Acid reflux relief with alternative medicine

Acid reflux (GORD) can be helped using alternative medicine

Acid reflux is a common problem suffered by plenty of people (including this writer). Finding relief from the symptoms of acid reflux can be difficult. Prescription drugs and dietary changes are the typical solution to combating acid reflux but results can vary – one drug seems to work for a while but then all of sudden does nothing. Removing certain foods from your diet can also bring temporary relief but sometimes it’s a combination of foods that cause acid reflux symptoms and then it’s hard to know exactly which ones do it anyway! Anyone who is an acid reflux sufferer can tell you about the frustrations of the condition.

Many people who have acid reflux are turning to alternative medicine and complementary therapy to help with their symptoms. Natural and holistic health methods can provide effective and beneficial treatment for acid reflux without the need for constant intake of prescription drugs.

What is acid reflux, oesophagitis and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)?

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid leaks through into the gullet (or the oesophagus). The lining of the oesophagus becomes inflamed and painful as it doesn’t have the same protective cells that line the stomach. The pain felt from acid reflux is often referred to as heartburn (pain and soreness in the centre of the chest). The oesophagus can cope with a certain amount of acid and heartburn typically goes away, but some reflux sufferers are sensitive to this acid and can suffer with the pain over a number of days throughout one week and then over a few months. Some people can have lots of reflux with no symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs because a band of circular muscle (known as the lower oesophageal sphincter,) isn’t tightening properly. When we eat, this sphincter muscle relaxes to allow food to pass into the stomach. Once food has passed through, the muscle should tighten again to prevent stomach acid coming back up. When this muscle doesn’t function correctly, acid passes into the oesophagus on a regular basis. Oesophagitis is the inflammation of the oesophagus lining caused by acid reflux. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is an umbrella term to describe the reflux that can be with or without the associated problem of oesophagitis.

Some symptoms of acid reflux and oesophagitis include: heartburn (which has nothing to do with the heart), acid in the throat and mouth, pain in the chest, feeling bloated, sore throat and belching.

Alternative medicine and complementary therapy treatment for acid reflux

Common prescription drugs for acid reflux include omeprazole, lansoprazole and ranitidine. While these are deemed safe to use, some can cause unwelcome side-effects such as mood swings, hard stools and drug dependency. Finding a natural way to help the symptoms of acid reflux could be the best option for sufferers.

Digestive health
Improving the health of the digestive system is one of the first steps to easing acid reflux as certain foods can aggravate the problem. Products made from flour and refined sugars have been known to cause acid reflux ‘flare ups’. Foods that are acidic or spicy increase the amount of acid in the stomach which can worsen the problem (curry, fruit juices, tomatoes). Alcohol, caffeine and chocolate are known irritants for acid reflux too.

Visiting a trained nutritionist will provide advice on a healthy diet for acid reflux relief. Advice typically includes eating foods with natural fibre and drinking water to help with softening of stools and flushing out of the digestive tract.

Colonic hydrotherapy is another recommended therapy for acid reflux sufferers as cleaning the colon can address the nasty side effects of toxins in the system from the prescription drugs taken to ease acid reflux symptoms.

Herbal Medicine has a number of natural remedies that can help with the symptoms of acid reflux. Teas and tinctures can relieve heartburn and calm the stomach. Aloe Vera juice for example is good for soothing an inflamed oesophagus. Chamomile tea can encourage digestion and soothe the stomach – it also has stress-relieving qualities. Marshmallow herb can soothe a sore throat and ease heartburn.

De-stress
Stress is a major cause of acid reflux. Being stressed stirs up stomach acid which is then released into the oesophagus. Stress management can be achieved using complementary therapies such as massage, counselling, acupuncture, hypnosis or CBT.

Quit smoking
Smoking cigarettes will cause various chemicals to be inhaled into the oesophagus and can relax the oesophageal sphincter further. Acid reflux symptoms can be eased by quitting smoking through an alternative medicine smoking cessation method such as hypnotherapy.

Painkillers and drugs
Painkilling drugs that contain anti-inflammatory chemicals can worsen acid reflux symptoms. Ibuprofen and aspirin are the main culprits but other drugs such as diazepam and nitrates can also worsen the problem. Discuss with your GP about alternatives should you need to take these drugs for other conditions.

Weight and posture
If you’re overweight then extra pressure is placed onto the stomach which aggravates reflux. Similarly, poor posture when sitting or standing can place pressure onto the stomach. Consider taking Pilates lessons or Yoga to improve your core muscle strength and correct postural problems. By exercising, you’re also more likely to lose the excess weight that is worsening the acid reflux symptoms.

By visiting trained alternative medicine and complementary therapy practitioners you can develop a health program that includes a variety of treatments that will ease your acid reflux symptoms and reduce the dependency on pharmaceutical drug treatment.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
31/10/2008


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