General Question

tan253's avatar

Any magic bullets to cure GERD naturally?

Asked by tan253 (2028points) January 6th, 2016

I have really bad acid reflux. I know I can take prilosec, but if I can cure it naturally then I’d rather do that.
I wonder if anyone knows if there is a way you can tell if it’s a function problem, re: your esophagus doesn’t work properly, therefore it never will so yes you need to take medication, or if it’s a dietry thing?
I suffer quite badly from an anxiety disorder and I’ve had heart burn for as long as I can remember.
However, I dont want to be stuck in a vicious cycle with medication and I believe the body to be capable of healing yet I can’t seem to heal this and it’s really affecting me, also I don’t want it to eat away at my insides and cause cancer. ;)
Thanks for any help – natural help, I’ve been to see the Dr many times, however here in NZ it’s very hard to get see a Gastro Dr – unless you’re really sick they just don’t do that unless it’s private.

Thank you.

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49 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I have GERDS and what is crucial to stopping the attack of acid reflux is to avoid acidic foods and carbonated beverages, reduce the amounts you eat by half and not eat past 6 PM.

Any form of ginger twice a day is very beneficial towards knocking down the effects of GERDS and chewing 5–6 fennel seeds when your belly is upset will help you manage the GERDS symptoms. Taking OTC Prilosec daily will be your best defense to combating GERDS but it all really comes down to what you eat and drink and how much. If you control your intake you can make GERDS go away. DO consult with your Doc on this.

Coloma's avatar

Don’t eat spicy foods, especially within a few hours of bedtime.
Avoid highly acidic foods like pizza, tomatoes, etc.
Do not eat, anything, several hours before bedtime. Bland foods like yogurt or milk, toast, oatmeal etc. might be okay.

Eat small meals spaced a few hours apart do not gorge at any one meal.
Pay attention to deep breathing for relaxation and try to get into a meditative space a couple times a day.

tan253's avatar

I did eat lasagne for lunch and I’ve had a coffee, however, I was taking prilosec for a week and that helped so much – I left it behind on holiday, so haven’t been on it for a week now, Dr prescribed a month. I was so confident in my gut that I did eat the wrong types of foods!
Sometimes though even water hurts me – I just wonder if it’s a biological weakness perhaps, something that wont change no matter how well I eat etc.

tan253's avatar

What about lemons?I have lemon in water a lot and I squeeze lemon on everything – it’s acidic but alkaline in the body so is lemon ok?
My Dr doesn’t actually know, they are not well versed in food and health.

Cruiser's avatar

@tan253 I had to make a commitment to avoid tomato based sauces and opt for ‘white’ sauces instead and that was a major step in the right direction. It really comes down to WHAT you eat, WHEN you eat and how MUCH you eat.

I too loved lemons but lemons are ‘heating’ and obviously very acidic and irritating your symptoms, but oddly limes (in moderation) are a less offender and can actually cool your gut and the choice I make when I desire that citrus flavor.

tan253's avatar

@Cruiser I’d love you to explain the heating and cooling aspect to foods?
I would instinctively say Cooling is good for reflux! ;)

Cruiser's avatar

@tan253 That is a complex deep answer that I will try to simplify. We all have different bodies and some foods are irritating to our disposition and digestive tracts while other can consume them at will. Acid foods like tomatoes, beets, lemons are very acidic and can linger in the stomach especially in the later hours where they will cause digestive issues in the stomach and burp up into the esophagus where GERDS does its most harm.

I have found that on rare occasions I can eat a red sauce pizza (heating) and if I eat a portion of pineapple that counteracts “cools” the acid nature of the tomato sauce I have little issues with heartburn.

I believe you can Google ‘heating vs cooling’ foods to get a better understanding of this dynamic but I also found the list of good foods vs bad foods my Gastro gave me were lock step with the heating cooling list. Do consult your Dr to discuss this topic in greater detail.

tan253's avatar

Thanks @Cruiser – I know my bad foods are what you describe, no way I can eat onion or garlic, tomato sauce a big no, even coconut cream a big no – coffee seems to occasionally work and then not again. I love food – it’s awful and my favourite food is nachos – haven’t had them in 2 years!
Anyway blabbing, maybe i should go see a Chinese herbalist?
I’ve asked to see a Gastro and they have said no – I will try again though.

