The 10-Minute Gentle Yoga Routine That Can Help You Lose Weight

It is all about choices that what kind of yoga you opt. Then there are a school of thoughts that believe yoga needs a long period of time and in a busy schedule it is almost impossible to add a yoga session but it is possible to choose from variety of options as in yoga, only basic poses are more than 80. Hence, you can start your yoga as soon as you get inspired and this article can be an apt start for your yoga journey today since we are going to discuss a 10 minute yoga session that you can easily squeeze in your tough hectic routine. Let’s start!

There are several postures to select but these 4 poses can not only be a great start for a beginner as well it can be good for those who want to make it as short as possible!

Lion Pose:
Lion pose that is also called Simhasana must be done in early morning. However, if you cannot manage it in the early morning, you may practice it in evening too with only one condition that there should be a break of 5-6 hours at least between your practice session and your meal since it is requisite that your stomach should be empty when you practice any posture.

Things to remember:

Difficulty level is basic, style is hatha yoga, repetition: one leg at a time, Strengthens your throat, voice and lungs and the duration of this pose is around 30 seconds

Directions:

Sit down and then kneel down on the yoga mat. Cross your ankles in a manner that the front of left ankle crosses over the back of the right ankle. The feet must be pointing out on both the sides. The perineum is supposed to press downward on the top of the heels.
Keep your palm on your knees. Spread your palm and fingers too. Plus, give a pressure through them firmly against each knee.
Keep your eyes wide open, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while doing this, make a sound ‘ha’, with open mouth and stretch out your tongue. Make it sure that the breath passes over the back of the throat.
You have two options either you can look at the tip of your nose or keep your stare between the eye brows.
A few time “Roar”, do the same process with your other leg and repeat the posture.
Downward facing Dog Pose:
Adho Mukha Svanasana also known as “downward facing dog pose” is great for shoulder, claves, hands, back, arches, foot & hamstrings stretches and it strengthens your back, arms & legs

Things to remember

The style is Ashtanga Yoga, it takes up to 1-3 minutes and there is no need to repeat this asana in one session.

Directions:

Your body should form a table like structure, means stand on four limbs.
Make it sure, your body make a shape of inverted “V”, gently lift your hips and make your knees & elbows straight while you exhale.
Your hands and shoulders ought to be in same line, and your feet must be in line with your hips & please ensure that your toes are pointing outwards.
Press hands on the yoga mat & lengthen your neck while your ears should be touching your inner arms, and you shall turn gaze to the navel area.
Be in this pose for a few seconds, then go in bending knee position and repeat the table position.
Note: If you have any of these situations (Carpal tunnel syndrome, High blood pressure, a detached retina, A dislocated shoulder, Diarrhea, weak eye capillaries or Pregnancy), it is advisable to talk to your health expert first then try this posture.

Ardha Bhekasana (half frog pose):
It is a great pose for Quads, flexors, chest, abs, groin, ankles and hips, it takes up to 1 minute then switch the sides and repeat at least for 3 times.

Directions:

Lie down on the mat in face down position. Extend your legs, press your forearms and palms in to the mat and simultaneously lift your torso & head. Place your elbows under your shoulder. Keep your forearms parallel to each other. Spread your fingers in such a fashion that they must be pointing away from your body. Ensure, that your legs and pelvis are pinning to the ground you lift.
Do not move your elbow, cross your left arm in the front in the direction of right arm at around 45 degree angle. Bend your right knee and move the right heel toward your hips. Take your right hand on the back to hold it around the inside of the right foot.
Start rotating your elbow upward, to make this pose happen, take the palm of your right hand and rotate it to the right, farther from your body, till your fingers are pointing forward & you are able to grab your fingers over your toes. Bring your right foot closer to the hips. Remember, your elbow should be facing toward the ceiling. Press down on the top of your foot.
Note:

Take deep breath between each step.
Do not perform it if you have knee, back, shoulder or any neck injury.
Please do not do this position if you have insomnia or migraine issue.
Eagle Pose:
Garudasana or Eagle Pose is a perfect option for strong arms, legs, knees, ankles, open shoulder joints, making space between the shoulder blades. Enhance the circulation to all joints, improved balance and focus. The time is 3-4 minutes

Directions:

Stand in Tadasana, bend your knees and lift your left foot, so you can cross it over your right foot.
Keep your right foot on the yoga mat firmly, the left thigh is over the right thigh and your left foot toes ought to be pointing downward.
Cross the right arm over the left arm & bend elbows to keep them in perpendicular to the floor and make it sure those back of your hands are facing each other.
Press the palms together and stretch the fingers on the upside direction.
Keep your gaze at one place; be in this posture for a duration in which you take a couple of breaths.
Release your hands in slow motion and bring them to the side of your body.
Lift your left leg & put it back on the yoga mat and come back in Tadasana in slow manner.
Note: Do not try this asana if you are suffering from ankle, shoulder or knee pain and speak to your doctor if you are pregnant.

These poses are tried and tested. Additionally, they are great start for anyone who is looking for short yet effective method to lose weight.

