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The burning sensation in your chest, the lump in your throat, the sour liquid climbing up your gullet. If this sounds familiar, you probably suffer from acid reflux.

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the kind of heartburn you may feel after eating a large meal late at night. Certain foods, beverages and medications can also trigger GERD.

But instead of reaching for an over-the-counter pill or other pharmaceutical remedy, people are trying CBD in hopes that it can calm their stomach acid. Fortunately, research seems to be backing up the claims that CBD can help reduce acid reflux.

Acid Reflux Is a Common & Growing Problem

According to the Healthcare and Utilization Project, a government-run database of hospital care information, 60% of the population suffers from acid reflux some time during the year, with 20–30% feeling the burn weekly. It points out:

“When this reflux occurs on a regular basis, GERD may lead to esophagitis (an inflamed lining of the esophagus), narrowing of the esophagus, bleeding or trouble swallowing. More serious complications may emerge, such as the precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma.”

Apparently, hospitalizations with either a primary or secondary GERD diagnosis increased by 216% from 995,402 in 1998 to 3,141,965 in 2005.

That said, many people can address acid reflux symptoms with over-the-counter medications before they turn to more serious alternatives like prescription drugs and surgery.

Increasingly, though, medical professionals are looking at cannabis in general, and CBD oil in particular as a means of coping with GERD. “[CBD has] been shown to help heal ulcers and decrease acid reflux,” says Dr. Kenneth Brown, M.D., a board-certified gastroenterologist and doctor of internal medicine in Plano, TX, who often recommends CBD oil to his patients.

“When the CBD binds to the CB1 receptor, it decreases excessive gastric acid, helps the lower esophagus prevent reflux, and increases blood flow to the lining of the stomach to help it heal quicker,” he explains.

Traditional Treatments for GERD

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Elevating the head of your bed
  • Not lying down right after a meal
  • Avoiding trigger foods and drinks, including fatty and fried foods, caffeine and alcohol
  • Not wearing tight-fitting clothing

For mild cases of acid reflux, many people turn to nonprescription antacid medications we’ve all seen at the drugstore. But then there are prescription pills people can also take, like:

  • Prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers: These include prescription-strength famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine and ranitidine (Zantac).
  • Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors: These include esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex) and dexlansoprazole (Dexilant).
  • Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter: The medication Baclofen may ease GERD by decreasing the frequency of relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter.

In more extreme cases, patients may elect to have a fundoplication procedure, in which the surgeon “wraps the top of your stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter, to tighten the muscle and prevent reflux.”

Another surgical procedure involves using a LINX device, in which a ring of tiny magnetic beads is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus, closing it enough to stop acid reflux but still allowing food to get through.

How CBD Can Help With Acid Reflux

While more rigorous research needs to be done, some studies suggest that CBD may have a role to play in dealing with the symptoms of GERD, harnessing the ability of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to fight inflammation and repair mucosal damage.

Apparently, CBD can work with the soft muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal system to calm the peristalsis (involuntary muscle movements) that moves food and waste. It also manages the secretion of hydrochloric acid, reducing the chances of it splashing back into the esophagus. Additionally, CBD reduces inflammation and burning in the lining of the esophagus.

A 2017 study conducted by Swedish scientists at AstraZeneca suggests that medical cannabis, including CBD, may have a role in treating GERD, because “activation of cannabinoid receptors CB1, CB2 produces analgesic [or pain relieving] effects in several experimental pain models, including visceral pain arising from the gastrointestinal tract.”

Since pain is a problem with GERD, CBD’s analgesic’s potential is of interest, examined by, among other studies, a 2009 study that considered inflammatory pain, and the roles of CB1 and CB2 receptors.

With such promising research on the rise, acid reflux sufferers may find welcome relief when ingesting CBD regularly.

Photo credit: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock.com

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Studies show CBD may help decrease excessive gastric acid and inflammation, while preventing acid reflux and mucosal damage in the esophagus.

CBD for Acid Reflux – November 2020

What is Acid Reflux?

One of the most sensitive and complex human organ systems is the gastrointestinal system. Upsetting this might result in the overproduction or backflow of stomach acid or known as acid reflux.

Acid reflux is the backward movement of the stomach acid in your stomach area to your throat through the esophagus (the tube that connects the two). This backwash often irritates the lining of the esophagus (1 ) .

It prompts discomfort around the upper abdomen, which sometimes causes a painful, burning sensation in the chest (as if having a heart attack) known as heartburn.

Individuals with this condition experience heartburn after a big hearty meal, drinking coffee, and alcohol (2 ) .

Common symptoms aside from heartburn are nausea, vomiting, or difficulty in swallowing. Acid reflux can also cause hoarseness of the voice, sore throat, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth (3 ) .

Why is this happening?

There are many causes of acid reflux. However, it most commonly arises when the muscles that control the tube between the stomach and esophagus do not entirely close, allowing acids and food in the stomach flow back. And this could cause tissue injury around that area ( ) .

Is Acid Reflux the same with GERD?

Medically, acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux (GER). If this progresses to a more severe form and produces chronic symptoms, then this is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease or commonly known as GERD (5 ) .

GER and GERD share the same symptoms, and shared among the two is heartburn. However, for GERD, it might occur between two or more times a week (6 ) .

Moreover, signs and symptoms for GERD can include food regurgitation, sour liquid, difficulty in swallowing, wheezing, and coughing.

In North America, 18 to 28% percent of the population has this disease, where it affects mostly the younger (30-39 years old) population, contrary to the belief that is more prevalent in the older groups (7 ) .

How does CBD work?

To understand how the cannabinoid (CBD) works in the gastroesophageal tract, one must understand the role of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the body.

CBD works by interacting with the body’s ECS and its particular cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) (8 ) , including its role in the gastric functions

Studies have shown that CBRs have demonstrated their effect on gastrointestinal motility, inflammation and immunity, intestinal and gastric acid secretion, nociception and emesis pathways, and appetite control (9 ) .

Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also modulates the movement and volatility of intestinal propulsions. CBD interacts with the surrounding soft muscles of the gastrointestinal system that results in the relaxation and contraction of the muscles (10 ) .

CBD also manages the secretion of gastric acid. It inhibits gastric acid secretion via CB1 receptors. CBD decreases the likelihood of overburdening the gastroesophageal space and might reduce inflammation of the esophageal lining (11 ) .

Treatment with CBD

There is no known standard of dosage in the use of CBD to treat acid reflux. Like any other use of medicines and supplementations, taking CBD varies according to age, weight, and genetics. Generally, it is six (6) milligrams of CBD per body weight (12 ) .

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not yet regulate the use of CBD, it is quite tricky to find the right amount or dosage of CBD use. However, starting with a small dosage and only increasing it gradually over several weeks is recommended (13 ) .

It is important to note that before using CBD for acid reflux, always consult first with an expert or doctors experienced on cannabis used as a form of medication.

Conclusion

Acid reflux or medically known as gastroesophageal reflux is an acute condition when the stomach is upset, resulting in backflow or “reflux” of gastric acid to the esophageal tract.

However, when it progresses for an extended period and increases in severity, it would result in GERD.

CBD interacts through the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), resulting in the softening of the surrounding muscle of the gastrointestinal tract, helping in the peristalsis of these muscles, preventing fluid backflow to the esophagus. It also regulates gastric acid production.

CBD may show a promising position to help address acid reflux, however, one should not use it without seeking the advice of a doctor expert on cannabis.

CBD may show a promising position to help address acid reflux. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD modulates the movement and volatility of intestinal propulsions. CBD interacts with the surrounding soft muscles of the gastrointestinal system that results in the relaxation and contraction of the muscles.