advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Putting Heartburn to Bed?
I am buying a new bed and would like to know if it would be beneficial for my acid reflux to buy an adjustable bed to elevate my upper body, or do I need to elevate just my head six inches (not the upper half of the bed)?
A
Answer (Published 10/14/2004)

Almost everyone occasionally experiences acid reflux, the backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. This usually occurs after eating and often brings on heartburn, an uncomfortable burning sensation behind the breastbone. When reflux is frequent and severe enough to damage the esophagus or interfere with normal activities, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Digestive Health - Digestive problems can be uncomfortable and impact your quality of life. Simple changes to your diet, lifestyle and supplement routines may help - learn more, and get your free, personalized vitamin recommendation today.

Elevating the upper body - not just the head - when you're in bed can help relieve the symptoms, but while it can help, it shouldn't be the main treatment for GERD. The approach I recommend begins with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), a remedy extracted from licorice root. (Whole licorice can increase blood pressure; no such effect occurs with DGL). You can buy DGL in powder or tablet form. The easiest way to take it is to chew two tablets slowly before every meal or in between meals, or take one-half teaspoon of the powder before meals. You can continue to take DGL as long as you have symptoms. I also suggest visualization as a mind-body technique to help manage GERD symptoms. The following lifestyle changes can help prevent problems before they start:

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. If you do drink, be sure to eat something beforehand.
  • If you smoke, stop - tobacco can irritate the digestive system.
  • Avoid coffee and decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine can aggravate symptoms.
  • Instead, drink chamomile tea, which has soothing properties. (Peppermint tea will aggravate GERD.)
  • Avoid any foods that make your stomach unhappy.
  • Don't eat within two to three hours before bedtime, and avoid lying down after meals.
  • Avoid antacids containing aluminum. (Chronic use can lead to a bone softening condition in adults called osteomalacia.) Avoid sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, bicarb) because of its sodium content. Calcium carbonate (Tums) and magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are all right.
  • Drugs that reduce the risk of esophageal damage by blocking histamine, which helps trigger stomach acid secretion, are very effective but aren't recommended for long term use. These include Pepcid, Zantac, Tagamet and Axid. Prilosec and Prevacid work by blocking the final pathway of acid secretion but shouldn't be used long-term either.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here