It’s increasingly common to hear people complain of “acidity” or gastric problems. Usually poorly diagnosed till it’s become chronic and often treated with antacids that are questionable in terms of safety and efficacy, acidity is a serious health concern.
The first step is to understand what causes acidity and what the symptoms are.
Lifestyle is the major cause, eating fast foods, oily meals, overeating, alcohol, smoking, eating at the wrong time, eating too close to bedtime and of course the single major culprit, STRESS.
Stress leads to several of the indulgences mentioned above and needs to be addressed. Whilst the medical community is trigger happy in prescribing antacids, of course as agents of the pharmaceutical industry they are more than happy to sell highly profitable and highly questionable treatments as usual.
Simple changes in lifestyle and reducing stress is the most advisable treatment, however it’s easier said than done. Stress amongst young professionals is pretty much part of the job profile and anyone without stress is probably not doing the job!
So is there any hope for a safe natural treatment? Actually Nature has provided the most effective and safe treatment that address both the cause and symptom.
Gastric acid is produced by the stomach to aide digestion. This acid is highly corrosive however the corrosive effect is neutralized by the production of natural bicarbonate and prostaglandins secreted in the mucous lining. When the production of these chemicals is impaired, it leads to damaged stomach lining which causes acidity.
Another major cause is the frequent use of antibiotics and in particular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (NSAID’s). NSAID’s have been implicated in the majority of non-lifestyle related acidity cases and is growing alarmingly.
The common signs and symptoms are:
Burning in the stomach
Burning in the throat
Sour taste in the tongue
Usually, acidity is treated with the help of antacids which contain either magnesium or calcium or aluminium containing salts. These antacids neutralise the excess acid in the stomach thus providing relief from the symptoms. Another course of therapy are histamine blocking agents (H2 receptor blockers) such as cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine or nizatidine or proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole and lansoprazole.
Most antacids contain aluminium salts that are dangerous with a risk of Alzheimer’s. The constant use of antacids leads to several side effects that are caused by the lack of nutrition since the acids are neutralized they cannot break up the food efficiently and the food is passed without absorption of vital nutrients. Proton pump inhibitors reduce the amount of acid produced leading to the same problems of low digestion of food.
Liquorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra is a wonderfully versatile herb. The roots yield several important medicinal and cosmetic compounds. Primarily glycyrrhizin, a natural sweeting agent that is 50 times sweeter than sugar provides an important non calorie sweeting agent for bitter pharmaceutical liquids. 18-b glycyrrhitinic acid is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti allergic compound without the side effects of NSAID’s and is used in cosmetics for treatment for wrinkles and a skin lightening agent. Phytoestrogens help in treating PMS whilst glabridin is a potent tyrosinase inhibitor.
A flavone Liquiritigenin, has a postivive effect on choleresis, the expression of hepatic transporters and phase-II enzymes, and fulminant hepatitis and is used in the treatment of liver disease.
Liquorice is also very helpful in coughs and is a popular candy in Europe.
DGL De-Glycyrrhizinated Liquorice, is a neutral fraction of the roots of glycyrrihza glabra that is nature’s answer to treating acidity, peptic ulcers and is also anti-inflammatory. This compound has been used by physicians that recognize the danger’s of synthetic antacids. DGL provides a safe effective therapy in the treatment of acidity, gastric reflux, peptic ulcers. By increasing the production of mucin (the protective coating that lines the stomach), DGL protects the stomach from the corrosive effects of acid and thereby does not interfere with the normal digestive process. Since ulcers are caused by NSAID’s , inflammation in the stomach caused by ulcers cannot be treated by conventional medicines and Proton pump inhibitors are resorted to leading to a dangerous cycle of nutritive challenge in the body. DGL is a powerful, safe natural anti-inflammatory and treats gastric ulcers reducing the pain and inflammation allowing the ulcers to heal.