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heartburn and acid reflux solutions

Natural Solutions to Acid Relux and Heartburn

digestion herbs

When it comes to finding a permanent solution to acid reflux and heartburn (Gastro-Intestinal Reflux Disorder, GERD, gastritis, etc.), natural solutions are the way to go. 

Acid-reducing medications (PPI - proton pump inhibitors) have a slew of side-effects, such as reduced absorption of calcium and iron, osteoporosis, and lowered immune function. 

Even worse than that, they make the underlying problem worse over time.  

The underlying problem for most cases of GERD is that the stomach is actually UNDER-PRODUCING acid, not over-producing. 

Basically, something isn't allowing the stomach to digest food properly.  When the food sits there, not being digested, it ferments until the acid finally shows up to do the job.  By then, it's not going down smoothly.  

It's not that there's too much acid (what the medication tries to address), but the acid isn't showing up in the right amount or at the right time.  

Some potential causes for the lack of proper digestion in the stomach include 

Food intolerances

If your body has a deficiency of enzymes necessary for the digestion of dairy (lactose), fats, carbohydrates, or proteins, when you eat them, or eat too much of them, or eat junk, the food will sit in your stomach and putrify.  This putrification is what leads to the sensation of burning, bloating, and discomfort.  

Enzymes are NOT the same as "probiotics." :) They're frequently misconstrued.  Probiotics are the little bugs that live (naturally) in your gut.  Enzymes are not living creatures, but rather a protein CATALYST that occurs naturally in your body or in foods that help you digest.  


Eating healthier for your body type is essential.  This includes figuring out which foods you are allergic, sensitive, or intolerant of and avoiding them

The avoidance is temporary (1-3 months) in cases of mild sensitivity, or it could be a lifetime of dilient avoidance.  It’s something you can experiment with.  Just take notes:  "how do I feel 15 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days after I eat (X)?"


When your body or mind are under stress from over-work, not enough sleep, or trauma, it doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that it takes a toll. 

Stress can lead to leaky gut disorder, histamine release (allergies), and redistribution of blood flow away from the digestive organs.  Studies show that chronic stress can lead to a reduction of stomach acid production which eventually leads to the putrification of food in the digestive tract, which is the precursor to GERD.  


A B6 supplement can help mitigate the negative effects of stress.  Keep in mind that a vitamin isn't the "solution" to the stress, just an assist.  Figuring out how to manage the stress is essential.  Acupuncture?  Meditation?  Counselfing?  Magnesium?  Exercise?

Find something that works for you, and take the B6 too.  


If your digestive tract is healthy, the ph in your stomach is very acidic, around 1.5.  (There goes the theory of “everything must be alkaline!”)  If your ph gets too alkaline, it’s easier to get an infection.  The acidity of the digestive tract helps to kill invaders.  If you do experience an upper GI infection, like H-Pylori or candida (thrush), acidifying the stomach is helpful to the healing process.  


In cases of infection, we recommend using raw garlic, which can be in tablet or capsule form, myrrh, andrographis, berberine, oregano oil, or arteminsinin. 

A 6-week protocol to readjust the microbiome is typical, but it may take longer.  Take the herbs for 10 days, followed by 10 days of digestive enzymesfiber, and probiotics, then repeat.  It's best to consult with a licensed herbalist before trying to self-prescribe.  Just because they're all-natural doesn't make them innocuous!  ;) 

Treatment for Acid Reflux

I like to recommend taking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with meals.  Mix it into some water and just chug it down.  There are ACV gummies now, too.  If you really can't stomach the flavor of real ACV, you can try those.  Although I think too much sugar (what the gummies are made out of) doesn't help.  

A stronger version of ACV is a tablet called Zypan by Standard Process.  It's a digestive enzyme that also has some hydrochloric acid in there.  It helps you digest anything.  Take 1 or 2 with meals.  OK for long-term use.  

Herbs such as licorice help tone the digestive tract and adrenal glands.  Chamomile helps relax the muscles, including the sphinter that connects the stomach to the small intestine.  Bitter herbs like gentian, feverfew, cinnamon, fenugreek, black cumin seed, and wormwood help with motility, and to reduce bloating.  Bitter herbs combine well with aromatic digestive herbs like ginger and Chen Pi (tangerine peel) to sooth the stomach, and promote Qi circulation in the digestive tract.   

If the GERD has progressed to the point of an ulcer, OR IF YOU’VE BEEN ON ACID-REDUCING MEDS FOR A LONG TIME, you need a gentle approach to start. 

Try using digestive enzymes, and including beets and cruciferous veggies in your diet for liver and gall bladder health.  Also helpful are chlorophyll to heal the GI lining, and pepsin taken on an empty stomach with a big glass of water a couple times per day.  This is also a 6-week protocol, on average.  

And of course, acupuncture can help regulate the Stomach Qi.  We call acid reflux or heartburn "Rebellious Stomach Qi."   The needles help settle it down. 

For the best long-term solution, combine acupuncture with supplements and dietary changes as necessary. 

99% of the time, in my experience, this condition is fix-able.  

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