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5 Natural Acid Blockers to Fight Back Against GERD

An image of a woman holding her stomachYou may have felt it before. A burning sensation in your stomach moving up to your chest or a backwash of acid in your mouth. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common gut condition that affects up to 30% of the population in the western world. The symptoms of GERD can be uncomfortable, unpleasant, and inconvenient. Luckily, there is a range of remedies that you can use to help ease these symptoms. In this article, we will uncover some natural acid blockers that can help make GERD a thing of the past.

What Is GERD?

GERD is a digestive system condition where stomach acid or bile irritates the lining of your esophagus, which is the pipe going from your mouth down into the stomach.

Your stomach releases acid known as hydrochloric acid. This acid helps to break down food. Bile is another digestive juice that the liver makes and is stored in the gallbladder.

During reflux, these two digestive juices can move - from the stomach in the case of stomach acid and from the gallbladder in the case of bile - up your esophagus.

Symptoms of GERD

There are multiple symptoms of GERD and individuals may experience different symptoms. The most common symptoms of GERD are:

  • A burning sensation in your chest after eating that worsens when you lie down
  • Regurgitation of food or a sour-tasting liquid
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in your upper stomach
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • The feeling of a lump in your throat

GERD Risk Factors

Whilst GERD can affect anyone, there are a few factors that increase your risk of experiencing GERD. These risk factors are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Older age
  • Pregnancy
  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Alcohol or coffee
  • Eating fatty or fried foods
  • Eating large meals or late at night
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothes

GERD Remedies

To help ease the symptoms of GERD, there is a multitude of remedies available. These remedies include conventional medications and natural remedies.

Conventional Medications: Acid Blockers

The two most common conventional medications for GERD are H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). H2 blockers are short for Histamine 2 blockers and block the H2 receptors in your stomach. By blocking this receptor, your stomach makes less acid. PPIs block the protein in your stomach that is responsible for producing acid.

By reducing the amount of acid in your stomach, these acid blockers can reduce symptoms of GERD. An estimated 15 million Americans use these classes of medications.

Whilst these medications can provide relief, there are side effects to using acid blockers. These side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Hypochlorhydria

Although most of these side effects may seem minor, hypochlorhydria is a side effect that causes multiple additional side effects.

Hypochlorhydria is when the acid in your stomach is low. Stomach acid plays an important part in breaking down your food. When these levels are low, you are unable to break down food optimally. On top of this, there is also a reduction in the absorption of nutrients. This can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

These conventional medications are not the only form of acid blockers. There are natural remedies that can act as acid blockers as well.

5 Natural Acid Blockers

Ginger as an Acid Blocker

An image of fresh ginger and ginger teaGinger has a range of benefits and is rich in beneficial compounds such as phenols. The phenols in ginger are thought to help relieve irritation of the lining of the gut and can help reduce stomach contractions. This means it can potentially reduce the occurrence of acid being pushed into your esophagus.

Ginger is also anti-inflammatory and can help reduce inflammation within the body. This can help to reduce inflammation of the esophagus which can cause symptoms in GERD.

Ginger is available in many different forms including powdered form, tea, lozenges, and chews. Do note, however, that while ginger can potentially help to reduce symptoms, large doses of ginger can cause gas as well as acid reflux.

The evidence for the use of ginger in GERD is lacking and more research is needed on the uses of ginger in GERD.

Flaxseeds as an Acid Blocker

Flaxseeds are rich in fiber, omega-3, and calcium. Not only do they contain these beneficial nutrients but they also contain something called mucilage. When eaten, the mucilage in the flaxseeds coats the esophagus in a film. This film protects the esophagus from damaging agents, including acid. This can help to relieve symptoms of GERD.

Flaxseeds can be added to your diet in many different ways including:

  • Crushed and added to smoothies, oatmeal, or cereal
  • Added to baked goods, soups, or stews
  • Soaked in water then added to meals or eaten separately
  • Pressed in the form of flaxseeds oil
  • Tea
  • Soup

Flaxseeds also contain fiber, which can help the gut in many different ways. One way is that it strengthens the opening between the esophagus and stomach helping to reduce the occurrence of GERD.

