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Acid Reflux or GERD

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Definition

Acid Reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is caused when the valve between the esophagus and stomach becomes weak. Normally, this valve opens to allow food in and then it shuts tightly. With GERD, the valve stays open, allowing stomach acids to flow back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and many other symptoms. It leads to a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates (backs up or refluxes) into the esophagus. If you have heartburn that occurs more than twice a week and/or does not get better with over-the-counter antacids, you may have GERD.

Causes

Consumption of Pitta (fire) aggravating foods and foods of incompatible nature (virudh aahar) vitiates all the doshas, predominantly Pitta Dosha. Vitiated doshas produce heating toxins that are expelled upwards into the food pipe causing heartburn. Increased intake of tea or coffee, or oily, spicy, or fried foods aggravates Pitta and leads to acidity. An aggressive nature and hyperactivity are also causal factors. Pitta is aggravated by late night work schedules, irregular eating patterns, and/or drinking alcoholic and carbonated beverages. Increased intake of painkillers and antibiotics also cause acidity and heartburn.

Symptoms

The major symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease are:

  • Heartburn, which is an uncomfortable rising, burning sensation behind the breastbone
  • Regurgitation of gastric acid or stomach contents into the mouth
  • Difficult and/or painful swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Some GERD sufferers experience pulmonary manifestations, such as asthma, coughing, wheezing and vocal cord inflammation, which causes hoarseness

Ayurvedic View

According to Ayurveda, Acid Reflux is a result of aggravation of Pitta Dosha. Pitta is an Ayurvedic humor that symbolizes heat or fire. It is hot, sharp, intense, acidic and pungent in nature and is located in the stomach. Aggravated pitta leads to increase of acidic content in stomach fluids. Actually, the reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents into the esophagus occurs in most normal individuals. In such patients, refluxed liquid contains acid more often due to aggravated pitta, which leads to acid reflux.

Diet and Lifestyle Advice

  • Avoid tea, coffee, and carbonated or alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid processed and fermented foods
  • Avoid using garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, and vinegar in cooking
  • Also avoid rich gravies, sour, salty, and spicy foods
  • Curd should be strictly avoided
  • Take meals in a relaxed atmosphere at regular intervals
  • Practice Yoga and Pranayama such as Vajrasana, Bhujangasana, Salabhasana, Bhastrika Pranayama, Shitali Pranayama and Shitkari Pranayama

Some Home Remedies

  • Mix together equal parts of powdered fennel, licorice root, basil leaves, and coriander seeds. Have ½ teaspoon of this mixture with ½ teaspoon of powdered rock candy (or unrefined sugar) 15 minutes before lunch and dinner.
  • Make a powdered mixture of equal parts of rock candy (or unrefined sugar), fennel, and green cardamom. Whenever you feel heartburn, mix 1 teaspoon of the mixture in a glass of cold milk and drink.
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