Dietary Dos and Don’ts for Managing Allergies

What you’ll learn are natural allergy treatments and remedies, which can help end your symptoms for good. For instance, you can learn about SLIT, which is a treatment that you can use to slowly get rid of your allergic reactions forever.

It’s also recommended that you change your diet. There are certain foods you want to include and exclude to help improve your allergy symptoms. So once you have had allergy testing performed by a naturopathic family care doctor, you can start working on a plan to tweak your eating habits.

Let’s review some of the dietary dos and don’ts for folks battling allergies.

Dietary Don’ts

Studies show that there are certain proteins found in foods that cause similar symptoms as environmental allergens. For instance, those who are allergic to ragweed sometimes have allergic reactions to foods like tomatoes, bananas, melons, sunflower seeds, chamomile, zucchini and chamomile. Then those who are allergic to grass may also have reactions from celery, melons, peaches, oranges and tomatoes. One way to find this out is to have allergy testing performed.

Dietary Dos

Aside from avoiding certain types of foods, you should also try implementing more of the “good stuff.” These include foods that are known to help ease allergy symptoms, such as the following:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: You can get a lot of this from eating grass fed eggs and meat, and krill oil. Fish is another great source of omega-3s as well.
Vitamin D: This has shown to reduce asthma symptoms and reactions to mold. You can get plenty of vitamin D from the sun and eating foods like mushrooms.
Probiotics: Taking this throughout allergy season can help reduce symptoms, since it increases antibodies that help fight against allergy reactions.
Hot Peppers: This includes hot chili peppers, hot mustards and horseradish, which act as decongestants. It’s a great alternative to nasal spray.
If you’d like to learn more about improving your diet and allergy symptoms, then schedule an appointment with a naturopathic family care physician today.

Headaches, Hives & Heartburn? Histamine Could Be the Cause

Dealing with symptoms like heartburn, headaches and hives is no walk in the park. This is especially true if you have no idea of how to stop them. Most people, and even some conventional doctors, don’t know how to prevent or stop these type of symptoms because they don’t understand the cause. Anytime you’re trying to treat a problem, you must first find the root. This is exactly what we do in naturopathic family care.

One of the most overlooked health concerns in America is allergies. It’s chocked up as being an uncontrollable illness that can’t be stopped, only remedied with medications. Stats show about one percent of the population exhibits symptoms when faced with histamine overload. The symptoms normally include migraines fast heart rate, constipation, low blood pressure and diarrhea. The issue is that these symptoms can be related to a host of other underlying conditions, so it’s difficult to pinpoint histamine as a culprit.

Histamine Intolerance is a Real Disorder

Another way to look at allergies is as a histamine intolerance. This is a disorder that can cause the above symptoms, but are hardly ever linked to histamine. If you were to take allergy testing during these times, it would reveal it. At this point, you can ask a naturopathic family care doctor for natural allergy treatment, such as SLIT. This is a non-invasive treatment that can ease and reverse your allergy symptoms over time.

A Closer Look at Histamine

We hear the word histamine (or anti-histamine) all the time, but what is it really? Histamine is a part of a group that consists of small molecule neurotransmitter substance, like adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. It’s always circulating throughout your body delivering messages to your brain. It passes between neurons and your nervous system. It can help regulate things like sleep, proper gut function and even sexual response.

When your body is exposed to allergens, it triggers an immune response (an influx in white blood cells), which releases histamines and causes inflammation (such as swollen eyes and skin rashes). Histamines can also be produced when you eat certain foods that contain histamine, as well as by gut bacteria.

An Overview: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Allergic reactions can range from an irritating itch to a fatal outcome. But knowing how to handle such an emergency can make the vital – sometimes, the life-and-death – difference.

One peaceful Sunday afternoon you’re dozing comfortably in a deck-chair when a sudden scream fills the air and your kid brother, running towards from the direction of the public garden, crashes into your solitude. Your blood runs cold – his face is all red and swollen, and he’s gasping for breath. A bee has stung him and he’s one of those few people who are highly allergic to bee venom.

What do you do to treat an allergic reaction – whether it’s caused by a bee sting or fresh strawberries ‘n cream? Even if you’re a novice at emergency care, our step-by-step guide will tell you what needs to be done before you can reach a doctor.

WHAT HAPPENS – AND WHY

What exactly happens in an allergic reaction? An allergy is an over-reaction of the body’s defence mechanism to the introduction of a foreign substance; the symptoms include intense itching, swelling up of body parts, watering of the nose, and breathlessness.

Allergies are of several types, including delayed and chronic ones, but the present article is limited to the management of immediate types of hypersensitivity reactions that can cause a lot of damage in a short time if not treated promptly and correctly.

Materials that can be cause such severe, immediate allergies include:

Different kinds of proteins – edible (such as eggs and dals) as well as those used locally.
Anti-serum (Snake venom, Tetanus, Rabies etc.)
Hormones
Enzymes
Venom (Bee and hornet stings, etc.)
Pollen extracts
Foods (Milk, eggs, fish, wheat, strawberries, chocolates etc.)
THE SYMPTOMS
Some common signs of allergy to look for are (System-wise):

Skin: Flushing and redness; itching; urticarial (large, irregular, raised patches with redness and itching); swelling of the skin over a part of the body; bite marks or sting punctures.

