Heartburn (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
Heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is well-treated using naturopathic medicine.
Heartburn is a common condition that if occurring occasionally it does not warrant concern, but if occurring frequently, is classified as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and can be serious.
Heartburn is the result of weakness the muscle at the end of your esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), sometimes caused by a hiatal hernia. When your LES is weakened, it allows stomach acid to “back up” into your esophagus.
Complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) include irritation and inflammation of your esophagus (esophagitis), narrowing of your esophagus (stricture) and an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Seek professional healthcare if you experience heartburn more than once weekly, have difficulty swallowing during heartburn episodes or have no improvement of symptoms using over-the-counter medications.
Seek emergency medical care if you have severe chest pain, especially when combined with difficulty breathing or jaw or arm pain.
Symptoms of Heartburn (GERD)
Possible symptoms of Heartburn (GERD) include:
- Burning pain felt in your chest, under your breastbone, after eating or at night
- Pain worsening with lying down or bending forward
Treatment of Heartburn (GERD) at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of heartburn (GERD) treatment are to reduce pain intensity of heartburn episodes, soothe and heal esophageal tissue, identify and address triggers of heartburn to prevent recurrence and manage associated health conditions and side effects of conventional heartburn medications.
Conventional treatment for heartburn (GERD) may include a variety of medications, including antacids, H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.
For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your heartburn symptoms.
Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:
- Identifying specific treatment goals
- Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
- Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
- Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment
At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating heartburn (GERD) may be to:
- Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., diet high in fatty, spicy or other heartburn aggravating foods, eating habits that aggravate heartburn, tobacco use, sedative or antidepressant use) or general health (e.g., pregnancy, obesity, asthma, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure) that may be contributing to your heartburn (GERD) symptoms
- Identifying and eliminating trigger foods using a supervised food elimination and challenge protocol or laboratory testing
- Protect, soothe and health the tissue of the esophagus using botanical (herbal) medicines and nutritional supplements
- Preventing or reducing frequency of future episodes by correcting hiatal hernia using Bowen Therapy or Suikodo™
Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:
- Nutritional counseling
- Nutritional supplements
- Metabolic detoxification protocols
- Botanical (herbal) medicines
- Bowen Therapy
- Exercise prescription
- Relaxation (meditation) training
- Lifestyle medicine and counseling
Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors are covered by most extended healthcare plans.
Heartburn [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Mar 23]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heartburn-gerd/DS00095.