Unfortunately, I’ve suffered from heartburn (GERD) since High School. Not good. Partly lifestyle, partly anxiety, and I’m sure some other factors to boot. It’s time to put a 100% concerted effort into stopping it!
Why haven’t I tried before?
I have. I’m almost always trying. I go through waves of it being bad and then bearable. I’ve tried diet changes, lifestyle changes, stress changes, pharmaceuticals like Prilosec, and every supplement under the sun. What seems to work in reducing discomfort:
- Reduced Stress – This is a big one. When work is crazy, it’s really bad. This is why I think pairing it with meditation is a good idea. I always feel less stressed on a day when I’ve meditated. I noticed far less heartburn on our trip around Europe.
- Diet – Coffee, Gluten, certain starches, spicy foods. I have a real problem with spicy foods. I dump hot sauce on everything.
- Meal Size – I eat too much in a sitting. I need to spread it out, and I also need to have my largest meals early in the day. It’s hard because I usually skip breakfast, then have a big lunch and dinner (then snack before bed.)
- LifeStyle – Eating/drinking before bed. Alcohol consumption. I stopped drinking almost 3 weeks before starting this, mostly in order to have better sleep and reduce daily stress. Booze seems to be the top of the hill for a bunch of downstream bad habits and lifestyle quirks.
- Sleep Planning – I began doing this a few weeks ago too. Getting to bed earlier, not drinking too much water before bed, and preparing myself for good sleep. This is paramount in reducing stress the following day.
- Supplements – I’m doing a course of GI Relief from Silver Fern. Fingers crossed it helps. I’ve been using it for about a month, and I haven’t noticed any changes, but it’s a 3-month course. I’m just starting to do a teaspoon of bitters before meals too.
- More – There are more courses of treatment down below.
heartburn – cut out everything • Breathwork & Meditation – do it daily.
September/October 2023 – Daily Progress
- 30th – Today it begins, sort of. I’ve been slowly working towards the beginning of this challenge for a few weeks now. I stopped any alcohol about 2 weeks ago, and I’ve slowed my intake of food before bed in the last week or so. Anxiety is through the roof thanks to work increasing by 200% and money disappearing due to the fires. I’ve been needing to work night and day and weekends while revenue has dropped massively. Plus the depression and stress while helping during the 1st month after the fires haven’t helped. More reason to care for my health.
- 1st – Guided meditation. A reminder that I need to have my coffee or caffeinated tea AFTER meditating. It’s hard enough straight out of bed.
- 2nd – I’m adding Angostura Bitters before each meal (a suggestion from my very good friend Sherri.) Today, I did another guided meditation. I’m having a hell of a time slowing down. I know freedom from self-judgement is a big thing, but it’s hard to not judge when my monkey-brain jumps around. I think tomorrow I’ll explore Tummo breathwork and take a break from meditating. I’m finding myself getting sucked back into the world of sugar again. Gotta stem that quickly before it’s a crutch.
- 3rd – Another HeadSpace guided meditation.
- 4th – My 1st walking meditation with Joe Dispenza. My friend Dano turned me onto him. I’m not totally sure how to do these. It has you sit, then walk, then stop abruptly. I’m not feeling very relaxed if I have to stop and sit on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house. I think I’ll need to go to Makawao Forest next time. That way, I’m free from sun exposure, and people won’t think I’m a weirdo for sitting off the path meditating (not that I should care what people think, but I still do for some reason.) On a side note, sugar-cravings seem to be a problem still. Replacing a nightcap cocktail with tea is a tough proposition.
- 5th – Headspace, Guided Meditation.
- 6th – Headspace, Guided Meditation.
- 7th – Headspace, Guided Meditation.
- 8th – Headspace, Guided Meditation. From having cut out so much, I’m seeing a reduction in heartburn. I notice it 1-2 times each night, and a few times while working. When working, it’s basically when I feel most stressed.
- 9th – long bath w/ mantra meditation.
- 10th – Headspace, Guided Meditation.
- 11th – Left to camp in Hana. I feel like the entire trip was meditation. Though, I did fall off the wagon intentionally and had beers and drinks. I didn’t look at my phone (other than when taking a few photos/videos.) I did a lot of deep-breathing and had a lot of silent moments in nature. Almost made it a full month off the booze, but I’m convinced now of how beneficial it is to take regular long-breaks. I slept better, I had more focus, and I was more patient. I’m about to hit the sobriety-train again when back from Hana.
- 12th – Walking meditation around Lani’s orchard.
