remedy if you regularly have heartburn-it is high in salt and could cause side effects like swelling and nausea.
Although research is limited, licorice could ease heartburn and get to the source of the problem. The contents of your stomach are supposed to be acidic…which is why antacids are not the solution. Instead, licorice has natural stomach healing properties. Eating a lot of licorice, however, can also have serious side effects like high blood pressure, so look for DGL licorice. (It does not contain the potentially dangerous glycyrrhizic acid.)
Try chewable DGL licorice tablets before meals, which are available at most natural-food stores. There are even brands that do not taste like licorice.
Aloe, a plant usually used to soothe burns, could do the same thing for stomachs. Aloe vera juice reduces inflammation so it quiets down any inflammation that is in the esophagus as well as the stomach.
It is recommended to drink a 1/2 cup before meals, but be aware that the juice can be a laxative. Look for brands that say the laxative component has been removed, such as Aloe Vera Power.
• SLIPPERY ELM
Despite limited research, slippery elm has been used in herbal remedies for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses, including GERD symptoms. This tree extract thickens the layer of mucous lining in the stomach. Slippery elm is a demulcent that offers a coating or protective layer to the tissue of the stomach.
Slippery elm has traditionally been prescribed is a couple tablespoons in water after meals and at bedtime.
• APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple Cider Vinegar is an amazing remedy for Acid Reflux. It may sound bizarre to drink an acid as a cure for an acid problem, but there are good acids and bad acids and Apple Cider Vinegar is among the good ones.
Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 1/2 glass of water. Sip this glass of water while eating your dinner.
• GINGER ROOT
Ginger Root is an amazing natural herb that is known to absorb stomach acid and have the secondary effect of calming the nerves. For an effective natural remedy from the symptoms of acid reflux, try the following:
Purchase ginger root capsules from a natural health food or nutritional store.
Regularly take one capsule immediately after dinner.
• FENNEL SEED
Fennel seed is an aromatic but powerful herb that helps in digestive conditions and has many other benefits. Fennel seeds contain a compound known as Anethole, which is known to suppress spasms of the stomach or gastrointestinal tract spasms. Therefore, it is considered to be an effective remedy for Acid Reflux.
Take half a tea spoon of Fennel Seeds and chew them slowly after your meals.
• ARTICHOKE EXTRACT
Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make “extracts” which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.
Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn .
Take two capsules right when finishing breakfast and two capsules right after dinner every day.