• Dr. Caroline Ricker

Feelin’ the Burn? Our Top 5 Ways to Help Acid Reflux Naturally!

If you missed last week’s post about common reflux myths go check it out now because this week we’re jumping straight into our top ways of treating GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease).

Common “treatments” for acid reflux at the moment are usually medications. Antacids (tums), H2 blockers (Pepcid) and PPI’s (Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium) are all used in the name of reflux, but as we found out last week, they don’t really address the root cause of the issue, in fact they can make things worse long term.

If most cases of reflux are actually caused by lower stomach acid, then it wouldn’t make sense to continue to use medications to lower stomach acid more. While it may feel better in the short term, over the long haul it will cause all types of digestive issues.

Another common way of working on it is by eliminating acidic foods from the diet like spicy foods, tomatoes and more. This can have some effects on symptoms, but again, if acid isn’t actually the root cause, then you’re stuck with a lifetime without these foods since you haven’t addressed the cause.

So how do we address reflux?

Top 5 Ways of Eliminating and Managing Acid Reflux

1. Get a check up on your esophagus and stomach. There are a few issues that can cause reflux that are structural and it’s important to rule these in or out. Hiatal hernia is a situation where the opening for the stomach in the diaphragm is too large and allows a portion of the stomach to move up through the diaphragm. This can definitely contribute to reflux. Another issue with the structural system can be lower esophageal insufficiency. This means that the valve that closes the stomach off from the esophagus once food goes in doesn’t do its job and allows food to regurgitate back up. If you have these things going on, it can make treatment more difficult, but there are ways that even these issues can often be managed without drugs or surgery.

2. Get your digestion assessed. Finding out if you have food sensitivities can often help with figuring out why your stomach acid might be low in the first place. A qualified functional medicine practitioner can work to test your body to find out what things may be triggers for you that can be eliminated. Once this happens, it can allow the stomach to regulate itself once again, thus reducing the reflux.

3. Try digestive enzymes. Sometimes, a large factor in reflux is that our digestive system isn’t secreting the right amounts of digestive enzymes, causing food to build up in the upper digestive tract and the stomach to remain fuller for longer, which can lead to reduced acid and reflux. Taking digestive enzymes can help you to digest your food more efficiently and reduce the incidence of reflux. Finding the right enzymes can be important, so speaking with a functional medicine doctor or chiropractor about this can be key.

4. Take betaine HCL. If you have low stomach acid, then taking an acid replacing supplement can certainly help. We recommend starting with a low dose and working your way up to a full dose on the off chance that your GERD is not in the majority of cases caused by low acid. If this is the case you will know right away as your symptoms may increase slightly instead of decreasing. For the majority, this also aids digestion and has great results when stomach acid is low.

5. Avoid water 30 minutes before and after eating. While I’m always a huge fan of hydrating, avoiding water right before and after a meal can help a lot. If we keep with our theory of decreased acid, then imagine dumping water into the small amount of acid that we have and diluting it. Your food will have even less chance of getting digested in highly diluted acid than it does in low acid. In addition, most of the time when people feel the need to drink while eating it is because they are eating too quickly and/or not chewing their food thoroughly and are attempting to wash it down. Instead of drinking during a meal, try slowing your eating and chewing each bite ten more chews than you normally would and see if this helps your digestion.

While all of the above tips can be helpful to a majority, every case of reflux is different. We highly recommend that you search out a doctor well versed in natural reflux treatment to help guide you on your path by performing the right tests, finding the right enzymes and balance of HCL, and to monitor your progress as you go.

So go on, get back to enjoying the things you love!

Dr. Caroline Ricker has been passionately helping people avoid unnecessary medications and surgeries since 2009. She combines a very logical functional medicine approach to digestive disorders and more using a more alternative holistic approach, utilizing standard lab tests and in-office evaluations as well as nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy.

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