It is estimated that 40% of the adult population suffer from heartburn. Drugs are often prescribed for sufferers from recurring heartburn and these are not without side effects. In fact many of these drugs prevent nutrient uptake, may increase risk of dementia, and may make one more liable to allergies. For these reasons, many sufferers are looking for drug-free relief from heartburn.
Heartburn occurs when the contents of your stomach travel backwards into your oesophagus causing pain, inflammation and damage with recurring episodes. This condition is called GERD or just called reflux and the inflammation accompanying this is term “oesophagitis”. Whilst most people attribute this inflammation and discomfort to excess acid, this is not always the case. In fact, other enzymes found in the contents of the stomach such as pepsin and bile can also cause damage the oesophageal lining resulting in the symptoms of heartburn.
The problems of drugs & antacids
Most people will go out and buy antacids to curb heartburn symptoms and if it continues then they may visit their GP for stronger medication. The usual medications prescribed are the ones that suppress stomach acid production and these are not without problems which may include:
- nutrient deficiencies – low stomach acid production leads to less breakdown of food making one vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Additionally, stomach acid is required for optimal digestion of food. Less acid production can lead to stagnation of food causing bloating.
- increased risk of bone loss and fractures
- may be responsible for weight gain – it is estimated that three out of four people taking acid suppressing drugs for longer than a year end up gaining weight.
- They may make one more susceptible to food allergies. This is because a lack of stomach acid means protein cannot be broken down efficiently leading to greater probability of food allergies.
- Antacids only mask the symptoms and regular usage can lead to more serious problems such as GERD or Barretts Oesophagus. Additionally, antacids neutralise the stomach acid which is required for the breakdown of food.
To summarise, both acid reducing drugs and antacids neutralise stomach acid which is required for healthy digestion, to break down food efficiently in order to maximise nutrients available from food.
Tips to prevent heartburn
The main trigger for GERD is a full and distended stomach. The natural treatment for GERD is then not stop acid production but to prevent stomach distention and bloating. The tips below should help prevent heartburn.
- Chew your food thoroughly, eat smaller meals throughout the day making sure you never get full.
- Do not lie down after eating food. It takes roughly two hours for the contents of the stomach to empty and lying down will keep food longer in the stomach increasing the chances of heartburn.
- Rushing through your meals is not a good idea and can exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn.
- Take a digestive enzyme supplement if you are constantly bloated.
- A gluten-free diet may be useful if symptoms persist.
A new supplement offers real hope in curbing the symptoms of heartburn without disturbing the acid produced by the stomach. Most antacids neutralise stomach acid that has gone up into the oesophagus as well as neutralising the acid in the stomach. As you will have read above this is not the way because low amounts of stomach acid actually result in the symptoms of heartburn aside from causing a myriad of other concerns such as vitamin and mineral depletion, constipation, bloating and other digestive problems.
EsophaCool by Life Extension is a chewable antacid tablet which combines calcium, magnesium and deglycyrrhizinated licorice. Calcium carbonate helps to neutralise any acid in the oesophagus that causes the burning sensation without disrupting stomach acid production. GutGard® DGL licorice root, a patented form of licorice root, has been shown to reduce the symptoms of dyspepsia in over half the patients who used it. Upper abdominal pain, fullness, belching, bloating, nausea, vomiting, heartburn and regurgitation were all digestive symptoms used in the rating of the effectiveness of this specific licorice root extract. Licorice root was also shown to encourage the healing of the damaged tissues in the lining of the oesophagus. The magnesium used in EsophaCool helps to tone the muscles of the oesophagus ensuring the stomach contents do not come up the oesophagus and instead carry on downwards into the intestines.
Those who seek to reduce their reliance on acid reducing drugs or antacids should consider taking one or two chewable tablets of EsophaCool after meals and at bedtime.