Eyes: Redness; swelling; itching; watering.

Respiratory Tract: Sneezing; watering of nose; coughing; breathlessness; chocking; tightness in the chest; suffocation; a sense of something stuck in the throat; inability to talk.

Gastro-intestinal: Vomiting; diarrhea; pain in the throat.

General: Anaphylactic shock – manifests itself in swelling of the face and body, sudden sneezing, dizziness, restlessness, nausea, suffocation and panic and unconsciousness – these symptoms can occur one after the other rapidly and the patient can die in minutes if emergency measures are not started at once.

(It is not necessary that you will find the symptoms of only one system in an allergy – a mix of symptoms may be found.)

Here’s how you deal with individual allergies (Source-wise):

ANIMALS

A person can be allergic to the dander, i.e. the fine scales and dust of dried-up skin and hairs on an animal, and can react violently to this alien protein. Cats especially can bring on a violent reaction – most commonly, rhinitis (watering of the nose) and asthma (or breathlessness) which could become severe. Some people are allergic to n animal’s saliva.

Remove the offending animal from the victim’s presence, and take the sufferer into an open area where he can breathe in fresh air. If he’s been licked, immediately wash the area with soap and water. Brush off all tell-tale traces of the animal’s hair from the person’s clothes. If the contact has been longer and the victim is sneezing or coughing violently and getting more and more breathless by the minute, give him an anti-allergy pill and take him to a doctor.

INSECTS

Bites and stings from insects like ants (especially fire ants), bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets can produce severe allergic reactions in the susceptible; even through their venom is mild. Such reactions include urticarial, nausea, abdominal or uterine cramps, bronchospasm, massive swelling of the face and glottis, breathlessness, bluish skin due to lack of oxygen, low b.p., coma and death.

A word of caution – even normal people can develop severe allergic reactions if bitten in the mouth or throat.

Unlike wasps and ants, bees can leave their stings embedded in the skin. If you have a pair of tweezers, pull out the sting. Or scrape it off carefully with a sharp knife or needle. Do not scratch the bite; this will only spread the venom. If you have an anti-histamine cream or a steroid cream, use it. Even calamine lotion helps. If no cream is available, put ice or cold water on the sting.

Reassure the patient and make him lie down on his back. Loosen tight clothing around the neck and waist so that breathing is not restricted. Cover him with a rug or a blanket. Raise his feet by placing a cushion or folded coat below them. Do not offer the victim anything to eat or drink and don’t let him smoke – it may choke him further.

If breathing starts getting difficult or if he begins to lapse into unconsciousness, take him to a hospital immediately. While transporting him or waiting for help, turn him to one side so that he does not choke on his vomitus.

If he has stopped breathing, give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or chest compression by putting him flat on his back and placing the balls of your palms on his breast-bone and pressing down at intervals of a few seconds.

Some large caterpillars, especially Gypsy Moths, can cause severe reactions due to the chemicals in their hairs. Brush off the insect with a twig and remove the hairs by pressing down some leucoplast or cellotape or dough on the area and pulling up – do this in different directions till all the hairs have come off. If allowed to remain the chemicals in the hairs can cause more damage.

Put ice on the area, wash with a lot of cold running water, and apply anti-histamine or steroid cream. Swallow an anti-histamine tablet and go to a doctor.

FOODS

Some people can develop nasty, even fatal reactions to certain food stuffs. Some common culprits include protein-containing foods like nuts, cow’s milk, hen’s eggs, soya beans, fish and sea-food; sunflower seeds, chamomile tea, peanuts, bananas, sesame (til) oil and food additives like metabisulfites – which are common in beer and Chinese food.

Food allergies occur mainly in children.

Reactions may be classified as:

EARLY REACTIONS (Less than two hours): Asthma; Abdominal Pain; Vomiting; Urticaria; Anaphylaxis; Diarrhoea; Rhintis; Angio-oedema (Swelling); Dermatitis.

LATE REACTIONS (More than two hours): Asthma; Gastro-intestinal bleeding with anaemia; Growth retardation; Urticaria and Dermatitis; Alveolitis (Inflammation inside the lungs); Malabsorption, diarrhoea; Protein-losing enteropathy; Vomiting

Severe diarrhoea, including vomiting, can develop 12-36 hours after the ingestion of certain foods like cow’s milk. If this happens in infants who are being weaned for the first time, rapid dehydration can occur if remedial measures are not undertaken immediately. Plenty of fluid should be given orally and the international Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) which consists of one glass of boiled and cooled water + the juice of one lemon + 4-5 teaspoonsful of sugar + a pinch of salt should be stirred and sips of this given several times a day, as much as the patient can take. The initial vomiting should not be stopped because it might help to bring out some of the allergy-causing food.

