Heartburn/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic relapsing problem that happens when the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus stays open more than is normal. When stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus it can irritate the lining and cause burning called heartburn. As many as 10% of adults have episodes once a day and 44% at least once a month. Other symptoms include hoarseness or nocturnal cough.
An ulcer is an erosion in the lining of the upper gastrointestinal system, the stomach or the duodenum. Increased stomach acid is associated with the formation of ulcers. With an ulcer you feel epigastric or stomach pain that is burning and occurs 1-3 hours after eating.
Standard medical treatments:
Decrease caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, greasy food, peppermint, chocolate
Antacids (Maalox, TUMS)
Treat H. pylori with antibiotics
Acid blockers – H2-receptor antagonists (Zantac, Tagamet)
Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid)
Elevate head of bed
Eat lightly at night
Surgery to correct hiatal hernia
Supportive and alternative treatments:
Aloe vera juice – coats upper GI lining
DGL – Deglycyrrhizinated licorice – protects stomach lining
Comfrey root – promotes wound healing
Marshmallow root – lowers stomach acid and protects stomach lining
Calamus root – treats heartburn
Postural realignment bodywork
GERD/Ulcer and Cannabis
As far back as 1978 it was shown that acute and long-term cannabis treatment reduced the rate of gastric ulceration in rats subjected to restraint-induced stress. A review of the gastrointestinal effects of cannabinoids in 2001 states “The digestive tract contains endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonylglycerol) and cannabinoid CB1 receptors can be found on myenteric and submucosal nerves. Activation of CB1 receptors inhibits gastrointestinal motility, intestinal secretion and gastric acid secretion” and conclude “The enteric location of CB1 receptors could provide new strategies for the management of gut disorders. In addition to affecting stomach acid, the muscle relaxant properties of cannabis make it useful for GERD, in that the stomach sphincters become more relaxed, thereby reducing reflux. A tincture is a good method of delivery to treat upper digestive disorders as it is absorbed directly into submucosal tissues upon swallowing.