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What is GERD?

GERD and acid reflux are gastrointestinal disorders that affect millions worldwide, impacting their quality of life and health. Here we explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for GERD and acid reflux, while also considering naturopathic approaches for managing these conditions.

What is GERD and Acid Reflux?

GERD and acid reflux involve the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. While occasional acid reflux is common and usually harmless, frequent or chronic occurrences can lead to GERD, a more serious condition.

Causes of GERD and Acid Reflux

Several factors contribute to the development of GERD and acid reflux, including:

1. Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This condition can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing acid to reflux into the esophagus.

2. Weak Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES): When the LES relaxes or becomes weak, it may allow stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing acid reflux.

3. Dietary Factors: Certain foods and beverages can trigger or exacerbate acid reflux symptoms, such as spicy foods, citrus fruits, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.

4. Obesity: Excess weight, particularly around the abdomen, increases pressure on the stomach and can promote the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus.

5. Smoking: Smoking weakens the LES and contributes to inflammation in the esophagus, making individuals more susceptible to acid reflux and GERD.

Symptoms of GERD and acid reflux can vary and may include heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, hoarseness, sore throat, asthma, and chest pain.

Diagnosing GERD and acid reflux involves medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests, such as upper endoscopy, esophageal pH monitoring, and esophageal manometry.

Treatment options for GERD and acid reflux include lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery. Lifestyle changes include dietary modifications, weight loss, quitting smoking, and elevating the head of the bed. Medications often used are antacids, H2 receptor antagonists, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Naturopathic medicine offers alternative approaches for managing GERD and acid reflux.

These approaches aim to address the root causes of the condition and promote overall health and well-being. Some naturopathic treatments for GERD and acid reflux include:

1. Dietary Changes: Naturopathic practitioners often recommend dietary modifications to reduce inflammation and promote digestive health. This may include avoiding trigger foods, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Herbal Remedies: Certain herbs have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of GERD and acid reflux. For example, slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root may help soothe the lining of the esophagus and reduce inflammation.

3. Digestive Enzymes: Supplementing with digestive enzymes may support proper digestion and reduce the incidence of acid reflux. Enzymes such as amylase, lipase, and protease can help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, respectively.

4. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote gut health and may help alleviate symptoms of GERD and acid reflux by restoring balance to the microbiome. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains are commonly used for this purpose.

GERD and acid reflux are common gastrointestinal disorders that can significantly impact quality of life. While conventional treatments focus on symptom management, naturopathic approaches aim to address the underlying causes of the condition and promote overall health and well-being. By combining conventional and naturopathic therapies, individuals can effectively manage GERD and acid reflux and improve their quality of life. If you're considering naturopathic treatments for GERD, consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalised guidance and recommendations.

LPR reflux, or Laryngopharyngeal reflux, involves the retrograde flow of gastric contents into the upper aerodigestive tract, affecting the larynx and pharynx. It differs from GERD by its atypical symptoms like hoarseness, throat clearing, and globus sensation. Pathophysiologically, decreased lower esophageal sphincter tone, impaired esophageal clearance, and increased gastric acid secretion contribute to LPR. Additionally, laryngeal tissue sensitivity to acidic pH plays a role.

Studies emphasise the significance of pepsin, bile salts, and the role of non-acidic reflux in laryngeal inflammation, highlighting the multifactorial nature of LPR.

Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) prognosis varies but often includes chronic symptoms such as hoarseness, throat irritation, and cough. Complications may arise, including laryngeal ulcers, granulomas, and vocal fold nodules. Long-term, untreated LPR can lead to Barrett's esophagus and even esophageal cancer.

Diagnosis involves laryngoscopy, pH monitoring, and symptom assessment. Treatment focuses on lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and acid-suppressive therapy. Prognosis improves with early detection and adherence to management strategies. However, persistent symptoms may necessitate surgical intervention. Regular monitoring and follow-up are crucial.


Belafsky, P. C., Postma, G. N., Koufman, J. A. (2002). The validity and reliability of the reflux finding score (RFS). The Laryngoscope, 112(S92), 1–15. [PubMed]

Koufman, J. A., & Johnston, N. (2007). Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, 116(1), 49–58.

Vaezi, M. F., & Hicks, D. M. (2010). Laryngeal manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Current gastroenterology reports, 12(3), 190–196.

Johnston, N., & Bulmer, D. (2006). Pepsin in nonacidic refluxate can damage hypopharyngeal epithelial cells. The Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, 115(12), 934–942.

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