Asthma, or sudden breathlessness, can be relieved by taking the patient out into an open space and making him do slow, deep-breathing exercises. An anti-allergy pill may help as also an anti-asthma. The patient should be reassured, calmed down and made to sit in a propped-up position as lying down may aggravate the asthma.

Abdominal pain can be relieved with a hot-water bottle, drinking plenty of water, and mint juice + honey or a tiny pinch of asafetida or aniseed.

Urticaria can be relieved by applying cold water and calamine lotion.

Sneezing can be controlled by pressing the area just below the nostrils with a finger.

Rhintis or watering of the nose will be relieved with an anti-allergy pill.

If swelling of the face, hands and feet begins, take the patient quickly to a hospital or to a doctor, because this is a serious portent.

DRUGS

Many drugs can cause mild to moderate allergic reactions like nausea, vomiting, loose motions, pain in the abdomen, rhinitis, asthma, skin irritation, urticaria, burning in the stomach, dark skin patches, white skin patches, headaches and watering of the eyes. Locally-used products like creams can cause redness and swelling of the skin and rashes.

Some drugs can even cause severe anaphylactic shock. These include Aspirin, Penicillin, Sulphonamides, Streptokinase enzyme (used in the treatment of heart attacks), Indomethacin Iodine dyes used for x-rays, Tetanus and Rabies Anti sera, Streptomycin and even Liver extract and Vitamins.

Some medicine like the anti-malarials – Chloroquine and Primaquine – and drugs like Nitrofurantoin and Ciplofloxacin (an antibiotic) can cause breaking up of the red blood cells if the person has a G 6 PD Enzyme deficiency in the blood.

Many asthmatics can suffer severe aggravation of their symptoms with certain drugs like the anti-inflammatory ones – Ibuprofen, Acetyl Salicyclic acid, Indomethacin, Mefenamic Acid. Many normal people can also get a bout of debilitating Asthma or Rhinitis with these drugs because they can cause obstruction of the upper and lower airway tracts, giving rise to a life-threatening episode.

When an allergic reaction to an injection occurs, starting with intense itching and swelling at the site of the injection, then generalized itching all over the body, urticarial rashes, tightness in the throat and other symptoms, immediately tie a rubber tourniquet 2” or so above the site of injection to prevent further spread (this method can be employed in a bee sting as well); then use all the methods suggested for treating anaphylactic shock while you’re preparing to take the victim to a doctor.

If a drug has been taken orally and causes early allergic manifestations, try to encourage or induce vomiting by giving the person a mugful of water into which a tablespoonful of salt has been added. If given within an hour of swallowing the medicine, quite a lot of the drug can be brought out, thus minimizing its effects.

Calm the patient and help him lie down with his head turned to one side, feet raised. Keep him warm.

Keep the mouth passage free from vomitus or any other obstruction.

If he’s conscious and not vomiting, give him plenty of water to drink; this will dilute the drug. If you have an anti-allergy pill give it to him. Even cold tablets can help in such a situation. If these are not available, give him a tablespoon of some antacid.

Make sure to take down the name of the drug that he has taken or retrieve its wrapper from the waste-basket before going to a hospital. Show the name of the drug to the doctor there so that he can give the necessary antidote.

Certain drugs can cause Dyskinesia – nerve complications like twisting, deviation or trembling of the lips and face into abnormal shapes and movements. The drugs that give rise to dyskinesia are anti-psychotics like Chlorpromazine, Trifluperazine, Stemetil etc. The treatment for dyskinesia is Dazepam tablets or injection.

For pruritus or itching of the skin, taking cool baths helps as well as applying grease or unscented oils to the skin just after a bath. Cool, loose cotton clothing also helps. Avoid extremes of temperature.

CONTACT DERMATITIS

Irritation of the skin can occur with detergents, creams, local medication, hair dyes, leather slippers, plastic objects, rubber gloves, solvents, cleaners, metal coins, jewellery, bleaches, insecticides, cosmetics, adhesives, petrol etc.

Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water, and then rinse with plenty of running water. Cold milk soaks might be helpful, as also topical cortisone creams.

Potatoes and Weight Loss

How long have potatoes been a staple of nearly every country in the developed world? Well I don’t know either, but I do know that during the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852) also known as Gorta Mór or the Great Hunger approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland to escape the famine which had devastated the Irish economy.

The humble spud has become an important component of most dinner tables, but is it really all that healthy?

Potatoes are very high in long carbohydrates and starches. Eventually every single digestible starch is eventually broken down into simple sugars in the body. The sugar is then assimilated into the blood, raising the blood glucose levels. And this in turn increases the secretion and production of insulin, which is our fat storing hormone.

Insulin is secreted in the pancreas in large amounts. It prevents fat burning and stores numerous nutrients in fat cells. After some time, this may bring about an apparent deficiency of supplements in the blood, and this brings about building up of hunger, and a yearning for something sweet. At this point people eat again, and the process will starts all over again, therefore, this vicious cycle brings about weight gain.

