Heartburn and GERD: A Holistic Approach
Heartburn or acid reflux is something people experience at least once. According to data from the American College of Gastroenterology, nearly 15 million people (about 20% of the population) in the United States suffer from heartburn every day.
It can happen due to many reasons such as pregnancy, eating spicy foods, overeating, or lying down soon after eating. Although used interchangeably, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. It is named heartburn because that is where the burning sensation is felt.
Occasional heartburn is normal; however, when it becomes frequent and persistent, it starts to hinder your day-to-day activities. Frequent heartburn is a symptom of a more serious condition called GERD.
What is GERD?
GERD is the acronym for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It is a condition where the stomach acid comes up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. When one experiences heartburn more than two times in a week, they may be having GERD.
Who is at risk of GERD?
There is no definite reason for the occurrence of GERD, and it can happen to anyone. However, GERD is more common among the following people,
- Pregnant women
- People that are overweight and obese
- People under certain medications such as asthma, antihistamines, and antidepressants.
- People who smoke or exposed to second-hand smoke
Symptoms of GERD
While heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, it can also present itself in other ways besides heartburn.
Sour or bitter taste at the back of your mouth
Nausea or vomiting
Difficulty or pain when swallowing
Breathing problems like chronic cough or asthma
A sensation of a lump in your throat
Possible triggers for GERD
Inflammation triggers like spicy foods, caffeine, soda, etc.,
Excessive alcohol intake
Food sensitivity problems
Frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin
Current treatment plans for GERD include over-the-counter antacids and stomach acid-suppressing options - H2 blockers and PPIs (Proton pump inhibitors). You get symptomatic relief because these medications act to suppress the overall acid production. But, this can impact your health at various levels. Stomach acid suppressants can,
- Impair nutrient absorption which can lead to nutritional deficiencies
- Lower your resistance to infection
- Encourages the growth of certain bacteria and creates a gut imbalance
- It increases the risk of cancer and other diseases.
What can you do?
Taking preventive measures, consuming certain foods, and using supplements/medication can boost your efforts to reduce GERD frequency and even recover from it.
Taking precautionary steps that help avoid triggers can make a huge difference for GERD patients. Preventive measures alongside a proper treatment plan help reduce the frequency of GERD. Preventive measures include lifestyle changes such as,
- Eating moderate amounts of food.
- Eating 2 to 3 hours before bed
- Avoid or quit smoking
- Losing weight, especially abdomen fat can help
- Sleeping at a comfortable angle with head slightly elevated.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing
- Watching food sensitivities
Here are certain foods that you want to avoid
Tomato or food containing tomato products
Stimulants like coffee, tea, soda
Take advantage of plenty of foods and herbs that are available to reduce your GERD symptoms. The benefit is that they have minimal side effects and help improve overall health. The following foods can help patients with GERD:
Fresh vegetables: Vegetables like asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and cucumbers are low in sugar. They also contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help gently reduce the stomach acid levels. For instance, ginger is known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants. These nutrients help relieve the irritation in the gastrointestinal tract caused by GERD.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is gentle on your stomach and does not cause agitation or stimulate stomach acid secretion. Also, the soluble and insoluble fiber in oatmeal help stabilize your blood sugar and relieve constipation. With a stable blood sugar, you are less likely to overeat, which is crucial to improving symptoms of GERD.
Non-citrus fruits: Non-citrus fruits such as apples, pears, melons, and bananas, are safe to consume, and do not trigger GERD.
Licorice root: Natural medicine uses licorice root extracts to protect the stomach lining, reduce irritation of the digestive tract, and reduce heartburn. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of licorice are found to be beneficial for patients suffering from GERD. A study found that a natural compound in licorice helps suppress H.pylori. H.pylori is a type of bacteria that induces GERD when present in high numbers.
