Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Heart burn once a while may be normal, but frequent heart burn may be a sign of GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. In this condition, the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle containing stomach acid) become weak leading to stomach acid splashing into the esophagus causing heart burn. In other words, LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter, a valve separating esophagus and stomach, opens at wrong time. The valve malfunction may be due to certain food (spicy or acidic), overeating, alcohol, smoking etc.
The primary symptoms are burning sensation in chest and sour taste in mouth. Sometimes there may be no heartburn but one may experience severe chest pain, chronic cough, hoarseness of voice, feeling like something stuck in throat. Prolonged GERD may damage the esophagus so appropriate treatment must be given.
Causes of GERD :
- Food : Spicy, acidic, and fatty food is linked to GERD. Over eating too much of carbonated drinks, tea or coffee may aggravate this condition.
- Alcohol : Alcohol relaxes the lower Esophageal sphincter causing splashing of stomach acid into the Esophagus. Especially regular and increased consumption of alcohol is harmful for such patients.
- Smoking : Just like heart and lungs, smoking poses great danger to the digestive system. As seen in alcohol nicotine also relaxes the LES in increasing the risk of GERD. Smoking also causes bile salts to migrate from small intestine into the stomach and reduces the amount of saliva we produce. Saliva contains natural acid fighter that is bicarbonates that flushes acid out of esophagus.
- Increased Body Weight : Excess body fat may put pressure in abdomen, causes chemical / hormonal changes making one susceptible to acid reflux.
- Tight Fitting Clothes : Skin tight pants, belts, waist bands, too tight under garments may be a reason for heartburn as these tight fitting clothes may put pressure in the abdomen causing splashing of acid into the esophagus.
- Medicines : Regular intake of medicines like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Muscle Relaxants and medicines for blood pressure may be a cause of GERD.
Tips to prevent GERD :
- Food : Go for low fat and high fiber foods like whole grain, veggies, lean meat are heart burn easing foods. Instead of single heavy meal one can opt for frequent small meals. Avoid late night snaking. Avoid overeating. Some of the food of good choices are : Oats meal, Beans, Bananas, Ginger etc. Oats meal is low fat and high in fiber. Similarly beans are great source of protein and fibre. One can opt for beans as an alternative to meat that can cause heart burn in GERD patients. Bananas are high in Potassium (an alkalising mineral with High pH value. It helps the stomach to generate more mucus. High in fiber so speeds digestion reducing acidity. Over ripe bananas are more effective than usual ones. Low doses of Ginger say 2 to 4 grams as ginger tea or food may help to relieve inflammation and stomach problems. People suffering from GERD can consume Pudina and Corriander as food or boiled water. These greens reduces acidity and burning sensation and eases the symptoms of GERD. People suffering from this condition must avoid spices, mustard, chilly, peppers, sauces, chocolates, tea and coffee.
- Avoid Alcohol
- Quit Smoking
- Sleep well : One must sleep well to keep the digestive system and metabolism normal. Avoid intake of food just before bed time. If one is suffering from GERD, keep the head elevated in a comfortable position that may prevent nocturnal heart burns.
- Exercise & Yoga : It will help to reduce belly fat cut overweight problem, improve secretion of digestive juices, aids digestion and keep such ailments at bay.
Siddha Medicine & Treatment :
- Cardomom : Cardomom helps to improve digestion, relieves stomach spasm, reduces burning sensation and cools down the body. Boiled water prepared with cardomom can be taken as a home remedy. Siddha medicines like Eladi chooranam, Eladi tablet are prepared from cardomom or elam and used in the treatment of GERD.
- Tulsi or Basil : Aids digestion. wound healing and ant-ulcer. Helps to prevent acidity, relieves gas and produces more mucus.
- Clove or Elavangam : Natural carminative, increases peristalsis, improves saliva production, aids digestion and provides immediate relief from acid reflux.
- Jeera or Cumin : Improves digestion, reduces gas production, treats acidity and heals ulcer. Jeera water is a local herbal remedy to treat Pitha disorders like GERD.
- Perunjeerakam or Sweet Cumin : Aids digestion, rich in volatile, contains flavanoids, palmitic acid etc. Coolant, protects stomach lining. Boiled water with perunjeerakam or chewing and eating after meals is good.
- Pudina : Reduces acidity and burning sensation. Regular intake in diet helps to manage GERD effectively.
- Amla or Indian Gooseberry : Helps to treat Vatha, Pita and Kapha ailments. Rich in Vitamin C, reduces acidity, cools the body, heals ulcer.
- Liquorice or Athimathuram : Protects stomach lining, reduces burning sensation and acidity. Helpful in treating stomach ulcers.
One out of every three person is believed to suffer from GERD. Irregular diet and improper lifestyle is the root cause so keeping this in mind, such problems should be treated. Along with medication the patient must be made aware about the causes and methods to control and manage them naturally.