GERD or Acid Reflux is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle between your esophagus and stomach. If you have it, you may get heartburn or indigestion. This article discusses how to cure GERD permanently by both modern and ayurvedic treatment.
What is GERD or Acid Reflux
The full form of GERD is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It is also known as Acid Reflux.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disorder that involves the esophagus and the stomach. Gastro means stomach while esophagus is the foods pipe that transport food from the mouth to the stomach. Reflux means to cause to flow back.
When we eat, food passes from the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach coats the food with gastric juices to help break the food down further.
But sometimes in a disease condition, the gastric juices or food flows back abnormally from the stomach into the esophagus. This condition of troublesome symptoms and complications that result from the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus is called GERD.
If you have symptoms of acid reflux occasionally then no need to worry. Occasional reflux is common in most people due to overeating or eating a certain type of food. But if you have it chronically then you may be suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease ie GERD.
This article covers information about the causes, symptoms, and types of GERD. It also discusses how to cure GERD permanently by modern and ayurvedic treatment as well.
Causes of GERD
The primary causes of GERD are disorders of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is a circular band of muscle at the junction of esophagus and the stomach. This sphincter normally remains close to keep stomach content from flowing back into the esophagus.
When food reaches the end of your esophagus in the normal digestion process, LES opens and allows food to pass into the stomach. After that, it closes again to prevent stomach content from flowing back into the esophagus.
But, if the function of the LES weakens and it relaxes and tightens abnormally, it allows your acidic stomach content to flow backwards into the esophagus. This backwash of acidic content irritates and inflamed your esophageal mucosal lining and causes GERD.
But several other factors may be the causes of GERD that include:
- Presence of hiatus hernia
- Impaired esophageal clearance
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Faulty diet and lifestyle choices
Types of GERD
GERD is classified into two groups. The basis of this classification is the presence or absence of esophageal mucosal damage seen on endoscopy.
- Non-erosive reflux disease (NERD): No esophageal mucosal damage
- Erosive reflux disease (ERD) or Erosive esophagitis (EE): having esophageal mucosal damage
Symptoms of GERD
The most common symptoms of GERD are regular heartburn, a painful burning sensation in the middle of your chest. It usually starts behind your breastbone and moves upward to your mouth and throat; feeling like food is coming up with a bitter taste.
Other typical symptoms of GERD include:
- Water brash
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
Some symptoms of GERD also arise from the respiratory tract which includes:
How to Cure GERD Permanently
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is one of the most common chronic relapsing diseases that typically require long term treatment. If you want to know in detail how to cure GERD permanently go through the rest of the article. This section discusses current trends in the management of GERD with modern and Ayurvedic treatment.
Modern Treatment for GERD
Modern treatment for GERD intends to reduce the amount of acid reflux or to minimize esophageal mucosal damage. In the current modern treatment, your doctor may recommend lifestyle modification, prescription medication, and in some severe cases surgical therapy.
If you have mild and occasional symptoms, your doctor will probably suggest diet and lifestyle modification alone. When these practices do not give relief, then only doctors will advise prescription medication and lastly surgery.
Lifestyle Modification for GERD
Lifestyle and dietary changes remain the first-line treatment for GERD. These include:
• Maintain a healthy body weight • Eat smaller and frequent meals • Avoid spicy and oily foods • Avoid high-fat foods • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages • Avoid chocolate, citrus juice, tomato-based products, peppermint, and onion • Avoid junk/fast foods, bakery items, refined flour items • Quit smoking • Avoid eating before exercise • Avoid drinking fluids during meals • Avoid lying down and going to bed soon after meals (within 2–3 hours) • Raise the head end of the bed (for night time complications) • Lie down on the left side of your body • Avoid stress and anxiety
Prescription Medication for Acid Reflux
If the troublesome symptom continues despite lifestyle modifications, your doctor may advise prescription medication for acid reflux in combination with lifestyle modifications. Three types of prescription medications are used for the treatment for GERD. These include:
Antacids and Alginate
The first line of prescription medication for acid reflux is the Antacid. Antacid neutralizes the acid in the stomach. They can give you quick relief, but won’t help heal esophageal mucosal damage. Besides, overuse of some antacids can cause diarrhoea or sometimes kidney problems.
The active ingredients of antacids are various salts of calcium, magnesium, and aluminium like sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, and aluminium hydroxide. These are called the generic names of antacids. Some most widely used antacids are:
- Acid Gone (aluminium hydroxide/magnesium carbonate)
- Gelusil, Di-Gel, Alamag, Almacone, Mylanta, Mintox (aluminium hydroxide/ magnesium hydroxide)
- Ducolax Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide)
- Caltrate, Titralac and Tums (calcium carbonate)
- Neut (pro) (sodium bicarbonate)
- Amphojel (aluminium hydroxide)
Apart from antacids, Alginates are also used to prevent acid reflux. Alginates are derived from Seawood. These compounds form a gel that floats on the stomach content and acts as a barrier to stop the acid reflux. The main active ingredient of alginate is sodium alginate. Mostly used alginates are:
- Maalox RefluRAPID
Histamine2 Receptor Antagonists (H2RAs)
Histamine2 receptor antagonists are better than antacids and can decrease gastric acid secretion after a meal. They won’t give you quick relief as antacids, but they can work for up to 12 hours and to some extent can heal esophageal mucosal damage. Some H2RAs include:
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI)
Proton Pump Inhibitors are considered to be the best prescription medication for acid reflux, due to their intense and consistent acid suppression. This can also heal your esophageal mucosal damage. Currently available PPI’s include:
Surgical Therapy for Acid Reflux
Surgical therapy is the last option of treatment for GERD. Your doctor will suggest surgery if your complications don’t improve despite lifestyle modification and prescription medication. But, you are at higher risk of developing complications from surgery than from medicines. Therefore, it’s not usually recommended unless other options have failed.