Pandora's avatar

I take tums. Drink plenty of water. I use to drink water with lemon in it. It didn’t help or make it worse.
I also will drink mint tea when my stomach is really bad. As suggest above, don’t eat past 6 or 7 pm. Really depends what time you are going to bed.
Caffeine drinks and chocolate can also aggravate it. Mostly stay away from greasy fried foods or heavy fatty foods.

I still eat fried stuff once in a while but I try to keep it down to only one meal for the day. Most days I avoid it altogether.
Give your stomach time to digest before exercising.
When you have a bout, try not to lay down. That just makes it easier for the acid to go up your esophagus and do damage that will take weeks to recover from.
Also, little discovery a nurse told me once. I suffered from 2 years of, what I thought was allergy related coughing at night because of nasal drip, and it turned out to be that the fumes from my stomach acid, was irritating my sinuses at night. I did what the nurse recommended, which was to take my medication daily and the nasal drip stopped within two days.
I don’t like to take medication, so I just have become aware of the foods that hurt me and I try to avoid them or at least eat them early in the day. I do occasionally have bad weeks, and then I fall back to simple basic foods that are harmless for my digestion and avoid all rich food till I feel I can go back to eating them.
But most of the year I’m ok. Holidays are a bit tough but I’ll drink some mint tea before and sometimes after and I will be ok. Or have a tums or two.

I gave up taking the medication years ago when I found out it can interfere with your calcium. But here is a list of all the stuff Prilosec can cause. I hate it when medication helps fix one thing but makes you unhealthy in several different areas. I’ll take it if I’m really really bad for a day or two. But by doing all the things above, I have not needed any medication for years.

tan253's avatar

wow thanks @Pandora, funny you mentioned the coughing as on Prilosec even though it was only a week I noticed my sinuses were great, now off it i’ve started coughing again.
I just don’t want to do damage, causing cancer etc is my biggest fear. I think I should really try for a week to re set my stomach. I normally avoid all rich foods, I’m slim and not a bad eater, I eat salads and lean meats, so frustrating as I’m not sure why I get GERD, but I do think an anxiety disorder makes you quite acidic. Thanks though @Pandora – reallly helpful x

gorillapaws's avatar

I take Omeprazole daily and it works wonders for me. Acid reflux can cause esophageal cancer and that’s nothing I want to roll the dice on. You can play games with the “all natural” bullshit, but Omeprazole is safe/effective/cheap and well established over many years so I’m having a hard time seeing the down side if you’re taking it and not experiencing negative side effects.

Just for reference the following stuff is “all natural” it’s a meaningless term when it comes to health:
Arsenic
Mercury
Uranium
Venoms
Lead
Toxic mold

DrasticDreamer's avatar

When I had it really bad, I used to drink lemon ginger tea with a little honey in it (daily), and it helped me a lot. I also took Prilosec for a few months because mine was so bad and it gave everything a chance to heal. I’ve read that using meds long-term can actually screw things up more and kind of make your body dependant on the drugs, but it kind of boils down to what risk you want to take, since people that suffer from GERD really badly can definitely be at an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.

tan253's avatar

I hear you @gorillapaws – but I also believe that the body is capable of righting itself. Was your Acid Reflux really bad? Did you get it everyday?

tan253's avatar

@DrasticDreamer were you able to come of the Omeprazole easily?

tan253's avatar

How do you know if it’s actually Barrett’s Esophagus Syndrome?

gorillapaws's avatar

@tan253 Sure the body can heal itself… to a point. Hundreds of years ago (when all medicine was “all natural”) you were considered an “old person” if you lived to your mid 30’s, so I’ll take all the help I can get.

I don’t know how severe it was relative to other people. It was a problem for me mostly at night and not really ever during the day. I would wake up with a ton of acid in the back of my throat. It got to be almost every night. When I found out that it was a recipe for getting one of the worst cancers you can get, I took it seriously and went on the Omeprazole. I don’t have issues with it now that I’m on the meds, but I did forget to add those pills to my weekly pill dispenser a few months ago and after a couple of days the acid came right back, so I have to believe they’re doing what they’re supposed to.

Best wishes, it’s a pretty horrible feeling.

tan253's avatar

Thanks for replying @gorillapaws – it doesn’t sound like you had it really badly, I have it everyday.
You’ve made me question my approach. ;)

tan253's avatar

The most frustrating thing is when you read that anti acid drugs can cause cancer!
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/popular-heartburn-drugs-may-increase-esophageal-cancer-risk/

What do you do then!

kritiper's avatar

Quit drinking (so much) coffee. Lay off the spicy and greasy foods. Get some Zantac for those times when GERD is affecting you.
The acid in your stomach is getting into your esophagus in an unnatural manner. Raise the head of your bed by 2” or so.
Contrary to some beliefs, it is a disorder, not a disease.

