Natural Remedies for Heartburn and Acid Reflux that may surprise you
Do you ever experience symptoms of a burning sensation in the middle of your chest or rising up towards your throat? It may be an unpleasant indigestion type feeling or irritation or a bitter or acid taste in the mouth?
If you have ruled out other causes of chest pains with your doctor it can be heartburn.
Heartburn and acid reflux are common symptoms in today/s fast-paced stressful world. The use of prescribed acid suppressant medications or over-the-counter antacids is huge. To give an idea of the sheer size of the market, in 2018 alone 58 million prescriptions were for Omeprazole in the US alone.
I also recorded a live video all about Heartburn and Acid Reflux which you can watch here or listen to the podcast version.
These medications can have surprising adverse effects.
By reducing stomach acid they hinder the absorption of B12 and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. And in turn, this can lead to low energy and nervous system problems (B12) and increase the risk of osteoporosis (low calcium).
They can make the digestive system sluggish which can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). It can allow pathogens to flourish (the acid kills pathogens). It can lead to poor digestion, irregular bowel movements and dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) which can lead to a whole host of other gut and health problems.
But if acid is high don’t I need these medications?
It’s a common misunderstanding that stomach acid is too high. I know it seems logical. Heartburn and acid reflux must mean excess stomach acid right?
Low Stomach Acid
I ask my clients a lot of questions to gauge what may be happening with their digestion and spend a lot of time explaining to clients why symptoms may be related to low stomach acid. It’s a real eye-opener for clients as low stomach acid has ever been considered before.
When stomach acid is low there is still some present but not sufficient to adequately digest the meal you’ve eaten, especially if it is protein-rich. The food can start to ferment.
The stomach contents can start to rise instead of moving downwards towards the small intestines (ready for the next stage of digestion). If the contents rise, a little acid may leach back into the oesophagus which is not designed to have any acid present at all.
So it only takes the smallest amount of acid to create the discomfort and burning you feel in the chest area.
What Causes low stomach acid?
I’m afraid increasing age is a cause. Stomach acid levels start to decline the older we get. That doesn’t mean we don’t need more though!
Stress is a significant factor even among younger people when acid levels should be at their peak.
The reason stress can lower stomach acid secretions is because the body is expecting to run away from danger. The caveman response of “fight or flight” causes the body to prepare itself for the danger and diverts attention from non-essential functions.
Digestion is a non-essential function when there is perceived stress (danger) around! Digestive secretions like stomach acid are impaired.
Steps to address the problem naturally
Digestion starts before you even start to eat. The sight and smell of food sends signals to tell the stomach food is on its way and to encourage gastric secretions. So sit at a table, take time to calm the body and always avoid distractions like TV and phones.
Chew food really well and eat smaller mouthfuls. The release of saliva also encourages gastric secretions. Take time to eat your meal without rushing and remember your stomach doesn’t have teeth!
Other cultures will often serve bitter foods like rocket and chicory at the start or alongside a meal. These bitters also help stimulate gastric secretions.
Natural Acidity Remedies
I always encourage clients to try mixing just 1 tsp lemon juice with 1 tsp water and drink the mixture just before starting to eat main meals. This works equally as well using apple cider vinegar.
Be careful with the ratios. Too often I hear clients overly diluting the acid but it needs to be a 1:1 ratio to be effective. 1tsp may not be sufficient but it’s best to start low and go slow and always look out for any burning sensation. Burning may not be related to too much acid but because the stomach lining requires some healing and support. I occasionally see this but there are other natural remedies that can help in this situation.
A dessertspoon of lemon juice: water may be required to provide acidity to the stomach.
Make sure you are not overly diluting stomach acidity by drinking large quantities of water with a meal. One 200ml glass of water is sufficient and we do need some fluids with a meal for optimal digestion.
Alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods can be triggers and these should be avoided initially to assess for improvements to symptoms.
If this does not help, keeping a Food Reaction diary can be helpful as you may notice common themes in foods that trigger the heartburn symptoms. But as explained above, the root cause may not actually be the foods but a lack of gastric secretions to digest the foods.
Try to avoid eating late at night or when you are overly tired as this may be a reason for low stomach secretions. Avoid eating less than three hours before bedtime and as a minimum one hour
If symptoms come on in the night you can elevate the top of your bed by 6-8 inches as the incline can prevent acid rising.
Be very mindful of your stress levels. Whilst it isn’t feasible to expect stress to disappear when you want to eat, you can try stress-relieving techniques to switch the body from stress mode to “rest and digest” mode. It’s called that for a reason!
I find the easiest technique before eating is to do some deep abdominal breathing. Really make sure you breathe slowly and deeply into the lower abdomen and repeat several times before eating.
Genuinely “too acidic”?
In some instances, the acidity levels may not be too low and neither too high! But there may be insufficient protein in the diet to mop up the acid. It is protein foods that the acid acts on.
Bicarbonate of soda can be helpful to relieve immediate discomfort. Mix ¼ tsp in 100ml water. But this is not a long-term solution.
If you have tried OTC medications and tried these suggestions do not continue to avoid your symptoms. Do have a chat with your doctor especially if you have a change in stool patterns, have trouble swallowing or are concerned with chest pains.
If there are no underlying health concerns, then a natural health practitioner trained in understanding digestion and gut symptoms can help you navigate through the maze of remedies and solutions available to help you find relief.
If you are suffering from heartburn or acid reflux and not sure what to do next, why not book a free 20/30-minute discovery call with me? Simply visit www.peytonprinciples.com, call me direct on 07730 513303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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