Reflux

About the Disorder

Gastroesophageal reflux is a problem affecting about one person out of three, but often remains unrecognized or mistaken for hyperacidity, heartburn and difficult digestion.

This is because the disorder can appear in both newborn babies as well as in healthy adults during the 3 hours following meals – heavy meals in particular. Reflux becomes pathological when the number of incidents increases (at least once a week), based on the quantity and quality of the material flowing back from the stomach to the esophagus, causing the typical symptoms related to the disorder.

 The insurgence of gastroesophageal reflux takes place when the valve located between the final part of the esophagus and the stomach, which should close the stomach, stops working properly: in normal conditions, it should remain closed despite gastric pressure and open only when food bolus needs to transit from the esophagus to the stomach during deglutition. If the strength of this valve is not sufficient to overcome gastric pressure, then substances from the stomach are likely to flow back to the esophagus: namely semi-digested food bolus together with acid juices produced by the stomach.

Causes involved in the insurgence of gastroesophageal reflux are to be traced in the patient’s lifestyle, such as smoking habits, use/abuse of drugs, anxiety and stress, as well as certain predisposing factors, such as pregnancies, overweight, hiatus ernia, etc. All these factors add up to the malfunctioning of the valve located in the lower part of the esophagus, which allows food being digested to flow back into the esophagus; other elements to be taken into account are also: a slowed down gastric emptying (the longer foods remain in the stomach the higher the chances of having reflux); an alteration of both salivation and pH level of the saliva, as well as altered esophageal peristalsis.

Typical symptoms of this disorder are regurgitation and continuous belching, also at night; heartburn and epigastric pain, chest pain and breastbone pain, excessive salivation, pain during deglutition.

 If not adequately treated, the problem of gastric reflux can lead to serious consquences: gastric juices flowing back from the stomach up the esophagus irritate and harm the esophageal mucosa, causing lesions to both esophagus and nerve endings located in this area. Not only: it can involve other anatomical districts as well, causing heart problems (arrhythmia is as example), inflammation in the vocal cords and therefore hoarseness and respiratory problems, should material from the stomach reach lungs and bronchi, causing asthmatic abscesses, dry and persistent coughing.

Treatment of reflux with conventional medicine

Given the spread of gastric disorders, it is clear that the number of “conventional” remedies to treat the disorder is fairly high. There are, in fact, several medicines classified as “antiulcer”, the principal ones being antiacids, proton-pump inhibitors and H2 – antagonists.

However, as often happens with official medicine, the method adopted to solve the pathology causes serious negative effects on the patient’s organism.

  • Antiacid medicines: these are mainly Aluminium Salts, Calcium, Sodium and Magnesium, which react with Hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach, thereby neutralizing acidity in excess; these are symptomatic medicines eliminating symptoms related to increased acidity only, without intervening on root causes. Despite their being widely used, to date an ideal antiacid medicine has not yet been discovered: many side-effects are possible, particularly related to the presence of the above mentioned metals, which consumers know well enough about.

Surely, the principle element responsible for side effects of antiacid medicines is Aluminium: usually present as “Aluminium hydroxide”, it causes disorders in several anatomical districts. It has, in fact, been proven that Aluminium weakens tissues in the digestive tract: it “kidnaps” vitamins and other nutrients, inactivating them and making them unusable by the organism, besides causing constipation and other intestinal disorders. Morever,  excessive intake of Aluminium can cause symptoms of poisoning such as constipation, colic, loss of appetite, nausea, dermatological disorders, muscular spasms in the lower limbs, excessive perspiration and loss of energy.

At any rate, main side effects caused by this metal can go far beyond what one might think: as a matter of fact, researchers have found out that one of the most widely used forms of Aluminium as an antiacid, namely Aluminium Hydroxide gel, can reduce the level of phosphate in the bloodstream, causing bone dissolution, pain and muscular weakness. Frequent ingestion of the metal reduces bone mass as well as diminishing matrix and bone formation. What’s more, small quantities of soluble Alumium salts in the blood gradually cause poisoning, characterized by motor paralysis and numbness in certains parts of the body, with a degeneration of kidneys and liver.

Anatomical changes in nervous centres, as well as symptoms of gastrointestinal inflammation may also appear. All these symptoms are the outcome of the body’s efforts to eliminate the poison.

 Morevoer, Aluminium is strongly involved in certain behavioural disorders: in fact, aluminium ions easily settle on body fat and in the brain, causing disorders in the Central Nervous System; in the long run, this situation can cause the insurgence of pathologies such as saturnism and mood swings; in addition, it has recently been highlighted that infinitesimal quantities of Aluminium in the brain are connected to epileptic seizures, senile dementia, convulsions and Alzheimer disease.

