(Be Sure to Read Part I: GERD in Children and in Adults, Part One: The Symptoms and the TRUE Causes)
Many people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, take prescription and over-the-counter medicines to reduce symptoms. Those pills have their place, but a natural approach to healing can cure and prevent GERD.
In part 2 of this two-part piece on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Dr. Leonard Smith will outline treatment and prevention for GERD, including the best NATURAL options. To find out more about GERD, read GERD in Children and in Adults, Part I: The Symptoms and the TRUE Causes.
GERD, also known as gastoesophageal reflux disease, is more than just heartburn; it's a serious condition that can erode your esophagus, make swallowing difficult, and cause changes in your esophageal cells that may eventually lead to cancer.
Millions of Americans experience the painful heartburn and acid reflux of GERD on a regular basis and frequently turn to over-the-counter and prescription drugs to control the symptoms.
Sufferers of GERD depend on drugs like Prilosec, Zantac, and Nexium to help them get through their days.
In my experience, I've even come across patients who take drugs like these every day for five years or more!
Did you know that acid-blocking drugs make more money than all health supplements in industry? And what's more, they are loaded with ingredients that do not support optimal health.
Keep in mind that the short run, taking acid-blocking and other drugs can be helpful because they give the esophagus a chance to heal. However, over the long-term, it's far better to take a preventative approach to healing, using natural measures that focus on wellness.
Read on to learn why taking conventional GERD medications can actually harm your body and the natural approach to take instead.
What's Wrong With The Typical Heartburn Drugs?
Several different kinds of medicine exist to counteract the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease; the most common are proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.
Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers work by decreasing the acid secretion in your stomach. The proton pump inhibitors essentially stop all acid production. Both kinds of drugs generally ease symptoms, but they typically do not address the underlying cause of the disease.
Leonard Smith, M.D., is a renowned gastrointestinal, vascular and general surgeon as well as an expert in the use of nutrition and natural supplementation. As a surgeon, Dr. Smith has first-hand experience of the problems associated with faulty digestion and the surgical necessities they can cause.
For the past 20 years, Dr. Smith has investigated many holistic medical programs, including nutrition, exercise, chelation, stress management and the relevance of mental and spiritual attitudes in healing. Acknowledging the effectiveness of whole organic foods and nutritional supplementation, Dr. Smith strives to stay on the leading edge of research and breakthroughs in the field of functional nutrition.
These medications can even create other health problems for you. Here are some of the complications and side affects you may experience due to low stomach acid (HCl):1
- H. pylori (the bacteria associated with ulcers) can thrive in your stomach because there is not enough stomach acid to kill it.
- Other pathogenic bacteria and yeast can thrive in the stomach if there's not enough acid, which can effect digestion, create pain in the stomach (dyspepsia) and compromise your gastric immunity.
- Absorption of B vitamins, zinc and minerals decreases with low stomach acid. You need adequate HCl to absorb these important vitamins and minerals. In fact, without them, you may find that your health and moods suffer.
- The hormone gastrin. A more serious problem that is still being researched involves gastrin, the hormone in your stomach that stimulates the secretion of stomach acid.
When you eat, your body naturally releases gastrin to trigger acid secretion in your stomach. If you take acid blockers, your body produces gastrin, but no stomach acid. Preliminary data shows that the excess gastrin in your stomach acts like an anabolic hormone and may eventually be shown to cause cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.2
With risks like these associated with long-term GERD medications, it's important to explore a more holistic approach.
Natural Solutions For Healing GERD
For the treatment of GERD, conventional approaches recommend lifestyle changes, prescription medicine and occasionally surgery. Certainly these methods have their place in treatment, and prescription drugs are sometimes necessary to give your esophagus time to heal.
However, I believe that establishing a good foundation for health: reducing stress and healthy eating choices,are some of the best ways to treat and prevent GERD.
Many times GERD is a symptom that you have poor digestion.
Here are 3 principles of foundational health that can help you heal, naturally:
1. Optimal Nutrition
I have found that the Body Ecology approach to health and healing is one of the best ways to establish a healthy body, from the inside out. By specifically addressing the health of your digestion, the Body Ecology system works with your body to correct some of the conditions that contribute to GERD including:
- Low stomach acid. Body Ecology principles promote optimal digestion and the recommended fermented foods and drinks help your body break down food with ease.
- Constipation. With better digestion, your elimination will improve and put less stress on your system. Body Ecology's principle of cleansing provides natural solutions for constipation.
- Food allergies. Body Ecology starts with removing common allergens and foods that feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, so your body can heal. At the same time, the foods you DO eat nourish your digestive system back to optimal health.
- Excess abdominal fat. By adopting a new Body Ecology way of eating, you might find that weight loss is a happy by product that eases GERD symptoms.
