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Heartburn Relief: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

At Nexus Naturopathic Medical Clinic, one of the most common digestive concerns we treat is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as heartburn. This disease involves the backward flow of stomach contents and acid into the esophagus (food pipe), which results in inflammation of the esophagus. Patients experiencing GERD often present with various symptoms, which may include the following:

  • Acid reflux

  • Burning sensation behind the chest

  • Sour taste in the mouth

  • Regurgitation of food into the mouth

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Nausea

  • Chronic cough

Often, these symptoms are also accompanied with digestive complaints of indigestion, bloating, and decreased appetite. Although symptoms may be consistent throughout the day, they worsen after meals and are aggravated in certain positions, such as lying on your back.

When it comes to treating GERD, there is more to just treating GERD short term. Prolonged exposure to acid reflux can result in inflammation of the esophagus, ulcers, changes to the cells lining the esophagus (Barrett esophagus), and in severe cases, even cancer. Furthermore, it can affect the absorption of nutrients, such as iron and B12. You may be wondering, what does GERD have anything to do with nutrient absorption?

Often, the drug of choice for treating GERD is proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs work by blocking acid production in the stomach, therefore providing short term relief. However, chronic use of PPIs for GERD results in low stomach acid levels. Stomach acid plays a significant role in our digestive system, because it is needed to break down food, protect the body against pathogens, and enhance absorption of nutrients. So, how do we provide GERD relief while preventing a reduction in stomach acid?

Well, GERD is not due to excessive stomach acid. Sufficient stomach acid signals the closing of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a valve between the food pipe and stomach. Failure to close that valve results in the reflux of stomach contents into the stomach.

Therefore, it is important to not only treat the root cause of GERD, but also prevent complications. Using naturopathic medicine, the goals of treatment include the following:

  • Soothe the digestive tract & provide symptomatic relief of GERD

  • Address & treat the root cause of GERD

  • Optimize digestion

  • Prevent Barrett’s esophagus & esophageal cancer

  • Introduce dietary & lifestyle modifications to maintain optimal health

  • Correct nutrient deficiencies

If you are experiencing these symptoms, Calgary Naturopath Dr. Dhaliwal can address and treat the root cause of your GERD through a combination of therapies, including lab testing, professional grade supplements, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications. To book an appointment, call 403-453-6261 or book online today.

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