Heartburn and indigestion are common complaints caused by acid reflux. In severe cases sufferers call their doctors for a prescription that reduces stomach acid. However, there are consequences and side effects for taking prescription medication, and home remedies for acid reflux may be preferable for some who suffer from indigestion.

In this excerpt from the book Real Cause, Real Cure by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the author discuss the causes of acid reflux and heartburn and indigestion by extension and suggest home remedies for acid reflux.

Heartburn and Indigestion

The esophagus is the food tube that extends from the mouth to the stomach. At the bottom is a miniature door of muscle—the esophageal sphincter—that opens to let the most recently chewed-up mouthful into the stomach.

In heartburn, the food-dissolving hydrochloric acid of the stomach “refluxes” up through the esophageal sphincter, burning the vulnerable lining of the esophagus and throat. An estimated 60 million Americans have regular bouts of heartburn, which is also called acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). No wonder we spend nearly $13 billion a year on heartburn drugs to prevent and stop the pain.

Real Cure Regimen

The surprising feature of this regimen is that it works to increase stomach acid, not decrease it. Your body produces stomach acid for a reason: to start the process of digesting your food. (In fact, Mother Nature has gone to a lot of trouble to produce stomach acid in a way that doesn’t digest the stomach itself!)

Yes, turning off that stomach acid with PPIs can decrease the pain of heartburn. But it doesn’t treat the indigestion that is the cause of the heartburn. In other words, your real problem is not excess stomach acid; your real problem is poor digestion. And that’s the problem solved by this Real Cure Regimen.

Here’s what I recommend for most of my patients with heartburn and other forms of indigestion, such as stomachache, ulcers, and gastritis, a pre-ulcer inflammation of the stomach lining. (You can continue to take antacids while following this regimen, which will enable you to stop taking antacids after a month or two.)

•Take digestive enzymes. One of the primary causes of indigestion in the United States is the lack of enzymes in food, which have been removed during processing. Those enzymes are critical for optimal digestion. And that’s why taking a nutritional supplement containing plant-based digestive enzymes is a very effective way to counter indigestion. (Enzymes from animal sources don’t hold up well in the acid environment of the stomach.) Long-term use of digestive enzymes also can dramatically improve your health and well-being. I recommend the product CompleteGest from Nature’s Way. Take two capsules with each meal to help digest food properly.

Some people find that digestive enzymes irritate the stomach. If it causes irritation, don’t use it. Instead, use the DGL licorice and mastic gum remedies (discussed in a moment) until your stomach feels better (usually in a month or two), and then start taking the CompleteGest digestive enzymes.

While eating, sip warm liquid rather than cold. Cold drinks slow and stop digestion.

Drink warm liquids during meals to aid digestion. Tea is delightful, as is warm water with a squirt of lemon. Save those iced drinks for between meals.

Avoid coffee, colas, alcohol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as

ibuprofen and aspirin. All of them can hurt your stomach. Once your stomach has healed and indigestion and heartburn are a dim memory, you can use them again, in limited amounts. (You’ll know you’re using too much if indigestion and heartburn return.)

Take deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice. This herb is often powerfully effective in resolving the symptoms of heartburn and the underlying indigestion. In fact, research shows it’s as effective as cimetidine (Tagamet), but unlike Tagamet, it’s good for you. I recommend taking Stomach & Intestinal Relief from Terry Naturally. Use one capsule, twice daily, with lunch and dinner.

Caution: You must use the DGL form of licorice; other forms can cause high blood pressure.

Take mastic gum. This is the gum (resin) from an evergreen tree, and it’s a wonderful remedy for heartburn and indigestion. Take mastic gum in supplement form, one or two 500-milligram capsules, twice a day, for two months.

•Check for too little stomach acid. As I said earlier, it’s likely that too little stomach acid is a common cause of indigestion. Without enough acid, food doesn’t digest well, sloshing around in the stomach—and then refluxing into your esophagus, causing heartburn. To see if this is an issue for you, add two to three teaspoons of vinegar to a meal (as part of a salad dressing) and see if this helps your heartburn and indigestion. If it does, it means you’re probably producing too little acid, and you should make two tablespoons of a vinegar-containing salad dressing a regular feature of your lunch and dinner. Use any type of vinegar you like—apple cider, balsamic, rice, wine, you name it. (Bonus: studies show vinegar also helps control blood sugar levels.)

Treat for H. pylori. Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that can infect the stomach, a common cause of stomach upset and ulcers. Most doctors treat the infection with antacids like omeprazole (Prilosec) combined with two or three antibiotics—a lot of drugs!

Another, more natural approach if you’re diagnosed with an H. pylori infection: Use both DGL licorice and mastic gum until your indigestion has settled down, and then add the remedy limonene (an antibacterial essential oil derived from citrus). Limonene is a primary ingredient in the product Heartburn Rescue by Terry Naturally. Use one gel cap once or twice a day. As they kill the bacteria, these remedies may temporarily aggravate your heartburn symptoms. But by killing the infection, they should also slay your heartburn permanently! If you decide to use the drug-based regimen, I recommend adding 500 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams a day of vitamin C. Research shows it can increase the germ-killing power of the antibiotics.

•After one or two months, stop prescription PPIs. These drugs include rabeprazole (AcipHex), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), and pantoprazole (Protonix)—and using them long term is dangerous. But after you follow the Real Cure Regimen for heartburn and indigestion for one to two months, your heartburn and indigestion should be under control, with no further need for the long-term use of PPIs. At that point, ask your doctor if you can stop your prescription PPIs and switch to Tagamet (a safer drug, because it decreases stomach acid rather than totally turning it off) and/or stay on DGL licorice and mastic gum.

Once the PPIs have been stopped and you’re on only Tagamet and/or the DGL/mastic gum combination, gradually decrease the dose of those remedies, until you’re able to stop using them without your heartburn and indigestion returning. (Most people can stop the DGL/mastic gum after two months of use. However, you can use them as long as you want without risk.)

And if your symptoms recur, just use the DGL licorice again for a few days. If you need to, you can even repeat the DGL licorice/mastic gum regimen for a month. You can also add Heartburn Rescue if the H. pylori infection recurs.

Bottom line: You’ll have broken your addiction to antacids and allowed your stomach to produce the acid you need for proper digestion.

Don’t chew on plain calcium. Research shows that taking calcium supplements for osteoporosis (if the supplements do not also include vitamin D or magnesium) increases heart attack risk by 31 percent. Unfortunately, this is also the case with most calcium chewable antacids. The solution? Use a chewable antacid that contains plant-based digestive enzymes (such as Acid Soothe by Enzymedica) for quick and healthy relief.

For more ways to fix root causes of common health problems, purchase Real Cause, Real Cure from Bottomlineinc.com.

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