When it comes to prescription drugs, medicines that help to control stomach acid and the reflux of it back up into the esophagus account for the second highest dollar amount in revenues for pharmaceutical companies.
Try Yoga for heartburn and treat GERD naturally.
The problem with these disorders is a relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve at the junction of the esophagus (the tube between the mouth and the stomach) and the upper part of the stomach itself. When that sphincter is relaxed and open, it allows food and acid to go backwards. With the reverse flow of caustic materials, the esophagus is burned and damaged. Sometimes the partially digested food in its acid matrix refluxes all the way back up to the throat and then down into the lungs through the trachea, causing asthmatic symptoms and destruction of the lungs. Acid chronically irritating the esophagus and other tissues can lead to cancer.
When it comes to a Yoga diet, the gurus in the old texts advise us to eat moderately, not filling the stomach more than one half to one quarter full. Overeating, filling the stomach too full, puts a lot of back pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, forcing it open. That causes more reflux.
As the Gheranda Samhita suggests, try eating two moderately filling meals daily. Don’t eat all the time. Some GERD sufferers are told to eat six small meals a day rather than three big ones. This grazing strategy is thought to avoid the over-filling back pressure of simply eating until you’re too full, but it has its own problems. The lower esophageal sphincter normally opens up to five times within the hour after every food ingestion. If you’re eating all the time, a little something every hour or two, then the sphincter is never at its tonic resting state.
Many beverages, particularly caffeine, relax the lower esophageal sphincter. Juices can do it as can sodas and coffee. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika recommends drinking pure water. That makes a lot of sense.
Both the Gheranda Samhita and the Hatha Yoga Prakipika advise practitioners against eating spicy foods, another known trigger of lower esophageal sphincter opening.
Stress and anxiety worsen GERD and heartburn symptoms. In a 1994 study published in Gastroenterology, relaxation training reduced symptoms of reflux and acid exposure. Yoga has been shown in several studies to relieve stress and anxiety and it promotes and teaches relaxation techniques.
For vegetarians especially the use of natural means of reducing acid reflux is important. Aggressive, long-term suppression of stomach acid by pharmaceutical medicines can decrease the absorption of vitamin B12. Many vegetarians, particularly vegans who do not eat eggs and dairy, do not get enough vitamin B12 as it is.
Inhibition of the absorption of vitamin B12 is one side effect of prescription medications for GERD and heartburn that we know about, but for every side effect of which medical science is aware, there are likely eight or nine others insidiously working in some detrimental way. Now that vast numbers of people are taking these drugs chronically for many years, others will likely be discovered.
Avoid prescription medicines when you can. Treat naturally. Self heal with Yoga for acidity and heartburn.