Reflux / Heartburn

This a condition appears in 10-20% of the western population and develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms and/or complications.

You may be experiencing heartburn as a burning sensation that rises from the stomach or lower chest up towards the neck. It generally gets worse after eating and while antacid can provide prompt relief they do not address the underlying issue.

Other signs of reflux:

  • Chronic cough
  • Bad breath
  • Dental erosions
  • Chronic laryngitis

Possible causes

  • Food allergy and intolerances
  • Slow gastric emptying
  • Impaired saliva function
  • Elevated BMI
  • Medications – several are capable of decreasing lower oesophageal pressure
  • Lower oesophageal sphincter incompetence


Common foods can trigger heartburn by increasing acid secretion as well as causing the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax. Focusing on foundational eating practises is the starting point to help reduce incidences of reflux. These include taking time to eat and chewing food adequately as well as not eating food too near bed time. Further to this analysis of your diet for triggers and investigating the possible causes (outlined above) are all areas for attention.

Medical Treatment

Proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, lansoprazole) are often used to reduce stomach acid secretion and the symptoms of reflux. While they offer effective symptoms relief they have been associated with longer-term risks such as overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and osteroporosis.

Aims are to:

  • Relieve symptoms
  • Decrease oesophageal inflammation
  • Promote oesophageal healing
  • Eliminate/minimise exacerbating factors – address dietary / lifestyle factors
  • Promote antioxidant defences
  • Improve salivary gland function/ oesophageal acid clearance
  • Support gastric emptying
  • Support the nervous system

The foundation of the approach is to identify an underlying issues, remove factors which are deemed to be worsening symptoms and promote a balanced response.

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