More about health advantages of body elevations:
Acid reflux disease or in mild cases heartburn, is an increasingly common condition in the developed world, characterized by frequent regurgitations of stomach acid into the lower esophagus. GERD can often be caused by a hiatal hernia, a condition where part of the stomach slips above the diaphragm to contact the esophagus. If left untreated, damage caused by severe GERD can cause replacement of the normal cells lining the esophagus by other tissue types (a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus), eventually leading to an increased risk of esophageal cancer. While acid-suppressive medications can be used, their potential side effects and complications can be avoided through a variety of simpler treatment measures. This review article finds significant clinical evidence for the efficacy of lifestyle-based treatments for heartburn and GERD, including elevation of the head of the bed.
- Rationale and efficacy of conservative therapy for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Kitchin et al. Arch Internal Med (1991).
This controlled clinical trial evaluated blood flow through the common femoral vein of the leg (important for proper drainage and circulation in the lower limbs) across several alternative postures at rest. Significant improvements in blood flow were found in the 6-degree leg elevation position compared to all others evaluated. In the final paragraph, the authors note that leg elevation provides a simple, cheap, and low risk therapy to improve blood flow, reduce endothelial damage (damage to tissues of the blood vessel walls, which can lead to a number of circulatory complications), and enhance fibrinolysis (the body’s natural dispersal of blood clots, which could otherwise lead to increased risk for heart attack and stroke).
Posture, blood velocity in common femoral vein, and prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism. E C Ashby et al. Lancet (1995)
This clinical review article evaluates and summarizes an extensive series of past studies on the treatment and consequences of poor leg circulation (chronic venous insufficiency), confirming that leg elevation above heart level is effective in significantly improving leg circulation and reducing edema (swelling and accumulation of fluid), especially when supplemented in particularly severe cases by compression stockings, medications, or surgery.
- Chronic venous insufficiency and venous ulceration. Alguire et al. Journal of General Internal Medicine. (1997)
For additional information on treatments of GERD, reflux and heartburn, congestion and other sleep disorders, see www.MayoClinic.com, PDRHealth, Massachusetts General Hospital, and HealthWorld