Acid Reflux - Symptoms, Treatment, Homeopathic Remedies
Using Homeopathy for Acid Reflux & Heartburn
Acid reflux disease, also called gastroesophegal reflux disease (GERD, a common abbreviation), afflicts a wide swath of the population; an accurate counting might be in the tens of millions. Reliable statistics are hard to come by, partly because of the confusion as to what qualifies as GERD versus garden-variety heartburn. Indeed, GERD is a much more serious problem than occasional or even recurring heartburn. The fact that heartburn is a very common symptom of GERD - though not in all cases (there's a syndrome called "silent acid reflux"), and not usually without other symptoms - partially masks the severity of the disease, which can be a lifelong bane if not treated effectively. And because GERD often subjects the esophagus to prolonged assault, it can set the stage for yet more serious esophageal damage, including cancer.
The problem is caused by a failure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to function properly. Normally a one-way valve that allows food to proceed into the stomach's interior, with GERD the LES spontaneously opens or forms too loose a seal, allowing digestive acid (hydrochloric) to flow back up into the esophagus. The most common immediate symptom of this is chronic heartburn, a burning-type pain behind the sternum and in the mid-abdomen. Other indications can include trouble swallowing, dry cough, or asthma-like symptoms. Children with GERD usually don't have any heartburn.
Conventional Treatment Treats the Symptoms Not the Cause
Many of the conventional treatments (including lifestyle modifications), holistic remedies, and homeopathic treatments described in the article about heartburn apply to GERD as well. Some trial-and-error might be necessary to find effective solutions. Beyond mere antacids, however, other types of medication are often prescribed for GERD. One category is called histamine receptor blockers (or antagonists), or H2 blockers, which decrease the amount of acid the stomach produces. These medications, which are also prescribed for stomach ulcers, include the very widely used Tagamet (cimetidine) and Zantac (ranitidine), as well as Pepcid and Axid. H2 blockers work more slowly than antacids, but their effect is longer-lasting, up to 12 hours (whereas antacids provide relief for just a couple of hours). Because they can affect how other medicines work, it is crucial to consult carefully with a physician when contemplating their use.
Another group of medications that suppress the release of digestive acid are called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and include omeprazole (Prilosec) and other chemicals. These are generally recommended when lifestyles shifts, antacids, and H2 blockers have proven inadequate to ease severe heartburn symptoms. They generally take 5 or more days to provide substantial relief.
Yet another category of medicine is called promotility agents, where serve to accelerate digestion so acid does not stay in the stomach too long. These are sometimes prescribed to ease GERD symptoms if the other types of medication fail to work.
Surgical options include fundoplcation and the Stretta Procedure. Conducted laparoscopically, fundoplication builds a new valve-like structure by wrapping part of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus. The Stretta Procedure applies radio frequency energy to the LES and thus improves its functioning.
Homeopathy Matches Your Individual Symptoms to a Homeopathic Remedy So You Feel Better Right Away
Natural remedies for GERD include using aromatic herbs such as catnip and fennel, and "bitters," a class of herbs including gentian root, wormwood, and goldenseal.
When treating GERD, a trained homeopath will take into consideration all aspects of the disease (when, where, and how the pain manifests, for example) as well as far-ranging health and dispositional factors such as what foods the patient craves.
Among the many homeopathic remedies that have proven effective in treating GERD are Natrum phosphoricum (after which treatment with Arnica is indicated to help heal the esophagus), Sulphur, Natrum Sulph, Arsenicum album, Natrum carbonicum, Nux vomica, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla, Carbo vegetabilis, Bryonia, Colocynthis, and Phosphorus.