JLeslie's avatar

If you tend to be constipated fixing that might help significantly. Simple things like eating a handful of raisins a day can make a huge difference if you do tend to be constipated.

Don’t eat close to the time you will be laying down to sleep or even just lounging.

Have you been tested for H. Pylori?

If you do choose to continue taking Prilosec make sure your iron and calcium levels are ok. Probably, it’s good to watch other nutrients too, but those two stand out in my mind. Calming stomach acids can reduce absorption if minerals. I’m not saying take a bunch of calcium and iron, I’m saying get a blood test to check them once every six months maybe. Vitamin D too, because D helps the calcium get into the bone.

jca's avatar

If you are overweight and you lose weight, that will help too.

JLeslie's avatar

I found this short article that discusses Prilosec and nutrient absorption. I would bet some of it is similar even with antacids.

It’s a good article to bring to your doctor if he is clueless about the effects of lower stomach acid on vitamin and mineral absorption to encourage him to run the blood tests. It’s basically the ones I worry about and I don’t have stomach problems.

Strauss's avatar

About 20 years ago I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. At that time the doc told me I had probably had it from an early age, possibly even from birth. It had caused GERD, and I remember having reflux and heartburn on a regular basis since I was about 12.

Up until that diagnosis, I had figured that was something I would always live with. However, with dietary management I have been able to manage it to the point that the reflux or heartburn is a rarity.

Here are some tips from experience: Slow down! I have always been the one to finish first at dinner. I noticed when I slow down, and let the digestion begin before I finish the meal, I will not end up over-full. Observe. Find out what foods tend to cause you distress, and either eliminate them altogether or eat them less often, accompanied by other foods that will soothe your GI tract. Moderation. Instead of the “normal” three large meals a day, have 4, 5, or even 6 smaller healthy meals or snacks, and limit your large meal to possibly your lunch instead of dinner. Sleep time. Avoid eating within 3 or 4 hours of your bedtime. I have noticed that even water drunk right before bedtime can result in a rude awakening by reflux.

I can still enjoy all of my favorite foods, in moderation, and still occasionally drink alcohol. If I am really tired, but have recently eaten, I find that sleeping in an elevated sitting-up position will avoid the reflux or heartburn. Also, on the rare occasion that I do experience heartburn, I find that ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in ½ glass of water will usually do the trick.

Rarebear's avatar

Sigh.

The PPIs don’t cause cancer. A very small percentage of acid reflux patients get Barrett’s esophagus, and a small percentage of those can get esophageal cancer. The risk is low. The study showed a statistical correlation. Correlation does not equal causation, but their hypothesis, yet to be proven, is that PPIs mask the symptoms of reflux but you still get reflux, and that could lead to an increased risk of Barrett’s and possible malignancy.

Barrett’s is shown by endoscopy and biopsy.

PPIs are very safe, but they are overused, especially since they are available over the counter. People can get dependant on them and have acid rebound when they stop. It’s always better to go to a milder medication such as an H2RA if symptoms are controlled with it.

Many cases of severe reflux are surgically treated.

tan253's avatar

My Dr told me that the hernia i’ve had I’ve had since birth and it’s natural. Shouldn’t cause any issues… my issues is I want to know if it’s functional – meaning my oesophagus just doesn’t work properly or if its dietry etc….

What you’re saying makes sense @Rarebear, as I said for me : I have faith that my body can heal this, it’s just that my over paranoid mind doesn’t help heal it and having an anxiety disorder I think is the root of all my problems… I“m very slim, would hate to lose more weight – I guess Diet and mindfulness…then if that fails after a month PPI’s.
Going to the Dr to see if I can get tests done… barium swallow etc…. x

Love the support and advice though (I know you’re not DR’s!)
it’s nice to get advice from people who have suffered the same thing, that’s all – makes you feel like you’re understood.

JLeslie's avatar

Rarebear is a doctor.

tan253's avatar

oh ha ha…... Awesome @Rarebear! Even kinder of you to comment.
Thanks for telling me @JLeslie
x

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Didn’t you see my “shhh…” on my other post?

tan253's avatar

yeah you’re in trouble now @Rarebear!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear I missed it. I was thinking the people with the most bothersome GERD cases probably take the most drugs consistently so if they have a higher percentage of cancer we wouldn’t necessarily know if it’s the meds, or that they had severe symptoms.