Then again, a low consumption of carbs gives you a lower, steadier blood glucose, and reduces the amounts of insulin produced by the pancreas. This triggers the release of fat from your fat stores and also increases fat burning. This naturally brings about fat loss, particularly around the belly in abdominally obese people.

Unfortunately, what we all need to face up to, is the fact is that we live in a nation of growing obesity. Statistics indicate that obesity has doubled since 1980. The latest figures from the CDC show that more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to between 100,000-400,000 deaths in the United States per year costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct costs, and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the United States.

Currently our fitness level is estimated using a calculation known as BMI (Body/Mass Index) BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.

Of, late there has been some discussion within the medical fraternity around the accuracy of the BMI test. Given the fact that we all carry different amounts of muscle and fat, and they both have different densities and weight the measurement must logically become inaccurate.

There Are More Allergies and Obesity Today Compared With Years Ago

That’s a hard question to answer because no one really knows. There are, however, differences in the approach to child rearing that may have an impact. In my young days, that were post WWII, children were given everything to eat and there was no thought of allergies. The closest my body came to one was that of dust from which sinus would result. No one in my family or anyone we knew, however, ever mentioned allergies.

Babies were reared with a taste of everything, even when they spat it out. Eggs were high on the menu as were nuts, fruits, vegetables of all types, and, of course, meat. My children were given exactly the same treatment. My babies received cows milk when they were weaned and nothing was held back by way of food.

My daughter, by way of contrast, read books to determine what her children should eat. They were denied eggs and lots of other foods. The result, which might have come from this practice, is that one of them is highly allergic to certain foods.

The other factors that entered the scene are books written by male doctors who stressed the importance of holding back on some foods for a young child. This coupled with the junk food that replaces the fresh or home cooked meals sees young children given things like soda drinks high in sugar, foods high in salt and other things, and sweets, such as icing coated doughnuts and biscuits.

Watching young mum’s feed these things to toddlers in shopping centres to keep them quiet while she concentrates on her purchases leads to other thoughts. Why take a child that young into these places where they see the junk food and scream their heads off to get them?

It might be hard for mothers to work their way through modern trials and errors to avoid health problems, but they need to wake up to what modern takes on child-rearing are doing. While such things may not be responsible for allergies it might be interesting for some practitioners to examine the present changes in this area compared to post war years. It might also help to understand the obesity problems that faces some adults.

Surely what children grow used to follows them into adult-hood. That may apply to those who can’t walk through a shopping centre without first visiting the junk food outlets. Interesting thoughts that should be examined further.

Autistic People and Employment

People with autism spectrum disorder need jobs to live independently. But sadly, the respect of finding gainful employment is quite bleak for them. There’s a lack of research on employment rates for autistic adults across the globe. But conservative estimates suggest that more than 80% of autistic people don’t work. In Britain, only 12% of high-functioning autistic adults find full-time employment. Those with a more challenging form of autism, only 2% are able to land jobs.

Psychotherapy, life skills and job training can go a long way. A recent study in the US found that at least 87% of autistic youths who were assisted to land a job, could get one. On the other hand, only 6% of those who didn’t get a support were successful.

Assistance, in most countries, is terminated when an autistic individual ends full-time education. Esteban Maxis, a 25-year old NGO worker having Asperger’s syndrome, describes leaving school as “jumping off the cliff.” He’s no longer entitled to the social coaching that he used to get along with English and Mathematics classes. It’s difficult to judge the number of autistic adults who are actually capable to work. Nearly half of those affected with the disorder usually have above average intelligence. They often use “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps to help in their communication. But the level of intelligence is no indicator to an autistic person’s employability. He/she may score high in IQ tests but suffer from anxiety and can’t go far from home.

Contrary to popular belief, most people with autism spectrum disorder are willing to work. But high-functioning autistic adults have a much better chance to land a job than those who are severely affected.

The job interview is the first major hurdle. Most autistic persons struggle with social conventions like maintaining eye contact while speaking. While the “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps may help to a great extent, it’s the application of the mind at that point of time which matters most. Serena Gomez, who works with an animal rescue organization, recalls that in her first few interviews she didn’t know when to shake hands with the interviewer. She often prepares a script before meeting new people in an official environment.

Also, most autistic individuals speak bluntly. Team meetings don’t work for them. Autistic people usually have a single-minded pursuit. They want to focus the job at hand rather than discussing about the next weekend outing. This makes things difficult for people with autism who can’t indulge in friendly banter.

How to Control Acid Reflux

Heartburn usually kicks in when you lie down to sleep, especially after a heavy meal.

You wake up in the middle of the night with a fire in your throat and a sour taste in your mouth. A blob of something vile pops up from your stomach and you have to spit it out.

After you get rid of it, your throat feels sore and you sound hoarse when you talk. Sometimes you start to cough or your chest sounds wheezy.

What you have experienced is heartburn… which has nothing to do with your heart.

It happens when stomach acids, which you use to digest your food, flow back into your oesophagus (the long tube between your mouth and your stomach). These acids irritate and burn the lining of your oesophagus and throat.

