Last month we took a deep dive into Tums, the most well-known brand of antacid on the market. Tums works by helping to neutralize stomach acid, but only the acid present in the GI tract, offering temporary relief.
Gaviscon, another popular antacid, contains some of the same ingredients as well as some of the same benefits… and disadvantages, for that matter.
You may recognize Gaviscon by the appealing graphic on its packaging: a person holding down a thick, red, vertical line going up their torso (acid). It shows promise that this product can stop acid from rising up into the esophagus, and in many ways, it does.
In addition to neutralizing acid, Gaviscon can stop acid from rising up, thanks to sodium alginate, an ingredient that works as a thickening agent, or emulsifier which helps form a solid raft that floats on the top of the acid in the stomach. This raft creates a thick layer, a barrier, preventing acid from moving further upward. Sodium alginate works so well as an emulsifier, food companies use it in their products to thicken up consistency. Think: ice cream, jelly, and
A raft that blocks acid from rising up? Sounds too good to be true! Well, it is.
For starters, Gaviscon does not provide long-lasting relief, nor is it designed to be taken long- term, and with good reason. Gaviscon contains aluminum, which is neurotoxic -- it can damage the brain, impair cognition and potentially contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum intake is also a factor in the development of breast cancer, and it can interfere with fluoride and calcium absorption – not so great for our bones!
Another risk in taking Gaviscon, or any over-the-counter remedy, is that it doesn’t cure anything. Acid reflux is not just a condition, it’s a symptom! The best way to heal is to work with your doctor to get to the root cause – why are you having heartburn to begin with?
Always ask “why?”
One thing to explore is magnesium deficiency - many people are lacking this essential mineral. Magnesium is needed for stomach acid production, so it’s especially important since most cases of reflux are due to low stomach acid. Magnesium works to reduce spasms in the lower esophageal sphincter which helps prevent acid from rising up. Consider getting more magnesium in your diet with avocado, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, fatty fish, bananas, and leafy greens. Dark
chocolate also has a good amount of magnesium, but since it’s a reflux trigger, you’re probably better off laying off the chocolate for now. And you can always ask your doctor about supplementing magnesium in pill or powder form.
Still, there are causes to consider beyond magnesium and low stomach acid, in other words, why you have low stomach acid to begin with – stress, bacterial imbalance, infections, etc.
Speaking of supplementation, We created a unique remedy that does what most reflux supplements don't… It addresses the root cause.
The lower esophageal sphincter is a valve that is supposed to keep stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. If it becomes weak it lets acid back up and the esophagus becomes compromised.
Here’s the reality- unless you begin to get some healing and strength back in your lower esophagus, you’re going to keep having reflux.
Our remedy, Hiatal Health, supports esophagus wellness through a blend of herbs and superfoods. Each ingredient has been chosen to support tissue strength, less inflammation, better immune response, and better histamine response.
Here’s the thing… Hiatal Health isn’t a quick fix. It isn’t a Gaviscon that you take after a spicy meal, because we’re not trying to deal with a temporary symptom, we’re supporting lasting change.
Over and over we see that it takes from 4-6 weeks to begin seeing that lasting change with Hiatal Health. Remember, it took time to develop reflux, so it’s going to take time to heal.
There are many herbs and natural remedies that can help with reflux. Some work by supplementing low mineral levels and enzymes, others can increase stomach acid, neutralize acid during a flare-up, soothe the GI tract, or help to balance digestion. Ask your doctor about HCL (hydrochloric acid), DGL (licorice root), slippery elm, aloe, chamomile, ginger, and marshmallow. Even good old-fashioned baking soda can help to remedy a bout of reflux.