Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid can push back up past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and irritate the chest and throat. It causes heartburn, but over time it can damage the esophagus, contribute to asthma, cause coughing, create dental problems, or it can lead to Barrett’s esophagus (increasing cancer risk). Weight, alcohol use, pregnancy, hiatal hernia, certain medications, and other factors can be involved in reflux. Traditional medical treatments focus on controlling the symptoms, and they include lifestyle/diet changes, medications, and surgery.1 Many people may not be aware that chiropractic therapy can help to resolve the reflux, instead of just treating the symptoms. “The nerves in the mid-back innervate your stomach and upper GI tract,” according to Dr. Cari Case, DC. “(If) those nerves are getting irritated/ compressed/ inflamed, the part of the body being innervated by those nerves may not function properly.” Chiropractors have long treated reflux, in infants through adults.2 “Research published in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health on May 9, 2009 documented the cases of 16 infants who were suffering with colic or acid reflux and got complete resolution of their symptoms with chiropractic care.” The researchers found a link between upper cervical injury, birth trauma, and colic/acid reflux.3 A British 2009 pilot questionnaire study of chiropractic patients who had “chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy and adjunctive soft tissue modalities” found that many patients benefitted from chiropractic care for their reflux.4
Drugs Are Not the Answer to Reflux
“Rates of esophageal cancer are increasing in industrialized nations at a rate faster than any other cancer.” The Standard American Diet (SAD), stress, and sedentary lifestyle contribute to reflux. It is not that we have too much stomach acid. In fact, digestion does not properly occur when medications block the stomach acid. A “quick fix” of a pill does not resolve the underlying reflux issues. “If the protein is not completely broken down and gets into the blood stream, your body can develop…both food allergies and autoimmune disease.”5 Often, these medications that are meant to neutralize the acid in the stomach end up causing diarrhea or constipation, especially with overuse. Antacids with both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide should counteract the negative effects to the gastrointestinal tract. These medications, and others that are similar to them, are still not necessarily the best answer. A doctor might also recommend surgery if medication is not working. The most recent type of acid reflux surgery involves placing a LINX device ring around the external lower end of the esophagus, which is meant to prevent stomach contents from coming back up the esophagus. The LINX should not be used by patients with allergies to certain metals, and MRI tests should not be performed on patients with the internal ring. Surgery is always considered a last resort because of its permanent effects, especially since there are more natural alternatives that can be explored first.6 Supplements, such as digestive enzymes and probiotics can also be helpful. Probiotics are found in supplements and naturally in dairy foods, such as yogurt. Probiotics aid in digestion because they have “good bacteria” that the stomach is meant to have but might somewhat lack. In addition to GERD, probiotics might also help to treat irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and prevent stomach ulcers and colds or flu. Unfortunately, probiotic supplements vary by manufacturer because they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Minor side effects could include mild gas and bloating, and a doctor should be consulted before taking probiotics if an underlying condition is present that could interact adversely with the probiotics. These situations are not very likely but should be kept in mind.7
Natural Treatments for GERD
Craig Roberts, DC, QME recommends that people do not lie down within 3 hours of eating, that they should avoid things that contribute to the LES relaxing (i.e., alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, fried foods), they need to rebuild the stomach/esophagus linings with herbs (i.e., licorice extract/DGL), and they should lose weight, reduce stress, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, consume “good bacteria”, and seek chiropractic care.8 Eating more frequently throughout the day in smaller portions, quitting smoking, lying down with the head raised four to six inches, avoidance of tight clothing, and weight loss in those who are overweight are other ways. If a nap during the daytime is needed, sleeping in a chair might help ease any symptoms because the daytime is when food is most commonly consumed. Food that triggers the effects of the condition should be avoided if possible.9 There are many ways the body can get into balance and alignment and heal itself from the inside out. Chiropractors can assist with this holistic and natural approach.
5, 8 http://www.docroberts.com/ar-35-heartburn-and-gastroesophageal-reflux-(gerd).aspx