What is acid reflux disease?
Have you ever felt a very painful burning that feels like it originated from your chest and is trying to erupt up your esophagus and throat? That pain may be the result of acid reflux and it is one of the most unpleasant conditions that just about everyone will find themselves dealing with at some point in their life.
The valve of the stomach has what is called a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that is supposed to close once food travels down into the stomach.
If this doesn’t close completely, the stomach acid will make its way up to the esophagus and cause the burning feeling in your chest that is best known as heartburn.
If you feel these symptoms more than a few times every week, you may have the more serious gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How does it happen?
One of the most common reasons why people deal with acid reflux is an upset stomach problem called hiatal hernia where the LES and upper part of the stomach move above the diaphragm that usually keeps the acid in the stomach.
The other ways people can get acid reflux include lying down after eating a big meal, having a weight problem, smoking, snacking before going to bed and taking some form of muscle relaxants or prescriptions for maintaining blood pressure.
There are also specific foods that can be a cause to acid reflux, including citrus fruits, chocolate, onions, garlic and, most notably, extremely hot and spicy foods.
Additionally, there are different kinds of beverages that can also induce acid reflux including anything that has alcohol. There’s also a risk when enjoying most carbonated beverages (i.e. sodas, energy drinks), coffee and teas.
What are the common symptoms?
The most common symptom is having the heartburn that is the first sign that the acid has moved up the esophagus from the stomach and can be felt in the chest.
Severe cases of heartburn can actually feel like it is in the throat. There’s also a chance of regurgitating some of the acid up through the throat and into your mouth for a very unpleasant, sour taste.
Other common signs that you are dealing with acid reflux would include non-stop hiccups, nausea, a constant sore throat and developing dysphagia – a feeling that food is stuck in your throat due to having a much more narrowed esophagus.
One might also have a higher chance of having blood in bowel movements or vomit, unexplained weight loss and wheezing while breathing.
For those who are dealing with the more chronic type of acid reflux – GERD – you are likely to have more severe symptoms that you might experience more than twice per week. There is an increased chance of developing asthma, as well as a dry cough and the growing struggles to swallow normally – all of which can actually show up with or without the heartburn.
If nothing is done about the elevated acid reflux, major problems can result revolving around the lining of one’s esophagus, including bleeding ulcers, scared tissue and corresponding narrowing and further damage to the cells to a point that could lead to cancer that has a chance of becoming fatal.
Why choose a natural treatment?
When you think about all of the prescription drugs out there, several use artificial chemicals and substances that can cause more harm than good.
By using natural remedy options, you have less of a chance of ingesting any negative substances that can lead to developing a number of diseases like cancer.
Using methods that are 100 percent natural are also likely to contain essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
1 – Baking soda
Scientifically called sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a powder that most households have in their cabinets or refrigerators and is often a good way to reflux and reverse the heartburn. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a medium size glass of warmish water (not ice water) and drink.
When we break it down scientifically, baking soda has a pH level that is above the 7.0 mark and will actually help cancel out the climbing stomach acid so that it will move back down below the LES so that you can put an end to the heartburn.
The two things you’ll need is a teaspoon – or you could start with just half of a teaspoon – and a glass of no more than eight ounces of water that you can mix the baking soda into very well until it dissolves. This can be done multiple times during a day, as long as you don’t consume more than three-and-a-half teaspoons within 24 hours.
Make sure you also don’t use this method for more than seven days in a row because the large amount of salt can actually cause negative swelling or nausea.
2- Aloe juice
Sometimes all you need is some way to soothe the angered and upset stomach and it’s not too far of a stretch when you consider that the aloe plant is well known for soothing burns on the skin. Therefore, drinking about half of a cup of aloe juice is actually one of the best ways to help reduce the heartburn you are dealing with and can also reduce any swelling you might have in correlation.
If you know you are going to have chronic acid reflux, you can make sure you have your refrigerator stocked up with aloe juice that you can have ready for the next time your stomach starts to have that irritable and inflamed feeling or you get that heartburn sensation in the chest and throat.
If you are going to use this method, remember that aloe juice is a natural laxative and will create you to have more trips to the restroom. Just be prepared to keep an eye out for a brand of aloe juice that doesn’t that has removed what causes the laxative effects.
3 – Chewing gum
This might seem like a very unlikely method, but getting relief from heartburn may not take much more than a simple stick of chewing gum in your favorite flavor.
In fact, there have been studies published by the Journal of Dental Research that states the GERD signs can usually find very high success rates in finding relief of painful heartburn simply chewing some sugar-free gum for about half-an-hour after eating a meal.
The gum will actually stimulate the glands that produce saliva in the mouth and will increase that flow so that the acid that builds up becomes washed away because of the extra amount of saliva that is being swallowed.
This will also help deal with other issues of acid reflux – even the higher levels of problems found with people who have GERD. The same thought process can actually be used for both occasional and constant.
Normal amounts of saliva are usually what allows us to not feel a lot of pain during the normal cases of reflux that occasionally happens. All you really need to do is chew some gum after eating – which also helps freshen your breath for those foods with garlic or other spices.
