How to combat acid reflux

A friend of mine works in a local A&E hospital as a nurse.

He told me a little while back that they were seeing a huge increase in stomach problems.

His surgeon believed it might be down to a combination of poor diet and stressful lives.

(Well, I never!)

I’ve certainly seen studies that link the rise in incidence of acid reflux (indigestion, heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) down to diet and stress.

Conventional medication for these reflux problems usually comes by way of stopping the stomach from producing acid.

The class of drugs given for this are classed as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) with trade names like Losec or another class called H2 blockers, and you may come across these as Zantac or similar.

The logic is that if less acid is produced then it won’t be forced back up the gullet and cause damage to the delicate tissues of the oesophagus.

However, long term usage of both PPIs and H2 blockers could actually be doing more harm than good.

For instance, the NHS Choices website lists the following as likely side effects for more than 1 in 100 users of PPIs: Nausea, headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea and flatulence.

But more worrying is the fact that a lot of information is being published showing far greater problems.

A 2009 paper1 published in a gastroenterology journal states that,

“Emerging data illustrate the potential risks associated with both short-and long-term PPI therapy, including Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhoea, community-acquired pneumonia, osteoporotic fracture, vitamin B12 deficiency, and inhibition of anti-platelet therapy.”

And goes on to advise health care professionals,

“Due to these associations, it is recommended that clinicians assess the continuing need for PPI therapy and use the lowest possible dose to achieve the desired therapeutic goals.”

Now none of this sounds like good news to me, and whilst I’m not one to overreact, the more I discover about the usage of PPIs and H2 blockers the more I worry.

Because many of these risks identified are major problems for us as we age, shouldn’t our GPs be a little more careful about long term use of these drugs?

Of course, there are ways we can modify our lives and diets to avoid developing reflux problems which I will cover in a moment, however for those who do suffer from these debilitating conditions I feel more should be being done.

Simple therapies which don’t place risk on the user shouldn’t be hard to find.

At the very least, if you have been taking a PPI drug for a prolonged period it might be worth asking the question of your physician.

Natural ways to combat reflux


Modifying your diet can have a big influence on the incidence of acid reflux, and the obvious foods to avoid are those which cause a build up of acid such as fatty foods, citrus fruits and caffeinated drinks.

Interestingly though, one of the common ways to reduce acid build up is to sip either diluted lemon juice or diluted apple cider vinegar with food.

This seems completely counter intuitive, however the way it works is to acidify the food as it enters the stomach and therefore prevent the gut from producing even more acid.

Try mixing 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or pure lemon juice with 1 teaspoon of honey in 8floz (200ml) of filtered water and sip alongside your food.

Good foods to eat include cabbage which has long been known to help gastric problems.

There is a super cabbage though, which can be found in health food stores called Coallis Lombarda.

It is a small, red cabbage that’s been used in natural healing for ages, stretching back to the times of the Maya Quiché civilization.

And it seems it still has a use today… You see, this cabbage contains a very rare and super-powerful vitamin – Vitamin U – that is one of nature’s strongest weapons against gastric and intestinal disorders. Dr. Garnett Cheney, professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School, published a report about the use of Vitamin U in the treatment of gastric ulcer.

The results are astonishing… Of 65 cases reported, 62 were cured at the end of three weeks. So naturally, when it comes to ways to treat reflux, Vitamin U tops the list protecting the gastro-oesophageal system and relieving painful heartburn like nothing else (well nothing else I can find). And of course, being a natural substance, Vitamin U helps your body in other ways… It’s a great local anaesthetic so it reduces pain naturally, it reduces spasms and it strengthens capillaries.