Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD, GORD, reflux, regurgitation, or heartburn.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you suffer from it, you know how painful it can be.  Some people can get reflux due to a hiatal hernia or from high stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL), but I find the most common reason to be from low stomach acid.  At the top of the stomach is a sphincter, the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), which closes in reaction to stomach acid.  When there isn’t enough acid, this sphincter doesn’t receive the signal to close resulting in what acid there is, leaking up the oesophagus.  This can result in painful reflux most often at night, but also after eating certain foods.

HCL is needed to digest protein, so a common feeling of low HCL is feeling like your food is just sitting there after you eat. HCL helps to kill pathogens, inhibit overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, encourage the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes and facilitate the absorption of several vitamins and minerals including folate, B12, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.  Low HCL can result in many problems down the road if left untreated. Stomach acid can decrease with age and with several medications.

An easy test for low stomach acid (and the beginning of treatment) is to take a supplement that contains hydrochloric acid.  If you take one capsule and feel nothing, you are likely deficient.  Treatment consists of an increasing number of capsules until your body learns to create HCL on its own again.

For reflux that is caused by high stomach acid, there are many options as well.  Melatonin has been found to be a very effective treatment for reflux and can help you sleep better at the same time.  Studies find that if you take it for 8 weeks you can achieve remission of symptoms. Food intolerances can cause reflux also, so doing an elimination diet or a food intolerance test is usually warranted. 

If you think you might have a hiatal hernia, this technique may help – drink a large glass of water upon rising in the morning. While standing, rise up on your toes and drop back onto your heels – the weight of the water may help to replace the herniated organ. 

For natural symptom relief, you can try liquorice (the real stuff, not just candy), slippery elm powder or baking soda in a bit of water.  If you have high blood pressure, use DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice) instead.

Other triggers for reflux include caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, cigarette smoking and stress. Reducing these can help with symptoms as well.

With prolonged reflux, damage can be done to the oesophagus which can eventually result in cancerous cells forming there.  Some treatments to reduce this risk are folic acid, mushrooms, zinc and probiotics.  Fish oils and turmeric are also useful for decreasing pain and inflammation.

Medications can decrease HCL, but these come with side effects such as decreasing the absorption of the vitamins and minerals mentioned above and reducing the breakdown of protein.

These are just some of the options for treating reflux. Contact a naturopath before starting on any supplements for reflux to make sure they are right for you and that you have the correct dose and timing.

Do You View Your Number 2s?

Stool, poo, number 2, bowel movement, poop, whatever you want to call it, you should be looking at it! I know this makes some people squeamish, but it is so important.  Your digestion is the cornerstone of your health and your stool gives you a lot of clues about what is going on in there.  To learn more about what happens in your gut and how important all the little bacteria friends that live there are, check out my article 10% Human.

So, what should you look for?  To start with you want to check the consistency.  Check out this chart to give you an idea of what you are looking for.  Too hard or too soft are both indications of trouble brewing. You want your stool to look like Type 4.

You also want to look at size, colour and frequency and if there is any mucus or undigested food in there.

Check your stool for a few days and if you have any issues you really want to sort them out as issues in your gut are associated with health issues in all other parts of your body. The solution depends on what the problem is.  Every problem has a different solution.  It is really best to talk to a naturopath if you think there is anything going on with your digestion so that you can get the right answers and be on the road to a healthier you.

Happy viewing!

The lemons are ripening! Yay!

As the lemons start ripening on my lemon tree, I thought it would be timely to write about them.

I’m sure you have all heard of drinking lemon water.  It can actually be quite helpful. I don’t suggest only drinking lemon water (seriously if you ever see something telling you to only do one thing, run don’t walk away!), but a glass of lemon water in the morning can be great.

Lemons are acidic.  If you drink a glass in the morning it can help stimulate your digestive juices and get them ready for digesting breakfast.

Lemon water can help with constipation.  The combination of lemon and warm water can help to get things moving in the morning.

Lemons are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids.  This means they can help boost your immune system and decrease inflammation.

Lemon water can help with kidney stones.  This is due to their high citrate content. If you have kidney stones though, seek professional health advice.  Don’t just drink lemon water and hope they go away.  Talk to your naturopath to see if this is appropriate for you.

Drinking a glass of water in the morning will help you stay hydrated.  Over night we don’t drink anything and can become dehydrated.  Drinking water in the morning can get us going on the right path.

You want to drink this in the morning, ideally half an hour before eating breakfast.  Consistency is best for seeing results.  

  1. Squeeze half a lemon of juice into a mug (real never artificial).
  2. Add hot water
  3. Drink
  4. Feel great;)