Latest updates or statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services suggest that more than seven million people suffer from severe acid reflux in the U.S.
U.S.alone. It is estimated that over fifteen million Americans suffer from chronic heartburn, as well.
The incidence of acid reflux is greater in people over the age of forty, but it can affect anyone, even infants. Acid reflux affects people of every age, socioeconomic class and race.
Simply put, acid reflux occurs when stomach acid splashes up through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the esophagus and throat. This reflux of acid can be the result of many things including diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, hiatal hernia, stress and even pregnancy. When this refluxed acid hits the tender lining of the esophagus, it causes a painful burning sensation in the chest and, or throat. Other symptoms include difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), hoarseness, asthma and dental erosion.
If left untreated, this condition can evolve into more severe and life threatening diseases like Barrett’s Esophagus, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer. In an attempt to avoid the more serious consequences of acid reflux, people are resorting more and more to pharmaceutical drugs.
There are three classifications of drugs which treat and acid reflux. The first of these are antacids, which neutralize the acid in your stomach and are at best only a temporary fix. They are loaded with harmful ingredients such as sodium and aluminum. The next group of drugs is called H2 Blockers. They reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces and provide longer lasting relief than antacids. Finally there are the PPI drugs (proton pump inhibitors), which shut off the proton pumps in the stomach that manufacture hydrochloric acid.
PPI drugs should only be used for eight weeks, at most. It says so right on the package. Doctors certainly know this but allow if not encourage most patients to continue taking these drugs on a permanent basis.
PPI drugs actually shut down the pumps that produce the stomach acid necessary to digest and assimilate food. This is an essential function of our physical anatomy. Another point of concern is that stomach acid keeps very dangerous bacteria, which live in the stomach and intestines, in check.
There are, unfortunately, no studies that can determine the long term effects of these drugs. We do, however, know what the potential harmful side effects are and there are hundreds of them. They include: allergic reaction, back and chest pain, fatigue, fever, flu-like disorder, hypertension, constipation, GI hemorrhage, vomiting, tinnitus, anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency, weight gain, arthritis, fibromyalgia syndrome, anorexia, depression, dizziness, impotence, insomnia, migraine, visual field defect, menstrual disorder, asthma aggravated, pharyngitis, acne, taste loss, fungal infection and Barrett’s esophagus – just to mention a few!
The medical community would have us believe that drugs are the only answer to the problem of acid reflux. Doctors are not taught nutrition or natural healing techniques in med school. As a result they depend on prescription drugs to treat the symptoms of acid reflux disease. They unfortunately know nothing about how to cure the condition itself.
PPI drugs are very big business. Annual global sales for PPI drugs alone reached well over six billion dollars in 2002. One can only guess what those statistics are today. One can only imagine the extent of the damage these drugs are causing people all over the world.
I am happy to say that we are not limited to pharmaceuticals in order to rid ourselves of the acid reflux condition. There are many alternative techniques and procedures which can be employed to accomplish that end. As a veteran of the acid reflux drug battle, I am living proof that one can heal themselves of acid reflux by using what I call natural medicine.
When I found out that my doctor had exhausted all possibilities of helping me, outside of the PPI drug regime, I knew that I was on my on. I had to heal myself. To my surprise, through research and study, I found that curing acid reflux disease is really quite simple.
With a few modest changes in lifestyle and with the help of several natural remedies, one can absolutely win the battle against acid reflux without the use of drugs.
There are many natural ingredients found in any health store, which can help during the acid reflux recovery period. Herbs, such as marshmallow, slippery elm and bladderwrack have wonderful healing properties. Aloe vera, licorice and natural honey can sooth the esophagus and assist in the healing process. Chewing gum between meals actually neutralizes stomach acid.
There are many simple things which contribute to the acid reflux condition which most people overlook; insufficient water consumption is one of them. Eating too rapidly and chewing food improperly is another.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals is helpful. Substituting Kukicha Twig tea for coffee makes the body more alkaline. Have fruit, like bananas and melons instead of cereal for breakfast. Snacks of walnuts, almonds and more fruit will keep you going throughout the day. At dinner eat lightly and at least two hours before retiring. You certainly don’t have to starve yourself, but try to stay away from those acid reflux “trigger” foods.
It does take a new approach to life, in general, to heal a stubborn acid reflux condition. Think of it as an exciting challenge. You will feel so much better and your health will improve. It will have been worth the effort.
In a society where convenience sometimes takes precedence over common sense, pills have taken the place of ancient healing techniques and natural therapies. Drugs taken on a regular basis can be more dangerous than the illness itself.