for heartburn relief

Written by Vera Coetsee, Health and Nutrition Coach

17 Nov 2022

This week we celebrated GERD awareness week, with the aim to educate our readers about this chronic disease that affects millions, but is often not spoken about. Never heard of GERD? You are not alone. This disease is often unrecognised, and its symptoms are misunderstood. Did you know that 1 in 5 or more adults in the U.S. is affected by GERD, and it also occurs in children?

So what exactly is GERD? According to the International Foundation of Gastrointestinal Disorders, GERD (which is short for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is often associated with repeat occurrences of stomach content flowing backward, or reflux, into the oesophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), causing irritation. Not only does the reflux cause pain and discomfort, it can also cause damage to the oesophagus. 

Causes of acid reflux or GERD include hiatal hernia, a weakened cardioesophageal sphincter, overactive stomach, underactive stomach, food sensitivities, dysbiosis of the stomach and gastritis, as well as physical causes of stress on the stomach including obesity, pregnancy and overeating. Common symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, and non-cardiac chest pain. Individuals with GERD may also occasionally experience asthma, cough, hoarseness, and difficulty in swallowing. Although not all GERD patients experience heartburn, it remains the most common symptom of GERD, along with tasting food or acid at the back of the mouth. 

The conventional way to treat the symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn, is by taking antacids. This is not the best approach due to the negative long-term effects of this medicine. Antacids only neutralise the acidic stomach content, but they don’t treat the actual health issue triggering the symptoms. Masking your symptoms with antacids for too long could lead to even larger health problems in the future, such as damage to the oesophagus. Stomach acid also has an important function in our stomach. The acid in our stomach helps with food digestion, absorption of electrolytes, and killing the bacteria in the food we eat. By taking antacids, you are suppressing the production of stomach acid, which can lead to various other health conditions. 

So let’s look into home remedies for heartburn relief:

Drink Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera is a plant that comes with many benefits for health and well-being. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is beneficial for managing digestive problems as well as topical issues, such as burns and skin irritations. Aloe Vera juice or powder may be taken internally to reduce stomach acid and calm irritation. It is important to make sure you get your Aloe Vera from a trusted source, since it should be organic and purified to give you the best results.

Watch Your Portions

Overindulging or too much food in your stomach at one time can exacerbate heartburn and lead to other symptoms such as gas and bloating. It is important to refrain from overeating, which will provide you with many other benefits, such as a smaller waistline. Another tip is to avoid constricting your stomach during meal times by wearing looser clothes and avoiding bad posture. Staying mindful during mealtime and not overeating, can help the sphincter between the oesophagus and stomach to relax and, in turn, provide heartburn relief.

Drink Water

Drink plenty of room temperature or warm water, but not all at once. Sip water throughout the day since the consistent intake of water keeps things flushing through and hydrated, which can reduce heartburn. Studies have shown that drinking water can relieve heartburn as effectively as, if not more than, over-the-counter antacid medications.

for heartburn relief

Stop Eating Acidic Foods

Limiting your acidic food load in your stomach can greatly improve your stomach ph. By removing highly acidic foods, you can greatly help the internal system of your stomach and decrease the chance of heartburn. Foods that can aggravate heartburn and should be avoided include chocolate, sugar, alcohol, coffee, caffeinated and sugary beverages, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, large quantities of meat in one sitting, fatty or fried foods, and fizzy drinks.

Supplement with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)

Never heard of DGL? Deglycyrrhizinated licorice, also called DGL, is a substance that is refined from the root of the licorice plant and used primarily in herbal remedies. Research has shown that DGL can promote mucus activity in the stomach. This extra mucus may act as a barrier to acid in the stomach and oesophagus. This barrier can allow the damaged tissue to heal and prevent future occurrences of acid reflux, and can be more supportive than antacids. 

Thankfully, heartburn is manageable and some damage to the oesophagus can be reversed, meaning those who are living with the disease can move forward and live a symptom-free life with the right attention and treatment. If you are looking for heartburn relief, make an appointment with our doctor and we will provide you with the correct treatment to help relieve heartburn naturally. 

for heartburn relief