To learn more about the basic principles of the Body Ecology system of health and healing read about the first 7 steps to great health.
2. Stress Reduction
As I discussed in Part I of this series, GERD is often a reflection of the inability to "digest life." By this I mean that the way you handle the stress of life can directly affect your digestive health and the wellness of your entire body.
Try these techniques to help you cope with the stress of life AND reduce chronic stress:
- Acupuncture. One study discovered that stimulation of acupressure points may maintain normal esophageal sphincter pressures and thus prevent acid reflux.
- Exercise. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and has myriad health benefits. Add some movement to your routine, and your GERD symptoms may ease up. If you need more reasons to exercise, be sure to read 9 Resolutions to Commit to the Most Beneficial Exercise.
- The LifeLine Technique. The LifeLine Technique is a revolutionary new approach to healing that harnesses the power of "infinite love and gratitude" to create lasting and impactful change on the physical, mental and spiritual level of life.
- The Sedona Method. For releasing troubling emotions, few things are easier than the Sedona Method. Simple and straightforward, many people have used the Sedona Method to free themselves from stress and painful emotions that cause dis-ease.
Now is the perfect time to lower your stress levels and heal your body. Read 7 Resolutions to Commit to Better Emotional Health to discover new techniques to change your life!
3. Food and Supplements to Improve and Eliminate Reflux
As you establish optimal nutrition with the Body Ecology program and reduce your stress levels, there are also some supplements and healing foods and drinks that can support prevention of GERD or acid reflix:
- Take a shot of bitters before your meal. Bitters (plant extracts that are bitter) can stimulate stomach acid and help your lower esophageal sphincter high pressure zone get tighter, helping to reduce and eliminate reflux.
- Eat fermented foods with your meal, but not before. The healthy bacteria created during fermentation will help you digest your food AND provide healthy bacteria and yeast to fight off dangerous pathogens.
- Take digestive enzymes if your body is not putting out enough enzymes to digest your food.
- Consider taking hydrochloric acid (HCl) before your meals. Body Ecology's Assist Dairy and Protein is a good supplement because it has HCl to aid your digestion if you don't have enough stomach acid AND digestive enzymes.
Since low stomach acid inhibits absorption of B vitamins, minerals and zinc, my recommendation is: take Assist Dairy and Protein with a snack of animal protein or some other low fiber protein (since fiber can sweep away some of these vitamins and minerals). In this way, you will aid your body with the right amount of HCl and enzymes to absorb these much needed vitamins and minerals.
- Include fermented probiotic beverages like Young Coconut Kefir and CocoBiotic GERD symptoms may be caused by pathogenic bacteria and fermented foods and drinks help protect you from these pathogens.
- Cayenne pepper and spices, like cumin and curry, often lower inflammation, build the health of your stomach and digestive tract and improve peristaltic action. Though you might think that you should avoid spicy things like cayenne, it can actually help!
- Essential oils can improve digestion and ease stress at the same time. Consider frankincense and myrrh for your GERD.
At the same time, some foods aggravate GERD and tends to loosen your lower esophageal sphincter high pressure zone.
Avoid these foods and drinks if you want to help your body heal:
Also consider the size of your meals. If you lie down within a couple of hours of a large meal, you could set yourself up for reflux. Plan to go to sleep 4 hours after eating, for optimal digestion.
Fermented foods and drinks can heal your digestion, help prevent and treat GERD, and keep you healthy! Ferment your own delicious drinks and cultured vegetables at home using Body Ecology starters that make it easy and fun! Try our Starters today!
Eat, Drink and be MERRY
Following this foundational approach to health may clear up acute and chronic GERD and you owe it to yourself to find out if it will work for you.
Whether GERD is caused by hiatal hernia or aging, you may find that you no longer need to contemplate surgery or drugs. I do recommend, however, that as symptoms clear up, you continue to get an endoscopy every 6 months to make sure you are not suffering from asymptomatic GERD.
With a foundational approach to optimal health and nutrition, you can eat, drink and be merry, instead of miserable with symptoms of GERD. And more importantly, you will boost your immunity and create youthful energy that makes this change in habits more than worth your investment of time.
- Excessive Growth of Bacteria May Also Be Cause of Stomach Ulcers, HHMI.org, 15 Jan 2002. http://www.hhmi.org/news/merchant.html
- Ferand, A and Wang, TC, "Gastrin and Cancer: A Review," Cancer Lett. 8 Jul 2006. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&uid=16054292&cmd=showdetailview&indexed=google
- Acupuncture vs. Acid Reflux: 40% cut in sphincter relaxations brings hope for relief, American Physiological Society, 30 Aug 2005.
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