Acidity, acid reflux, heartburn... Take action!
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, affects about 30% of the population. It is characterized by the backflow of food into the esophagus, causing heartburn and acid reflux. Fortunately, natural solutions exist to restore calm and well-being to the digestive system.
Physiology of digestion
During meals, food is ground up in the mouth and travels down the esophagus to the stomach. The esophagus and stomach are separated by a muscular band, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which provides a seal at the esogastric junction. The way it works is similar to that of a flap valve. When the muscles of the LES relax, it opens to allow food to pass through, while when the muscles contract, it closes. The function of the LES is to prevent food from flowing back up from the stomach into the esophagus during digestion.
Once in the stomach, food is exposes to the action of various enzymes in an acidic environment. The stomach has two main functions. It plays a role in the mixing of the food bolus and also secretes the substances needed to break down the food. The gastric juice is mainly made up of hydrochloric acid (HCL), which gives it its acidity and a pH of between 1 and 3, and pepsin, an enzyme with proteolytic action (facilitating the digestion of proteins). (Please note : A neutral pH, i.e. neither acidic nor basic, is equal to 7.) Other enzymes such as lipase and amylase, responsible for the breakdown of lipids and starch respectively, are also involved. However, the stomach lining itself is protected from acidity and enzymes by the presence of bicarbonate ions and a protective film of mucus.
However, if the lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions, the symptoms of GERD are quickly felt.
Characteristics of GERD
Everyone has experienced GERD symptoms at least once in their lives. GERD, although annoying, is of no consequence when it occurs only occasionally. However, when it becomes chronic and the frequency of episodes increases, GERD becomes problematic.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is characterized by a decrease in the force of contraction of the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes it to close poorly. The gastric fluid that escapes into the esophagus constitutes acid reflux, which is directly responsible for heartburn. The heartburn is also accompanied by pain in the lower chest. Other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux include regurgitation of stomach contents into the mouth and a sore throat. In rare cases, stomach contents may leak into the lungs and cause a chronic cough.
In addition, as the stomach contents rise into the esophagus, hydrochloric acid and pepsin come into contact with the lining of the esophagus and cause erosion and inflammation of its lining. This can lead to increased pain during swallowing. Repeated contact with gastric contents increases the damage to the esophagus and impairs its function. The contraction power of the LES then gradually decreases, thus reinforcing the frequency of reflux responsible for the establishment of a vicious circle. Inflammation can also be felt in the stomach itself in the case of gastritis.
Causes of GERD
Several foods have been identified as being involved in the onset of GERD. These include carbonated drinks, fruit juices with an acidic pH, alcohol and caffeine, which stimulate acid secretion or a delay in gastric emptying.
A high-fat diet and weight gain are also risk factors. In addition, GERD is common during pregnancy, where it can appear as early as the first trimester and intensify through to term. This is due to the increased abdominal pressure that the baby exerts on the mother's stomach during its development.
In addition, certain medications such as anticholinergics, including antidepressants and antihistamines, can also affect the proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter.
To reduce symptoms, some simple things can be done, such as raising the feet of the bedhead by placing wedges about 20 centimetres high. It is also possible to place two pillows to elevate the head and thus avoid the return of gastric acid into the esophagus during sleep. Furthermore, by spacing out the evening meal and the time of bedtime by about 3 hours, this will help to reduce reflux.
The synergistic association of THERASCIENCE Laboratory
To act effectively against gastro-esophageal reflux, the THERASCIENCE Laboratory has developed PHYSIOMANCE RGO, a synergistic combination of 2 bio-actives and 1 bio-polymer with 4 complementary actions on acidity, inflammation, muscle tone and esophageal protection.
PHYSIOMANCE RGO is an ideally dosed formula that provides 1 500 mg of lithothamnion, including 450 mg of calcium (i.e. 56% of the Reference Intake), 450 mg of German chamomile extract and 750 mg of alginate, for 6 tablets.
PHYSIOMANCE RGO has the following modes of action :
- Esophagus protection
Alginate is a polysaccharide made up of a chain of mannuronic acid and guluronic acid sub-units and is present in the wall of brown algae. The ability of this bio-polymer to retain water is used to modify the viscosity of liquids, particularly when combined with calcium. The latter is provided by lithothamnion, a red algae rich in minerals.
The combination of lithothamnion and alginate forms an anti-reflux barrier, protecting the esophageal wall against the acidity of HCl and the action of pepsin.1-2 This protective action is further enhanced by the gastroprotective activity of German chamomile.3
- Acidity regulation
Lithothamnion is a source of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Once in the stomach, it is involved in the formation of bicarbonate ions HCO3-. The bicarbonate formed increases the gastric pH, thus mimicking the action of the bicarbonate produced by the mucocytes, and thus protecting the lining of the esophagus.4-5
- Reducing inflammation
To combat the inflammation and burning sensation caused by GERD, PHYSIOMANCE RGO provides German chamomile extract, a plant known for its anti-inflammatory activity, while the anti-reflux barrier formed by alginate limits gastric reflux and therefore reduces the risk of inflammation.6-7
- Muscle tone of the lower esophageal sphincter
The calcium provided by lithothamnion is an essential mineral for the functioning of the body. In particular, it is involved in muscle contraction. Calcium therefore contributes to the contraction of the lower esophageal sphincter and thus helps to limit the risk of reflux into the esophagus.1-2 With PHYSIOMANCE RGO, protect your esophagus from acid reflux and say goodbye to digestive discomfort.
- Rodriguez-Stanley, Sheila et al. “Calcium carbonate antacids alter esophageal motility in heartburn sufferers.” Digestive diseases and sciences vol. 49,11-12 (2004): 1862-7.
- Leiman, D A et al. “Alginate therapy is effective treatment for GERD symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Diseases of the esophagus : official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus vol. 30,5 (2017): 1-9.
- Al-Hashem, Fahaid H. “Gastroprotective effects of aqueous extract of Chamomilla recutita against ethanol-induced gastric ulcers.” Saudi medical journal vol. 31,11 (2010): 1211-6.
- Almeida, F et al. “Gastroprotective and toxicological evaluation of the Lithothamnion calcareum algae.” Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association vol. 50,5 (2012): 1399-404.
- da Silva RP, Kawai GSD, Andrade FRDd, Bezzon VDN, Ferraz HG. Characterisation and Traceability of Calcium Carbonate from the Seaweed Lithothamnium calcareum. Solids. 2021; 2(2):192-211.
- Ortiz, Mario I et al. “Isolation, identification and molecular docking as cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors of the main constituents of Matricaria chamomilla L. extract and its synergistic interaction with diclofenac on nociception and gastric damage in rats.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie vol. 78 (2016): 248-256.
- Bor, Serhat et al. “Alginates: From the ocean to gastroesophageal reflux disease treatment.” The Turkish journal of gastroenterology : the official journal of Turkish Society of Gastroenterology vol. 30,Suppl2 (2019): 109-136.