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Natural Acid Reflux Fighters: How I Re-Discovered Wellness without Drugs

Updated on June 7, 2014

An Acid Reflux Scare

I have occasional flare-ups of acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a condition where stomach acid re-enters the esophagus and can, over time, cause damage. It's uncomfortable on a good day, and downright painful on a bad one.

When I was first diagnosed, my doctor immediately wanted to prescribe acid-blocking drugs, such as Prevacid. I tend to shy away from drugs, because I didn't want to deal wtih the side-effects as they can sometimes be worse than the problem they were developed to treat. I explored some alternative methods of treating my acid reflux and found three more natural treatments that really worked well for me. In addition to these treatments, I watched my posture which seemed related to my digestion and changed my dietary habits, as is also recommended.

Now, I have occastional flare-ups every year or so. I treat each flare-up the same way, with these three remedies, and my acid reflux goes away again in a matter of a few weeks.

Photos on this page are my own unless otherwise credited.

The Best Book for Those Who Suffer from GERD

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet
The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet

Okay, I'm not usually a big fan of "idiot's guides" but this one covers a lot of ground starting with the basics like understanding GERD and your body and recommended changes to diet and exercise. But here's where it's different from other books about acid reflux. It looks at real life situations - like eating our in restaurants - and helps you make better choices. It is also jam packed with flavorful recipes that can help minimize the effects of acid reflux. It's definitely worth checking out!

 
Emergency by taberandrew
Emergency by taberandrew

An Acid Reflux Scare

One night about nine years ago, I started experiencing pain in my chest. The discomfort carried through to an ache in my back, my left shoulder. I began to ache all over. Not believing it to be a heart attack, I suffered with the aches and pains overnight, and half of the next day. When it continued and worsened, I called the local hospital's nurse hotline to ask what it could be. The nurses on the other end of the line will always err on the side of caution. She warned that it could be a heart attack - despite the facts that I was 30 years old, otherwise healthy, and had none of the key risk factors for such a health emergency. She told me to get a ride to the emergency room immediately.

Still pretty certain I was not having a heart attack (but who was I to question it since I had never had one before), I got the ride and was ushered immediately into a room, strapped with a blood pressure cuff, and told to lay down. My supervisor at work had called my husband who showed up minutes later, concern etched all over his face.

A doctor entered the room moments after my husband and stood in the doorway, calmly and intentionally not approaching me. He asked me to describe the symptoms. After listening for a few minutes, he explained that he believed I had acid reflux, an extreme case of heartburn, and not a heart attack. He reassured me that the symptoms can sometimes feel the same and that he had seen it many times before. Before he left, the doctor asked the nurse to give me two tablets of Pepcid, a medicine to fight heartburn after it starts, and walked out, saving me and my insurance company lots of money by not treating me personally.

Photo credit: taberandrew

My Doctor Was Right. - It Was Acid Reflux!

I could try to explain acid reflux to you, but someone else has done a much better job of it. Watch the video below to get a clear explanation of the medical problem.

Why We Should Avoid Acid-Blocking Drugs If Possible

There are clearly cases where acid reflux is serious enough that acid-blocking drugs are necessary. However, for most of us, there are a few changes we can make to help stop acid reflux without all the other side effects. Watch this video to see Dr. Mark Hyman explain some of those side effects and how to naturally fight acid reflux.

DGL Licorice Root

DGL licorice root
DGL licorice root

DGL (deglycerizinated) licorice root (DGL, for short) was, I believe, the biggest factor in my overall recovery from acid reflux. I took DGL three times a day as recommended on the bottle. The main benefits of licorice root are that it soothes inflammation and helps regenerate the mucus lining of your digestive tract. This means that it supports your body's natural protections.

When you buy it, make sure you get the DGL licorice root. If it is not deglycerizinated, it can cause heart serious heart problems.

For best results, try to remember to take the DGL about 20 minutes before each meal. I would usually take it first thing when I woke up, then go take my shower or go for a short walk. For lunch and dinner, I kept the bottle of DGL in the kitchen on the back of the stove so I would remember to take it while I was preparing the meal.

DGL Licorice Root - Available from Amazon.com

Enzymatic Therapy DGL 3:1 Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Extract, Soothing Digestive Relief, Original Formula, 100 Chewable Tablets
Enzymatic Therapy DGL 3:1 Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Extract, Soothing Digestive Relief, Original Formula, 100 Chewable Tablets

This is the basic DGL tablet you need. It's a little more affordably priced, and if you like the taste of licorice, it's perfect!

 
Enzymatic Therapy DGL Ultra German Chocolate Fructose Free Chewable Tablets, 90 Count
Enzymatic Therapy DGL Ultra German Chocolate Fructose Free Chewable Tablets, 90 Count

If you have trouble with the taste of licorice, the basic chewables can be tough to tolerate. These, however, are delicious. With their German chocolate flavor, they are easy to take as needed (also available in sugar-free German chocolate chewables). These are well worth the few extra dollars to me!

 

Ginger Root Tea

ginger for tea
ginger for tea

Ginger tea is simple to make and tastes good (at least to me). I would drink a mug of ginger tea in the 2-3 hours before bed most nights. Health benefits of ginger root as they relate to acid reflux include:

* Soothing and improving performance of the stomach

* Reducing inflammation

* Reducing stress (which for me was and continues to be a major factor in my flare-ups)

To make the tea, simply mince about 1/2-1 Tbsp. of ginger root (with the skind removed). Place in a tea ball and steep in a mug of hot water for at least 5 minutes. I usually just leave the tea ball in the water the whole time I'm drinking, but again, I like the flavor of ginger root. If you don't like the flavor, you can add a little honey or lemon to cover it a bit.

Fun Tea Balls

Tea drinking has a reputation as a stodgy thing, but it can also be comforting, cozy, and yes fun. Imay be a bit of a geek about it, but tea balls make drinking tea just a little more fun. :)

Slippery Elm Bark Lozenges

elm tree by liralina
elm tree by liralina

Slippery Elm Bark lozenges were kind of like the cough drops of acid reflux for me. Whenever I just needed a little soothing on the go - at work or running errands - these were handy. Slippery Elm Bark lozenges have a slipperiness to them, as the name suggests. Don't give in to the temptation to chew them. When you suck on them they coat the throat and help provide a thin protective layer for your esophagus. It's just a little relief when you need it.

Don't worry! They don't really taste like bark, though there are little flecks in the lozenges that give them texture. They are bland tasting with a hint of sweetness, unless you get flavored lozenges.

Photo credit: liralina

Slippery Elm Bark Lozenges - Available on Amazon.com

Slippery Elm Original 150 Lozenges
Slippery Elm Original 150 Lozenges

Slippery elm bark has a pretty non-descript flavor - bland with a hint of sweetness - so I found them pretty easy to take when I needed them.

 
Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges, Cherry, 150 Count
Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges, Cherry, 150 Count

If you like a little more flavor, they come in cherry too. With 150 lozenges in each bottle, they last a long time and are a big help in your fight against the symptoms of acid reflux.

 

Which of these successful natural remedy suggestions is most useful to you?

Which of these successful natural remedy suggestions is most useful to you?

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Have you ever struggled with acid reflux, or GERD? - If so, how did you deal with it?

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    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I may occasionally have that, but more likely it is just a little indigestion when I eat extra spicy foods, which I do enjoy occasionally. I find that meditation helps with the indigestion quite often. I keep ginger root on hand, but did not know it was good for acid reflux. Next time I experience a little indigestion, I'll grate some and make some tea. Thanks for all the tips.