Acid reflux is quite common, millions have it, though the severity of it may vary from person to person. Acid reflux is when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pains.
Other signs include burping, bloating, or nausea. Chronic or repeated cases of acid reflux are considered a disorder known as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease.) Acid reflux can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. So, let’s see what can be done about it naturally.
Does Low Acid Actually Cause Acid Reflux?
There are a lot of discrepancies surrounding the root cause of acid reflux. The consensus used to be that it was caused by having too much stomach acid. Hence, the standard treatment was to try to reduce the amount of stomach acid with antacids or PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) when that didn’t work. However, further research suggests that these treatments might actually make acid reflux worse.
In contrast to the theory that too much stomach acid causes acid reflux, alternative research suggests that a lack of stomach acid could actually be the root cause of acid reflux. Too little stomach acid compromises the digestive process, resulting in abnormal relaxation of the digestive tract and stomach contents flowing backward into the esophagus. This also causes a lack of acids and digestive enzymes.
If this theory is true, this means that the way we treat acid reflux currently causes it to get worse as antacids work by killing off digestive acids. We also know that antacids can cause bacterial overgrowth in the gut, SIBO, and worsening IBS symptoms because stomach acids are key in controlling bacteria.
Natural Treatments for Acid Reflux
To address acid reflux at its source, other factors must be considered, like the food you eat and how much of it. For example, we know that fried foods, citrus fruits, processed grains, and hydrogenated oils can all cause acid reflux. This is likely why many have also found that supplementing with enzymes and following a clean, whole-food diet helps reverse their acid reflux symptoms.
But of course, what we all want to know is how to use our herbal allies to assist in relieving acid reflux symptoms. Often, when I develop a minor case of acid reflux, I’ll just make a nice hot cup of tea out of chamomile, licorice, and maybe some slippery elm. But you can also use them to make a more potent acid reflux solution in the form of a vinegar tincture. Apple cider vinegar is great for balancing stomach acid and reducing acid reflux symptoms. It’s prebiotic, meaning it feeds good gut bacteria.
In addition to being an excellent treatment for acid reflux, apple cider vinegar can be used to draw out the therapeutic qualities of herbs in the way that alcohol does. However, in this instance, vinegar is a far better choice because alcohol tinctures can potentially exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux, while apple cider vinegar can help heal them.
Here are the reasons why I choose these herbs for this acid reflux remedy:
Ginger – Ginger has long been recognized for its ability to alleviate digestive disturbances and bloating. Recent studies also confirm that ginger may help reduce the occurrence of stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of acid reflux.
Chamomile – This versatile herb soothes the digestive tract just as it does the mind. It’s ability to reduce inflammation is a big reason it helps so much with acid reflux, but it can also help reduce the amount of acid flowing back into the esophagus, which also helps with reflux and heart burn.
Licorice – Licorice has been shown to have positive effects on symptoms of GERD and can help reduce gastric ulcers due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also demonstrates a remarkable ability to reduce symptoms of gastric and intestinal discomfort, surpassing the typical effects of antacids.
Slippery Elm – Slippery Elm contains mucilage substances that form a gel when added to the liquid in your body. It coats and soothes areas of the digestive tract that may have been harmed by excessive acid like the mouth, throat and stomach, while its high antioxidant content helps with inflammation.
Lemon Balm – This modest member of the mint family is an herb with soothing properties. It can help with gas and bloating because it’s both antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory. Many studies show this herb has dramatic effects on alleviating nausea, vomiting, cramps, stomach pain, and other symptoms associated with acid reflux disease or GERD.
When combined, these potent herbs are going to produce a highly potent acid reflux home remedy that you can use as soon as you notice a minor case of reflux coming on.
Anti-Acid Reflux Remedy
You will need:
- 1/3 cup lemon balm leaves
- 1/3 cup chamomile flowers
- 1 tbsp. of dried course ground ginger or 2 teaspoons of powder
- 1 tbsp. dried licorice root
- 1 tbsp. dried slippery elm bark
- 1 ½-1 ¾ cup raw apple cider vinegar
- a pint-sized jar
- a jar ring or rubber band
- a piece of cheese cloth to cover the jar
- a storage bottle to keep the tincture in when it’s done
Step 1. One by one, add the herbs to the jar, starting with the chamomile and lemon balm.
Step 2. Fill the jar up to about an inch from the rim with apple cider vinegar.
Step 3. Stir just a little bit.
Step 4. Put the cheesecloth over your jar and secure it with the rubber band or ring.
Step 5. To allow it to macerate, keep it in a cold, dark place for six to eight weeks. Be sure and shake it slightly every other day. After the tincture is finished, you can drain it through cheesecloth and store it in whichever bottle you like.
It will last in a cool dry place for six months, and up to a year in the fridge.
Because slippery elm is mucogenic, there will be some sludge at the bottom of this tincture. Before each dosage, you should probably shake the bottle to recombine.
Adults: Take one tablespoon with or without water.
Children over 2: Take ½ to 1 teaspoon with a little bit of water.