How I Cured Myself from GERD
I was diagnosed with acid reflux (also called GERD for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) in 1999. My doctors put me on medication, and then stronger medication, then the strongest medication, then increased my dosage to twice a day. Still, it got progressively worse over the course of four years. Finally my doctor told me the only option was surgery, or I would ruin my voice, and ultimately, my career as an opera singer. Also, I was afraid of Esophageal Cancer, which can happen with the constant acid wash in the esophagus. My reflux was so bad; I could get it from just drinking water! Believe me, my case was not mild. So, I talked to a few singers who had had the surgery, and did some research. Turns out, the surgery is quite severe. Essentially, the doctor twists the upper stomach around the esophagus and stitches it into place. This keeps your stomach sphincter from opening and washing acid into your esophagus. The effect is like having your stomach stapled. Side effects include diarrhea for a year or more, and surgery failure occurs in 85% of patients within 15 years (link). You should know that when your stomach is made smaller by surgical means, your body could easily suffer from malnutrition. You have to be very, very careful about what you eat. So, I set out to read everything I could and to find out how I could cure myself naturally. And, the results were really surprising! I found the cause, and I cured myself, and since then (beginning of 2002) I have had no problems. I’ll tell you what I found through reading and my own experience. First, I found a way to keep the symptoms of acid reflux away for 6 months at a time. Then, I found the cause – the root cause – of my reflux.
What causes Acid Reflux?
Many people find that their acid reflux is simply a symptom of a food allergy or some other problem that causes food not to digest properly. I “cured” my symptoms of acid reflux for 9 years by performing a cleanse (details below) every 6 months, but found later the root of the problem was that I cannot digest gluten. Any stomach problem that inhibits digestion can cause acid reflux because of undigested food.
How did I find out I couldn’t eat gluten? Well, I failed the Celiac Disease test- so I am not a Celiac (Celiacs cannot digest gluten at all). Also my allergy test came back negative for everything. I went to a doctor (an Applied Kinesiologist/Natural Doc) and he diagnosed me quickly, easily, and cheaply. I lost weight I had been unable to lose for years, and am healthier than I have ever been. Acid Reflux is just one problem of many that I am now free of. That’s the thing- acid reflux is a symptom of some other problem. So this article can tell you ways of controlling acid reflux as a symptom – but you’ll need an alternative doctor to find the cause. You’ll need a doctor who finds causes instead of throwing prescriptions at symptoms, which is unfortunately the American Way. How to find an AAT Allergy removal practitioner: http://allergytx.com/locations.html.
It Could Be Something Physical
Hernias can cause acid reflux until they are corrected. After the hernia is corrected, the patient is usually cured of the reflux. I’ve also had a hiatal hernia corrected by a chiropractor (my A.K. doc), so they don’t always need surgery. Here is a Youtube video on how to correct it yourself, and here is an article about hiatal hernias.
It could be as simple as a bacteria infection in your stomach called H. Pylori. That is cleared up with antibiotics.
Another condition could be a side symptom of a thyroid disorder. Check the web for more information if any kind of thyroid diseases run in your family or if you have a waking temperature under 97.2 degrees consistently, and fatigue.
Also, you could have a problem with Candida albicans, an overgrowth of yeast in your stomach caused by antibiotics, birth control pills, too much sugar/yeast containing foods, pregnancy, or anything else that disrupts your body’s natural flora. There is a test you can do at home to check if you have this (see www.candidasupport.org ) which is free and easy. Symptoms include heavy cravings for sugar, carbs, and/or alcohol; white coating on the tongue; and fatigue. In my own life, I have found that heavy Candida overgrowth can appear as all the same symptoms of a thyroid problem. So, test yourself for this first before you take the expensive tests for thyroid diseases. Untreated, Candida can lead to Fibromyalgia, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and finally Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If so, see a naturopath and diet change for relief from this.
Enzymes and Colon Cleansing
What else causes food to be undigested? Overly processed foods are hard to digest (white sugar/flour, unfermented tofu, foods with a lot of chemicals like frozen foods, or foods that don’t agree with you). If you eat a lot of these foods, I would recommend you take a high quality enzyme supplement to help them digest for now. You can get them from your health food store- try to get one that has all the different kinds of enzymes (different enzymes break down different foods). I like Standard Process brand. And work towards eating a healthier diet of natural foods – naturally raised organic meat, organic vegetables (if they agree with you), elimination of sugar and grains. Most people I have talked to and helped with acid reflux found a complete reversal after giving up sugar and grains and eating low-carb or Paleo diet.
First, I did a colon cleanse to get out any undigested food, caused by allergy, and giving me reflux. This step is what completely eradicated my acid reflux until I found the root cause. Do yourself a favor and do a high quality colon cleanse. I only recommend Dr. Schultze’s products (1.800.Herb Doc). His colon cleanse is a two part series (Intestinal Formula #1 and #2). This insures that when your body releases its toxins, it doesn’t get held up in a constipated colon and cause nausea, with very little success. His products are amazing, and inexpensive as far as supplements go. You can call for a free brochure . I’d recommend that during the colon cleanse, you abstain from alcohol, sugar, and possibly dairy (see how that goes). This will help the cleansing product work it’s best (so you don’t have to repeat it!). When you order these products, make sure you ask for the catalog or anything that has all the steps and instructions. The instructions on the bottles are not complete. I don’t believe in most of the things Dr. Schultze believes in, but his products are the highest quality herbs I have found. I’d recommend you order 2 bottles of Intestinal Formula #1, and 2 bottles of the Formula #2 in powder form (the pills are really hard to take, but the powder is tasteless). I highly recommend that you take this in fresh live juice and not pasteurized, if you choose to take it in juice.
