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Reflux

General characteristics

General characteristics

See also heartburn, oesophagitis and hiatus hernia.

Reflux, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) all describe the condition where contents of the stomach leak out and back up into the oesophagus, causing pain, burning and discomfort.

Causes and aggravating factors include poor diet and eating habits, carbohydrate rich diets, coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks, obesity and being overweight, stress, smoking, pregnancy, hiatus hernia and a faulty immune response.

Healing objectives are to, most importantly, remove suspect foods and any other lifestyle contributory factors. Symptoms can be eased using herbs.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and try to ensure that you eat in a calm and relaxed environment and state of mind, eat smaller meals more often (4-6 small meals daily for example), make sure you are upright when eating, don't drink liquids with meals (leave a couple of hours either side), avoid tight fitting waistbands or tight belts, don't lie down after meals, avoid exercise, heavy lifting or bending down after meals.

Eat raw vegetable foods in salads daily. Raw foods still contain their enzymes which help greatly in the digestive process.

Certain types of foods are well known as triggers of GERD. These include wheat, refined carbohydrates, gluten rich grains, dairy foods (in particular cows milk products) and starches. Low carbohydrate diets are associated with a significant reduction in GERD symptoms for as long as the diet is followed-when carbohydrates are increased, symptoms return. Avoid or limit these foods and watch carefully for results. Keep a diary noting what foods you eat and if they improve or worsen symptoms.

Try chewing a small piece of fresh ginger either just before or just after meals. It produces a feeling of heat but is capable of both preventing and relieving the symptoms and incidences of GERD.

Many people find that eating pickles (such as gherkins) can relieve their GERD.

Foods rich in pectin are known to reduce episodes of GERD. Good food sources of pectin include apples (eat at least 2 daily, or the moment the burning begins), lemon and other citrus peel (dry them and make a tea out of them), berries such as blackcurrants, carrots and most fruit and vegetables or purchase some apple pectin powder from our shop.

A big glass of fresh water is a well known and simple remedy for GERD symptoms.

Avoid fatty, fried and rich foods and those processed or smoked meats that contain nitrates as preservatives (salami, pepperoni etc).

Raw (unheated) olive oil can be added to foods or taken by the teaspoon to reduce the symptoms.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Avoid using peppermint in herbal teas as it relaxes the gastro-oesophageal sphincter and can lead to acid reflux or worsen symptoms.

Make a paste from marshmallow powder, slippery elm powder and liquorice root powder. Mix 25g of marshmallow root and slippery elm with 10g of liquorice and use a teaspoon of the mix in a small glass of water. Taken just after meals it will coat the oesophagus and help soothe any burning from acid reflux.

Drink strong chamomile tea after meals. Use a heaped teaspoon per cup.

A soothing drink can be made from equal parts of meadowsweet, chamomile and fennel seed herbs with a pinch of turmeric added. Take 3 cups daily.

Herbs that are rich in mucilage such as irish moss and iceland moss can help to soothe the digestive passage linings from acid burn.

You could add half a teaspoon of comfrey leaf occasionally to any herbal tea mix for its soothing and tissue healing properties.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Try a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds (linseeds) in some water (warm water). Mix the flaxseed powder into the water and drink immediately. Relief should be felt quite quickly, within minutes and effects are long lasting. Also a great source of nutritional fatty acids and fibre.

Adding a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to a small glass of water will relieve the burning sensation.

Make sure that your upper chest and head are raised during sleep (prop yourself up with extra pillows) to help prevent painful episodes waking you in the night.

Many people find that taking digestive enzymes can reduce the incidence of GERD. The enzymes assist with the digestion of food and can lessen the severity or incidences of GERD.

Take a good quality probiotic (either in supplement form, apple cider vinegar, raw yoghurt, fermented/pickled foods, strong chamomile tea, etc).

The act of chewing stimulates saliva production. Saliva is actually a digestive juice so it enhances the digestive process and helps reduce acid reflux. After meals, chew a small amount of mixed seeds containing dill, fennel cumin, caraway and similar digestive promoting seeds to increase saliva production and benefit from the seeds effects on the whole digestive process. Alternatively chew a small piece of chewing gum.


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