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How to Treat Acid Reflux/GERD through Ayurveda

By Catherine Robbins, BSc, AHP, PKS, KYTA

Do you suffer from Acid Reflux disease? Do you habitually take over the counter antacids or have a prescription for the highly popular “proton pump inhibitors” (PPIs) such as Omeprazole (Prilosec) or the older histamine H2 receptor agonists (H2As) such as Famotidine (Pepcid)? Recent studies show these can contribute to small-intestine-bacterial-overgrowth, chronic kidney disease and dementia. In truth, these medications shut down the cascade of enzymes that help us digest and absorb micro-nutrients from our food and although they can alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, their long-term use is now avoided.

Enter Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of India which teaches: “Everything is a medicine for someone, nothing is the medicine for everyone”. This explains why most people battle side effects from their western medications. According to Ayurveda, we are all unique individuals and our medicine should also be individualized.

In Ayurveda, the three physio-psycho-spiritual energies that govern all life are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the only mobile dosha so it governs all motion in the body from physical exercise to the movement of thoughts in the mind. When we take PPIs or H2As, we inhibit Vata in the stomach by inhibiting the movement of the acid needed to activate the enzymes throughout the digestive tract.  If Vata remains inhibited at this level for a very long time, all Vata in the body can be inhibited leading to constipation. If Vata remains disturbed because of taking these medications, then even the movement of thought can become inhibited (confusion/dementia). 

Pitta is the only hot dosha and it governs all transformation in the body, chemical as well as physical. When we take PPIs and H2As, we can see how the Pitta needed to digest the food into micronutrients is perverted. The food then putrefies in the body and can lead to SIBO, excess heat, loose stools and weight gain.

Kapha governs structure and stability in the body and if micronutrients are not available in the right part of the GI tract, they won’t get absorbed leading to weakness in the body and mind and depletion of one’s good Kapha. 

Ayurveda recommends turning to your kitchen for the proper treatment for Gastroesophageal reflux disease. A simple tea made of equal parts Cumin, Coriander and Fennel dissolved in hot water offers a great relief. Drinking this tea with all your meals is a proactive approach to acid reflux, and it tastes delicious!  Another ancient formula called Hingwastika taken as a Takra, a lightly spiced yogurt drink, (1/2 tsp herbs in ½ cup warm water and 2 Tbl plain yogurt) is another excellent treatment for GERD.  

Whatever GI ailment is plaguing you, it is wise to seek out a trained Ayurvedic practitioner that can help you determine your doshic makeup and your specific doshic imbalances, so you can begin your healing journey.


Catherine provides Ayurvedic lifestyle consultations, Ayurvedic Bliss treatments & Pancha Karma and she has her own Herbal Apothecary where she creates individualized formulas for her clients. Visit http://herbstoliveby.com for more information.