Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), gastric reflux disease, acid reflux disease, or reflux (in babies and young children) is a chronic symptom of mucosal damage caused by stomach acid coming up from the stomach into the esophagus.

GERD is usually caused by changes in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, including abnormal relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which normally holds the top of the stomach closed, impaired expulsion of gastric reflux from the esophagus, or a hiatal hernia. These changes may be permanent or temporary.

What Factors Contribute to GERD?

Dietary and lifestyle choices may contribute to GERD. Certain foods and beverages, including chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, may trigger reflux and heartburn. Studies show that cigarette smoking relaxes the LES. Obesity and pregnancy can also play a role in GERD symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD and usually feels like a burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone and moving upward to the neck and throat. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth leaving an acid or bitter taste.

The burning, pressure, or pain of heartburn can last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over can also result in heartburn. Many people obtain relief by standing upright or by taking an antacid that clears acid out of the esophagus.

Heartburn pain is sometimes mistaken for the pain associated with heart disease or a heart attack, but there are differences. Exercise may aggravate pain resulting from heart disease, and rest may relieve the pain. Heartburn pain is less likely to be associated with physical activity. But you can’t tell the difference, so seek immediate medical help if you have any chest pain.

What Is the Treatment for GERD?

  • Lifestyle and dietary changes are recommended for most people needing treatment for GERD. Treatment aims at decreasing the amount of reflux or reducing damage to the lining of the esophagus from refluxed materials.

  • Avoiding foods and beverages that can weaken the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) is often recommended. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. Foods and beverages that can irritate a damaged esophageal lining, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, and pepper, should also be avoided if they cause symptoms.

  • Decreasing the size of portions at mealtime may also help control symptoms. Eating meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime may lessen reflux by allowing the acid in the stomach to decrease and the stomach to empty partially. 

  • In addition, being overweight often worsens symptoms. Many overweight people find relief when they lose weight.

  • Cigarette smoking weakens the LES. Stopping smoking is important to reduce GERD symptoms.

  • Elevating the head of the bed on 6-inch blocks or sleeping on a specially designed wedge reduces heartburn by allowing gravity to minimize reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Do not use pillows to prop yourself up; that only increases pressure on the stomach.

Home remedies for GERD/Heartburn:

  • Jeera or Cumin : Improves digestion, reduces gas production, treats acidity and heals ulcer.
  • Jeera water is a traditional and local herbal remedy to treat Pitha disorders like GERD. After boiling water add few cumin seeds to the water and take vessel out of stove, do not boil the water with seeds it will evaporate the essential volatile susbtances in the seeds.
  • Drink coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and cumin (Cuminum cyminum) tea, it is nice when your Acid reflux or heartburn is caused by the indigestion or overloading of the stomach in a late night party.
  • Cardomom : Cardomom helps to improve digestion, relieves stomach spasm, reduces burning sensation and cools down the body. Boiled water prepared with cardomom can be taken as a home remedy. Siddha medicines like Eladi chooranam, Eladi tablet are prepared from cardomom or elam and used in the treatment of GERD.
  • Tulsi or Basil aids digestion. wound healing and ant-ulcer. It helps to prevent acidity, relieves gas and produces more mucus. Tulsi leaves naturally cure acidity as these reduce the formation of gas and burning in the stomach.  Chew 5-6 basil leaves after meals to control acidity and heartburn.
  • For an instant relief from the high acid take tender coconut water. A dose of 100 to 500 ml should be taken twice/day. This is the best quick releiveing home remedy for the Heartburn alias Acid reflux.
  • Clove or Elavangam : Natural carminative, increases peristalsis, improves saliva production, aids digestion and provides immediate relief from acid reflux.Eating clove is recommended as an siddha/ayurveda remedy for heartburn.Chew a clove to lessen the discomfort caused.
  • Nellikai or Amla or Indian Gooseberry : Helps to treat Vatha, Pita and Kapha ailments. Rich in Vitamin C, reduces acidity, cools the body, heals ulcer.
  • Cold milk gives relief from burning of stomach. Cold milk also helps in balancing the pH of the stomach and give relief from gastric disturbances such as acidity and heartburn.
  • Coriander - The culinary herb and spice coriander is also an effective treatment for acidity. It is recommend taking 1 tbsp. coriander juice with 100ml butter milk to reduce acidity in the stomach.
  • Perunjeerakam or Sweet Cumin : Aids digestion, rich in volatile, contains flavanoids, palmitic acid etc. Coolant, protects stomach lining. Boiled water with perunjeerakam or chewing and eating after meals is good.
  • Pomegranate juice about 10 ml twice a day is a good ayurvedic treatment for heartburn. Pomegranate juice and pomegranate chutney also help balance the acid in the stomach. It tastes sour, but it is actually both astringent and bitter, which help balance Pitta.
  • Banana is a useful remedy for acidity. People suffering from acidity should eat one banana everyday to get rid of acidity and associated symptoms.
  • Pumpkin juice + sugar reduce gas and heartburn.
  • Water melon or cucumber (kheera) calm down the gravity of it.
  • Fresh aloe vera gel straight from the leaf is balancing. Avoid the store-bought juice, as citric acid is used as a preservative and it is too acidic if you suffer from acid indigestion.
  • Organic Rose Water or mint lassi is good to drink with a meal, as they are cooling and sweet to the taste. They will soothen the inner lining of your stomach.