Acidity or Acid Reflux occurs when the stomach’s digestive fluids flow backward into the food pipe or the esophagus, the tube which connects the stomach to the throat.
Stomach acids help digest the food we eat by breaking it down for easier absorption. They also protect the stomach against infection causing bacteria. Acidity occurs when stomach glands produce excessive acid, leading to heartburn, nausea, cramps, bloating, belching (burping) and a burning sensation in the abdomen.
Antacids – Relieving Symptoms but not Addressing the Cause
If you are habitual of popping an over-the-counter antacid every time you have acidity, gas pain or heart burn, it will help you to know how an antacid really works.
Antacids provide instant relief by altering the pH balance in your stomach and neutralizing the stomach acids for a while. This process does alleviate the symptoms however it alters the stomach’s normal gastric environment. This puts your body into a troubleshooting mode and it works harder to restore ‘normalcy’.
As a rebound effect, the stomach starts producing more acid once the effect of antacid is withdrawn.
It is like pressing our hand against a running tap. If we try to stop the running water just by pressing our hand against it, it starts pouring with renewed force once we remove our hand.
Excessive and prolonged use of antacids has been known to cause damage to the digestive system. Antacids also trigger vitamin and mineral deficiencies as they block the absorption of minerals.
Fighting Acidity and Indigestion Naturally
The next time acidity strikes, give the antacid a skip and try one of the following herbs for relief. These herbs have been globally recognized for their effect on digestive health and have been traditionally used in treating stomach related disorders.
- Ginger – Helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Chewing ginger before meals aids digestion.
- Liquorice (Mulethi) – Its root is known to moisten and heal the stomach and the gastric lining. Reduces inflammation caused by oxidative damage.
- Black Pepper – Aids secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, improving digestion and providing relief from gas and heartburn.
- Long Pepper (Pippali) – Well known for its vitalizing and digestive properties. Known to stimulate appetite and build disease resistance.
- Mint (Pudina) – Promotes digestion, soothes the stomach and relieves nausea.
- Bael fruit (Bilva) – Possesses digestive and carminative properties, used in treating constipation, diarrhea, dysentery and loss of appetite.
Alternative medicine focuses on eradicating the root cause of an ailment and strengthens the affected body system from within. However, one needs to bear in mind that herbal treatment of any ailment also requires a change in lifestyle. Oily and spicy food, alcohol, smoking, carbonated drinks, non vegetarian food and even stress can trigger acidity. When your body talks, listen to it. It is as important as the treatment itself !