One in 10 Americans experiences heartburn or acid reflux symptoms at least once a week, making the antacid industry one of the most profitable business ventures in the healthcare system today. Acid reflux occurs when the liquid content of the stomach (gastric acid) regurgitates into the esophagus. As a result, the esophagus becomes inflamed and over time can become damaged. This can lead to a burning sensation when eating as well as a pain that often rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat, or angle of the jaw.
Acid reflux is one of the most incorrectly treated conditions today, due to the understanding of the root cause of acid reflux. The widespread thought process is that the stomach is overproducing stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) which causes the burning sensation in the chest. Therefore, they prescribe antacids which neutralize the stomach acid, resulting in short-term pain relief. The problem with this diagnosis and treatment is that they are not addressing the basic mechanism of what is occurring.
When acid reflux occurs, it is actually due to low stomach acid (HCL) or achlorhydria, which is an extremely common condition today. The majority of us are not producing enough stomach acid. This is the result of overeating highly cooked, processed, and animal-source foods. These types of food choices require a high amount of hydrochloric acid to digest them, and unfortunately, over time, we are no longer able to produce adequate amounts to properly digest them. As a result, the food begins to create lactic acid which is the true cause of the burning sensation that is known as acid reflux or heartburn.
In addition, the excessive inappropriate use of H2-blocking antacids along with the introduction of proton pump inhibitors exacerbates low hydrochloric levels further progressing the acid reflux condition. This further inspires us to look for alternative treatments for acid reflux.
Should I Not Use Antacids?
The use of antacids, as you can see, is actually the complete opposite of what you need to create a long-term solution to your acid reflux. Instead of neutralizing your stomach acid (HCL), you need to increase its production. In order to do so, the body needs a reliable source of unheated real sea salt. This form of salt is entirely different than common table salt, which is highly heated, bleached and stripped of its minerals, therefore leaving it as a detriment to your health, rather than a benefit. Real sea salt contains the chloride fraction the body needs to make hydrochloric acid and unfortunately most people no longer include this valuable nutrient in their diet.
What About My Diet?
Sorry guys, but unfortunately we are also going to have to address the diet because simply increasing our stomach acid is not going to be a good enough if you keep eating stressful foods. It is vital to eliminate or significantly reduce the food sources that are causing the body’s hydrochloric acid production to be stressed. First and foremost, we need to eliminate or reduce meat, especially highly heated or processed meats. This includes items such as charbroiled steak, Slim Jims, hot dogs, fast food, sausages, chicken nuggets and spam.
Other offenders are fried foods (French fries, tempura, onion rings, fried shrimp or calamari), processed foods; chips, packaged cookies, crackers, pastries, and soda. Soda, diet or regular, is a highly acidic food that contains phosphoric acid that greatly contributes to acid reflux. Therefore, complete elimination is necessary for relief. Finally, dairy is also very aggravating to those who suffer from acid reflux, so switching to non-dairy alternatives such as coconut milk products is going to be the best plan.
Acid Reflux Natural Treatment Plan
1. Increase Hydrochloric Acid Production
I would suggest supplementing with 1 tsp of unheated sea salt in your water and/or on your food every day. This is a great natural way to increase natural HCL production. You can simply add 1/2 tsp to a large bottle of water twice a day or just add it to food. Another helpful tool is to add the salt to a glass of warm water. Then add the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 tbs. of apple cider vinegar. Drink first thing in the morning daily. This will help to increase HCL production naturally and prepare the stomach for digestion.
*If you are dealing with high blood pressure consult with your doctor and begin with small dose such as a pinch, and increase over time while monitoring.
If no relief if found with the introduction of sea salt after 1 month, it may indicate that your hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach are very deficient. The goal then would be to increase hydrochloric acids. Instead of starting right away with an HCL supplement, we are going to start by strengthening and healing the lining of the esophagus and stomach. We will do this with the steps below, and with the supplement, GastroVen. Gastroven contains enzymes and targeted herbs and foods that will ease the pain of acid reflux, and prepare the stomach for the introduction of HCL.
