May 7, 2012

Linkage: Alternative Therapies for GERD

Recipes and a gut update and food diary are on the way!   Meanwhile:

I recently found a thread (started in 2006!) on the Healing Well discussion board about the possibility/value of doing exercises to heal a weak esophageal sphincter.  The logic is that GERD caused by a weakened or loose sphincter can be overcome by restoring the sphincter's functionality.   The "jury is out" about their value, but there are several "firsthand" accounts of GERD and its challenges in the thread, something I always appreciate.  I like to know what lifestyle changes people are trying, and what works for them.

Danie writes:
The DGL licorice and alkaline diet and eating small meals is helping me control symptoms almost all the time and I am definitely healing the esophagus this way. I don't feel the tightness in my chest anymore (I never had pain, just nausea and dizziness).  I hope you can do it too and not need surgery. THE KEY REALLY IS TO CHANGE YOUR WHOLE DIET. IT'S DEFINITELY NOT EASY AND YOU DO HAVE TO DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF SO MANY THINGS.....but isn't it worth it to do so for a while?
Gozer offers this list of GERD-friendly habits:

- I don't over eat
- I eat lots of raw or almost raw vegetables
- Take very good probiotics
- I eat white meats
- I avoid dairy products from cows
- I avoid all the usual acid-reflux causing foods like tomato sauce, chocolate, coffee, soda, etc. Carob is a good chocolate replacement
- Take flax seed oil for good fat
- Take a good multi-vitamin every day
- Walk, walk, and more walking.... helps better and faster digestion
- Avoid processed foods... the closer to natural form is always best
- Avoid too much spices and seasonings in/on my food
Others also write about the use of licorice, the value of yoga, and using visualization and relaxation techniques.   Several weeks ago, during an especially GERD-filled week, I decided I had enough and literally "told" my body to just STOP the reflux and tight throat feeling.  And -- it worked!   All these examples demonstrate, again, how managing GERD requires a lifestyle change, not a diet or specific cure-all.

As for the "walk, walk and more walking" advice:

Here's a study published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association that concludes walking after dinner correlates with less GERD symptoms:
Regular post dinner walk; can be a useful lifestyle modification for gastroesophageal reflux.  Shahid Karim,Wasim Jafri, Afsheen Faryal, Shahid Majid, Mohammad Salih, Fatima Jafri, Saeed Hamid, Hasnain Ali Shah, Zohaib Nawaz, Usman Tariq. J Pak Med Assoc  Vol 61, No. 6, June 2011


  1. Licorice is awesome, and if you're looking for some nice tisanes, Pukka makes a great cinnamon licorice tea. Not sure if cinnamon would be a trigger, though. If it is, I know many health food stores sell tisanes that only contain licorice.

    But be careful with licorice, as it can negatively affect either electrolytes or potassium levels (can't exactly remember which) if consumed in large quantities. A cup once every couple of days wouldn't hurt, though, assuming you like licorice.

    That said, a postprandial walk sounds like the best treatment ever!

  2. I'm not a huge fan of licorice though, like chamomile, I could just develop a taste for it if it's helpful for the gut! Ditto about the walk -- when isn't walking a good idea?!

    Regarding Pukka, I'm familiar with their teas and really like one of their fruity ones (has hibiscus, though). I'll look into the licorice -- sounds worth a sip!