Everyone experiences some heartburn now and then. But it can become chronic, ie recur constantly. If you experience heartburn a few times a week, it is likely you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known in short as GORD (or GERD if you are American).

The chronic condition should be treated with seriousness for several vital reasons.

What chronic acid reflux (GORD) does to your body

The constant backflow of stomach acid into your oesophagus can lead to:

[1] Dental problems… stomach acids in the mouth can wreak havoc on tooth enamel, requiring more trips to the dentist than usual.

[2] Voice and throat problems… stomach acid in the throat can cause hoarseness and laryngitis, and even changes in the voice. However these problems tend to resolve easily when GORD is treated.

[3] Asthma … studies have found that up to 80% of patients with asthma also have chronic acid reflux. Whether asthma causes GORD or chronic heartburn causes asthma is not known, but some medical scientists are of the opinion that acid that backs up from the stomach can get into the airways and damage them.

[4] Other respiratory problems… GORD has been statistically linked to other respiratory conditions including… chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, chronic sinusitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis (scaring of the lung), and recurrent pneumonia.

[5] Narrowing of the oesophagus… chronic acid reflux can, over time, produce scarring (strictures) that narrow the opening of the oesophagus. This can make swallowing difficult. It can also cause oesophageal spasms that can mimic a heart attack (a frightening experience).

The weird thing is that people who develop strictures find a bit of relief from their heartburn… as the narrowing stops the stomach acids from refluxing into the oesophagus.

[6] Oesophagitis… the sensitive lining of the oesophagus can be injured by refluxing acid and this can cause a painful inflammation called oesophagitis. Eventually the acid causes bleeding which, if it is heavy enough, it can pass into the digestive tract and show up as dark tarry stools.

Oesophagitis can also cause painful ulcers on the lining of the oesophagus.

[7] Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer… in a small number of people, long-term acid reflux can lead to a condition (Barrett’s oesophagus) in which abnormal cells take the place of cells damaged by the acid. These cells have the potential to turn cancerous.

Persons with Barrett’s oesophagus have an increased risk of cancer of the oesophagus. This risk is increased if you smoke, are obese or are a white male over the age of 50.

A few decades ago, most cancers of the oesophagus were caused by cigarette smoking and alcohol. But over the last 15 years oesophageal and other cancers of the upper digestive tract caused by GORD have been developing into an epidemic. This is likely caused by changes in diets in the modern world.

Whatever the cause, it is obvious that putting a stop to the backflow is vital. There are many ways in which this can be done successfully once you understand what is going on.

What causes heartburn?

Your oesophagus joins your pharynx (at the back of your throat) to your stomach. A ring of muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) controls the junction between the oesophagus and the stomach. The LES acts like a valve, opening and closing the entry to the stomach.

When you swallow the LES opens to allow the food or drink coming down the oesophagus to enter the stomach. The LES then closes to prevent the food and your digestive juices flowing back up the oesophagus. Each time you swallow, the LES relaxes and allows the food into your stomach.

Certain medical conditions can weaken the LES and prevent it from closing properly after you swallow. These include:

Hiatal hernia (an abnormality where a part of the stomach slides up into the chest cavity)
Obesity
Some asthma medicines
Pregnancy
Smoking
Diabetes
Delayed stomach emptying (a consequence of nerve damage, often due to diabetes)

Acid reflux statistics

In both Europe and America, chronic heartburn is becoming extremely widespread, affecting about one-third of the populations on both continents.

There is a strong link between chronic heartburn and being overweight. Research shows that people who are overweight are 50% more likely to have GORD compared to persons who are at a healthy weight. Persons who are obese are 200% more likely to have the disease.

Diabetics are also likely to suffer from GORD. A study published in 2008 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that about 40% of people with diabetes suffer from chronic heartburn.

The researchers also found it to be more common in people with diabetes who also had neuropathy or nerve damage due to diabetes. In addition, the study showed that people with both diabetes and neuropathy were more likely to have the disease, regardless of their weight, compared to people without neuropathy.

Medical treatments for heartburn

Conventional doctors have several approaches to treating chronic heartburn.

Antacids such as Tums®, Maalox® and Rennies® are very popular. These products come in the form of tablets that you chew or dissolve in your mouth. They work by using simple mineral salts such as calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate to neutralize stomach acid.

You do get temporary relief from your symptoms… but they treat the symptom, not the cause. Using them, however, is unlikely to damage your health.

Some doctors prescribe H2 blockers (more properly called histamine H2-receptor antagonists) such as like Zantac®, Tagamet® and Gertac®. These medications block the action of histamine, which normally stimulates the secretion of stomach acid. Personally, I have found that Gertac®, which contains ranitidine, to be gently effective in reducing GORD.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, also block the production of stomach acid. These drugs target the last stage in the production of stomach acid and the blockage is irreversible. These drugs are significantly more effective than H2 blockers and reduce the secretion of gastric acid by up to 99%.

