Natural Remedies & Treatments For Acid Reflux | Natural Remedy For GERD

Acid Reflux And Antacids Treatment:
Does It WORK At All?

Antacids are a group of prescription medications that are used to relieve heartburn symptoms. Antacids have been around for a long time and are perhaps the largest-selling drugs and most of us have used them at one time or another. Their use is so prevalent in treating acid reflux that there is a tendency to think of them as harmless. They work by neutralizing the stomach acids and their effect lasts for a couple of hours. An antacid combined with a foaming agent is believed to form a foam barrier on top of the stomach that prevents acid reflux from occurring.

The most popular ingredients of some antacids are calcium carbonate (Rolaids, Tums), aluminium hydroxide (Maalox, Mylanta), magnesium hydroxide (Philips Milk of Magnesia), and magnesium oxide, sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer); bismuth salts (Pepto-Bismol).

Antacids differ in how quickly they work and how long they provide relief. Those with magnesium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate dissolve rapidly and bring about relief faster. Those with calcium carbonate or aluminium dissolve slowly and provide relief only after about 30 minutes. An antacid taken after a meal provides a longer-lasting relief than one taken on an empty stomach.

Antacids are contraindicated in kidney and liver diseases, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Although antacids are widely used, they are medications with several negative consequences. All said and done, they just mask the symptoms of acid reflux and do nothing to fix the underlying problem.  In fact, they make the problem worse in the long run. They contain calcium, magnesium, or aluminium which in large doses can cause serious side-effects. Constipation, diarrhoea, altered calcium metabolism, a build up of magnesium and aluminium in the body, nausea, headaches, and dizziness in the initial stages when the body is adjusting to the medication are some common side effects. Also, there may be unusual bleeding or bruising, pounding chest pains, rash, difficulty in sleeping, mental changes, or extreme weakness on taking antacids.

Another side-effect of antacid overuse is the milk-alkali syndrome where excess calcium accumulates in the blood and which can lead to kidney failure. This is caused by drinking lots of milk while taking antacids over a long period of time or even consuming large amounts of antacids by themselves. When the level of acid in the stomach is reduced, food may not be digested properly, causing more digestive problems due to nutrients from the food not being absorbed by the body. The acid in the stomach also kills off pathogens that we ingest everyday. Low levels of stomach acid can lead to increased infections.

Excessive intake of sodium in the form of sodium carbonate in antacids may cause arterial hypertension, heart failure and many renal diseases. Calcium salts may also cause constipation. Osteoporosis (or calcification of bones causing brittleness) is another consequence of calcium intake in the form of antacids. Regular high doses of carbonates can also cause kidney stones.

To summarize, popping antacids for acid reflux is only a quick-fix solution and a potentially hazardous one. The aim of curing a disease is to eradicate its cause which is what holistic therapy aspires to do. Causative factors of acid reflux range from physiological, physical, to emotional. Bringing about a balance in these factors will result in elimination of the disease. This would involve dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, exercise, weight management, stress relief and other modalities. Thus, the whole body is involved and healed in the process. Holistic treatment is perfectly natural and works to restore the healthy body-balance in general, while curing the disease at its root, without causing any side-effects whatsoever.

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