4 – Keep your chin up
The old phrase mostly used for keeping positive in a tough time can also come into play when it comes to battling the effects of acid reflux. Think about how heartburn can feel the worst as the night wears on and you are trying to get some sleep.
That’s because the effects from gravity are working against you because the digested contents of your stomach are more likely to move up your esophagus.
A simple trick is to keep your head elevated an additional six inches when you sleep. The best way to do this is by using whatever you can to place under the legs at the head of your bed so that you are sleeping at an incline instead of being level.
You can also put a wedge like pillow under the mattress – as long as you aren’t just settling for a few extra pillows that can easily be moved around as you sleep throughout the night.
Another thing you don’t want to do is sleep within four hours after eating dinner because having a full stomach while lying down can actually cause the contents to be more likely to be pushed towards the LES and into the esophagus.
5 – The “how, what and when” of dieting
First is to watch how you eat, which means you don’t want to look like you are inhaling your food without any chewing. The best thing to do is to actually take small bites and take your time so that your stomach is given plenty of time to digest and not have to produce a large amount of acid if you overeat.
Just as important is watching exactly what foods you are eating because there are certain foods that will be more likely to cause heartburn and other acid reflux conditions.
The best thing you can do is avoid foods that are overly spicy. Finally, when you eat is a big thing because you should not eat within that four hour period before going to bed for the reasons that were brought up before.
6 – Get more acid in there
Probably the last kind of advice you would expect on this list because it would sound very counterproductive to the average person. But a good number of acid reflux instances can actually be due to a lack of acid in your stomach instead of the more commonly expected over abundance of stomach acid – that is what helps decide whether the LES should be opened or closed.
If there isn’t enough stomach acid produced, then the LES remains open as if there isn’t anything wrong. But what happens is that you can get that acid through the open window and into your esophagus a lot easier.
One of the best things you can do is combine anywhere from three teaspoons to about one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with about six or eight ounces of water.
It is best to either drink this mixture either before every meal or before bedtime, as long as you get this in about two or three times a day. But don’t drink too much, especially if you feel the acid reflux is getting worse.
7 – Eat a banana or apple
Bananas have a lot of benefits mixed within all of that fructose sugar, which include a number of natural antacids that can help battle against acid reflux and can be one of the simplest ways to take care of the heartburn in a homier sort of way. The first thing to do is let the batch of bananas ripen for a bit and eat one each day.
Another fruit that helps is an apple. Just like the doctor, an apple a day can help keep the acid reflux away. All you have to do is slice up an apple and eat some every few hours before going to be as a very simple way to help maintain the good and settled stomach.
8 – A spot of ginger root tea
The benefits of ginger root can include the ability to relieve yourself of major stomach pains and cramps that can include nausea and acid reflux.
Make the ginger root into a fresh cup of tea that you can sip for about 20 minutes ahead of time leading up to a meal in an effort to help keep your stomach calm so you can keep the acid at bay.
To make this team, all you need is three slices of gingerroot that will simmer in about two cups of water on a stove for about 30 minutes with a cover. Afterwards, you can decide whether to leave the ginger bits in or take them out before pouring the tea into a glass and finish it with 20 minutes before eating.
9 – What are your triggers?
This is going to be a very tough task, but if you can put in the effort, time and dedication to do so, you should identify what is acting as the triggers to your acid reflux disease. There are common triggers, but there are some foods that can have different reactions between different people. That way you aren’t having to spend a lot of money by trying to get a number of different antacids and other medications that may or may not work.
As you go through your regular favorite meals and snacks, you can keep a daily log of everything you eat and the effects that you start to experience – if any – in the moments that follow.
Start taking notes if you start to see a pattern develop within that food diary to see what you ate that might have actually caused the different cases of heartburn and other acid reflux conditions.
Additionally, you will want to also track what activities you are doing throughout the day because that can actually provide heartburn and acid issues for a number of reasons that can include extra pressure being placed on the LES if the acid is pushed up due to a tighter waistband or if you are moving around to where you are bending and your head and heck dip below a certain level.
10 – Be healthy in your activity and weight
If you weigh too much and might be on the risk of entering an obese physical state, then you are more likely to have acid reflux disease or the elevated version in GERD with more instances of heartburn to go along with your weight issues.
When you have too many unnecessary pounds, especially around the midsection, you will create more pressure that will push the stomach contents and/or stomach acid up to the LES.
Even if it remains closed, that elevated exposure will actually start to wear out the stomach lining and the LES to the point where it could become looser and a lot weaker than you would want it to be.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money in an effort to take care of your of your acid reflux, heartburn and those other painful symptoms that can ruin an evening after what you may have thought was a perfect meal at the time. Nor do you have to go and see which of several different antacid products will work and which will not work for you.
All you really need is to try some of the items you either already have in your kitchen or you may just need to spend a few dollars at the grocery store to naturally and, in many cases safely, reduce the effects of your acid reflux disease so you can continue on with your day without pains – or even get a good night of sleep.