Acid Reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), is a medical condition which results from excessive gas and stomach acids, moving up, into the oesophagus, instead of remaining contained in the stomach. The stomach acid is mainly concentrated hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive acid, which can damage the food pipe if it gets into it. In Ayurveda, Acid Reflux or GERD is known as ‘urdhva gata amlapitta’. It is not a life-threatening condition; nevertheless, it can cause severe discomfort and requires medical intervention.
Acid Reflux- Symptoms and Causes
Acid Reflux causes stomach uneasiness and heartburn. The patient may experience chest pain accompanied by facial sweating. Some patients suffer from a nagging pain in the upper abdomen, just under the breast bone, which often aggravates after meals. Some patients experience a bitter taste lingering in the mouth, especially after a night’s sleep. Sour belching and gas are other symptoms that patients often find themselves plagued with.
When Acid Reflux is left untreated, it can sometimes create severe health issues, including ulcers in the oesophagus. Loss of appetite and weight loss, vomiting, hoarseness of voice, constant burning sensation in the throat and mouth, difficulty in swallowing, breathing and earache, are other symptoms that patients with the condition have to go through.
The most common cause of acid reflux is a condition called Hiatal Hernia. It is a condition wherein the upper section of the stomach protrudes upwards, through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. The change of position of the stomach is what triggers the problem. When the stomach moves into the chest cavity, the sphincter muscle in the oesophagus stops functioning. The sphincter muscle is like a valve that closes tightly, preventing the contents of the stomach from escaping upwards. A flaw in its operation causes the backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus.
There are many reasons why Hiatal Hernia occurs and the most common among them are, obesity, pregnancy, injury endured due to heavy coughing and vomiting, pushing hard at the bowels, lifting weights and vomiting as well as physical strain.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Acid Reflux
Ayurvedic treatment for acidity is extremely effective in reducing and quelling symptoms. Ayurveda prescribes lifestyle changes and special herbal preparations that suppress acid formation in the stomach. Customized treatment for acid reflux is offered at a leading Ayurveda hospital in Trivandrum, where highly-trained specialists review the patient’s history and recommend treatment. Lifestyle changes are among the different treatments that Ayurveda doctors recommend. Apart from that, medication is prescribed for subduing stomach acids. The most frequently prescribed are Narikela Lavana, Kamdudha Ras and Avipattikar Churna. All three herbal preparations are safe to use, have no side-effects and are highly effective. However, these medicines are best taken after consultation with an Ayurveda doctor, so proper evaluation is to be carried out before the beginning of the treatment.
Home Remedies for Acidity
Sipping aloe vera juice, preferably fresh, without citric acid as an additive, is a natural remedy for reducing acidity. Ayurveda practitioners advice the use of foods known for acid-reducing properties. According to Ayurveda, patients suffering from GERD can increase the intake of fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves to their meals. Alternatively, they can consume coriander seeds, fresh coconut, fennel seeds (saunf, chew after meals), saffron, turmeric or peppermint (in capsule form) or fresh mint leaves in the diet.
Chewing Holy Basil (tulsi) is also known to counter acidity. Additionally, consuming a tbsp. of Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice, along with an equal amount of Haritaki (chebulic myrobalan) powder, after dinner, aids in digestion. A tbsp. of honey with the same amount of apple cider vinegar is also a beneficial remedy.
Ayurveda also recommends eating asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) and liquorice (mulethi) to ease the symptoms. These herbs are readily available at Ayurveda stores. However, patients suffering from hypertension or oedema are advised against taking them, as they are known to aggravate the problem.
Lifestyle Changes to Cure Acidity
It is easy to bring acidity under control by making a few lifestyle changes. Individuals suffering from GERD or Acid Reflux can incorporate the following practices in their daily routine, to find relief from the condition –
- Avoid foods that trigger GERD, especially caffeine, aerated drinks, chocolates, spicy foods, junk foods and oily/fatty foods and excessive sugar
- Cut down the intake of alcohol and reduce smoking
- Eat small meals, more often, instead of three large meals
- Do not skip breakfast and do not go without meals for long durations
- Make exercise a part of your daily regime – take a walk after meals
- Lose weight, if overweight, especially if the weight is concentrated around the midsection
- Eat an early dinner, at least 2 hours before going to sleep
- Avoid sitting or lying down, immediately after a meal, stand or take a 10-minute walk instead
- Include foods naturally rich in complex carbs, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts
- Consume foods that have the potential to reduce acidity, these include fruits like bananas, watermelon and papaya. Cucumber, fresh coconut water, a glass of cold milk and soaked and peeled almonds, also aid in decreasing acidity. Have a small piece of organic palm jaggery (gur), after meals as it controls stomach acids. Buttermilk seasoned with roasted cumin (jeera) seeds, had with meals, is another effective way of controlling GERD
- Drink warm water. Start your day with a glass of warm water, with a dash of honey added to it
- Avoid tight clothes, especially around the belly, as they can be restrictive, and push the stomach into the chest cavity
Ayurveda is an ancient science and a traditional healing system. The medicine system describes acid reflux as a result of aggravated pitta dosha and a weakened digestive fire. Ayurveda treatments focus on fighting disease by getting to the root of the problem and eliminating it, rather than treating the symptoms. In Ayurveda, acid reflux and gastric issues are resolved through herbal medication which improves digestive fire, thereby bolstering digestion and preventing the digestive juices from flowing into the oesophagus. The treatment focuses on healing and permanent cure, instead of alleviating the symptoms. Additionally, diet recommendations and restrictions advised for acid reflux and gastric issues naturally ease the symptoms and create an environment for the treatment to work and the body to heal itself. If the acidic problems persist even after continuous home remedies, find the top Ayurveda treatment centres and shortlist the best one to get quality treatment before the disease gets aggravated.