- 13th – I began meditating at Hamoa Beach, and passed out under the trees for what was one of the best naps of my life. I woke up so relaxed.
- 14th – Headspace, Guided Meditation. Yes, I’ve been doing mostly the guided meditations. It’s just so easy.
- 15th – Headspace, Guided Meditation.
- 16th – worked out instead of meditating.
- 17th – worked out instead of meditating.
- 18th – worked out instead of meditating.
- 19th – OK, so I fell off the meditation wagon. I’ve begun working out instead due to a new rower being delivered. I also fell off the booze wagon. I wonder if they’re correlated? I have too much nervous anxiety in the morning with urgency to get to work. I feel like it’s so hard to meditate and be calm when I have way too much work to do. Obviously, I’d be calmer if I meditated. I’ll try again soon. Didn’t do too much breathwork. I think my hurdle there is having a space without interruption. Overall, my heartburn isn’t as bad, but I know now a little better what are the worst offenders. Gluten, STRESS, food/drink before bed, beer (gluten), excessively spicy foods.
Conventional and Alternative methods for GERD Relief
I’m far from being any kind of doctor, but if you’re looking for a comprehensive approach to managing chronic heartburn or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) that incorporates both conventional and alternative methods, here’s a potential framework that I’m finding useful.
- Avoid trigger foods – Common triggers include spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onions, and caffeinated or carbonated beverages.
- Eat smaller meals – Large meals can cause an increase in stomach acid production and pressure. Eating smaller meals throughout the day can reduce reflux episodes.
- Avoid eating before bedtime – It’s recommended to wait at least 3 hours after eating before lying down.
- Elevate the head of the bed – Using a wedge pillow or placing blocks under the head of your bed can reduce nighttime reflux.
- Lose weight if overweight – Excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen, pushing stomach contents into the esophagus.
- Avoid tight clothing – Tight belts or waistbands can compress the stomach and exacerbate symptoms.
- Aloe Vera Juice – Aloe is known for its soothing properties, and some people have found relief from GERD symptoms by drinking aloe vera juice.
- Ginger – This has been used for centuries to treat nausea and other gastrointestinal issues. Ginger tea or adding ginger to meals might help.
- Licorice – Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) has been used by some as a natural remedy for heartburn. However, be aware that licorice can raise blood pressure if taken in large amounts.
- Acupuncture – Some studies have suggested that acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of GERD, though the exact mechanisms are not well-understood.
- Herbal Formulations – Chinese traditional medicine, for example, offers various herbal preparations for digestive conditions, but consult with a specialist before taking any herbs.
- Antacids – For occasional relief. They neutralize stomach acid and provide rapid relief. I pop 2-10 Genexa per day…
- H2 Blockers – Like ranitidine (Zantac) and cimetidine (Tagamet), reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – Such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and esomeprazole (Nexium), are often prescribed for chronic GERD. They reduce stomach acid production. Tried this, and it mostly worked, but when I came off it, it was worse than before. This isn’t a permanent solution, and it worried me that it got worse.
- Mindfulness and Meditation – Stress can exacerbate GERD. Incorporating mindfulness practices can potentially reduce symptoms. I’ll be spending a good amount of time in the treehouse. See more below.
- Yoga – Some postures can help improve digestive health and reduce stress. I really enjoy yoga, but I find it hard to do it by myself. Just a motivation thing.
Here’s a list of some of the most common meditation methods, though I’ve only personally tried a few of them. I stopped with guided meditation because it works for me. I have far too much of a monkey-mind when it comes to sitting still, so I need the guidance.
- Guided Meditation – Having a guide either in-person or recorded on YouTube or an app like Calm or HeadSpace to walk you through a meditation. An instructor guides the practitioner through a meditative journey, often visualizing peaceful scenarios. I use HeadSpace and really enjoy it. It’s a mix of Mindfulness, body-scan, and zen.
- Mindfulness Meditation – Rooted in Buddhist traditions, this practice involves being present and fully engaged with the here and now, without judgment.
- Transcendental Meditation (TM) – A specific form of mantra meditation, TM involves silently repeating a specific sound or mantra to settle the mind. Tried it, but I have too active of a brainium.
- Body Scan Meditation – Focus is directed sequentially through different parts of the body, often starting from the toes and moving upwards, to cultivate awareness and relaxation.
- Loving-kindness Meditation (Metta) – The practitioner generates feelings of compassion and love, first toward oneself and then gradually toward others and all beings. I’ve tried this, and it’s great. The best thing to do is try this while having gratitude and manifesting positivity towards people you hate. It’s the hardest thing to do, but it relieves darkness you may not even know you have. Gotta expel any cancerous nasty thoughts.
