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What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, also known as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) occurs when acid and other materials present in the stomach flow back (thus, reflux) into the esophagus. The esophagus is a long, muscular tube that links the inner part of the mouth and throat with the stomach. Acid reflux is a condition that should not be ignored if frequent because, untreated, acid reflux may lead to different diseases such as erosive esophagitis, ulceration or Barrett's esophagus. In certain cases, acid reflux may lead to esophageal cancer, which is a deadly condition. It has been estimated that 20% of the adult US population suffers from GERD at least once a week (Hayden et al., 2002).
Acid reflux treatment usually consists of changes in lifestyle, including diet and exercise, medications, and in extreme cases surgery. Both over-the-counter and prescription medicines are available for acid reflux. However, there are also herbal remedies for acid reflux that have shown to be effective in eliminating or reducing the symptoms of acid reflux.
Warning: Before attempting to use these or any herbal remedies for relieving the symptoms caused by acid reflux please consult with your doctor, and I would recommend consulting one with a naturophatic orientation.
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Pineapple is an effective natural remedy for acid reflux (Sklar and Cohen, 2003). Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain among other proteases that are able to breakdown proteins, thus improving digestion and speeding up the natural healing process for acid reflux. Bromelain is only present in raw pineapple or in freshly made pineapple juice. Canned or bottled pineapple juice has bromelain that has been inactivated by heat, so it does not work. Actually, canned or bottle pineapple juice can make acid reflux worse.
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Chicory Root Tea
Users of chicory root tea recognize it as an herbal remedy for acid reflux. Johnson (2001) mentions chicory as one of the effective herbal remedies against digestive problems such as dyspepsia. Half cup of chicory root should be boiled for 5 to 10 minutes. After cooling the tea is ingested to relieve acid reflux symptoms.
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Another natural remedy for acid reflux is grapefruit skin. Evidence of grapefruit skin as an herbal remedy is completely anecdotal so please use your judgment or ask your doctor. Grapefruit skin is dried and then chewed to alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Maybe the effect of this herbal remedy is due to the stimulation of the digestive system because of the chewing action. Organically grown grapefruits is preferable.
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Herbal tea components (peppermint, aniseed and lavender) are said to support the general state of the digestive system (Johnson 2001). Anything that supports and improves the digestive system is great for acid reflux treatment since the disease is dependent on the correct functioning of the digestive system. Herbal tea is taken at night before going to sleep or at any time of the day to reduce acid reflux heartburn.
Comar, K. M. and Kirby, D. 2005. Herbal Remedies in Gastroenterology. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 39(6):457-468.
Hayden et al. 2002. Usage of Supplemental Alternative Medicine by Community-Based Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Digestive Diseases and Sciences. Volume 47, Number 1: 1-8
Johnson, L. P. 2001. Pocket Guide to Herbal Remedies. Published by Blackwell Publishing.
Sklar, J. and Cohen, A. 2003. Eating for Acid Reflux: A Handbook and Cookbook for Those with Heartburn. - Marlowe & Company
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