Healing & Preventing Acid Reflux & GERD

Healing & Preventing Acid Reflux & GERD

Acid reflux is the back flow of acid contents of the stomach into the esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in the esophagus and the chest area behind the breastbone. If left unchecked, acid reflux can progress into a more severe form of reflux called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is a condition that affects the esophagus and can involve acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, gas, nausea, shortness of breath, and an acidic or sour taste in the throat/mouth. This often occurs when stomach acid, which is used by the stomach to digest food particles, backs up and irritates the sensitive tissues of the esophagus.

The main symptom of GERD is heartburn which is the burning sensation and pain in the breastbone area caused by acid reflux. Most people suffer from heartburn at some point in their life, and many people suffer from it almost every day.

Causes / Contributing factors

    • Large meals and overeating

    • Incompetent cardiac sphincter (a valve which is there to prevent stomach acids from surging back up into the esophagus)

    • Age (though symptoms can strike anyone at any age, the risk increases with age)

    • Highly acidic diet - lack of alkaline foods

    • Trigger foods - this includes alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits, fats, and fatty or fried foods, tomatoes, acidic foods

    • Gallbladder problems

    • Inflammation

    • Stress

    • Allergies

    • Enzyme deficiencies

    • Stomach acid imbalances

    • Various medications

    • Overuse of Aspirin and Ibuprofen

    • Pregnancy

    • Use of birth control pills

    • Hiatal hernia

    • Obesity


The conventional treatment of acid reflux & GERD is the use of antacids and acid-blocking prescription drugs. Although these are often very effective at reducing and eliminating symptoms in the moment, they will not get to the root cause of the reflux. Long term use of these medications can come with side effects such as:

    • Increased risk of osteoporosis

    • Increased risk of heart arrhythmias

    • Intestinal infections

    • Bacterial pneumonia

    • mood and mental changes

    • Nutrient deficiencies

    • Gastrointestinal Cancers

Holistically Healing

Treating and healing acid reflux & GERD may or may not be a simple and quick fix, but it can be done. When dealing with acid reflux & GERD there has to be a major focus on a healing + alkaline diet with support from supplementation and lifestyle changes.


Include the following:

    • Raw fruits and vegetables (+fermented vegetables)

    • Plant-based diet

    • Alkaline foods

    • Smaller, more frequent meals

    • Chew food thoroughly before swallowing (should be a paste-like texture)

    • Eat slowly and relaxed

    • Drink a large glass of water at the first sign of heartburn

    • Fresh cabbage or celery juice in the morning

Avoid the following:

    • Highly acidic foods

    • Trigger foods (alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, citrus fruits, fats and fatty or fried foods, tomatoes, tomato sauce (pizza), acidic foods, cayenne pepper, and spicy foods)

    • Eating large meals

    • overeating & eating too fast / not chewing enough

    • Eating 3 hours before bedtime

    • Eating fruit together with proteins and carbs. Fruit is digested at a much faster rate than protein and carbs. When eaten together, the fruit breaks down first inside the stomach and stays there fermenting while it waits for the protein and/or carbs to be broken down in order to pass into the small intestine. This fermentation builds gases which can stimulate the opening of the esophageal sphincter, allowing gases and acidic contents to surge back upward.

    • Drinking water with meals

Supportive Herbs & Supplements

Avoid the following:

    • Peppermint in tea and tincture form - peppermint has the ability to relax the esophageal sphincter which can allow for acidic contents to enter the esophagus

Include the following:

    • Pancreatin + Bromelain - these are enzymes necessary for proper digestion taken with meals, 80 mg daily in divided doses (do not exceed 100 mg daily)

    • DGL - effective in healing heartburn and ulcers of the stomach and esophagus (*note that there are contraindications with licorice root) chew 1-2 tablets or use in powder form in a small splash of water before meals. *Note: this is not to be taken long-term.

    • Papaya tablets - effective at relieving symptoms of GERD use chewable tablets, with meals

    • Calcium Carbonate - works as an antacid - can be supplemented alongside & found with Vitamin D + Magnesium for best absorption. Adults are recommended 1000 mg per day and 1500 mg per day if over the age of 50.  

    • Aloe Vera juice - aids healing of the intestinal tract. Drink 8 oz of organic & 100% aloe vera per day when feeling irritation. Drink alone, over ice or add it to smoothies.   

    • Raw, organic honey/Manuka honey - can help to soothe the throat/esophagus. Take when feeling irritated, 1-2 tsp per day, and follow with water.  

    • Fennel, Ginger, Marshmallow Root, and Papaya - aid in proper digestion and act as buffers to stop heartburn. Marshmallow root can be taken as teas 2-3 per day as needed for soothing/preventing inflammation and irritation. Fennel (the whole plant) can be used in cooking and many recipes like soups. Papaya can be eaten raw as a snack, added into smoothies or made into papaya juice that helps relief/prevent irritations.  

    • Chamomile tea - relieves esophageal irritation. A simple, organic chamomile tea taken 1-2 per day can help relieve immediate irritation and to soothe & prevent irritations. Drinking before bed provides an overall calming effect on the body.

Supportive Lifestyle

Include the following:

    • When experiencing symptoms, sleep with head elevated (try raising the bed) - this will help prevent acidic contents from entering back into the esophagus

    • Lay on the left side when experiencing symptoms - this can relieve heartburn symptoms as contents enter to the left of the esophagus into the stomach

    • Include stress management techniques - such as meditation, walking, journaling, and deep breathing

    • Maintain low impact exercises - such as walking, biking, aerobics and yoga

Avoid the following:

    • Running and weightlifting when experiencing symptoms - these exercises place pressure on the stomach

    • Avoid exercising within 2-3 hours after eating - this can disrupt digestion and cause reflux

    • Manage stress - stress can be a trigger for symptoms and can aggravate existing symptoms