- Zen Meditation (Zazen) – With roots in Zen Buddhism, this seated meditation often involves observing thoughts and sensations without attachment.
- Yoga Nidra – Known as “yogic sleep”, this guided meditation leads practitioners into a state between wakefulness and sleep, inducing deep relaxation. When I breathe deeply before a guided meditation (something I do every time), it approaches Nidra. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just taken a 2-hour nap after meditating. AMAZING!
- Breath Awareness Meditation – Concentration is solely on inhalation and exhalation, observing the breath without trying to change it. See more below. This is powerful! I’ve done it a home, guided, and at Lumeria with a group. It’s awesome! Better than 3 cocktails, for real.
- Chakra Meditation – Aimed at aligning and energizing the body’s seven chakras or energy centers, this meditation often involves visualization and chanting.
- Walking Meditation – Mindful walking, where every step is taken with full awareness of each movement and sensation.
- Vipassana Meditation – An ancient Indian technique that involves deep self-observation, it aims to see things as they truly are.
- Mantra Meditation – Using words or phrases (mantras), which are chanted out loud or internally to focus the mind and spirit.
- Progressive Relaxation – Also known as the Jacobson method, it involves tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in the body to promote calmness.
- Qigong – Part of traditional Chinese medicine, this combination of meditation, breathing exercises, and movement helps to balance the body’s chi (energy).
- Christian Meditation – Focusing on a passage in the Bible, this type of meditation encourages closeness with God. I’m not all that traditional when it comes to spirituality, so I doubt I’ll get to this one.
It’s worth noting that while these methods have unique characteristics, the core intention across all meditation practices is often similar: to develop inner peace, awareness, and concentration. Choosing a method typically depends on an individual’s personal preferences and what resonates most with them. For me, it’s most beneficial in keeping me even-keep and lowering stress throughout the day.
I LOVE breathwork. It’s powerful. My first time was using this guided MUD/WTR YouTube video. It’s 45 minutes long, but once you’ve listened to the first part explaining breathwork, it’s more like 30ish minutes to do it again. I felt like I was flying afterward! I’ve enjoyed Breathwork many times since, and it was inspired by reading Breath by James Nestor. SO GOOD! James Nestor’s exploration in “Breath” underscores the profound impact that various breathing techniques can have on our health, well-being, and even longevity. The practices below, whether ancient or modern, showcase the versatility and importance of breathwork in our lives. I failed my last breathwork challenge. I think this will be easier because I’ll be going back and forth between guided meditation and different kinds of breathwork.
TIP: I like to lay flat somewhere comfortable, and splay my hands and fingers out on the floor/bed (or even tuck them under my body a bit.) I have a real problem of my hands folding up and cramping during breathwork. This helps keep them from cramping.
- Nasal Breathing – Breathing exclusively through the nose, which can optimize lung volume, improve oxygenation, and act as a natural filter for the air.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing – Engaging the diaphragm, the primary respiratory muscle, to facilitate deeper and more efficient breaths.
- Buteyko Breathing – A method that emphasizes shallow breathing and occasional breath holds to increase carbon dioxide levels, helping with conditions like asthma.
- Box Breathing – Inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding the breath for equal durations, often used by military personnel and athletes to calm the mind and enhance focus.
- Tummo Breathing – A Tibetan practice that combines visualization and controlled breathing to generate bodily heat.
- Holotropic Breathwork – Developed by Dr. Stanislav Grof, it involves rapid and deep breathing to facilitate altered states of consciousness, often done in a group setting.
- Pursed-lip Breathing – Breathing in through the nose and exhaling slowly through pursed lips, which can help increase oxygen in the bloodstream.
- Breath Holding – Intentional cessation of breath for short periods to build up carbon dioxide and improve tolerance, which can have numerous health benefits when done safely.
- Rhythmic Breathing – Matching the breath to a specific rhythm or pattern, which can have calming and grounding effects.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) – A yogic practice where one alternately breathes through one nostril at a time, believed to balance the body’s energy channels.
- Kapalbhati (Skull-shining Breath) – A yogic technique involving short and forceful exhales followed by passive inhales, believed to cleanse the respiratory system.
- 7-11 Breathing – Inhaling for a count of 7 and exhaling for a count of 11, which can have a calming effect on the nervous system.
Wish me luck! If you feel like you’d like to join me, let me know in comments!
Always consult with a healthcare professional before making changes to your treatment plan. Some natural remedies might interact with medications or be unsuitable for certain individuals. Your physician can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.