One of the reasons I decided to go into holistic health was the idea that we can relieve many issues relating to health by addressing the person and the issue not just the symptom.
That brings me to the subject of this post and something I see pretty much every day in my practice…HEARTBURN. Unfortunately, heartburn, acid reflux and/or GERD are very common digestive issues that plague a large majority of people and cause a load of discomfort.
The good news is that in most cases, simple natural remedies that you can most likely find in your cupboards are some of the safest and most effective ways of dealing with it.
Many people associated heartburn or acid reflux as having too much acid in their stomach. However, what many holistic health practitioners have discovered is that in most cases, it is caused by the exact opposite.
I am sure some of you are thinking, “Yeah right! I can feel the acid burning in my esophagus (throat). How can you say I don’t have enough?”
Well, our bodies work in mysterious ways and what may appear as an excess may very well be highlighting a deficiency.
Our stomach acid is something that we want to be strong and effective. It is needed to properly break down and digest foods while helping with iron and protein absorption.
When it start to decrease in strength from things like stress, soda, diets high in refined foods, frequent eating, eating too fast or eating too close to bedtime, our food ends up sitting in our stomach for much longer.
Not only that, but we have a little valve (esophageal sphincter or cardiac sphincter) that closes up once we are done eating to allow our stomach to churn and do its digestive duties.
When stomach acid isn’t strong enough, that valve weakens. Between the weakened valve and the food sitting in our stomach longer (making acid sit in our stomachs longer), the incidence of acid splashing up into our esophagus increases.
In some cases, it can be an issue of too high of stomach acid, which can result in an ulcer over time.
HOW TO TEST IF IT IS LOW OR HIGH STOMACH ACID
- Before a meal take 1-2 tbsp ACV (I prefer unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar such as Bragg’s) diluted with 6-8 oz of water. If the symptoms decrease/feel relief it most likely attributed to too low of stomach acid. If they increase or you feel worse, try step #2.
- Before a meal take 1/2 tsp of baking soda diluted in 6 oz of water. If you feel relief, it is most likely from too high of stomach acid.
So what is one to do about this?
- High soda/coffee consumption
- Diet high in refined foods
- Eating too frequently
- Eating too quickly
- Eating too close to bedtime
To help increase or strengthen your stomach acid, try the following tips.
5 TIPS TO REDUCE ACID REFLUX/HEARTBURN
- BILE FLOWING FOODS: artichokes, beets, celery, berries, apples, greens are all foods that improve bile production which helps improve healthy stomach acid production.
- Hydrate Your Stomach: Water is so important as it lines the stomach and buffers the stomach acid prior to eating. If dehydrated, it won’t stimulate the adequate amount of HCL needed digest food and therefore increase the likelihood of reflux/heartburn
- CHEW YOUR FOOD: eating slowly and properly chewing your food will help improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients. This helps keep the food from sitting in the stomach for too long and increasing symptoms.
- Massage Your Belly: Massaging your stomach before getting out of bed and at night can help improve digestion and the muscles/sphincters associated with it. Using your pointer and middle fingers, massage up and down on either side of your stomach and in clockwise circular motions.
- ACV/Ginger/Lemon/Digestive Bitters: Try one of these before meals to help induce stomach acid/bile production naturally. These foods naturally decrease symptoms and help with upset stomachs after heavy meals.
- Take 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (I prefer the Bragg’s brand) with 4-6 ounces of water 10-15 minutes before each meal. Feel free to add 1 tsp of raw honey to improve flavor if it is too intense on its own. This can also help when heartburn hits to help relieve symptoms. You can also use apple cider vinegar in your salad dressing which will also be helpful.
- Slice raw ginger into pieces and sprinkle with sea salt. Chew on 2-3 pieces 10-15 minutes before each meal.
- Using Swedish Bitters or digestive bitters. This age old remedy can work like a charm to help with indigestion. 1-2 tsp before a meal or even after a heavier meal like Thanksgiving.
- Add the juice of 1 lemon to 4-6 ounces of water and drink 10-15 minutes before each meal.
All of these tips help to increase and strengthen your stomach acid in preparation for digesting your upcoming meal. It is amazing how effective this strategy has worked with my clients as well as close family members that have had chronic acid reflux for years.
NOTE: Important to inform your primary physician if heartburn becomes worse or have developed a persistent cough.