I think a lot of meds are attributed blame when it’s really the disease process itself.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks for the info. You’ve given me some things to talk to my MD about.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s not something I care to advertise any more. It got me in trouble the last time I was on fluther and I left.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll flag my answer.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@tan253 Yeah, definitely. It wasn’t a problem for me at all. My GERD was so bad that it happened at all hours and my doctor actually switched what I was taking at one point, because one of the medications is newer and works better, apparently. I can’t remember which it was, Zantac or Prilosec, but I tried both and one definitely worked better for me than the other. Anyway, I think all in all I was on it for about 3–4 months. I have mild symptoms every once in a while now, but it healed whatever was wrong (my GERD happened out of nowhere and I had no idea why) and I didn’t have to take them long term. Specifically because, like @Rarebear mentioned, it can cause even worse acid – but that’s if you do take them nonstop for a really long time. Short term, they’re extremely helpful.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Don’t worry about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Isn’t Zantac after a meal, like a Tums, and Prilosec before? Or, is Zantac taken before too?

Rarebear's avatar

One misconception about PPI is that people think they work immediately. They don’t. It takes two or three days to get proper proton pump inhibition. If you take a PPI and your reflux immediately goes away it’s not the PPI.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@JLeslie No, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m remembering the wrong name in general? Whatever two I took worked similarly and took about a week to kick in.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I looked it up and it appears Zantac can be taken before a meal or after up to twice a day. I think you can use it as needed. The Prilosec looks like (I just read on the internet) you are supposed to take it at least 14 days straight and it’s preventative. My dad has been taking Prilosec for 20 years I think. Since I can remember my dad had a hiatal hernia and GERD.

I’m allergic to Pepsid, so I assume I might be allergic to Zantac. Thank goodness heartburn is not a problem for me, but my husband will go through a couple months of bad heartburn and then be fine for a year. It’s weird. So, for that reason this Q caught my attention.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Boiled cabbage was recommended by Dr. Oz for stomach aliments.

jca's avatar

@tan253: Are you overweight?

JLeslie's avatar

^^She’s thin.

tan253's avatar

Under weight if anything – I’ve put on weight which is good… but still definitely no where near over weight ;) Thanks @JLeslie.

tan253's avatar

I’ve actually been trying the alkalaine diet since posting this and no real acid reflux. I also spoke to my friend whose a Dr and she says everyone has reflux but not everyone feels it. It’s made me feel a bit better but I still have a long way to go – I think I might need to do the Prilosec for a month to help reset – doesn’t seem to be any magic bullets ;)

tan253's avatar

@Rarebear I believe that’s correct, given you’d know – that PPI’s don’t work right away, however I had acid reflux 3 nights ago and took a prilosec and it went away within the hour = so maybe it’s a placebo affect for me!

Rarebear's avatar

Reflux comes and goes. Natural history.

tan253's avatar

Update for those interested : I went to a Dr – different one but same clinic so all my records were there. She wasn’t really fussed. I said I wanted a camera down my throat to check my oesophagus and stomach she said no need. Also that they are quite challenged with the gear and cost in NZ so they wouldn’t do it for me as my symptoms weren’t bad enough. She said i could take Prilosec if I wanted too but again didn’t really y say I had too – she said keep following the restrictive diet i’m on. She did say she wished they had never found a name for Barrett’s Esophagus as it’s rare and not necessary linked to reflux, she also said everyone gets reflux but some of us are more sensitive then that was about it. 15 minutes and $40 dollars. BYE!
So I’m going to take the damn Prilosec for a month and eat well and hope it doesn’t come back or that I have baretts or worse.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@tan253 How long did you say you’ve been suffering from reflux? The idea, as far as I’m aware, behind Barret’s is that prolonged damage leads to the really bad stuff. Prilosec (or a variant) can absolutely give your body the chance to heal. If I were you, I’d take it for 2–3 months, like I did. It helped me significantly and like I said before, I haven’t had a problem since. Taking the medication only turns into something potentially negative with prolonged use (think years), otherwise it’s really helpful.

Let us know how it goes. :)

tan253's avatar

I’ve had it on and off for as long as I can remember, sometimes years without issues then issues for 3 or 4 months, it normally resolved itself which is a good thing – however now I just want the issue to be gone… healthy GUT please Universe – I also get IBS really badly so I think the two are related. Healing both is my mission for 2016! Thank you…

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