If you would rather change your diet than do a colon cleanse, that works too- try a ketogenic low-carb diet and likely you will never need the colon cleanse. Also test and make sure you are not allergic to common allergens like eggs and dairy.
Try taking Hydrochloric Acid (HCI). Many times the problem is actually that you don’t have enough acid in your stomach to break down your food (works like enzymes), especially if you are, or have been, a vegetarian or vegan. So to test for this, do the following. (Or you can try a high quality Apple Cider Vinegar as described in next section).
Buy some HCI tablets (or betaine hydrochloride) plus enzymes. Take half a tablet before the last mouthful of a main meal. Burning or indigestion means you have plenty of hydrochloric acid. Don’t take any more tablets. Use antacid or teaspoonful of baking soda to relieve discomfort. If no burning or indigestion, next day take 1 tablet in the same way. If still no burning or indigestion, next day take 2 tablets in the same way. If still no burning or indigestion, then you need more acid. So if you need more acid, then you take 2 betaine hydrochloric acid tablets with main meals and 1 tablet with small meals.
How Prescription Medications Make GERD Worse
Here is something very interesting that I learned. Remember how I told you my story and how it got worse each year, so I had to take stronger and stronger medications? Well, it turns out that the prescriptions were making it worse. The prescription works by stopping the hydrochloric acid from being released in your stomach. Maybe this sounds like a good idea if you are trying to stop the acid from splashing in your esophagus, but it’s not. The hydrochloric acid is being released in your stomach for a reason. Your body needs it to break down proteins in your stomach. Without it, you will have even more undigested food rotting in your stomach, and eventually your colon. So, it starts all over again. Also, your GERD could be caused from too little HCI in the first place, as you have already read.
After I did Dr. Schultze’s colon cleanse, I was able to get off my prescription for the first time in four years. I was able to gradually get off (cutting down my dosage slowly to nothing), and I improved more and more as time went on. I did also do some acupuncture to help get off the meds.
Solutions For The Interim
Of course, I did do a few other things to help stop the acid when it’s already there (like maybe now as you are reading this).
1. Only if your stomach acid is low: Drinking organic raw apple cider vinegar– 1 tablespoon with a glass of water- will neutralize the acid in your stomach as well.
2. A product called Herbal Melange. It’s scary looking but has no taste, and works well to help heal your stomach. You can also buy Aloe Vera juice for ingesting (not the same as topical) from the health food store, but just take a little shot of it a few times a day, not too much! Can have undesirable side effects (loose stool)… which can be counteracted with applesauce.
3. Baking Soda – works well with hiatal hernia cause, and low stomach acid. 1 teaspoon baking soda in water. Frontier baking soda is the cleanest, I recommend it.
5. Lemon juice in water – works like apple cider vinegar.
I think these are effective but I found more remedies in this great (and inexpensive book): Acid Reflux Relief – Acid Reflux Natural Remedies and I also recommend reading the book Wheat Belly.
Getting to the Root of Your Problem
How to find an AAT Allergy removal practitioner: http://allergytx.com/locations.html
Acid Reflux and TMJ
Have you ever wondered why so many opera singers suffer from Acid Reflux Disease? One reason is hiatal hernia. Another is TMJ. There is an acupressure point in between the jaw joint (way in there), which causes stomach problems, and specifically acid reflux. TMJ is a symptom of parasites… which can also cause digestion problems. When your TMJ acts up, then your stomach will correspond, so please have your TMJ treated. Test for parasites with a naturopath.
Curing yourself of anything is an amazing thing. But remember that if you go back to your old habits, it could come back. Also, just eating a Standard American Diet can cause it come back, so maintenance and life long diet change is important. I recommend that you keep on the lookout for classic symptoms. The most classic symptoms are:
*A gag reflex in the back of your throat (this is the biggest one. You will find it disappears when your reflux is truly gone).
* Finding yourself clearing your throat often. Acid reflux can make you feel like there is phlegm on your vocal cords that you just can’t clear off. Believe me, I’ve had allergies in the past. If you can’t clear it off, it’s acid reflux. If you find yourself doing it constantly, it’s acid reflux.
*Any burping is related to acid. Any.
*Taste of vomit in the back of the throat
*Hoarseness not related to any virus, illness, or thyroid disorder.
*Any kind of burning in your chest or throat
I recommend you see a Naturopath. Trying to find the root cause could take a long time… it will save time, energy, and money to find the root cause and fix it right away.
I have written this based on my own experience and research. I am not a doctor. Although I found my doctors to be misinformed on the subject of GERD, I am not claiming to have any medical background. I have written this because I hope to help anyone avoid what I went through. There was a time when I was afraid that my career would be over if I did not get my acid reflux under control. I am glad to report that I have no problems at all now, and my doctor has told me there is no evidence at all of reflux when he looks at my vocal cords.
Eat Fat look Thin by Bruce Fife
Dr. Richard Schultze (1.800.HerbDoc)
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BEFORE YOU COMMENT OR EMAIL ME: The comments and emails I got from the last time I posted this were overwhelming in number. Most questions people asked me are what were my symptoms (they are listed in this article), people ask why they have reflux and my answer is always: go see one of these doctors from Ulan school (link above), check to see if you have any kind of hernia, especially hiatal, and/or do a food intolerance check– look above for AAT link. Hiatal Hernia can be fixed by a chiropractor (also youtube link listed above). If you are a singer, start with hiatal hernia. Then go to looking at your diet. If you still have questions, and would like to book a phone consultation with me to discuss this topic and my personal healing of it, please contact me on my Facebook page for my rates for personal consultations.