Have you noticed a burning sensation in your esophagus or chest that often comes after eating difficult meals [READ: heavy, spicy, greasy foods]?
You may be experiencing GER.
Gastroesophageal reflux, or GER, is often referred to as heartburn, acid reflux, or even indigestion (STORY).
Typically, patients who have been experiencing symptoms like these:
- Nausea in the morning
- Fowl breath
- Epigastric pain – gnawing under the breastbone
- In children – regurgitation
might start with a visit to a primary allopathic doctor in hopes of alleviating day to day discomfort.
If symptoms become persistent, a Gastroenterologist might address more chronic issues. Absent of a long-term solution, often GI doctors prescribe temporary fixes like Protein Pump Inhibitors or Acid Blockers.
Because they are meant to be a stop gap, and not a long-term solution, often these recommendations from GI doctors could potentially cause compounding damage. It is not optimal for a patient to continue treatment using PPI or Acid Blockers for an extended period of time.
Several observational studies have linked the long-term use to uncommon but serious adverse health outcomes. Here are just a few of the potential side effects of long-term use of PPIs (Lazarus):
- hip fractures
- community acquired pneumonia
- Clostridium difficile infections.
- acute interstitial nephritis
- acute kidney injury
- chronic kidney disease
- vitamin B12 deficiency (Lam)
What if you’re treatment plan for GER has led you to this point? What do naturopathic doctors offer beyond what a Gastroenterologist would?
It’s good to know that in the short term, your allopathic doctor and Gastroenterologist are able to provide helpful treatment options. Beyond that, a naturopathic doctor is able to come alongside and offer long term options that might alleviate the need for PPI or Acid Blockers and keep your treatment plan healthy.
I work with adults and kids who may be experiencing symptoms of GER. Together we locate the CAUSE of your discomfort. Treating the cause is at least as important as addressing the symptoms.
The causes of GER can be multi-factorial, so it’s important to treat the individual, not just the illness or symptoms.
From a naturopathic perspective, here are six ways you can find relief naturally:
GOAL: Increase Motility
OPTION: Address lower esophageal motility and offer solutions to support healthy movement.
GOAL: Decrease Inflammation in the LES
OPTION: Inflammation in the LES prevents it from closing well, resulting in perpetual reflux. I will make recommendations about how to encourage the LES to close.
GOAL: Decrease Inflammation in the esophagus or stomach
OPTION: Suggest ways to decrease inflammation.
GOAL: Reduce/ eliminate H Pylori if present.
OPTION: Provide testing to determine if H Pylori is present and treatment options as an underlying condition for GER.
GOAL: Decrease dietary triggers
OPTION: Recommend dietary changes and the addition of supplementation as needed.
GOAL: Increase healthy lifestyle
OPTION: A traditional naturopathic approach would look at lifestyle choices and make suggestions for improvement to movement, nutrition, sleep, and stress management.
As a naturopathic physician with a specialty in gastroenterology, it is my goal to equip you with information so that you can make the most informed decisions about your health. In fact, at the heart of naturopathic medicine is the philosophy of doctor as teacher. My intention is to empower you to participate in your own healing process.
Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for your health care needs. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.
Lam, Jameson R et al. “Proton pump inhibitor and histamine 2 receptor antagonist use and vitamin B12 deficiency.” JAMA vol. 310,22 (2013): 2435-42. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280490
Lazarus, Benjamin et al. “Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.” JAMA internal medicine vol. 176,2 (2016): 238-46. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7193
Story, Colleen M. “Gerd vs. Ger: What’s the Difference?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 June 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/ger-or-gerd#differences.