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GERD or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease is a chronic condition of the digestive tract in which the digestive acids frequently flow back into the esophagus. It is caused by an abnormality with the relaxation or closing of the gastro esophageal valve. In, GERD, the affect lies on lower esophageal sphincter (LES); the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. If GERD cannot be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes, the patients may require medication or surgery to get relief.

Ayurvedic Description Of GERD :

According to Ayurveda, GERD is a result of aggravation of Pitta dosha. The consumption of Pitta aggravating and incompatible foods (Virudh aahar) vitiates all the doshas. The vitiated doshas then produce heating toxins that are expelled upwards into the food pipe causing heartburn and the results in GERD.

 

Signs & Symptoms

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  • Burning sensation in chest
  • Heartburn
  • Sour taste
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Bad breath and wearing away of teeth

Causes and Risk Factors

Obesity

Obese people are more at the risk of GERD; the excessive Kapha in the body vitiates Pitta and makes the condition more worrisome for overweight people.

Hiatus hernia

Some experts believe that the condition of hiatus hernia can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter. In the hiatus’s hernia, stomach contents may reflux more easily into the esophagus and thereby increases the risk of GERD.

Diet

Dietary and lifestyle choices also contribute to GERD. The foods and beverages, including excessive sweets, chocolates, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, cold drinks and coffee, may trigger reflux and lead to GERD.

Meal quantity

A large meal remains in the stomach for several hours, increasing the possibility that the stomach acids will seep into the esophagus and thereby increases the chances of GERD.

Smoking/Alcohol

Smoking increases the Pitta dosha in the body and leads to the condition of GERD. In Ayurveda, the alcohol is also described as an ‘Amal’ that aggravates the condition of GERD and heartburn.

Stress

Stress has a direct role in aggravating the condition of GERD; it also hampers the secretion of digestive juices and process of digestion.

Delayed stomach emptying

Delayed evacuation habits puts more pressure on the stomach, diaphragm and contributes in developing GERD.

Self Care Tips

  • Eat smaller meals and try to distribute the daily meal intake over three, four, or five smaller meals. This needs to be done under the guidance of a skilled physician who understands the science of food and nutrition.
  • Stress increases the production of stomach acid. Try to make your meals a pleasant, relaxing experience. Sit down, eat slowly, chew completely, and enjoy the meal.
  • Remain upright after eating. Maintain postures that reduce the risk for reflux for at least three hours after eating. Don’t lie down, bend over, or strain to lift heavy objects.
  • Have the evening meal at least three hours before going to bed. Avoid bedtime snacks.
  • Carrying excess of pounds increases pressure on the stomach. This can push acid into the esophagus. So, shed the extra weight, if needed.
  • Avoid tight belts, waistbands, and other clothing that puts pressure on the stomach.
  • Abstain from food or drink that stimulates the stomach to make more acid, decreases the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, or makes the stomach empty more slowly. Known offenders include high-fat foods, spicy dishes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, milk, carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate, and mints. The list is long, but you’re likely to see a substantial improvement if you cut out foods that cause symptoms.
  • Stop smoking as nicotine stimulates the production of stomach acid and impairs LES function.
  • Try to chew gum after having the meal as it can increase saliva production, soothing the esophagus and washing acid back down to the stomach.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any medications that might cause more problems. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDs; progestin-containing hormones; and certain antidepressants.
  • Give your stomach some time to be empty before exercising, try to wait for at least two hours after a meal before engaging in some vigorous physical activity.

The Ayurvedic treatment of GERD focuses on the removal of excessive Pitta in the body while normalizing the pH of gut, the treatment modalities include detoxification and use of medications that bring the wonderful results in managing, curing the GERD.

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