Some foods may help alleviate GERD symptoms, while other foods may aggravate. It also differs from person to person. The best approach is to keep a food journal and record the food intake and corresponding symptoms for the day, so you know what works best for your body. A functional medicine or integrative medicine practitioner will be able to come up with an individualized plan that will be more effective for you.
Take a holistic approach
Both dietary and lifestyle changes are cornerstones to improving GERD symptoms. Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, tai chi, and mindful breathing techniques, which is known to reduce inflammation in the body, calms, and centers you. Such practices help to reduce the volume of stomach acid secretion spontaneously and bring adequate relief.
Alongside preventive and holistic approach adding a quality supplement that works to reduce GERD symptoms can bring compelling results.
Choosing the right formulation can make all the difference.
Most assume conventional medications like TUMS and acid blockers are the only remedy, but fortunately that is not the case. Scientists at Integrative Therapeutics have put together an effective formulation with all-natural ingredients to minimize GERD symptoms.
Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™ includes natural ingredients like ginger, artichoke, and licorice extracts along with zinc carnosine to help improve GERD symptoms.
Natural ingredients in Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™
Ginger: Ginger is used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine to treat digestive tract related issues. Studies show that ginger is effective in improving gastric emptying in subjects. Impaired gastric emptying is implicated in digestive problems like indigestion, nausea, and other related symptoms, which lead to acid reflux.
Artichoke: Extracts of artichoke have a complementary effect when combined with ginger, which improves the efficacy of gastric emptying. Studies show that bitter compounds in artichoke extracts exert a beneficial effect on digestion and reduce symptoms of epigastric pain, nausea, bloating, and fullness.
The combination of ginger and artichoke work together to bring effective relief. Ginger is active on small bowel, and artichoke is active on the stomach, resulting in a complementary activity that gives effective relief to patients with indigestion and acid reflux.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice(DGL): DGL is a form of licorice that is safe for long term consumption. DGL helps to improve mucus production, which protects the stomach and esophagus from acid. The mucus barrier is vital for the healing of the damaged digestive lining as well as prevent future occurrences of acid reflux. Traditionally, licorice is also used in the treatment of ulcers, sore throat, and respiratory issues.
Zinc carnosine: Zinc carnosine helps protect the gastric mucosa and promotes quicker healing of gastric ulcers. Zinc carnosine offers support to improve the digestive tract function, reduce symptoms of pain, bloating and nausea, some of the common GERD symptoms. The benefit of using zinc carnosine is that it does not suppress stomach acid production or neutralize the pH, which is essential for mineral absorption.
How Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™ helps you?
While most over-the-counter products focus on suppressing the stomach acid or neutralizing it, Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™ works to reduce GERD symptoms without interfering with the normal digestive process. The formulation helps to lower inflammation and supports the delicate tissues of the digestive canal.
Clinically studied formulation: This product contains clinically studied formulation. It means that the effectiveness of the ingredients is tested under clinical conditions to prove its usefulness. Factors like dosage of ingredients, tolerance level, stomach comfort, ability to ease GERD symptoms, etc., were thoroughly analyzed for creating the formulation.
Multi-mechanistic approach: Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™ uses a multi-mechanistic approach to treat and relieve GERD symptoms. Unlike the conventional formulation where patients get short-term, symptomatic relief, Integrative Therapeutics Heartburn Advantage™ formulation addresses inflammation, one of the reasons for GERD. It also supports digestive tract health and its function. The formulation also works to encourage healthy gut bacteria and restores the balance.Heartburn Advantage™ formulation works alongside lifestyle changes to help bring back the warmth and fun during family gatherings and mealtime! Taking an integrative approach to treating GERD give
 GHAYUR MN, GILANI AH. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of ginger in gastrointestinal disorders. Dig Dis Sci 2005; 50: 1889-1897.
 GIACOSA A, GUIDO D, GRASSI M, RIVA A, MORAZZONI P, BOMBARDELLI E, PERNA S, FALIVA MA, RONDANELLI M. The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) extract supplementation on functional dyspepsia: a randomised, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015; 2015: 915087.