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Gastroesophageal Reflux

From the Desk of Robert C Slater BA, MSC, DC, CME

Change Your Diet and Lifestyle: Your Esophagus and Stomach Tell You So!

A digestive disorder called GERD is associated with the reflux [backward movement] of highly acidic stomach content into the distal or lower part of the esophagus. Common symptoms associated with regurgitation of acidic stomach content back up into the lower esophagus are: burping, pain on swallowing [odynophagia], as well as coughing. All symptoms are worse while lying down.

In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and then immediately closes to prevent food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. GERD is an abbreviation which stands for gastro-esophagus reflux, or the return of acidic stomach content into the lower section of the esophagus. A GERD related pattern of symptoms of burning over the chest, or pain of heartburn is caused by inflammation of the lower end of the esophagus, esophagitis [interstitial fibrositis, which can last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating. In 5% of people over 50 years of age reflux is experienced.

The worst case scenario of untreated gastro-esophageal reflux is permanent and pre-cancerous epithelial reorganization of a stratified layered arrangement to a columnar epithelial lining. This condition is called Barret’s Esophagus.

Medical treatment for the condition of GERD (before it gets to Barret’s Esophagus) is based on reducing or almost eliminating stomach acid. A plethora of antacid medicines are on the market to produce this effect (ex: Tagament, Zantac, Prilosec and Axil + about 50 others). A surgical option called Fundoplication [in which the upper art of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter to strengthen the sphincter] may temporarily help prevent acid reflux.

Natural treatment, which may go hand in hand with medical protocols, may reduce dependence of harsh chemical treatments with adverse side effects. If the condition GERD is not associated with stomach ulcers or severe gastritis then HCL and proteases are the preferred natural arrows of treatment. One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar before ‘every’ meal is a simple and sure way to achieve this.

Also in line with natural herbal and vitamin/botanical supplementation are small but important lifestyle modulators. This means something as simple at eating 4 to6 quite small meals a day, rather than overeating at three very large ones.

In most cases a slew of aggravating behavioral and dietary factors must gradually come to a stop. Of the top five her smoking is the major one. The remaining lifestyle and dietary culprits to stop eating are allergenic foods, chocolate, fried foods, carbonated beverages, alcohol and coffee.

Botanical and herbal agents that may heal the GERD irritated esophageal are: d-limonene [terpene from orange peels which support digestion], deglycyrrhizinated licorice, gentian, garlic, Artemisia asiatica, as well as optimizing the bowel flora.

After 2 weeks on a natural protocol, one may try cutting the antacids by 25%. If you find no burning for 1 more week, then try cutting the antacid by another 25%, then another week another 25% until you have completely come off the antacid. If you experience any burning while trying to wean off the antacids, go back up a step and wait 2 more weeks and try again.

The simple saliva pH test is a quick and sensitive test provided at Healing Hands Wellness Center, 635 Cleveland Ave S #1. Call on pH 651-699-3366 to clarify if you are at risk of developing GERD. If you are feeling pain on swallowing or heartburn and chest pains after eating, make an appointment for a complete nutritional assessment to stop risk factors creating and or aggravation to lining of the lower esophagus.