Most of us experience acid reflux at some point in time, but there is a related, more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Here’s some info on GERD, and the best supplements to help those who might be experiencing it.
GERD is a condition in which a person repeatedly experiences acid reflux (or the reflux of non-acidic content). While acid reflux is occasional for many people, it is a pattern in those with GERD. This can cause complications if it goes on untreated, including inflammation in the esophagus as well as the formation of scar tissue.
To understand GERD, you must understand why it occurs. Acid reflux is the direct result of leakage in the lower esophageal sphincter, usually from weakness or an inability to relax. Stomach acids flow in the opposite direction and cause irritation in the esophagus. This usually causes the mild-to-moderate sensations known as “heartburn” (which have nothing to do with the heart).
Your health circumstances can affect your risk of GERD. Health factors which coincide with GERD include obesity, pregnancy, the presence of a hiatal hernia, and scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder). Acid reflux itself is often predicated by the consumption of large portions and/or fatty foods, as well as the use of alcohol and tobacco.
Supplements for Those with GERD
Those who have GERD should pay attention to their nutrition. Aside from eating conscientiously, a person experiencing GERD should consider supplementing with herbs and nutrients to help alleviate the condition. Here are some top supplements for managing GERD:
Betaine hydrochloride, or simply betaine HCL, is a compound recommended for the regulation of stomach acid production. Some individuals with GERD experience acid reflux resulting from low stomach acid production, as this can impair digestion and the flow of food matter and stomach acid. Betaine HCL helps reverse this, increase stomach acid production where needed, and keep digestion moving and acid retained in the stomach as a result. This will mitigate acid reflux if it has caused low stomach acid.
B vitamins have been shown in some studies to reduce the inflammation and damage which can occur in the esophagus due to persistent bouts of acid reflux. Among these are folate, riboflavin, and B6. Studies have shown that supplementing with B vitamins can work just as effectively against heartburn as traditional over-the-counter medications.
Probiotics: Directly introducing healthy, probiotic bacteria to the stomach can improve digestive conditions, which could reduce acid reflux as a result. Taking a probiotic supplement daily can lead to the flourishing of good bacteria in the gut.
Licorice, or more specifically deglycyrrhizinated licorice a.k.a. “DGL”, is an herb which can support the formation of the mucous coating of the esophageal lining. This makes the esophagus healthier and resistant to the irritation caused by stomach acid. DGL is often combined with calcium in an oral supplement for this very purpose.
Melatonin is a hormone crucial for sleep. However, research in the last decade has pointed to melatonin’s role in protecting the esophagus. Like the licorice herb, melatonin supports a healthy esophageal lining, which reduces the potential damage from acid reflux. Supplementing with melatonin is a worthwhile consideration for mitigating acid reflux.
If you have GERD and experience chronic acid reflux, then having at least one of these supplements on hand can be helpful to your quality of life. It’s recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider these supplements before using any of them.