Acid reflux is a medical condition in which there is backflow, or reflux, of gastric juices (acids and enzymes) from the stomach to oesophagus. Too much reflux can cause the stomach acids to burn the oesophagus, which can result in serious complications.
The oesophageal sphincter lies at the junction of the stomach and the oesophagus; the lower oesophageal sphincter plays a most important role in the acid reflux condition. This sphincter allows food to enter the stomach and it prevents the reflux of acidic stomach contents back in to oesophagus. As a result of a malfunctioning of lower oesophageal sphincter, conditions like acid reflux develop.
The burning sensation in the chest produced by this condition is often known as heartburn. Triggers of heartburn symptoms include:
- Hiatal hernia
- Certain medications
- Heavy meals
- Spicy or fatty food
- Carbonated drinks
- Exercise just after meals
- Lying down just after meal
- Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
- Dyspepsia: upset stomach or indigestion
- Sleep disturbances
- Chronic cough
- Gastric infections, notably Helicobacter pylori
Diagnosis methods mainly include gastroscopy, to diagnose any damage. A breath test may be done to rule out Helicobacter pylori infections. At IMI we may assess gastric acidity by Electro-Acupuncture diagnostics, which is non invasive, as well as refer you to a specialist for the Helicobacter breath test.
The Orthodox Treatment
The medical treatment consists of two types of medications: antacid tablets that neutralise stomach acids, and H2 blockers or proton-pump inhibitors that decrease acid production in the stomach. If infection is established it will be treated with antibiotics.
The IMI Approach
The Naturopathic Approach. A naturopath will focus on identifying the root cause of the symptoms. Possible causes could be lactose intolerance or other food allergy, an acid-causing diet, excess spices, nervousness and anxiety, smoking, alcohol, or excess coffee and carbonated drinks. Sometimes we find the symptom is secondary to liver troubles.
After identifying and addressing the root cause, naturopaths can use a number of excellent herbal treatments and a specific form of zinc treatment that are very effective in normalizing an acidic stomach. Probiotics are also often useful and reduce the prevalence of Helicobacter. In addition, many naturopaths will also use homeopathic remedies for the condition.
The Homeopathic Approach. Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. Remedies are selected based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity. The aim of homeopathy is to not only treat the symptoms, but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. The only way complete health can be regained is by removing all the signs and symptoms from which the client is suffering.
Some important remedies are given below to treat acid reflux symptoms. For individualised remedy selection and treatment, however, the client should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person.
Arsenic album. Excellent remedy for acid reflux with the following symptoms: foul or sour taste, hot burning sensation in the oesophagus and pharynx, eructation of sour, acrid fluid; and nausea.
Argentum nit. For acid reflux with burning up to the throat that is caused by anxiety, such as exam stress.
China. For abdominal discomfort that is only relieved by belching; includes sour and bitter eructations or offensive flatus. Worsening symptoms at night and right after meals is an important keynote of this remedy. Another keynote of this remedy is food that does not digest but lies a long time in the stomach.
Natrum Phos. Indicated in cases with hyperacidity, sour smelling sweats, and an acid condition of stomach with nausea and vomiting of acrid fluid, sour eructations, vomiting of sour fluid like vinegar.
Pulsatilla. Dry mouth, a putrid taste in the morning, and a sensation as if food had lodged under the sternum are characteristic symptoms of this remedy. The tongue is coated with thick, rough, white fur and acidity and heartburn is well marked in this remedy. It is especially useful for dyspepsia arising from fatty foods, pork, pastries, or mixed diets.
Phosphorus. Remarkable medicine for the symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn and constant burning in the stomach, regurgitation of food, a craving for cold food that is vomited as soon as it becomes hot in the stomach.
Ipecac. Complaints with nausea or vomiting and excessive flatulence. It is suitable in pregnancy also.
Nux vomica. Symptoms of acid reflux with flatulence and much acidity but without nausea and vomiting. The tongue is coated with creamy fur and the stomach is generally out of order.
Ferrum met. A remarkable remedy for acid reflux in cases with vomiting of food only after eating and drinking.
Mag Mur. Often used for reflux of infants, especially if lactose intolerant.
Other Approaches. Other natural and alternative modes of treatment for acid reflux symptoms include acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. These therapies look to balance the blocked energy or chi circulating the body energy. Stress and emotionally-related acidity is especially helped this way. Acupuncture has a calming effect, partly by releasing endorphins, which calm and relieve pain.