GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, causes a person to experience heartburn frequently. Can it be treated without medication? What is the best natural GERD treatment without medication? Find out here.
Digestion and GERD – A Review
To better make sense of the natural remedies, it’s best to understand how GERD happens by reviewing some concepts about our digestion.
- After chewing food, it’ll go down to the stomach via a tube called the esophagus.
- To ensure that food doesn’t regurgitate (backflow), we have the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) as a “guard”. This sphincter acts as a valve to keep the food in the stomach.
- However, there are instances when the food goes back up from the stomach to the esophagus up to the throat. This is what we call as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
- Since the food already came in contact with acid in the stomach, when it goes back up, food will taste acidic.
- Remember that, while the stomach can tolerate acid, the esophagus and throat are not meant for acidic content.
- Hence, when the acidic food backflows, we will feel a burning sensation behind the breastbone, the neck, or the throat. This is the symptom called heartburn.
Now, GERD is the more serious form of acid reflux. Typically, it happens because the LES weakens, decreasing its capacity to prevent the food from going back up. If you have GERD, then you might experience heartburn more than twice a week, along with other symptoms such as chest pain and the feeling of having a lump in your throat.
The Best Natural GERD Treatment
If you’re suffering from GERD and its common symptom, which is heartburn, the following home remedies may help you:
Avoid Food Triggers
Although triggers vary from person to person, some foods tend to make the symptoms of GERD worse; if not that, then they compromise the LES’ ability to prevent reflux.
Many reports say that alcohol, caffeinated drink, foods high in fat, and even chocolates tend to be triggers. The best advice here is to be observant – what foods trigger your GERD symptoms?
If you want to learn about the foods to avoid when you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you can check out this article.
Try to Have Small, Frequent Meals
Aside from what you eat, how you eat also matters. For instance, eating a heavy meal could potentially put pressure on your LES, forcing it open and allowing the food to backflow.
Additionally, when you eat a heavy meal in one sitting, the stomach will need a longer time to digest it. The longer it stays in the stomach, the more chances for it regurgitate.
With these in mind, you can try to have small, frequent meals throughout the day. Finally, while eating, don’t forget to chew food slowly to ease the process of breaking it down.
Be Mindful of Your Position
Look back on the times when you experience heartburn due to GERD and think about when it happens. Does it happen when you take a nap after a meal? Do you experience it at night?
If yes, then it might help you to think about your position. This is because, according to studies, gravity plays an important role in reflux, especially for those who have weak lower-esophageal sphincter.
For the best natural GERD treatment, you can try:
- Sitting up for at least 3 hours after mealtime before lying down. The reason for this is that acid production in the stomach is at its peak during this time.
- If you experience night time or nocturnal heartburn, consider elevating your head and shoulders by a few centimeters more.
- Not eating a meal so close to bedtime, as it may urge you to lie down right after eating. Plan early dinners and don’t have late-night snacks.
Exercising is a good routine to promote overall health. Experts suggest doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 5 days in a week. But how can exercise help your GERD symptoms?
According to experts, being overweight promotes reflux. This is because excess fat can put pressure on the stomach, which pushes the food back up the esophagus. Some people who suffer from GERD stated that losing even a little bit of weight made them feel better.
Exercising regularly helps you maintain a healthy weight. According to one study, “weight loss should be recommended to GERD patients who are obese.”
Try to Quit Smoking
First, cigarette smoking negatively impacts our health. Not only does it compromise our lung health, but it also increases the risk of developing different types of cancer.
As for GERD, quitting smoking could be one of the best natural GERD treatment because:
- Increases acid production, worsening the heartburn symptom.
- Decreases the capacity of the LES to prevent the backflow of food, encouraging acid reflux.
- Decreases the saliva which is important in neutralizing the acid in the body.
Some studies say that “tobacco smoking cessation should be recommended to GERD patients who smoke.”
Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing
Another simple way to treat GERD naturally is to re-assess your clothing. If you find that most of your clothes are tight-fitting, perhaps it’s time to add some loose clothes to your wardrobe.
Wearing comfortable outfits is important in managing GERD because tight-fitting clothes often add pressure to the stomach, encouraging the backflow of food. If it’s not your attire, consider your belt as it, too, may constrict the stomach.
If you have GERD, consulting your doctor is still the best thing to do. They may recommend medications, such as antacids. However, the aforementioned natural GERD treatment options might also help alleviate some of your GERD symptoms.
Learn more about Digestive Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.