Are there natural remedies for acid reflux and heartburn? How do we overcome it without taking acid blocking drugs?
Heartburn is something 60 million Americans experience on a regular basis. Many people pop an acid blocker or Tums daily, twice daily, or when symptoms show up.
Acid blockers create more heartburn, more gastroesophageal reflux disease and more indigestion. Not to mention vitamin and mineral depletion due to malabsorption which increases the risk of prostate cancer, heart disease, dementia, gastric cancer, anemia (both related to B12 deficiency as well as iron deficiency), osteoporosis and arthritis.
The downside of acid blockers
Now that you have been made aware that acid blockers are not a desirable long term solution, let’s get into what you can do to solve your reflux and heartburn issues.
The FDA explicitly states that acid blockers should not be taken for more than 14 days or a repeat course of 14 days should not be done more often than every 4 months. Pretty wild right, considering most people start and never stop them.
You can’t just let acid reflux continue or you could end up with an esophageal cancer called Barrett’s esophagus. Taking acid blockers long term is a significant health risk but just letting reflux continue is a significant health risk as well.
What are we to do?
Get to the root of the acid reflux issue and support the body in the healing process.
6 natural remedies for acid reflux and heartburn
1. The first thing I would do if you have chronic acid reflux is get test for h. pylori, this can be done via a stool antigen or urea breath test. Both methods have comparable specificity and sensitivity. If this is positive then you will want to clear the h. pylori. How to do this we will discuss at another time.
2. If h. pylori is negative, I would look at your body composition. Do you carry excess belly fat? If so, you will want to get after that belly fat. Am I serious? Yes. 100%.
We are talking about healing your body, not just putting a band-aid over something that will break at some point and leave you in a world of hurt.
You can start today with one food decision, one activity decision.
If you really want to transform your life, you can even sign-up to receive a daily workout or sign-up for the Healthy Meals Made Easy PDF to get in the habit of creating simple yet delicious meals that the whole family will love.
3. The most prominent heartburn-promoting foods are fried foods, fast food, pizza, tomato sauce, citrus, potato chips, crackers, vegetable oils, prepared meats like sausage, bacon, white breads. Send those foods out of your life immediately. No questions asked.
4. Stimulate your gastric secretions to lower the pH before meals so that your food can move through your stomach more efficiently. A low pH is required for the reflex arch that leads to your esophageal sphincter closing while food is being incinerated by the acid of your stomach.
By using apple cider vinegar, bitter herbal formulas, lemons, and limes you can stimulate your digestive secretions making digestion more efficient. You can also take the supplement betaine hydrochloride to increase stomach acidity. For more ways to optimize digestion, check out this post, Digestive Problems and the Vagus Nerve.
Recognize, that the majority of people do not have acid reflux because of high acid production but because of low acid production. This might be shocking to you, given that many people are using acid blockers to help their reflux. We are backwards in many ways in medicine.
5. Utilize esophageal and stomach lining soothers like Deglycerized licorice root chews (my wife uses these during her pregnancies), marshmallow root tea (be sure to cool it for best therapeutic effect), aloe vera syrup or powder.
6. Watch out for the mint family which can relax the gastroephagiceal sphincter and promote acid reflux in susceptible individuals. The mint family is commonly encountered via chewing gum, mints, and teas.
How have you overcome heartburn? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.