Sodium, too, bears negative effects, involving different body districts: the first and foremost harmful effect is surely water retention, with symptoms ranging from superficial skin imperfections, to much more serious problems such as hypertension. Other side effects are systemic alkalosis, constipation or diarrhea, belching, “acid refluxes” due to hyperneutralisation of gastric acidity resulting in recovery of the gastric mucosa’s secretory activity, which can cause further increase in the level of acidity of the stomach’s pH.

  • Proton pump inhibiting medicines (PPI):   these are anti-ulcer medicines par excellence, usually prescribed initially in all cases of heartburn and gastritis. Their mechanism of action provides for the irreversible block of the so-called protonic pump producing hydrochloric acid, but not only that: in fact, proton pump inhibitors block the acid secretion induced by gastrin and this, in turn, causes an increased secretion of gastrin itself, which leads to hypergastrinemia.

High levels of gastrin can cause hyperplasia of cells in the gastric fundus containing histamine.    In the animal world, hyperplasia has often developed into gastric carcinoma. Apart from presenting numerous side-effects, these widely used medicines markedly alter digestive processes, with disastrous consequences at gastrointestinal level.

It has moreover been highlighted that proton pump inhibitors interfere with the absorption of calcium and vitamins (besides medicines) and are responsible for the heightened risk of hip fractures: hence, they are definitely harmful when it comes to safeguarding the skeleton’s integrity.

  • H2 Antagonist medicines: these molecules inhibit gastric acid secretion induced by histamine and, to a lesser extent, secretion mediated by gastrin and Acetylcholine. H2 antagonists inhibit basal and nocturnal acid secretion, as well as secretions stimulated by food. However, side-effects generated by these medicines are all but minor: H2 Antagonists, in fact, have an antiandrogenic effect that can cause gynecomastia (growth of breasts in men) and impotence; moreover, certain molecules in particular have shown negative effects on the central nervous system, such as anxiety, panic, mental confusion and memory lapses.

The most significaticant side effect, however, regards the ability of these medicines to inhibit P450 Cytochrome. This leads to other medicines previously taken remaining longer in the bloodstream, with heightened toxic effects as a result.

 What’s needed, therefore, is an entirely different approach, aiming to solve the problem rapidly, yet without interfering with physiological digestive mechanisms,while maintaining efficiency and balance of the entire digestive tract.

Nature can help you in case of reflux  

Our Approach

A natural and effective approach

In case of gastro-esophageal reflux, it is essential to take action against its symptoms, solving them rapidly and completely without jeopardising the physiological functionality of the stomach, without leaving the gastric mucosa in a state of imbalance between “protective” and “aggressive” factors, avoiding the worsening of symptoms that would lead to lesions in the esophagus and even more serious disorders affecting other organs, such as heart, lungs, etc.

GSE and reflux

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), well-known for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and parasiticidal properties, recognized by Laboratories and Institutes worldwide, has been recently employed by a group of researchers at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow (Poland), with the aim of studying its potential properties with particular reference to the protection of the gastrointestinal mucosa. Studies have confirmed the researchers’ hypotheses, highlighting both the gastroprotective role of Grapefruit Seed Extract, as well as its ability to accelerate healing processes.

GSE’s mechanisms of action have been shown to be as follows: activation of the endogenous synthesis of prostaglandins, the expression of mucous cell growth factors, suppression of oxidative stress as well as  increase of  submucosal bloodstream. These discoveries, together with the already well-known antibacterial properties towards Helicobacter Pylori, intensify GSE’s protective and reparative action towards the gastric mucosa.

Its use is absolutely safe, particularly because its activity has no impact whatsoever on the microbial intestinal flora while safeguarding the organism’s natural defenses, as confirmed by a study published in the “Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine”, Volume 5 Nr. 3 of 1990,

For the above-mentioned reasons, GSE therefore represents the cornerstone of an extremely effective approach to handle reflux. Its association and synergy with specific plant extracts enables:

  1. action at gastric level with a dual purpose: on the one hand, aiding digestion, acting on dyspepsia and soothing heartburn and hyperacidity; on the other, directly contrasting contamination of H. Pylori where present;
  2. action on hyperacidity, calming inflammation, soothing pain and promoting the remedying of damaged gastroesophageal mucosa.

This approach, combined with a healthy lifestyle (in terms of diet, but not only), includes the use of natural remedies that are well known in folk tradition and the efficacy of which in providing a definitive solution has been confirmed by recent studies.

