Heartburn is one of those nasty afflictions that seems to hit everyone from time to time – and for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) it can be a daily problem. Commercial medications can offer some relief, but not every medicine works the same for every person, and there can be side effects.
Thankfully, nature usually offers a solution of its own, and this case is no exception.
Orange peel extract
In an effort to get away from the long-term use of proton-pump inhibitor medicines, researchers looked at natural alternatives and studied the effects of orange peel extract on GERD symptoms. Orange peel extract, also known as d-limonene, has been used extensively for aroma and flavor-enhancing in foods and similar products. Researchers decided to take a closer look at its health-promoting properties as well.
Orange peel extract has been scientifically linked to dissolving cholesterol-laden gallstones, and it is also believed to have cancer preventative properties. As to why it works as a heartburn medication, there have been some theories, but to date, there is no clearly established process.
The following are a few of the theories:
- Because it is lighter than water, orange peel extract is believed to float on the surface of the stomach’s gastric juices, where it has a neutralizing effect.
- It supports the process of esophageal peristalsis, which is the natural means for moving food through the esophagus in the direction of the stomach.
- Since it is linked with minor increases in burping, this can serve as a means of transporting the orange peel extract up into the esophagus where it can coat the lining and protect it from acid damage.
- It is speculated to promote faster expulsion of the food and juices out of the stomach, giving it less time to create reflux conditions.
- Lastly, it may also create a barrier that protects the stomach and esophagus from infection by bacteria, such as H. pylori.
Scientifically demonstrated success
A clinical study was run by Roger Willette, MD, internal medicine specialist in Houston, Texas, to test the success of orange peel extract at resolving heartburn symptoms. In the first phase of this two-part trial, 19 participants were asked to give a rating of their heartburn severity and frequency. Then they were asked to consume 1,000 milligrams of d-limonene either daily or every other day.
Within two weeks, 89 percent of the participants had reported almost complete resolution of their symptoms. The ratings of heartburn severity dropped from the starting point of 8.3 to between 1 or 2 on the index.
During the double-blind, second phase of the study, a group of 22 participants was randomly given either 1,000 milligrams of d-limonene or a placebo. By the end of 20 days, the group that had taken the d-limonene had 75 percent of participants report that their heartburn symptoms had resolved down to a rating of no higher than 2 on the severity scale. By comparison, only 20 percent of the placebo taking participants had found heartburn relief.
For the participants who experienced relief with d-limonene, they continued to be heartburn-free for more than two weeks after the study. Some participants even claimed to have relief that lasted up to six months. No adverse effects of any kind were reported by any of the participants.
As a word of caution, d-limonene should not be taken by women who are pregnant or nursing, or by those who have ulcers. As with any new treatment method, you should always consult your physician before starting a new supplement or medication.
-The Alternative Daily