After 6 weeks to 2 months of taking Gastroven, it maybe advised to introduce an HCL. Start with 1 capsule per meal. You can then increase by 1 capsule per meal until you reach recommended dosage (this is usually 3 capsules per meal). Make sure to drink a glass of water with each dosage to prevent burning. I recommend using HCL by Premier Research Labs.
*If you have damage to your esophagus lining or are suffering from an ulcer do not take HCL. Stick with Gastroven.
2. Drink Pure Aloe Juice Daily
While we are working on increasing hydrochloric acid in the stomach, it is also necessary to begin the healing process of the lining of the stomach and esophagus. My favorite choice is pure aloe juice because it does not contain additives such as artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Take 2 oz three times a day on an empty stomach before meals. This will allow the aloe to do its job without any interference with the digestive process.
* You can take the aloe down in one shot, or add it to a glass of water or fresh juice.
3. Eliminate Stressful Foods
- Meat (especially highly heated and processed)
- Fried Food
- Soda and carbonated beverages
- Processed Foods
Try switching from coffee to fresh pressed juice and pure water instead. You can get started easily with my favorite Breville juicer, all you need is some fresh produce like apples, carrots, beets, kale, spinach and ginger. It’s great way to blend the aloe juice right in! If drinking juice in the morning is not appealing, try Matcha green tea instead. This is one of my favorite things to drink.
Focus on eating a plant-based diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and organic proteins such as eggs, wild salmon, Greek yogurt and bison.
4. Lifestyle Modifications
Quit Smoking. Smoking increases GERD symptoms by reducing 1) the ability of the LES to remain closed against increases in gastric pressure, and 2) the clearance of reflux from the esophagus (Kaltenbach 2006). The incidence of GERD increases with the duration of smoking. Based upon data from a large population study, long-term (> 20 years) daily smoking resulted in a 70% increase in the occurrence of reflux episodes compared to those who have smoked for less than one year (Nilsson 2004).
Lose weight. Increased body mass and abdominal adiposity increases pressure on the stomach and lower esophagus. This can stress the lower esophageal valve, hampering its ability to maintain a seal against gastric reflux.
Avoid eating close to bedtime. GERD patients have long been advised to avoid eating close to bedtime in order to give the stomach adequate time to empty before lying down.
Elevate the head of the bed while sleeping. Several studies have suggested that raising the head of the bed 8-11 inches, or sleeping on a “wedge”, can reduce the number and duration of reflux episodes (Kaltenbach 2006). This approach uses gravity to help keep stomach contents out of the esophagus.
Limit aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some evidence suggests that NSAID use is associated with GERD (Kotzan 2001).
5. Take Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone most often associated with the sleep cycle, but is found at levels hundreds of times higher in the gut than in the brain (Werbach 2008). Animal trials of melatonin for GERD symptoms have found it to be not only effective in preventing acid-induced esophageal damage, but also damage caused by digestive enzymes and bile (Konturek 2007). Another research study found that heartburn and gastric pain were decreased after four weeks of melatonin supplementation and completely resolved after eight weeks in all treatment groups (Kandil 2010).
Product Recommendation: 6 mg daily of Melatonin by Premier Research Labs
The Acid Reflux Plan
- 1 tsp of unheated sea salt daily
- 2 oz of Aloe Juice 3x/day on an empty stomach (you can slowly increase to 9 oz daily if you choose).
- Drink half your weight in ounces of purified water daily
- Take 3-6 capsules of Gastroven daily (dose depends on weight). After 6 weeks – 2 months it might be advised to introduce HCL. Aim for 1-3 HCL capsules with each meal daily. Check for your personal dosage at product site.
- 6 mg of melatonin before bedtime
Life Extension Organization