There are so many natural options available for the majority of cases known as acid reflux, GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease ), heartburn, or whatever you want to call that it is appalling how these are indiscriminately handed out given their potential deleterious effects. There are certainly times when someone may need a Proton Pump Inhibitor (i.e. Prilosec) or H2 Antagonists (i.e. Ranitidine). However those cases are when there is concern about esophogeal cancer, throat cancer, ulcers etc. where the symptoms have become more severe or there is concern about it getting that severe.
During pregnancy almost 9 out of every 10 women have acid reflux symptoms and often they are prescribed these medication to treat the symptoms. However, many women find that acupuncture and/or abdominal massage offers outstanding results for eliminating acid reflux or at least reducing it to a tolerable level so that medications aren’t required. A study to be published next month out of Children’s Hospital in Boston determined that pregnant women who take acid medication increase their child’s risk of asthma by nearly 50% if the mother had no prior allergy history.
Why would reduced stomach acid cause an increase of asthma risk in your child? The stomach acid is there for a reason. It is there to denature (break down) proteins. If there isn’t enough stomach acid then larger protein molecules enter into the intestine which then enter into the bloodstream and cause the immune system to attack it. This can lead to food allergies, which can trigger an immune response. The immune system becomes hyperactive around certain proteins which leads to more allergies and also asthma.
For anyone with acid reflux problems it is important to address any food sensitivities or food triggers. Dietary changes are important and following the standard GERD diet. It can also be a ‘valve problem’ where the lower esophogeal sphincter doesn’t close properly. Here acupuncture can be very effective to help ‘reset’ the valve and reducing symptoms. The gentle abdominal massage that Joy offers to pregnant women in our clinic is very effective at reducing or eliminating acid reflux symptoms. The proposed mechanism may be resetting the valve, but it may also be that it creating more space in the abdomen, thereby reducing symptoms.
So if you are pregnant and like most women are having reflux symptoms consider these more natural solutions. Although they may take longer to work than a pharmaceutical drug you won’t have the unfortunate side effects of food allergies and asthma. In fact the side effects are quite pleasant as you’ll feel more relaxed, at ease and connected to your body and little one.
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist
Maynard, MA & Cambridge, MA