  1. Action at gastric level with a dual purpose: on the one hand, aiding digestion, acting on dyspepsia and soothing heartburn and hyperacidity; on the other, directly contrasting contamination of H. Pylori where present:

Nature can help you with …

Grapefruit Seed Extract: direct antibiotic action against H. Pylori, present in 90% of cases of gastritis, hence indirectly on other gastric symptoms. GSE moreover offers gastroprotective and reparative action on the gastric mucosa. As an intestinal “selective cleanser”, it eliminates pathogenic microorganisms while fully respecting physiological bacterial flora.

Pineapple: an actual digestif; this feature is mainly due to the presence of bromelain, an enzyme with a marked proteolytic action, i.e. apt for digesting proteins.

Cardamom: traditionally employed to cure stomach ache and to promote digestion, is has undoubted eupeptic, stimulant, stomachic and, mostly, carminative properties.

Coriander: an excellent antidiarrhoeal, its seeds also have extraordinary digestive properties.

Cumin: it contains carvone and limonene terpenes, which help regulate gastrointestinal functionality, stimulating gastric secretion and alleviate any pain or abdominal cramps thanks to their antispasmodic activity.

Rhubarb: in small doses, this drug acts as a stomachic and bitter tonic, stimulating secretions and gastric motility, thereby facilitating digestive processes.

Milk thistle: it stimulates the appetite, but most of all if promotes digestion. In addition, it is an excellent antispasmodic.

The ideal means for intake of the above-mentioned plant ingredients, ideal to restore balance of physiological functions in the digestive tract, is represented by swallowable tablets.

  1. Act on hyperacidity, calming inflammation, soothing pain and promoting the remedying of damaged gastroesophageal mucosa:

Nature can help you with…

Grapefruit Seed Extract:  Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), well-known for its antimicrobial properties, recognized by Laboratories and Institutes worldwide, has been recently employed by a group of researchers at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow (Poland), with the aim of studying its potential properties with particular reference to the protection of the gastrointestinal mucosa.

Studies have confirmed the researchers’ hypotheses, highlighting both the gastroprotective role of Grapefruit Seed Extract, as well as its ability to accelerate healing of lesions. These discoveries, together with the well-known antibacterial properties towards Helicobacter Pylori, intensify GSE’s  protective and reparative action towards the gastric mucosa.

Centella: scientific studies have confirmed the value of traditional uses of this plant as a cicatrising and vascular-protective agent, highlighting its marked properties when it comes to the restructuring and regeneration of the connective tissue. Through the stimulation of fibroblasts, Centella induces the synthesis of both  constituents making up connective tissue, namely glycosaminoglycans, as well as collagen and elastin, thereby accelerating wound healing processes.

In case of ulcers and gastritis, Centella can be a precious ally as it helps restructure and reinforce the gastrointestinal mucous barrier, enabling protection caused by aggressive factors as well as accelerating wound healing.

Laurel: its leaves and fruits are rich in pectins; when hydrated they adhere to the stomach walls, increasing its resistance against both endogenous and exogenous, harmful agents.

Lythrum salicaria: it owes its name to lythron, meaning blood clot, a testimony to its well-known antihemorrhagic properties. The synergic action of the phytocomplex’s active principles solves the inflammatory state of the gastro-intestinal mucosa and promotes haemostasis of lesions, preventing the arising of any hemorrhagic complication.

Rutin: a flavonoid with marked vascular-protective, antioxidant and re-epithelising properties, thanks to which is supports and accelerates cicatrizing processes of inflamed or damaged mucosae.

Boswellia: with marked anti-inflammatory properties, unlike typical synthetic anti-inflammatories (NSAIMs), it does not cause gastric intolerance; on the contrary, it shows protective action towards ulcers and gastritis.

Passiflora: well-known for its sedative and calming properties. Given the relevance of factors such as stress and anxiety in the insurgence of ulcers and gastritis, Passiflora is a particularly apt ingredient. Moreover, its recognized efficacy in alleviating gastrointestinal spasms enable to obtain a pain-killing effect. Its extract is beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and nervousness, without running the risk of addiction.

 In such cases, it is advisable to take plant active constituents in swallowable tablets to be ingested on an empty stomach so as to facilitate direct action on the mucosa: one tablet around mid-morning, another at mid-afternoon and a third one before going to bed.

Since, as already mentioned, reflux can often lead to damage and lesions of the gastroesophageal mucosa, it may be necessary to apply long-term treatment, so as to gradually restructure and restore physiological functionality of the mucosae in this specific section of the digestive tract.

The association of the above-described ingredients, essential to ensure a definitive approach against reflux, can be further supported by specific remedies indicated for the following actions:

  • Action against dry cough through a product capable of ensuring its physiological evolution, soothing without suppressing it, as well as alleviating inflammation of the mucosae: the ideal formulation is a drinkable oral suspension, based on GSE, Chestnut, Lavender, Marrubium, Red Poppy.