(NaturalHealth365) According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sixty percent of the adult population of the United States will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, within a 12-month period – with 20 to 30 percent experiencing weekly symptoms. Commonly referred to as heartburn, GERD costs sufferers a staggering $8 billion a year in prescription and over-the-counter medications alone – many of which feature serious side effects.
Fortunately, many GERD sufferers are finding that they can relieve heartburn symptoms with a non-toxic, inexpensive orange-peel extract. That’s right, d-limonene from orange peels can actually help to relieve heartburn misery. (details – below)
Conventional GERD medications interfere with absorption of nutrients
GERD occurs when the sphincter muscle separating the stomach from the esophagus fails to close properly. This causes the stomach contents – including pancreatic enzymes, stomach acids, bile, liquids and bits of food – to regurgitate back into the esophagus, causing irritation, burning, belching and nausea.
In addition to being painful, chronic heartburn can raise the risk of cancers of the esophagus, larynx and pharynx. (Before the current, widespread incidence of GERD, experts say that most cases of esophageal cancer could be attributed to the effects of cigarettes and alcohol).
Western medicine attempts to treat heartburn symptoms with drugs – including antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors – but these have serious drawbacks. Many antacids contain aluminum, a known neurotoxin, while H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) interfere with the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin B-2, beta-carotene, thiamin, iron, sodium and zinc.
In addition, these medications shut down stomach acid production – denying the body the acid it needs to properly digest foods. By the way, according to the drug manufacturers, most heartburn medications should only be taken for short periods of time.
Sadly, without even knowing, many people use them on a long-term, daily basis – and risk serious adverse effects.
Clinical studies show that d-limonene torpedoes heartburn
D-limonene – a constituent of orange peels – has been shown to be effective in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, with an astounding 89 percent of the participants reporting that their heartburn symptoms resolved after only two weeks of supplementation.
At the beginning of the study, participants ranked their heartburn symptoms on a scale from 1 to 10, with the average severity hovering around 8. After d-limonene supplementation, many reported that their symptoms dropped to 1 or 2.
In fact, by the end of the second week, 83 percent of the limonene group reported heartburn severity of 2 or less – while only 30 percent of the placebo group achieved this result.
Interestingly, a higher percentage of participants reported experiencing relief from taking d-limonene every other day – as opposed to taking the nutrient daily.
For some participants, the beneficial effects of d-limonene persisted six months after supplementation had stopped. The researchers praised d-limonene’s “long-lasting beneficial effects,” remarking that fully 50 percent of the respondents in the follow-up survey remained “free of gastric distress” – an amazing outcome.
How does d-limonene accomplish heartburn relief?
By coating the esophagus, d-limonene helps to protect against refluxed stomach contents – while its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects allow it to fight oxidative damage and inflammation.
In addition, the flavonoid supports healthy peristalsis – facilitating more rapid travel through the stomach so that irritants don’t promote as much reflux. D-limonene also promotes increased bile production, regulates stomach acidification and improves detoxification, helping to flush toxins and wastes from the digestive tract.
Bonus benefit: D-limonene may provide a barrier against bacterial infection, including the H. pylori pathogen, which can cause ulcers and increase risk of stomach cancer. In a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Food and Science Technology, researchers found that d-limonene prevented the proliferation of E. coli bacteria, while other studies have demonstrated that it can suppress salmonella bacteria – a common culprit in case of food poisoning.
D-limonene is also receiving favorable attention from researchers for its anticancer activity, particularly against cancers of the breast, skin, liver, lung, pancreas and stomach. Research has shown that it reduces tumor growth in some studies.
Not surprisingly, research is ongoing into d-limonene’s potential to treat Crohn’s disease and other digestive conditions.
How much d-limonene was taken to achieve results?
In the clinical study, the participants received one 1,000-mg capsule of purified d-limonene every other day for 20 days – which had the effect of reducing or eliminating heartburn in most cases. In some cases, this short course of intensive treatment provided relief for weeks and even months.
Joe S. Wilkens, the Houston-based pharmacist and scientist who discovered d-limonene’s effects on heartburn, reports that he stays symptom-free by taking a single 1,000-mg limonene capsule each month.
Naturally, you should check with your integrative healthcare provider before treating GERD with d-limonene.
Other natural ways to alleviate heartburn include sleeping with the head elevated and avoiding lying down within three hours of a meal. Experts also advise maintaining healthy body weight – as abdominal fat increases pressure on the stomach and encourages stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus.
You can also decrease your odds of heartburn by avoiding smoking, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Common food irritants include chocolate, tomatoes, vinegar, peppermint and fatty or spicy foods.
Heartburn is a painful condition that can have serious health consequences – and existing pharmaceutical treatments also have unwanted health effects. So, as a low-cost, safe, effective and natural heartburn remedy, d-limonene may just be a real game-changer for you.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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