The most common surgery for GERD is Fundoplication. In this procedure, the surgeon sews the top of your stomach around the end of the esopahagus to add pressure to the LES and prevent acid reflux.
Fundoplication may be done in two ways; either laparoscopic or open surgery. Both approaches are beneficial in controlling acid reflux.
Laparoscopic fundoplication is more common and cost-effective in which surgeons make a small cut in the abdomen to operate. In open fundoplication, surgeons make a larger cut in the abdomen. It needs a longer hospital stay and is associated with a higher incidence of postoperative chest and wound complications.
Study suggests that surgery should not be advised with the expectation that patients will no longer need to take prescription medication for acid reflux.
Ayurvedic Treatment for GERD
The signs and symptoms of GERD resemble the disease ‘Amlapitta’ as mentioned in Ayurveda. The word Amlapitta is comprised of two words- Amla means sour and Pitta means gastric juice. This segment of the article consists of how to cure GERD permanently by ayurvedic treatment.
Ayurvedic literature describes Amlapitta as a chronic disorder caused by an unhealthy living style, irregular & faulty food habits, and busy stressful life. ‘Hurry’, ‘Worry’ and ‘Curry’ are the three main reasons for the complications.
In Ayurveda, the main aim of treating Amlapitta is to improve digestion. The lines of Ayurvedic treatment for GERD include:
- Prevention for GERD
- Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
- Ayurvedic Prescription Medication
- Yoga and meditation
Prevention for GERD
As the saying goes “Prevention is better than cure” Ayurvedic treatment insists to avoid the entire causative factors of acid reflux. You may reduce and prevent the frequency of complications by changing your lifestyle and food habits. Here are some do’s and don’ts for GERD.
Do’s for GERD
- Follow regular meal times
- Avoid problematic foods that worsen your complications
- Drink warm water. Coldwater increases the amount of acid secreted in your stomach.
- Take light food and plenty of water and fluids
- Eat food containing minerals and vitamins
- Take adequate sleep and rest
- Keep your head end of your bed elevated
- Drink peppermint tea with meals to avoid overeating
- Do regular exercise
- Practice yoga, pranayama, and meditation regularly
Don’ts for GERD
- Avoid too oily, spicy, salty and sour taste food
- Do not stay hungry. Avoid fasting.
- Avoid overeating, untimely eating and eating in a hurry
- Don’t drink excess water during the meal
- Avoid processed and canned foods
- Keep away from fried and junk foods
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine
- Don’t lie down immediately after the meal
- Do not take painkiller drugs
- Avoid mental stress and anxiety
Home remedies for Acid Reflux
Prolonged use of prescription medication for acid reflux may cause side effects, sometimes making the treatment more dangerous than the disease itself. Ayurvedic treatment recommends several effective home remedies for acid reflux to get relief from the symptoms.
• Fasting for a day or half a day in a week is helpful in curing acid reflux. Take care that you don’t overdo it. Drink water and eat fruits while on fasting. • Drink a glass of warm water mixed with lemon juice and honey regularly in the morning. It reduces heartburn associated with acid reflux. • Take 2-3 cardamom and crush them. Boil them in a glass of water. Strain it and drink warm. • Water boiled with Jeera (cumin seeds) is wonderful home remedies for acid reflux. Take it as tea twice a day. • 100-500 ml of tender coconut water twice daily is excellent for acid reflux. Coconut water has a cooling effect and provides instant relief from heartburn. It soothes your stomach providing essential vitamins and minerals. • Try 2 tablespoon Aloevera gel with a pinch of baking soda. It has an immediate soothing effect. • You can try 1tsp Amla powder (Indian gooseberry) with 1tsp honey. Amla neutralizes stomach acids and heals the stomach and esophageal damages. • Pomegranate is one of the excellent home remedies for acid reflux. Take approx 10ml of pomegranate juice twice daily. You can also take the fruit instead of juice. • Take a banana daily in your diet; it acts as a natural antacid. Banana is rich in potassium which helps to reduce acid levels in your stomach. • Try drinking 1 cup of papaya juice with 1tsp sugar and 2 pinches cardamom. Otherwise, you can take a slice or two of papaya daily after food. It is found to soothe the stomach and helps in better digestion. However, pregnant women should avoid papaya. It may cause miscarriage. • Apple cider vinegar is another useful home remedies for acid reflux. Take 1tsp of it before each meal. • Take 1 tea spoon of organic honey before going to bed or take honey mixed with water. It soothes the stomach and adjusts your body’s pH by neutralising stomach acids. • For instant relief of heartburn, drink a mixture of lemon juice (10 drops), organic sugar (1/2tsp) and baking soda (1/2tsp) in 1 glass of water. Take it immediately after adding the baking soda. • Take 5-6 Tulasi leaves (basil), crush them and boil in 250 ml of water on a medium flame for 10-15 minutes, filter and take the filtrate as tea. Or else Chew 5-6 Tulasi leaves after food, 2-3 times daily.
