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 Herbal Medicine: Esophagitis & Gastroesophageal reflux 
Reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus leading to localized infection.

This relatively common and unpleasant problem is usually caused by problems to do with control of the esophageal sphincter. This in turn can be due to hiatushernia or other less common pathologies. However it may also be due to physical corrosion from components in the diet such as tobacco, alcohol, and acidic food. Relaxation of this sphincter muscle lets gastric juices flow back up into the lower end of the oesophagus, causing heart burn (pain behind the breastbone).

Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease :
Demulcents will soothe and coat the tissue of the esophagus, insulating the mucosal lining from acidic gastric contents.
Anti-inflammatories will reduce any localized mucosal reaction.
Vulneraries aid the natural healing process of ulcerations and other lesions.
Astringents will lessen local bleeding or other exudates.
Alterative help the body dealing with any systemic problems that might result from the disease.
Carminatives may be needed if there is a more general disruption of the digestive process.
CAUTION: Bitters are contra-indicated in the initial stages of treatment as they stimulate the secretion of stomach acid as well as peristaltic activity.

System Support
The whole of the digestive system must be helped, as must elimination in general. The disruption of stomach function will possibly lead to disrupted digestion and assimilation. This will impact on the eliminative process. Stress is going to be involved, whether causal or as a result of the condition itself.

Specific Remedies
Remember that any description of specific remedies for a condition reflect accrued wisdom and experience through herbal history. They will not replace a balanced prescription that takes into account all the actions indicated as well as system support. Demulcent vulneraries have most to offer as the use of Comfrey root attests. Otherwise there are no specifics as such.

One possible prescription


Comfrey root 2 parts
Marshmallow root 2 parts
Calendula 1 part
Chamomile 1 part of tincture, to 5ml in total 3 times a day

Infusion of the anti-inflammatory Chamomile sipped slowly throughout the day will help.

This combination supplies:

  • demulcent (Comfrey root, Marshmallow root)
  • lymphatic (Calendula)
  • vulnerary (Comfrey root, Calendula)
  • astringents (Comfrey root, Calendula)
  • anti-inflammatory (Chamomile, Calendula)
  • Carminatives (Chamomile)
Broader Context of Treatment
Tobacco smoking causes a lowering of tone in the sphincter thus allowing reflux to occur. Alcohol in turn increases the production of gastric acid and thus contributes to the general discomfort. Yet more reasons to avoid this two dangerous `drugs'. A bland diet free of any irritants is very important, as is dealing with stress, anxiety and any systemic health problems. The following simple advice will reduce much of the symptomatic discomfort whilst treating the underlying problem:
  • raise the head of the bed or sleep with several pillows.
  • avoid stooping and constricting pressure on the abdomen (such as very tight clothes).
  • eat no food in the three hours before bedtime.
  • stop smoking.
  • avoid alcohol.
  • lose weight.
  • avoid refined sugar.
  • chew well and eat slowly.
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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