With more than 100 million prescriptions written for these three medicines every year, Big Pharma makes a cool US$14 billion a year on just these drugs. Many professional organizations recommend that people take the lowest effective PPI dose to achieve the desired therapeutic result when used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease long-term. In the USA, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has advised that no more than three 14-day treatment courses should be used in one year.

For good reason… here is why blocking the production of stomach acid is not a smart thing to do:

Why you should NOT use proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)

The parietal cells in your stomach secrete the stomach acid used in the digestion process. The secretion of the acid is governed by proton pumps which provide energy for the process.

Proton-pump inhibitors prevent the proton pumps from working and so reduce the amount of acid produced by the parietal cells. This prevents acid reflux (no acid, no reflux!).

The problem is that proton pumps are present in just about every cell in your body, not just the parietal cells in the stomach. These proton pump systems are necessary for the production of the energy used in a wide variety of your body’s processes. Though this energy can be produced in several ways, without proton pumps them these processes could not work at their best.

While proton-pump inhibitors are designed to interact specifically with the proton-pumps in the parietal cells in your stomach, research suggests that it is likely that their effects are not limited to the specific acid producing cells of the stomach.

There are many other good reasons why you should not use proton-pump inhibitors:

(1) Stomach acid is a critical part of your immune system

PPIs reduce the acidity of your stomach. This is dangerous as certain harmful bacteria thrive in low-acid environments. Examples include H Pylori, which is a major cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers, gastritis and can even cause gastric cancer (according to a report in Drug Safety in 2003).

Several recent studies have shown that PPIs alter the micro-organisms in the gut by reducing its overall diversity. As a result, dangerous pathogens, such as Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli, tend to be more prevalent in the guts of PPI users.

As stomach pH becomes less acidic, many ingested microorganisms that get in through the mouth but which would normally be destroyed are able to make their way into the gut. Those who use acid blockers increase their chances of acquiring Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, and pneumonia compared to persons using other medications.

(2) PPIs impair the absorption of nutrients

Stomach acid is essential for the digestion and absorption of food, both macro- and micro-nutrients. Studies show that persons who use PPIs have an increased risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Persons who use acid blockers can also end up with achlorhydria (a lack of stomach acid). This, combined with atrophic gastritis (stomach inflammation), allows bacteria, which compete with the host (you!) for the consumption of micronutrients such as vitamin B12, to flourish.

Studies have found an association between the use of PPIs and the total number of bone fractures in the elderly. The association was significant enough for the FDA in the USA to issue a warning in 2010. A more recent study has shown a similar association between PPI use and bone fractures in young adults.

(3) PPIs damage the cardiovascular system

A study published in May 2016 found a link between proton-pump inhibitors and the premature aging of blood vessels, with the cells losing their ability to split into new cells.

Other recent studies indicate that PPI users have a significantly greater risk of heart attack compared to person using other antacid medications.

PPIs reduce the production of nitric oxide, a nutrient that increases lung power, helps your heart pump blood and oxygen to your cells, and even helps with erectile function by allowing blood vessels to expand and relax when you are on the job.

PPIs also affect lysosomes. Those are acid-producing cells in your body that clear up unwanted debris. Without enough acid to remove the waste, the cells protecting your blood vessels age rapidly. That can lead to a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

(4) PPIs harm the kidneys

Patients using PPIs were compared to patients using H2 blockers, another common antacid drug in a study published in 2016.

The study indicated that, over five years, the PPI users were 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and 96% more likely to develop end-stage renal disease.

(5) PPIs harm cognitive function

A study published in 2015 that assessed cognitive function in users of PPIs compared to controls found statistically significant impairment in visual memory, attention, executive function, and the working and planning function among the PPI users.

Another study in 2016 found that regular PPI users had a 44% increased risk of dementia compared to non-users.

Why this is so is not known. However, communication between brain cells requires the action of proton pumps. It may be that the proton pumps in the brain are affected by PPIs that target stomach acid.

(6) Rebound reflux

When your body senses a reduced production of stomach acid, it produces gastrin, a hormone that stimulates the secretion of gastric (stomach) acid by the parietal cells.

As a result, the individual parietal cells expand in size. Larger parietal cells have more proton pumps and can produce larger amounts of stomach acid. An overproduction of stomach acid caused by PPIs is called rebound hyper-secretion.

Rebound hyper-secretion illustrates why getting off PPI therapy is so difficult once you start using them… long-term use fundamentally changes the physiology of stomach cells.

The basic problem with PPIs is that they treat the symptoms of a condition (the production of acid that flows back up the oesophagus) rather than the underlying cause (a weakness in the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES)).

