5 natural remedies for GERD

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Gastro-esophageal reflux disease or "GERD" affects up to 1/3 of Americans. (KFSN)

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease or "GERD" affects up to 1/3 of Americans. It costs the U.S. $10 billion a year to treat, but some patients might not need surgery or drugs to relieve their heartburn. Now there are five all-natural remedies for GERD.

Today, Bev Kovatch can enjoy a slice of pizza with her grandson Stephen. A few months ago, she would have worried about acid reflux.

"The pain almost feels like you're having a heart attack," Kovatch explained.

Bev has GERD, a condition that happens when stomach contents leak back into the esophagus. Treatments include drugs and surgery but Scott Gabbard, MD, Staff Gastroenterologist of Cleveland Clinic says there are also natural remedies. The first is chewing gum.

"Chewing gum actually stimulates your saliva production and helps your esophagus to clear some of the acid," Dr. Gabbard explained.

Another GERD fighter: eat smaller meals. Studies show consuming 500-600 calories and between 15 and 20 grams of fat at a time decreases heartburn. Also, shedding excess weight can relieve symptoms.

Dr. Gabbard told ABC30, "Weight loss as little as 10 to 15 pounds has also been demonstrated to greatly improve symptoms of reflux."

Another remedy is to not eat three to four hours before bed, and if you experience symptoms at night, doctors are studying a new pillow to help. In a pilot trial, the GERD pillow reduced reflux by over 80 percent. It works by elevating the head and forcing patients to lie on their left sides.

"Sleeping on the left side decreases acid and stomach contents from coming up from the stomach into the esophagus," Dr. Gabbard said.

Bev used to have GERD symptoms four times a week at night, but now she says, "I have had acid reflux one night in the last six weeks that I've had the pillow!" A simple remedy that lets her sleep without reflux, so she can tackle all the day's adventures.

Certain foods and beverages such as fried or fatty foods may contribute to the development of GERD. Primary symptoms can include heartburn, regurgitation, nausea, and chest pain. Seek immediate emergency help for any chest pain or discomfort.

For more information, contact:

Caroline Auger
Cleveland Clinic Media Relations

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