Do you find yourself popping an antacid before every meal because of heartburn?
Have to use 3 pillows at night to stop your reflux? Concerned about the effect of long-term medication use for GERD?
You are not alone and there are long term solutions for dealing with chronic and unrelenting GERD and acid reflux. The question that we're not asking enough is why are you dealing unrelenting acid reflux even though you've cut out all your triggers and are taking medication?
If you've read other posts on my blog, by now you know that my most treasured principle of naturopathic medicine is tolle causam, i.e. find and treat the cause of the symptom to the best of our ability. With acid reflux and GERD the cause is so rarely questioned or explored in conventional medicine. Got heartburn? Must be producing too much acid! What?! Why on earth would that happen but in the rarest of cases. Here are some things I like to explore when I'm working with someone who has experienced long term reflux:
Over 60% of people dealing with long-term GERD may have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO as a root cause (Kim et al., 2012). For those taking proton pump inhibitors to manage their reflux, SIBO and its associated symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, boating, gas, pain, nausea) may be just around the corner - over 61% GERD patients treated with PPIs develop SIBO after a year of treatment.
A functional microbiome can be restored and reduce your symptoms
A LOOSE AND "FLOPPY" SPHINCTER
You've had an endoscopy and all it shows is mild gastritis, inflammation, and a "floppy" esophageal sphincter not doing its job to keep your stomach acid in your stomach. An unreliable sphincter is NOT a life sentence; support with herbs, supplements, manual adjustments, and nutritional support can lead to a strengthened and toned muscle decreasing both your reflux and esophageal inflammation.
It can be strengthened and get back to doing the job it's meant to do.
Chronic exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid can lead to inflammation and cell changes that not only lead to pain in between flare ups of reflux, but have the potential to lead to more serious conditions like Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. There are safe herbal and nutritional options to bring down gastritis and esophageal inflammation without further irritating the stomach or leading to ulcers.
Get rid of your reliance on pharmaceuticals while safely restoring your health.
FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING
Food elimination diets based on IgG ANTIBODY TESTING for food allergies help to identify foods that may be aggravating the inflammation in your esophagus and increasing pain associated with heartburn. As well, non-allergic food sensitivities to things like gluten, dairy, and nightshades have been shown to aggravate reflux in sensitive individuals.
Test for your food sensitivities to design the diet that will get rid of your reflux and support your health.
I value pharmaceutical approaches (e.g. proton pump inhibitors) for temporarily reducing acid production, especially in cases where there is severe inflammation causing damage to the esophagus or intense discomfort - but in the short term only. Research is showing a potential causal relationship between PPI use and various forms of dementia and an established relationship between long term PPI use and decreased vitamin and mineral absorption leading to bone density loss and increase fractures. Looking for and treating the cause of the reflux while treating the symptoms will in most cases allow for patients to safely stop taking pharmaceuticals and lead to long term healing of GERD and reflux symptoms.
Treating the root cause of illness doesn't happen overnight - it takes commitment and diligence on the part of the patient, no doubt about that - but it pays off! The other day I received a message from a patient who had been suffering with severe reflux for 4+ years who started working with me in late 2014 - he had drank 3 coffees that day without any reflux and couldn't believe it. You don't normally hear a naturopathic doctor yelping for joy when a patient tells them they have drunk 3 coffees in one day, but this was a special case!
If you are suffering from GERD or acid reflux and are looking for a long term solution don't hesitate to contact me (or another naturopathic doctor local to you) today. We can help!