Natural Treatments for GERD

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Digestive Health, Q&As
Last Reviewed 02/23/2014

A few months ago, I went to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I felt a squeezing of my heart. The tests said my heart was fine, but that I had GERD. I now take Pepcid for it. Can you recommend a healthier treatment for GERD?

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is an excess of stomach acid that rises into the esophagus. You feel heartburn, a burning discomfort behind the breastbone. If this occurs more than once a week, you could have GERD.

Anybody with GERD should avoid what I call the four evils: tobacco smoke, aspirin, alcohol and caffeine. These substances have the potential to weaken the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach below. If the sphincter loosens, more acid can reflux upward causing the irritation and discomfort.

An addition, here are some treatments for GERD that have helped patients of mine. Try one or two for a week and see what works best for you.

Natural Treatments for GERD

  • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (extracted from licorice root) promotes repair and regrowth of the digestive tract lining, and is very soothing. Some patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, who also had GERD, told me that the licorice cleared up the reflux. How’s that for a side effect? Take it as a tincture under the tongue, a full dropperful three times throughout the day. Or you can also use chewable tablets. Take 250-500 mg once or twice a day after meals.

  • Glutamine is an amino acid that supports the immune system and also has GI tract reparative properties. One patient experienced relief from 1,000 mg of glutamine in ginger tea daily. I suggest 1–3 grams a day. Take as powder or capsule.

  • Slippery elm tea may also be beneficial, taken after meals or at night. This herb is very soothing for the digestive tract.

  • Kimchi, a cabbage-based Korean staple, was recently hailed by Health magazine as one of the five healthiest foods in the world (along with yogurt, olive oil, soy and lentils). Cabbage contains a substance known as vitamin U, which has anti-ulcer properties. Several patients have told me they “cured” their reflux problem by adding this dish to their diet. As a note of caution, while cabbage, along with other cruciferous vegetables, has a reputation for protection against gastritis and ulcers, don’t overdo it. These vegetables have the potential to cause gas, and the last thing somebody with GERD wants is bloating and more GI discomfort.

You can purchase all of these treatments for GERD at most health-food stores.

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