If flaxseeds aren’t your seed of choice, adding fiber in other ways such as chia seeds, almonds, and whole grains can help to increase the fiber content of your diet and strengthen your gut.

Apple Cider Vinegar as an Acid Blocker

Although apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can help act as an acid blocker. The two theories behind the use of apple cider vinegar are that the acidity and bacteria in apple cider vinegar can help to aid in digestion thus relieving symptoms of GERD. Another theory is that the acid in apple cider vinegar can help replenish acidity in individuals who have hypochlorhydria.

Whilst apple cider vinegar can provide relief from GERD, it can also aggravate symptoms in some people, especially if the lining of your gut is inflamed. If you would like to try this remedy, mix between a teaspoon and tablespoon into a glass of water and drink before or after meals. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide more guidance on this.

The evidence for the use of apple cider vinegar is mostly anecdotal at this time.

Probiotics as Acid Blockers

One cause of GERD is an accumulation of harmful bacteria in your gut and a reduction in good bacteria. To help improve the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut, working to improve your health and having a diverse diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains as well as probiotics can help.

Probiotics are, in simple terms, good bacteria for the gut. They can be found in supplemental form as well as naturally in foods such as:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir

Probiotics help to increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut; this bacteria can help to fight off the bad bacteria, improving gut health and relieving symptoms of GERD.

Supplements as Acid Blockers

Not only do foods act as natural acid blockers, but supplements can help as well. Ingredients that may act as natural acid blockers are:

  • B vitamins
  • Probiotics
  • Turmeric
  • Peppermint oil
  • Mastic gum
  • Aloe vera
  • Licorice

These supplements work in different ways, but primarily they help to reduce inflammation, reduce bacteria that can cause GERD, and generally improve gut health. These ingredients can be present separately and together in supplements. An example of this is the Adrenal Gut Restore supplement that contains licorice and aloe vera by Dr. Lam.

The licorice helps to increase mucus production in the stomach. This increased mucus can act as a barrier to your stomach contents and reduces the occurrence of GERD. Licorice can also help to promote blood flow which can promote healing of your gut. Aloe vera helps to reduce inflammation and improves your digestion, helping to relieve symptoms.

GERD and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS)

An image of a stressed man at workOne cause of GERD can be chronic stress, which commonly occurs with adrenal fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a cluster of symptoms that result from chronic stress. Your body responds to stress through the adrenal glands and the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response, which is composed of six circuits of related organ systems. However, your body is designed to cope with stress for short periods and not for long periods.

If your body experiences chronic stress, your adrenal glands are not able to continue responding to the chronic stress, and the adrenal glands become depleted. This can result in imbalances within the NEM System.

One circuit in the NEM System is the Inflammation circuit. The immune system, gastrointestinal tract, and gut microbiome make up this circuit. If this circuit becomes imbalanced, it can cause an increase in inflammation and an imbalance in gut bacteria. These two symptoms can then contribute to GERD. Balancing this circuit and reducing stress levels can thus help to relieve symptoms of GERD.

Cautions With GERD and AFS

Whilst there are many remedies available to help manage symptoms of GERD it is always important to be mindful of your body especially if you are currently experiencing AFS.

During AFS, the body becomes sensitive to external products, which can include conventional and natural acid blockers. Another important factor to remember is that the FDA does not regulate supplements and the quality and safety of the products are not guaranteed.

If you are currently experiencing AFS, chat with a healthcare provider who is aware of AFS before trying out a new remedy.

Takeaway Message

GERD is a condition that many individuals will experience during their life. To help prevent and relieve symptoms, there is a range of remedies available. Conventional acid blockers, H2 blockers and PPIs, also come with some side effects. However, natural acid blockers include ginger, flaxseeds, apple cider vinegar, and probiotics, which can help boost your gut health, lower inflammation, and protect your esophagus.

If you are currently experiencing GERD, AFS, or a combination and are trying to find safe ways to stop the burn, you can give the team at Dr. Lam a call at +1 (626) 571-1234 for a private, free initial consultation, or click here for our Ask the Doctor system.

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Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Health is individualized and are no standard best acid blockers as everyone reacts differently. To help you find the best acid blocker for your body in a way that is safe and will support your body, it is best to seek professional guidance.

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