There are two main approaches you can take to dealing with chronic heartburn that focus on the underlying causes:

Heartburn avoidance techniques
Natural remedies for heartburn

How to avoid heartburn

Here are some simple ways you can prevent heartburn:

Eat smaller meals… this makes digestion easier and reduces the pressure in your stomach that causes reflux.
Eat slowly … digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food thoroughly reduces the likelihood of reflux.
Avoid tight clothes… tight clothes can put pressure on your stomach, pushing food back up into your oesophagus.
Don’t smoke… smoking irritates the membranes of the throat and oesophagus. Nicotine also weakens the oesophageal valve, allowing stomach acid to come up to your throat.
Avoid certain foods… chocolate, tomatoes, fatty or fried foods, fatty meats (choose lean cuts), synthetic dressings (use olive oil), spicy sauces (choose mild or avoid), alcohol, cola and other sodas as well as caffeine are all contributors to LES malfunction.
Avoid certain spices… hot spices as used in curries and other hot Eastern foods, as well as cinnamon, can irritate your stomach and oesophagus causing pressure that forces acid back up through the LES.
Avoid peppermint tea… as it tends to relax the LES and allow acid to flow back up the oesophagus.
Raise the back of your bed… use short planks of wood between the legs of the bed and the floor to raise the pillow-end 4 to 6 inches higher than the foot-end; by sleeping with your head lightly higher than your feet you will be using gravity to reduces the chances of stomach acid flowing back up to your throat… this really does work in my experience.

Persons who take these simple steps to prevent acid reflux experience fewer and milder bouts of acid reflux.

Natural remedies for heartburn

There are several natural remedies for heartburn that actually work:

D-limonene
Magnesium
Ginger
Baking soda

Some of these ‘cure’ acid reflux for a time at least if not permanently. Others provide temporary but effective relief.

D-limonene

D-limonene is an extract from orange peel which is safe to use as a food additive or supplement.

Research at WRC Laboratories in the USA indicates that a daily intake of one 1000mg capsule of d-limonene every second day for 20 days reduces or eliminates acid reflux in most people for at least six months. This is supported by anecdotal evidence among researchers and further research that has yet to be published.

D-limonene is a cell rejuvenator yet scientists don’t know why it is so effective. Researchers have speculated, however, that as d-limonene is lighter than water, it floats to the surface of the gastric juices in your stomach.

The minor burping you experience with d-limonene causes it to be carried directly into the oesophagus. By coating the oesophagus, d-limonene may protect it against the caustic contents that are regurgitated during acid reflux. This would help heal and strengthen the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) and heal erosion in the oesophagus.

It is also thought that d-limonene may promote quicker movement of food and gastric juices out of the stomach so that these oesophageal irritants promote less reflux.

Scientists also suggest that d-limonene may provide a barrier in the oesophagus and stomach against bacterial infection, such as helicobacter pylori, which are ingested in food or water. H pylori attack the lining of the stomach eventually causing ulcers and even stomach cancers.

The generally accepted opinion (or shrewd marketing) suggests that the best d-limonene, which is available in health food stores, is the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene.

I recently took a 1000mg capsule of the Jarrow Formulas D-Limonene (sourced online through Amazon) each day for 30 days. There were no side-effects and it appears to have cured my acid reflux.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a calming and relaxing mineral. It is an ingredient in several antacids.

This mineral helps your LES to relax so that it can close properly, thus preventing the backflow of stomach acid that causes heartburn.

Magnesium chloride is absorbed better than other compounds of magnesium and is thus more likely to be effective in relieving your heartburn.

Take 450 to 500mg once or twice a day to see if it helps. Each dose should contain about 150mg of magnesium and about 350mg of chloride.

Ginger

Ginger is prized for its health-giving qualities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Most of the health benefits of ginger are in the woody root of the plant, the rhizome.

Ginger is absolutely loaded with antioxidants. It has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-parasitic properties. It can relieve the discomfort of heartburn without side-effects.

Fresh ginger is best, though you can use dried ginger. When buying ginger root, make sure it feels firm and fresh. Fresh ginger, provided it is unpeeled, can be stored in a refrigerator for up to three weeks or in a freezer for up to six months.

You can peel ginger with a paring knife and add it to cooked dishes, mix it into a stir-fry or drop it into homemade chicken soup. But taking it as a supplement is not recommended as the ginger in capsules is not easily absorbed or used by your body.

In Uganda, doctors and herbalists use ginger tea to treat heartburn. The root’s anti-inflammatory properties speed up the digestive process, preventing the build-up of gas, and helping to regulate bile and gastric juices.

Adding a simple ginger tea to your daily diet will tighten your LES and help prevent the backflow of acid from your stomach according to a report by the Thai Medical Association in 2010.

Here’s an easy recipe:

Remove the skin from a piece of fresh ginger root and chop it into small pieces or slices
Fill a small pot with two cups of water and boil
Add the ginger and cover.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes
Strain the tea

You can drink it hot or cold. You could try adding a pinch of cinnamon to boost the flavour.

I make a batch twice a week, store it in the refrigerator and drink a chilled glass first thing in the morning.

Bicarbonate of soda

Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, offers a very quick remedy when you are having an attack of acid reflux.

Just mix a flat teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water, stir and wait for it to dissolve and then drink it down. Relief will be fairly immediate.

Baking soda works because it contains bicarbonate which neutralises the acid in your stomach.

This is not a permanent solution for chronic heartburn. But it works a dream for a quick fix and there are no side effects.