Our Certified Healthy Gut Practitioner & Microbiome Clinician Brownyn Quinn talks GORD & Gut Health.
There are many different types of gut issues that are ‘common’. This doesn’t mean they are ‘normal’ or just something you should put up with, or part of getting older, or other things you may have been told.
One of the most common conditions we see impacting the upper digestive tract is Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD or GERD) – in other words reflux, which can present in a variety of different ways. For many this is the feeling of their stomach acid coming back up into their chest and throat and burning all the way! Usually after a meal. It can also present as a feeling of regurgitation, a chronic cough, bad breath, sore throat, post-nasal drip and constantly having to ‘hemm’ to clear mucus from the throat, chronic laryngitis or dental erosions.
GORD is categorised into two types, the first being where the stomach acid is causing damage to the mucosa; or the type where the symptoms are the same but there is no mucosal damage – called NERD (Non-Erosive Reflux Disease). In the case of GORD, ongoing damage can result in ulcers, scarring and narrowing of the oesophagus, or cellular changes leading to a potentially pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus.
In both cases, there may be a variety of causative factors and there are also some stand-out risk factors as well. These include:
Lower oesophageal sphincter incompetence. This is the transient relaxation of the sphincter and the resulting decrease in pressure, allowing for the backward flow of stomach contents. This can be the result of certain medications, smoking, alcohol, fatty meals, consistent overeating. Addressing these risk factors can bring considerable relief.
Delayed gastric emptying – another big culprit here is alcohol which we know slows gastric emptying as well as impairing oesophageal motility. Avoiding fatty foods can also help, as can specific probiotic strains that have been shown to speed gastric emptying and reduce regurgitation.
Impaired saliva flow can also play a role as saliva helps to alkalise the oesophagus. Chewing food thoroughly can really help here, as can chewing some gum 30 minutes after meals and before bed to stimulate saliva flow. Some of our beautiful liquid herbs can also work amazingly well to stimulate this bodily function.
Along with removing or minimising as many of these risk factors as possible, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms with soothing demulcent herbs, whilst identifying other potential drivers such as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Coeliac disease and so on.
Decreasing oesophageal inflammation and promoting healing of the mucosa is also paramount, and herbal teas can be invaluable here as a gentle herbal medicine option that exposes the tissues directly to healing herbs. We recommend looking at herbal teas that include:
Ensuring the diet is high in antioxidants is also key to decreasing inflammation and helping to heal damaged mucosa, so much so that an individual’s levels of oxidative stress dictate the levels of mucosal damage that are able to occur. So, lots of different coloured fruits and vegetables are a must!
There is so much that can be done to address this uncomfortable and potentially damaging condition, not least of which is getting to the root cause of what is going on and addressing this whilst concurrently soothing and minimising symptoms. Book your appointment today to start to fix your gut health.