We sat down with di­ges­tive spe­cial­ist Ta­mara D. Tre­bil­cock, ND, Med­i­cal Direc­tor of In­te­gra­tive Health In­sti­tutes in Santa Mon­ica, Calif., to get her in­sights on holis­tic treat­ments for acid reflux, heart­burn, and re­lated is­sues

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY NI­COLE BRECHKA

Stop Acid Reflux Nat­u­rally Ad­vice from holis­tic di­ges­tive spe­cial­ist Ta­mara D. Tre­bil­cock, ND.

What are some of the more com­mon causes of acid reflux and/ or heart­burn?

The num­ber one cause that I see is stress. Chronic stress de­pletes the body’s sup­ply of cor­ti­sol, the stress hor­mone, which in turn re­duces the amount of stom­ach acid pro­duced. The gatekeeper be­tween your stom­ach and esoph­a­gus in the throat is called the LES. When stom­ach acid is nor­mal, the LES closes when food ar­rives, and noth­ing re­fluxes back into the throat. When stom­ach acid starts to get low, the LES re­mains open, and the lit­tle bit of acid in the stom­ach re­fluxes back up into the esoph­a­gus, caus­ing burn­ing, cough­ing, post nasal drip, pain, and nau­sea. Stom­ach acid also de­creases with age.

Overeat­ing, which can be due to habit, hor­mone im­bal­ance, brain chem­istry, mood, and stress, is an­other com­mon cause. If you don’t give your sys­tem enough time to di­gest the food that’s in your stom­ach, the LES re­mains open be­cause more food keeps com­ing in. This causes any acid in the stom­ach to reflux into the throat, be­cause it can’t me­chan­i­cally close due to food block­ing it.

What about ‘ hid­den’ causes— cer­tain foods or med­i­ca­tions that peo­ple might not as­so­ciate with acid reflux?

Reflux can be caused by any food in cases of stom­ach in­flam­ma­tion ( gas­tri­tis) or lack of stom­ach acid due to stress, by spe­cific foods in the case of food sen­si­tiv­i­ties, or by im­bal­ance, in­fec­tion, or over­growth of the ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria in the gut. Any med­i­ca­tion that re­duces stom­ach acid will pre­vent the lit­tle acid that is in your stom­ach from re­flux­ing ( and thus stop the symp­tom), but causes fur­ther maldiges­tion of foods in the stom­ach and can cas­cade down the di­ges­tive tract caus­ing fur­ther im­bal­ances. B and cal­cium also need acid to be ab­sorbed/ bro­ken off of pro­teins ( such as dairy).

How do you typ­i­cally treat these types of is­sues?

In natur­o­pathic medicine, we look to in­di­vid­u­al­ize treat­ment and to treat the cause. De­pend­ing on the in­di­vid­ual, I may test for poor pro­tein di­ges­tion. I may test stress hor­mones and food sen­si­tiv­i­ties. If overeat­ing is a con­cern, I test both hor­mones and the brain’s neu­ro­trans­mit­ters to de­ter­mine the cause.

If we find im­bal­ances in hor­mones or neu­ro­trans­mit­ters, I use diet, stress re­duc­tion tech­niques, herbs, med­i­cal- grade nu­tri­ents, and sleep strate­gies. If we find di­ges­tive con­cerns, we man­age food sen­si­tiv­i­ties; cor­rect im­bal­ances in ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria or in­fec­tion; sup­port healthy bile, pan­cre­atic en­zyme pro­duc­tion, and stom­ach acid; and use nu­tri­ents and herbs to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and heal di­ges­tive tis­sue.

What spe­cific herbs and/ or other reme­dies have you had the most suc­cess with for al­le­vi­at­ing acid reflux?

I use nu­tri­ents like deg­ly­cyrrhiz­inated licorice ( DGL) to help in­crease stom­ach mu­cus pro­duc­tion. Aloe, slip­pery elm, and marsh­mal­low also soothe and heal stom­ach tis­sue. Cer­tain adrenal ( stress) herbal for­mu­las, such as holy basil, rho­di­ola, and ash­wa­gandha may be needed, or we may need to ad­just the diet to avoid prob­lem foods and use nat­u­ral an­tibi­otics for an in­fec­tion or in­flam­ma­tion if these are also con­tribut­ing fac­tors. Di­ges­tive en­zymes are help­ful, af­ter the stom­ach lin­ing is healed. When used be­fore­hand, how­ever, they can in­crease heart­burn, only mak­ing the con­di­tion worse.

What is your sug­ges­tion for peo­ple who want to get off OTC or pre­scrip­tion acid block­ers?

Don’t try to do it on your own. It can be very frus­trat­ing if you’re only ad­dress­ing the symp­toms with­out un­der­stand­ing the causes— and there are usu­ally sev­eral. Sched­ule an ap­point­ment with a natur­o­pathic doc­tor or other in­te­grated health care prac­ti­tioner to guide you through the process.

Deg­ly­cyrrhiz­inated licorice ( DGL) can help in­crease stom­ach mu­cus and ease acid reflux.

And go very slowly. As you be­gin to re­duce acid block­ers, your stom­ach will start pro­duc­ing acid, and some­times your symp­toms will re­turn with a vengeance. It is es­sen­tial dur­ing this time to use stom­ach- sooth­ing herbs and nu­tri­ents, and to treat the cause of stom­ach acid im­bal­ance, as dis­cussed above.

What foods help/ harm acid reflux?

It re­ally de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual. For ex­am­ple, if the is­sue is too lit­tle stom­ach acid, acidic foods such as raw ap­ple cider vine­gar or lemon juice be­fore a meal can in­crease it enough to close the LES. How­ever, if you have been on acid block­ers for a long time, your stom­ach acid pro­duc­tion may be very limited, and these acidic foods will cause pain and make your con­di­tion worse.

In gen­eral, it’s a good idea to avoid acidic foods such as citrus, toma­toes and tomato sauce ( think pizza and pasta), spicy foods, al­co­hol ( also re­laxes the LES), high­pro­tein meals, vine­gars, and any known prob­lem foods or trig­gers. On the other hand, it’s good to in­crease your in­take of cooked veg­eta­bles, puréed soups, cooked fruits, aloe vera juice, licorice tea ( if you don’t have el­e­vated blood pres­sure or low testos­terone), and eas­ily di­gestible pro­teins such as lean ground meats. Also try to get 8 hours of sleep ev­ery night, and try other stress- re­duc­tion tech­niques on a daily ba­sis, in­clud­ing me­di­a­tion or yoga/ stretch­ing.

Learn more about Dr. Tre­bil­cock and in­te­gra­tive Health In­sti­tutes at in­te­gra­tivehi. com.

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