Besides, some effective home remedies, Ayurvedic treatment for GERD suggest avoiding certain foods that cause acid reflux as well as include certain foods that help acid reflux in your diet.
Foods That Help Acid Reflux
- Cereals: Old rice, Barley, Wheat
- Pulses: Green gram, Lentils
- Vegetables: White pumpkin, Bitter gourd, Ash gourd, Ridge gourd, Pointed gourd, Carrot, Cucumber, Plantain, Cabbage, Beetroot, sweet potato
- Fruits: Pomegranate, Indian gooseberry, Apple, Banana, Sweet Orange, Coconut, Mango, Dates, Black grapes, Fig, Sweet lime, Raisin
- Spices: Garlic, Dry Ginger, Clove, Turmeric, saffron, Cumin
- Oil: Sunflower oil, coconut oil
- Other Products: Ghee, Milk, Buttermilk, Sugarcane, Honey
Foods That Cause Acid Reflux
- Cereals: New rice
- Pulses: Horse gram, Split Black gram (Urad dal), Pigeon Peas ( Arahar dal)
- Vegetables: Mustard leaves, Fenugreek, Brinjal, Tomato
- Fruits: Jackfruit, Pineapple, Plum, Groundnut
- Spices: Asafoetida, chilli, Cinnamon, Mustard Seeds, Pepper, Tamarind, Garlic, Onion
- Oil: Mustard oil, Seasame oil
- Other Products: Curd, Sour Buttermilk, Paneer, Tea, Coffee, Carbonated drinks, Chocolate
Ayurvedic Prescription Medication for GERD
Ayurvedic treatment for GERD is done on the lines of treatment of Amlapitta. The main aim of the treatment is to get rid of the acid reflux and protect the stomach and gut from getting damaged by the action of acid.
Ayurvedic practitioner recommends two kinds of ayurvedic treatment for GERD. These include:
- Prescription Medication
- Panchakarma Therapy
Prescription Medication for acid Reflux
Ayurveda has many time-tested drug formulations to tackle acid reflux.
Some commonly used single (containing only one drug) drugs are:
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
- Yastimadhu (Liquorice)
- Amalaki (Indian gooseberry)
- Sunthi (dry ginger)
Some important compound formulations (containing a mixture of drugs) are
- Kamdudha rasa
- Sutasekhar rasa
- Prawal pishti
- Prawal panchamrita
- Dhatri lauha
- Shankha bhasma
- Swarnamaksika bhasma
- Avvipattikar churna
- Amalaki rasayana
- Shatavari ghrita
When the complications cannot be well managed with oral medications ‘Panchakarma procedures’ are applied. These are some traditional techniques to cleanse and rejuvenate your body inside out by eliminating various toxins from the body. It helps to speed up your metabolism and enhance the strength of the digestion process.
Panchakarma therapy like Vamana (therapeutic vomiting)) or virechana (purgation or laxative therapy) whichever is needed is administered to clean the stomach. In chronic cases, Asthapanavasti (medicated enema) is applied.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga is one of the most effective and natural cures for GERD. It helps to improve your digestion process.
Some yogaasana and pranayama as advised in Ayurveda include:
Yogasana: Bajrasana, Pavanamuktasana, Ushtrasana, Paschimotasana, Suryanamaskara, Shalabhasana, Shashankasana and Shavasana.
Pranayama: Anuloma-Vilom, kapalbhati, Bhramari, Sheetali, Sheetakari
These yoga asanas and pranayama improve your gastrointestinal tract and also removes the toxin from your body. These asanas also help relax your mind, improve the physiology of the body, and the individual’s well-being.
What to drink for acid reflux: An Herbal Tea Recipe
- cumin seeds (¼ teaspoon)
- coriander seeds (¼ teaspoon)
- fennel seeds (¼ teaspoon)
- rose petals (optional)
- fresh cilantro (optional)
- 2 cup of water
Coarsely grind all the seeds together. Bring water to a boil and add the grounded seeds mixture. Simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for 5minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey or sugar. Drink after a meal. This herbal tea stimulates digestion and calming for GERD symptoms.
(Source: Ayurvedic cooking for self-healing by U. Lad and Dr V. Lad)
This article discusses all the aspects of how to cure GERD permanently with both modern and ayurvedic lines of treatment. Treatment for GERD requires long term management and thus always must be done with consultation by a qualified physician. GERD being a chronic, relapsing disease, patients have to be managed with either long-term medical treatment or surgery after a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of each modality.
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