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Natural Treatment for Reflux and Heartburn

Do you suffer with the symptoms of reflux?

The symptoms of reflux commonly are heartburn, bloating, gas, and burping. Sufferers often find themselves waking up at 3 am with burning pain in the chest or just feeling uneasy in the stomach. In my practice, as a clinical naturopath, I have had a lot of success in treating this common condition, to the point that the patient no longer needs to rely on antacid medications for the rest of their lives.

Antacids are not the answer because they neutralize the very enzymes that your stomach needs to properly empty itself before reflux occurs. The long term side effects of these medications are caused by the fact that they block the digestion of essential minerals such as zinc, calcium and iron. This lack of minerals leads to osteoporosis, muscle cramps, fatigue, depression, and a whole host of a domino effect of symptoms. It also causes a worsening of the reflux problem. It is only a short term band-aid relief.

The best treatment is to be a detective and find the cause of the problem. This may be a food intolerance or food allergy. Tests are available to determine which foods your body reacts or can’t digest.

Stomach acid and food enzymes are essential for digestion so that food moves quickly through the stomach. If there is a deficiency of digestive enzymes, the food remains in the stomach, and as the stomach becomes bloated and full, the undigested food and stomach acid regurgitates up through the esophagus. Because stomach acid has a pH strong enough to burn your skin, it burns the lining of the esophagus and causes intense pain in the chest.

Enzymes are produced by the stomach and the pancreas. Some enzymes are present naturally in raw fruits and vegetables and in unpasteurized milk products. There are different enzymes for different macro-nutrients in foods:

· Amylase digests carbohydrates.

· Protease digests protein.

· Lipase digests fat.

· Cellulase digests fiber.

Digestive enzyme production decreases with age by approximately 13% every 10 years. Many other factors will lead to poor enzyme production, such as stress, fatigue, depression, medications, infections, food poisoning, viruses, and illness. Certain blood types also are prone to having low digestive enzymes.

12 Tips to Improve Digestion:

  1. Check for food allergies and intolerances, as they might be reducing digestive enzyme function.

  2. Follow a diet that best suits your metabolic type.

  3. Some people do best on mostly raw vegetables and fruits others do better on steamed or lightly cooked.

  4. Deep frying usually causes digestive problems and reflux.

  5. Choose organic or bio-dynamic foods because they are not sprayed with the common farm pesticides and preservatives that inhibit digestion.

  6. Try a specifically mixed medicinal herbal medicine to boost your digestive function and liver function. Over the counter general mixes are not specifically designed for the individual and therefore do not always work!

  7. Reduce caffeine as in coffee and tea. The tannins in tea can reduce digestion for most people. For some people, coffee, even decaffeinated, contains irritating oils. Herbal teas are more helpful.

  8. Reduce processed breads, pizzas, biscuits, and processed cereals. They create acidity in the body. They offer little nutritional value anyway! Breads which are less acid forming and more nutritious are the stoneground, sourdough, organic, and the seeded gluten free kinds.

  9. Include garlic, onions, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower in the diet. These foods contain sulfur which is important for the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects the gastric membrane.

  10. Avoid refined sugars. They also create acidity in the body and can trigger reflux reactions.

  11. Avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate), often sneakily re-named as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, glutamates, or the numbers 621, 622, 625.

  12. Your naturopath can organise to have your stools tested for your current levels of acidophilus and bifido bacteria to check if there is a deficiency in the gut. Probiotics can help normalise bowel flora and inhibit gastric infections, but too much of the wrong strains can create an acidic bowel that cannot function properly.

As with any disease or health problem, alternative therapy treats each individual patient with an individualised treatment program. The treatment plan is made after an initial consultation, followed with blood tests, blood analysis, bio-impedance body analysis, iridology and diet evaluation.

It’s never too late to start a whole-body overhaul, but common sense argues that prevention is always better than cure! Your health is the most valuable asset you have.

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