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Health Research

Acid Reflux: Causes, Natural Treatment, and Herbal Tea to Try

What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid splashes up from the stomach into the esophagus resulting in a burning sensation and other symptoms. That sensation is called heartburn although acid reflux and heartburn are often used interchangeably. Severe or chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and if left untreated, can result in serious health complications.
There are many potential causes of acid reflux, including pregnancy, smoking, eating too close to bedtime, excessive exercise, taking certain medications, being overweight or obese.
Acid reflux can also be triggered by a heavy meal, lying down, or consumption of certain foods and beverages (e.g. alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee or desserts, fried food, spicy foods).

Acid Reflux: Causes, Symptoms, Natural Treatment
Symptoms
Most people are familiar with the symptoms of acid reflux as nearly everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives. For some people, it can be a daily or weekly occurrence. Symptoms usually start appearing after a heavy meal or after eating certain foods, when leaning over, when lying down, or during pregnancy for women, and are more likely to appear at nightime.
  • Burning pain in the abdomen and chest area, which is often referred to as heartburn
  • Regurgitation that can be acidic or bitter and contain vomit
  • Stomach discomfort or bloating
Key Statistics
  • According to Florida Hospital, more than 40% of adults in the US suffer from heartburn pain each month, usually in reaction to a particular food.
  • 2 out of 3 people who experience acid reflux are 40 years or older. 1 in 5 people with acid reflux will develop GERD.
  • Acid reflux is very common during pregnancy. 1 in 4 pregnant women will experience acid reflux, usually in the third trimester of their pregnancy.
Natural Prevention and Treatment
1. Eat slowly and thoroughly.
Chewing actually signals the brain to start the digestive process which helps increase stomach acid levels. By eating slowly, you give the body time to properly digest food which helps to prevent acid reflux. You're also less likely to overeat which helps prevent bloating. Tips to slow down your eating: Use a fork or chopsticks instead of a spoon, use smaller utensils, pause or put down your utensil between bites, and don't eat right out of the container.
2. Cut down on the food triggers
Cut back on the foods and beverages that may be triggering your acid reflux. Although reactions differ from person to person, common culprits include alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee or desserts, fried food, and spicy foods. Monitor what you are eating, especially when you experience acid reflux symptoms, so that you can determine what particular foods may be involved.
3. Write it down
Around 95% of acid reflux cases are due to a particular food or beverage although there may be other causes such as overeating and obesity. Whenever you are experiencing acid reflux, write down what you have consumed or what you have done that day to determine the possible causes.
4. Eat smaller meals
Avoid overeating and try to break large meals into smaller meals throughout the day. Try using smaller plates or bowls and plan your meals ahead of time.
5. Cut down the nicotine
Stop smoking or cut down on the number of cigarettes. Nicotine can make it easier for acid to get into the esophagus, causing heartburn pain. Scientists believe this is because nicotine weakens the muscles in the esophagus.
6. Exercise more
Physical activity is an important for staying healthy, helps reduce the risk of developing numerous health conditions, and also helps prevent acid reflux. Doctors generally recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day although the right amount of physical activity depends on each person. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. If you can’t meet these recommended times, remember even a little exercise goes a long way to helping you stay healthy.
7. Lose weight
Your weight could be one of the reasons you are experiencing acid reflux. Check the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s tools for calculating your body mass index (BMI) and estimating your body fat. If you are overweight or obese, weight loss could potentially help reduce the frequency or severity of symptoms, in addition to lowering the risk of various health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Even if you are in the healthy zone, check your BMI every so often to make sure you're not moving out of the zone.
8. Avoid pressure on your belly
Don't put any pressure on your abdominal area after eating or when you are experiencing acid reflux. Wear loose clothing and loosen your belt.
9. Stay upright
Avoid lying down after eating. Wait at least 2-3 hours after a meal before you lie down or go to bed, especially after a heavy meal. It might help to walk around or to do some simple stretches that doesn't involve bending over or lifting objects.
Herbal Tea To Try

Green Tea
Drinking green tea may help reduce inflammation which could help prevent acid reflux, help alleviate heartburn, and promote overall digestive health. Green tea has also been shown to reduce inflammation associated with Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, the two types of inflammatory bowel disease. If tea proves to help prevent colon cancer, it may also help people with inflammatory bowel disease because they are at higher risk for colon cancer.

Aloe Vera Leaf
Aloe vera is used in traditional herbal remedies to ease acid reflux and some research studies have found that aloe vera syrup could help treat acid reflux or GERD. Aloe vera may also promote overall digestive health - according to the World Health Organization, clinical data has so far shown the herb to be effective in the short-term treatment of constipation. One particular research study suggested aloe vera could be helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms such as diarrhea.

Chamomile
According to the World Health Organization, clinical data supports the use of chamomile for digestive ailments such as bloating, indigestion, and flatulence. Some doctors recommend drinking dried chamomile flowers steeped in hot water three or more times per day.
Chamomile is also effective in relieving inflamed or irritated membranes of the digestive tract. The herb is currently approved by the German Commission E (Germany’s equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to support gastrointestinal health.

Ginger Root
Ginger has long been used as a remedy for digestive problems such as indigestion, nausea, gas, bloating, and cramps. Modern clinical evidence suggests that consuming ginger prior to eating could help with indigestion by speeding up the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract. The German Commission E (Germany’s equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) currently approves the internal use of ginger for impaired digestion and for soothing an upset stomach.

Papaya Leaf
The papaya leaf were used by the Mayans, Japanese and other cultures for thousands of years to treat various health conditions. Modern research shows the herb has potential for aiding digestion and relieving heartburn. This is because papaya leaf contains an enzyme called papain which helps the digestive process by breaking down down proteins. Some studies have shown that papaya leaf has a protective action against gastric ulcers (sores that develop on the lining of the stomach) and oxidative stress (damage to cells caused by oxidation).
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