Acid reflux (aka heartburn or GERD) can be very uncomfortable, and when the symptoms are at their peak, it can affect a person’s quality of life. We have heard stories from patients who suffer with acid reflux where they’re up all night because as soon as they lie down, they feel like they’re going to throw up. Not to mention, that persistent feeling of burning or something stuck in your throat is quite uncomfortable. Many people will end up buying over the counter medications to ease their symptoms, which is a problem. By reducing the stomach acid to relieve the symptoms you also are stopping the absorption of your nutrition. So, what are some natural treatment options for acid reflux?
Before we discuss some natural treatments for acid reflux, it is important to understand why it is occurring in the first place.
One reason acid reflux can occur is from eating too much, and too fast. In our busy lives, most of us are either eating on the go, or wolfing down lunch in a short amount of time. What happens when we don’t chew our food properly and eat too fast is that we tend to eat more food than what our body needs. Throw in stress, which stops the production of stomach acid, and we have a whole lot of food to digest with a small amount of stomach acid.
What we need to understand is that excess stomach acid that we experience with heartburn actually begins with too little stomach acid. What happens is that the low stomach acid and large amount of food the stomach has to digest forces the body to overcompensate with acid production. And then we’re dealing with too much stomach acid coming up out of the stomach and into the esophagus which causes that acid reflux feeling. The solution is not to stop the stomach acid but improve the digestive process from the beginning.
We see the above scenario commonly at the clinic, but there’s an even deeper problem that can cause acid reflux. That is gas build up in the small intestines from SIBO. This gas build up creates a pressure which stops food from going down and forces food to go up. When we combine this with fatigue and stress that weakens the valve that would normally stop acid from coming up into the esophagus, we get acid reflux. Often there is too much gas in the small intestines because the food is not being broken down in the stomach, which means the undigested food travels further down the digestive tract and feeds the gut bacteria that creates the gas. Overall rather than blocking digestion with over the counter medications the real answer is to improve the digestive process. Stay tuned for our next blog post to learn tips to do this from our Toronto Naturopathic Doctor.