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Easy And Natural Acid Reflux Remedies

Today acid reflux (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) impacts about a third of Americans. It has become the most expensive GI disorder in America to take care of as more misconceptions from companies selling reflux blocking medication continue to cloud the minds of users. This article will discuss these misconceptions and provide natural methods that can be taken to address reflux issues.

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The Main Misconception Of Acid Reflux

Most patients with acid reflux believe they have overly high levels of stomach acid, so they opt to take drugs that prohibit stomach acid production.

However, the opposite is true in the case of acid reflux, which often occurs as a lack of adequate stomach acid production. Studies reveal that as we get older, it becomes more difficult to secrete the necessary amount of acid needed for our stomach, which is why we see an increase in reflux rate with age. Thus, it is important to understand that a healthy level of stomach acid is needed to eliminate reflux.

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Reflux And The Digestive System 

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a band of muscle that wraps around the esophagus area that enters the stomach. Its primary job is keeping stomach contents (food and acid) from entering the esophagus. This muscle is also what determines how well acid is contained in the stomach instead of the esophagus by tightening (or loosening) itself depending on stomach acidity levels. 

Note that the cells of the stomach and esophagus differ in that stomach cells are able to withstand acid secretions as opposed to cells of the esophagus, where any amount of acid can trigger reflux discomfort. When acid levels in the stomach are low, the LES muscle is loosened, allowing acid to flow into the esophagus. This results in acid reflux discomfort.

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Dangers Of Low Stomach Acidity And Reflux Medications

Drugs that suppress stomach acid not only can provide a disservice in addressing acid reflux problems, but they also have the potential to cause other issues in health. 

A stomach environment low in acid can lead to growth in bacteria, for stomach acids supply our stomach with essential protection from certain autoimmune diseases and food allergies developing.

Many of those prescribed to acid reflux medications are not properly informed on the potential health risks and side-effects that can occur with long-term use. Here are four side effects of acid-blocking medications that should not be ignored:

  •  Damaged Bone Health

Acid-blocking medication can play a damaging role towards bone health, more than tripling the increased chance of bone fracture. This is because acid-blocking medications can affect the function of proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers. 

  • Increased Risk of Serious Infection

There are two lethal infections that can result from using acid-blocking medication: pneumonia and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). A Harvard-based research study conducted in 2009 reported a 30% increased risk for pneumonia in patients who were on proton-pump inhibitors (PPI). 

C. difficile is the most common hospital acquired infection, one that causes intense diarrhea and can be fatal for elderly individuals. Thirty different studies revealed that PPI therapy is linked to increased risk of C. difficile (up to two folds).  What makes these numbers more alarming is that these medications were “properly described” to patients beforehand.

  •  Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency

Not having enough stomach acid also means that vital nutrients such as iron, B12, and zinc will have a harder time to be broken down and absorbed in the stomach. Long-term users of acid-blocking medications can also see deficient amounts of magnesium, a critical component of proper cell function. 

  •  Rebound Symptoms and Addiction

A double-blind-placebo-controlled trial published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that 48 individuals who were on PPI therapy for four weeks continued to experience acid reflux symptoms even after the medication was discontinued. Moreover, results were also consistent in those who were previously asymptomatic to acid reflux. 

Studies show It takes around three weeks for rebound effects of the medication to return to normalcy. This is because the body quickly becomes dependent on the acid-blocking drug and the stomach hormone gastrin produces high amounts of acid in the stomach when medication use is discontinued.

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Natural Remedies

There are natural substances prevalent that can do wonders in supporting an optimal gastrointestinal function. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) works to restore esophageal, stomach and intestinal lining by secreting protective mucus upon the upper and lower GI tract. Studies have shown that DGL can be just as—if not more—effective than any drug therapy treatment plan. 

Another natural pharmaceutical option can be mastic gum, the extract from the mastic tree. Mastic gum has been known to treat intestinal and gastric ulcers, but its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce irritation in the stomach and esophagus. Other reflux supplements worth knowing are aloe leaf extracts (non-laxative), marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, and zinc carnosine. 

  • Avoid The Foods You’re Allergic To

Some foods, especially those more acidic or spicy, can irritate the surfaces of the esophagus and stomach. It is going to be especially important to avoid food allergies that have a delayed reaction, as these can cause the most inflammation and irritation, leading to reflux. 

The two foods that are most likely to cause reflux issues are going to be gluten and dairy. Because these foods are highly inflammatory, they should be eliminated for the first four weeks when starting a reflux recovery program. In some cases, elimination of these foods has shown to remove reflux problems altogether. 

  • Make Digestion Happen

Betaine HCL supplements your stomach with hydrochloric acid that provides the stomach with optimal levels of acidity. The best way to take HCL is with pepcid at the start of the meal. Increase the dosage by one capsule after every 2-3 days if no discomfort is felt. Once a mild burning sensation is felt, lower the dosage to a level where no burn is longer felt. 

It’s advisable to stay away from HCL if on these medications (unless approved by physician)

  • Corticosteroids (prednisone)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Over-the counter NSAID’s
  • Any other high anti-inflammatory drugs

For those with moderate to severe acid reflux, know that HCL can cause some irritation during the beginning stages of the treatment. Furthermore, there are no published studies on HCL’s effectiveness as a reflux supplement, though thousands of patients will testify to its place as a natural cure. 

Another way to support your digestive system and ensure proper stomach acid secretion is by consuming bitters. The best ones to consume are dandelion root, gentian, and burdock root. Consuming bitters is an old-school method that should be used as an initial treatment option for acidic irritation as it is gentler on the body.