WIN-ning Wednesday: Got GERD?

Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease… aka GERD.  Many people, at some time or another, have experienced heartburn.  Heartburn usually occurs after a meal and it feels typically like a burning sensation in the chest.  For some people, this sensation can feel like its making its way up to the throat.  It’s a very uncomfortable feeling.  For some, the pain is sharp and can really disrupt their feeling of wellness for prolonged periods of time.

Chronic, or daily, heartburn has been classified in conventional medicine as GERD.  Needless to say, the conventional pharmaceutical industry has found a symptomatic treatment for GERD.  The pill treats the symptoms of heartburn.  For some people, when they stop taking the pill and the heartburn comes back.  Start the pill the heartburn goes away.  Stop the pill the heartburn comes back.  So… it ends up going like this… “Do I have to take this pill my entire life?”

Naturopathic Doctors have long had a number of really great solutions for improving stomach health.  We like to address the integrity of an organ system, through which we can improve it’s strength and function.  Rather than focus on disease, and treating a symptom, we focus on health and work on solutions.  Better strength and function equals resolution of symptoms.  After all, symptoms are just the red flag to alert us to something that’s not going as it should in the body.

People who experience GERD often respond very well to natural solutions for this concern.  Once a solution is tailored to address the root cause of an individual’s digestive issue, the issue can resolve and the individual can learn how to maintain their new found health through what they did to achieve it.

Here are some very effective solutions to address occasional, or minor, heartburn and chronic GERD.

1)  Nutrition

What-cha-ya eating?  Simple.  Easy.  Effective.  Most times, there is a food, or a combination of foods, in a person’s diet that just doesn’t agree with their system.  Naturopathic Doctors can work with people to figure out how to use their food as therapy to clear up the GERD.

2) Raw Unpasturized Apple Cider Vinegar

One teaspoon of raw unpasturized apple cider vinegar, mixed with a little water before a meal can help support the stomach’s role in food digestion.  If the stomach is digesting food properly and emptying food into the intestinal tract in a proper time period, there is less likely to be an issue with stomach related symptoms.

For those unsure about the flavour of this digestive before meals, a little honey can be added to it to make it go down easier.

3) Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are capsulated and help with food breakdown.  They can be found in almost any store that sells vitamins.  The quality of the digestive enzyme will really impact it’s effectiveness.  These can be taken with meals to help with food breakdown.

4) Aloe vera juice

Similar to digestive enzymes, aloe vera juice can be found where vitamins are sold.  In this form, aloe can help soothe the stomach and has been shown to be very effective at helping to heal stomach ulcers.

5) Okra Soup

An old school mentor of mine, who practiced in a southern US state, would prescribe okra soup for his patients suffering with heartburn or GERD.  He’d give them a recipe of a simple vegetable soup, to which okra would be added.  Okra is a green vegetable that is very easy to digest and has a slippery texture when cooked.  The phyotonutrients in the okra that make it slippery are also very soothing to the lining of the stomach.

Okra is sold in our grocery stores… it can be bought fresh at certain times in the year and is often available in the frozen food section.  This is a great way to use food as therapy for a health issue.

6) DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)

DGL comes in chewable capsules or powder form and can be found at most health food stores.  It does taste like black licorice, so for anyone who’s not a fan, this is not for you.  However, DGL does also help to soothe the stomach lining and can significantly reduce inflammation in the stomach, and therefore, the sensation of burning.

7) Slippery Elm powder

Similar to okra, when slippery elm powder is mixed with water it becomes… well… slippery.  This can also coat the stomach and help to soothe an irritated stomach lining.

These are some great options… and there are many more natural solutions for stomach health and the treatment of GERD.  It’s always best to get guidance on which is the best fit by a professionally trained and skilled Naturopathic Doctor.  A Naturopathic Doctor can put a few strategies together including nutrition, natural remedies and/or other natural therapies based on a proper clinical evaluation.  For a tailored treatment plan that’s the right fit for you, visit with a licensed Naturopathic Doctor.

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