GERD – What is it and how can I cure it naturally?
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease as it is otherwise know is a condition where stomach acid that is supposed to stay in the stomach starts to make its way into the esophagus. This acid then causes discomfort in the form of burning in the throat or heartburn in the chest. Unless you have experienced these sensations, it’s difficult to understand just how painful or irritating they can be. There are many cures for GERD marketed on pharmacy shelves or prescribed by doctors but many of them attack the symptoms rather than addressing the cause. This often leads to other problems being created as they play with the natural responses of the human digestive system.
Let’s first look at one example of a cure for GERD that is often prescribed by doctors that I feel is better off being avoided. Then we will discuss some common over the counter cures that anyone can buy but which again can produce undesirable side effects. Finally we will look at what natural cures for GERD are available and also what foods should be avoided if you don’t want to aggravate your condition.
Be Careful with Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Have you ever been prescribed one drug by your doctor to cure a problem, only to find that it creates another sometimes more serious problem? This can be true of drugs that fall into the class of Proton-pump inhibitors or (PPIs). PPIs effectively reduce or disrupt the creation of stomach acid. Great you might think. I’m creating too much stomach acid so turn off the acid tap? Unfortunately it’s not usually that simple.
Sometimes, as a natural response to the consumption of foods that are difficult to digest, our body creates excess stomach acid to aid in the digestion of the foods that we eat. We should also mention here that our modern diet is someway off the kind of diet that our bodies were originally designed to handle. If you turn off the acid tap as it were, you might just find that the food you eat remains in your stomach – undigested - for a lot longer than is desirable or healthy. Undigested proteins for example can be extremely toxic to your bodily system.
Drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid fall into the category of proton pump inhibitors. Drugs like Zantac (ranitidine) otherwise known as H2 blockers also behave in a similar way to Proton-pump inhibitors. They ‘turn off the stomach acid tap’ hindering your body’s ability to digest the food you have eaten.
Be careful with over the counter Antacids
Over the counter antacids such as Alka-Seltzer, Pepto-Bismol, Rennie and Tums, to name just a few, behave in a slightly different way to PPIs. Instead of blocking the production of stomach acid, antacids instead neutralize the acid within the stomach, relieving any burning sensation or discomfort. The problem we have here is that again we are disrupting the digestive process, neutralizing the stomach acid and leaving undigested food to in effect ‘rot’ in the stomach.
Do you believe in prevention or cure?
So how can we cure GERD naturally?
When it comes to finding a cure for any ailment, I always feel that prevention is better than cure. There are certain foods and drinks that are known to aggravate GERD and believe me, I can testify to this truth from experience. Usually these foods and drinks are those that are acidic by nature so foods such as chocolate, spicy foods, onions, garlic, tomatoes and other acidic fruits should all be avoided. (Lemon juice mixed with water seems to be the exception to the rule). What about drinks? I have a feeling you’re not going to like me very much after this. Coffee and alcohol are both drinks that are renowned for aggravating GERD, so again these should be cut down or avoided completely if you want to get some long lasting relief from your symptoms of GERD.
If you do want to try to keep those foods in your diet and find a natural ‘cure’ then there are certain foods and drinks that are believed to help reduce the symptoms of GERD. Raw almonds, Apple Cider Vinegar (mixed with honey, water or tea) lemon juice mixed with warm water, aloe vera juice and even chewing gum (increased saliva production) are all thought to help with GERD. Some people also recommend taking baking soda with water but I can’t help feel that we are just creating an antacid here that might again interfere with digestion.
Prevention is better than cure
To sum it all up then, I’d just like to reiterate the point that prevention is often better than cure. I firmly believe that if your body is producing more stomach acid than usual, it is probably because it needs to. Perhaps you have a naturally weak digestive system, a lack of natural digestive enzymes in your diet or maybe you are just dehydrated. Whatever the problem is, your body is creating excess acid to try and resolve it. So rather than try to reverse your body’s natural reaction to a problem, instead why not try and prevent the problem in the first place by avoiding any culprit foods or drinks that may be irritating your system.
If you’re still not convinced and would rather continue in your search for a ‘cure’ then I would recommend looking into natural –plant based - digestive enzymes. Some people have found relief from their symptoms of GERD by giving their body a natural boost in its ability to digest and breakdown foods, especially proteins which can be notoriously difficult to digest.
Do you suffer with GERD? Have you come across any great natural cures? Please feel free to share them below.