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This time of year, we often consume too much calorie and fat-laden foods. Stress levels may be elevated. Alcohol consumption often increases. Digestive upsets are common. Bloating, gassiness, nausea, heartburn and a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen and chest may occur.
These are signs of gastric reflux disease, also known as GERD. While a health care expert should be consulted to make a diagnosis if symptoms occur frequently, people suffering from occasional gastrointestinal distress may choose from a wide array of herbal remedies to effectively prevent and relieve discomfort due to acid reflux.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Overeating, spicy foods, stress and the consumption of alcohol may irritate the tender lining of your esophagus. Not chewing food properly, eating before bedtime, and consuming fatty foods may contribute to your discomfort as well.
There is a valve at the bottom of the esophagus which food passes through to reach the stomach. The stomach contains strong acid, which begins to break food down. It is also protected by a special acid resistant lining. However, your esophagus does not offer the same protection. If food is regurgitated from the stomach to the esophagus or if the valve does not close properly, stomach acid makes contact with the lining of the esophagus. Burning, bloating, belching and pain arise.
What Can Help?
Digestive enzymes can help prevent acid reflux. Raw pineapple and papaya contain enzymes which facilitate digestion. They help to prevent food from backing up into the esophagus. You can simply consume these delicious tropical fruits and juices as part of your diet, or you may choose to purchase commercial preparations. They are readily available in the form of capsules or pills. Follow label instructions.
People from South and Central America make a tea out of the skins and stems of pineapple, as these contain the most concentrated amounts of digestive enzymes. Simply simmer the pineapple parts gently for 20 minutes, or soak them in water overnight. Strain and discard the solids. Drink the tea as desired. I recommend that the tea be consumed warm, but not hot, or at room temperature for best results.
Orange Peels for Acid Reflux
Try making an herbal infusion of orange peels to relieve acid reflux. Several scientific studies indicate that orange peel extract provides a protective coating to the esophagus which prevents damage due to stomach acid. The movement of food through the esophagus to the stomach is facilitated as well. While most of the studies have been performed using orange peel extract which has been standardized to contain 98.5 percent d-limonene, herbalists have found that orange peels work well, too. Experts generally recommend that one gram of the standardized extract be taken every other day for three weeks.
If you prefer to make your own remedy, combine one tablespoonful of freshly grated organic orange peel or one teaspoonful of dried orange peel with one cupful of boiling water. Cover the tea and let it sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain out the solids and compost them. Drink the tea as often as desired. If you are using pineapple or papaya juice, try combining the juices with the tea. It makes a tasty treat.
Herbs Provide a Protective Barrier for Tender Tissues
Slippery elm inner bark, aloe vera, and marshmallow root provide rapid relief for inflamed tissues. They support the health of your entire digestive system. Aloe vera gel or juice may be purchased at large grocery stores. Try drinking it chilled. It may be mixed with pineapple or papaya juice and orange peel tea if you desire.
Marshmallow root and slippery elm inner bark are prepared as cold infusions. If you choose to purchase slippery elm inner bark, be sure and buy it from a reputable dealer, as the herb is overharvested. Only purchase farm-raised organic slippery elm. Marshmallow root is less expensive and makes an effective alternative.
To prepare a cold infusion, mix one quart of room temperature or cold water with four teaspoons of dried slippery elm inner bark or marshmallow root. Cover the container and let it infuse overnight. The next day, strain out the solids and compost them. The thick tea may be consumed over the course of a day.
If you experience heartburn and want fast relief, you may mix a teaspoon of slippery elm inner bark powder with enough water to make a thick gruel. Simply take a spoonful of the gruel. You may repeat it if needed. Slippery elm lozenges are also available.
Self Help Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is preventable. Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid foods which have been problematic for you in the past. Fill up on healthy fruits and vegetables. Limit rich sauces, spicy foods and fatty foods. Watch your portion sizes. If you drink alcohol, be sure that you eat before and while imbibing. Sit up for at least an hour after eating. Avoid eating late at night. If acid reflux is recurrent, sleep with extra pillows. Consult with your health care provider if you have questions. Acid reflux can be prevented and managed. You can still enjoy the foods you love with a little planning and by using safe, home remedies.
How do you prevent acid reflux naturally? Share your tips in the section below: