Our bodies are surprisingly sensitive to certain stimuli despite being built to resist a fair amount of punishment. While everyone's tolerances vary, some issues are more likely to affect even the healthiest people. Modern society has begun to favor convenience and speed over quality and preparation, most notably in the food industry.
More and more Americans stop at the drive-thru of restaurants like Burger King or McDonald's instead of preparing a home-cooked meal. The biggest reason is that ordering out rather than preparing fresh food is simpler and quicker. Unfortunately, this has led to a surge in otherwise avoidable health issues. The most common gastrointestinal issue plaguing modern Americans is acid reflux.
Acid reflux can be extremely unpleasant and borders on debilitating, depending on the severity. At the very least, bouts of acid reflux are uncomfortable and worthy of attention when the symptoms manifest. Acid reflux treatments can vary, and you might already be using medication to try and combat your reflux.
While some medications are effective for treating the symptoms of acid reflux, you might be more interested in a naturalistic option rather than a pharmaceutical one. Fortunately, such supplements exist for acid reflux in the form of a common plant you have likely heard of before. Aloe vera has become a popular tool for health supplementation, though you might wonder how aloe vera can help with acid reflux.
What is Acid Reflux?
The phrase "acid reflux" is likely something you have heard before, but you might not realize it is a colloquialism. Acid reflux is the common name for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is one of the most unpleasant gastrointestinal issues we can experience, and it is fairly common in modern Americans. GERD refers to what happens when stomach acid repeatedly flows through the esophagus.
Since the esophagus connects our mouths to our stomachs, it feels like we are throwing up in our mouths. The problem is that chronic reflux is inflammatory and can irritate the esophageal lining. This inflammation can be uncomfortable and even painful in most circumstances, but the exact symptoms can vary.
The most common symptoms of GERD include:
- A burning sensation in the chest usually manifests after eating and is exacerbated by lying down.
- The regurgitation of food or sour liquids.
- Pain in the chest or upper abdomen.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- The sensation of a lump in your throat.
Certain variants of GERD, namely nighttime reflux, can also result in chronic coughing, inflammation of the vocal cords, and asthma. The symptoms of GERD are not pleasant to experience, but the real question lies in what causes the issue. GERD results from a malfunction with a part of our anatomy most people are unaware exists.
At the bottom of the esophagus is a band of muscle called the esophageal sphincter. When we swallow food, the sphincter relaxes and opens to allow food to pass through the esophagus and into the stomach before closing again. GERD occurs when the sphincter's functionality is compromised.
When the esophageal sphincter fails to close properly, it begins to atrophy and cannot seal the contents of our stomachs away. This enables stomach acid to flow back up the esophagus and into our mouths. It is worth noting that the issues with the esophageal sphincter do not manifest from nothing but occur in individuals with certain risk factors. The main risk factors of GERD include:
- Hiatal Hernia
- Connective Tissue Disorders
- Delayed Stomach Emptying
If you have one or more of these conditions, you are at a higher risk of GERD than the average person. Furthermore, GERD can be exacerbated or induced by engaging in additional unhealthy behaviors. These include:
- Eating large meals late at night.
- Frequently eating fatty or fried foods.
- Frequently drinking alcohol or coffee.
- Frequently taking aspirin or similar medications.
GERD is an unpleasant condition but can lead to further complications if left untreated. This means you should never allow your GERD to go unaddressed and should seek treatment as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of your GERD, you might need medical attention from a licensed physician. However, this outcome is unlikely if you take matters into your own hands as soon as the symptoms manifest. The big question is how aloe vera can be used to treat GERD when a doctor is unnecessary.
Aloe Vera Use #1: Inflammation
One of the main uses of aloe vera is its status as an anti-inflammatory compound. GERD is primarily an inflammatory condition that affects the esophagus and mouth. The acid our stomachs use to break down food is an extremely inflammatory substance because it is literal acid.
While our stomach acids are not as potent as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid, commonly cited as the acids that melt through solid objects, as seen on television, it is still corrosive to certain materials. While our stomachs and esophagus are lined to protect against these corrosive elements, the lining in our esophagus is not designed to withstand constant exposure. Therefore, when we develop GERD and our throats are exposed to stomach acid, the corrosive nature of the fluid wears away at the esophageal lining.
This inflammation can cause lasting damage to our throats unless we can reduce it somehow. This is where aloe vera becomes a major tool for combatting GERD.
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory characteristics that have made it a valuable resource for reducing the effects of certain injuries and skin conditions. As a result, aloe vera has become a common tool for people suffering from those illnesses and injuries. Aloe vera's anti-inflammatory properties were backed by a study conducted on the applications of orally ingested aloe vera.
The study focused partially on its anti-microbial characteristics but also emphasized its anti-inflammatory properties. The study's results proved that aloe vera has potent anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial for treating conditions where inflammation is an issue.
Additional studies have been conducted on aloe vera to corroborate its anti-inflammatory function further. Most of these studies focus on aloe vera's abilities to treat inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis. Fortunately, anti-inflammatory properties apply to the entire body, and this does not diminish the fact that aloe vera can help treat the inflammation caused by GERD.
The consumption of aloe vera, specifically in liquid form, can apply this anti-inflammatory effect to your esophageal layer and reduce the damage the GERD symptoms cause. Additionally, aloe vera feels very soothing on the tissue it touches, making it a less painful experience to treat your esophageal inflammation.
Aloe Vera Use #2: Digestion
GERD is, ultimately, a gastrointestinal issue related to the health of our intestines and stomach. This means that digestive issues can promote the development of GERD and exacerbate the symptoms. This means finding a supplement or medication capable of treating digestive issues is important when dealing with GERD. Several medications for digestive issues exist, but many of them are unpleasant or restrictive.
As odd as it might sound, one of the best tools you can use to treat digestive issues, GERD included, is aloe vera. While aloe vera is renowned for several things, one of its lesser-known qualities relates to its status as a digestive aid. Not many people realize it, but aloe vera's role extends beyond treating skin conditions and reducing inflammation.
Most of the research surrounding aloe vera and digestive health revolves around its concentration of anthraquinone glycosides. Anthraquinone glycosides are plant compounds that have laxative effects and turn aloe vera into a tool for relieving constipation. The studies surrounding this phenomenon are extremely promising and prove that aloe vera plays a role in digestive health. Unfortunately, constipation rarely affects our odds of developing GERD, making those studies seemingly irrelevant. Fortunately, this is not the end of the studies on aloe vera for digestive health.
A new wave of research was launched to determine whether aloe vera could treat GERD effectively. While the studies were preliminary, the results were extremely promising and demonstrated that aloe vera could help with GERD. This study took a randomized group of 79 subjects suffering from GERD and divided them into test and control groups.
The subjects in the test group were given 150 mg of aloe vera syrup in the morning and another 150 mg 30 minutes before they went to bed. This program lasted for 4 weeks, and over that period, the researchers observed the gastrointestinal health of the subjects. At the end of the study, it was confirmed that the subjects in the test group had reduced levels of GERD's major symptoms, while the control group saw no change.
These studies are still being supplemented with additional research, but the initial results show too much promise to be disregarded. The use of aloe vera to treat GERD can be a little more direct than simply treating the inflammation. That said, there is another property aloe vera possesses that can help treat the effects of GERD.
Aloe Vera Use #3: Alkaline
Acid is an interesting chemical compound that is usually corrosive to the touch, though the type of acid determines the risk. While acid is often viewed as an unstoppable force of corrosion to some people, it is fairly simple to neutralize. Basic chemistry tells us that applying a base to an acid neutralizes its corrosive properties and renders it virtually harmless.
While this concept is typically viewed from the perspective of neutralizing dangerous acids like sulfuric or hydrochloric, we can apply the same principle to stomach acid. Some bases can be consumed through traditional foodstuffs and supplements. One such base, alkaline, is prevalent in aloe vera.
Alkaline is one of the compounds occurring naturally in aloe vera and serves as part of the plant's health benefits. The alkaline concentration in aloe vera is cultivated to keep the plant healthy but also translates into what we consume when using aloe vera supplements. Consuming this alkaline helps us regulate our natural pH levels, but as a supplement, it can help us manage the effects of GERD. Alkaline's status as a base means it can inhibit the stomach acid you are regurgitating and minimize the damage it causes while in the esophagus.
Aloe vera's alkaline content is a well-known feature of the plant, and the role alkaline plays in reducing acidity is standard chemistry. While this cannot be relied on to resolve your GERD completely, it can help you mitigate the symptoms while you employ the other effects aloe vera can offer. The only challenge you will face is finding an aloe vera supplement you can use to tend to your needs.
Keep it All Natural!
GERD, or "acid reflux," is a highly unpleasant and uncomfortable issue to deal with and can disrupt your quality of life. Worse yet, it can cause serious health issues the longer it goes unchecked. Fortunately, aloe vera seems to be a viable tool for addressing the threat GERD poses. Scientific research has confirmed that aloe vera is viable for addressing gastrointestinal issues directly and indirectly.
While aloe vera is promising, it is important to consult your primary care physician if you are experiencing severe GERD symptoms to ensure no other complications. It can also let you know whether you have an allergy to aloe vera or similar plants that might inhibit your ability to use them. The only challenge is finding a supplement if you are cleared to use aloe vera supplements to treat your GERD.
We at Bella All Natural can help with that last part since we specialize in producing holistic products that promote health and beauty. Among our products is our Aloe Vera Juice, which is a highly efficient tool for introducing aloe vera to your daily diet. We believe that natural substances are the best tools to treat most issues affecting the human condition. If you are dealing with such an issue, we encourage you to visit our website and see if our product is right for you. And, of course, be sure to check out the rest of our available products! Regardless of what you decide, remember to keep it All Natural!