If you suffer from frequent heartburn - twice a week or more - you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, a bitter taste, and respiratory problems, including aggravating asthma. Diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.
If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as angina, which has similar symptoms. Discuss any medications you are taking: some can trigger reflux. If you want to treat GERD naturally, try the following:
- Keep a food and beverage journal. It can help you track and avoid triggers.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction and help reduce GERD.
- Avoiding lying down after eating.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
- Sip chamomile tea. It can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
- Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus.
- Experiment with DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), a supplement proven to be effective against GERD.