Do you constantly feel discomfort or a burning sensation moving from your stomach area to your chest and sometimes into your throat? Chances are you may suffer from acid reflux. Acid reflux, commonly known as heartburn, occurs when acid from your stomach flows backward (essentially up) into your esophagus, the muscular tube that joins your stomach to your throat. It can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter (think of it as a little door) becomes weakened and can’t close properly to prevent the backflow of acid (Figure 1).
It is important to note that it is not the acid or amount of acid that causes it, you need the acid in your stomach to aid digestion and keep the food moving quickly.
Certain foods can cause acid reflux, but it can be a common occurrence in people who need to make some lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals more frequently, losing that excess weight, stop eating so much irritating foods (find your triggers) or cutting back on alcohol and/or smoking.
Figure 1. Acid Reflux
There is a myriad of pharmaceutical medications available to counteract an acid reflux episode. Antacids can be thought of as an anti-acid medication that works within seconds to treat heartburn/acid reflux discomfort. However, long-term usage of these types of medications can lead to problems such as constipation or even diarrhea depending on the precise element. This is typically only an issue for people who chronically suffer from acid reflux and would need a long-term supply. Proton pump inhibitors can only be used to treat acid reflux. This medication is a class of drug that reduces stomach acid production. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, however, is not advised as it has suggested inducing nausea, vomiting, stomach pain ironically, headaches and dry mouth to name but a few. Thus, it seems logical to turn to natural treatment for acid reflux as a potential alternative avenue, especially for individuals who would need long-term treatment as a result of chronic acid reflux.
Ginger is a plant that is well known for its anti-inflammatory capabilities and is a natural treatment for acid reflux, amongst other benefits. It’s easy to add fresh ginger to your diet. You can stew some ginger for a homemade tea, grind ginger into your stir fry dinner or put it in a juice or smoothie.
High fiber foods like oatmeal are great for acid reflux because they can soak up the acid in the stomach and by doing so can help reduce the burning sensation of heartburn. High fiber foods are easy to incorporate into your diet, for example, whole-grain bread.
Additionally, try not to eat within a couple of hours of going to bed. This will allow your stomach to empty before you have to lie down, in which case it would be easier for the acid to rise up your esophagus.
Another acid reflux natural remedy is aloe juice. Aloe vera juice comes from the aloe plant and is linked the reduction in heartburn and improvements in digestion. In addition to this, it is full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals and bacteriostatic components that keep microorganisms at bay. You can buy aloe juice over the counter and drink ½ to 1 cup before each meal.
Baking soda is a common household staple, and it’s no surprise it can be used as a natural treatment for acid reflux. Into one glass of water mix one spoon of preferably organic baking soda and stir. Drink it while it is fizzy.