Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is among the most common gastrointestinal disorders. Its symptoms are painful and adversely affect the quality of life. Delayed or even inappropriate treatment of GERD can have severe consequences. Are there ways to treat GERD and reduce the symptoms?
What is GERD
GERD is a condition in which the content of stomach moves back to the esophagus, instead of moving to the small intestine.The content of stomach has a low pH due to gastric fluids. This reflux of gastric fluids cause a series of symptoms as:
- chest pain
- sour taste
- difficulty in swallowing
- sore throat
Gastric juices contain various acids and enzymes like gastric acid, pepsin and bile, which cause damage to the mucose of esophagus and lead to esophagitis, ulcers and pre-cancerous lesions of esophagus (Barrett's esophagus). Symptoms appear or worsen after a meal, especially in case of large portions, or after lying down.
Causes of GERD
The causes of gastroesophageal reflux can vary. The most common cause is hiatal hernia, when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close tightly enough or gets weak over time, thus the content of stomach reverse back to esophagus. Other causes are:
- eating habits (alcohol, coffee, chocolate)
The treatment of GERD consists of 3 basic axes, the reduction of stomach acidity, to create a protective film that protects esophageal mucosa and cells and to facilitate digestion of food.
Mild to moderate GERD, are usually treated with lifestyle and dietary changes as well with dietary supplements. In severe cases, however, medication is necessary.
Changes in lifestyle & nutrition
- During the digestion of food, it is advisable not to lie down, exercise or bend
- Have small and light meals
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages (coffee, decaffeinated coffee, fruit juice, tomato juice)
- Avoid carbonated drinks
- Quit smoking
- Get a normal weight
- Avoid fatty foods
- Reduce alcohol consumption
Herbs and food supplements
They are friendly bacteria that improve the process of digestion and absorption of nutrients. They nourish and help restore intestinal mucosa.
Licorice (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)
Licorice helps treat ulcers and inhibits Helicobacter pylori. Also it may help protect against stomach damage from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, while also help restore intestinal mucosa. It is taken 1 to 2 hours after meals.
Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus)
Mastic extract is a traditional choice for the treatment of peptic ulcers as it inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori, due to its powerful antimicrobial activity. It helps to treat gastritis and stomach inflammations.
It is usually taken as a tincture. It helps in digestion, secretion of digestive fluids, while also it prevents the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, protecting against the appearance and symptoms of GERD. Additionally, it helps treat dyspepsia and esophagitis.
Formulas of ingredients soothe symptoms of GERD, creating a film (layer) that protects esophagus from the acidic content of stomach. In addition, they significantly reduce the incedence of GERD while also balance the pH of the intestine and stomach, respectively. They are helpful even in cases of gastritis and gastralgia.
The formulas usually contain herbal extracts (aloe, licorice, centaurus, chamomile, peppermint, melissa, etc.) that have soothing properties and natural minerals that balance the acidity such as alginic calcium and sodium, sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate and bicarbonate.
In Vita4you you can find a variety of dietary supplements that help treat gastroesophageal reflux.