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Gastritis and Other Stomach Issues

A reader writes:

I had an endoscopy 3 days ago (just concentrate on breathing hard and have the throat spray not sedation) the diagnoses was hiatus hernia and gastritis. I’m now awaiting the pathology results (had several biopsies) and will see GP to prescribe medication. In the mean time have researched that I would benefit from taking alginate – the only medication I found off the shelf was Gaviscon. Wow it was amazing took it 2 days after procedure (1st day after was in absolute pain presumably the biopsies done were then open to the acid/bile in my stomach) so I was very happy yesterday to be comfortable 1st time for about 10 months I have also stayed away from tomatoes chocolate and caffeine. Today not so good but had pineapple juice this morning which immediately aggravated it

My response:

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. The only time anyone looks for stomach inflammation is when there are symptoms like pain in the stomach area just below the sternum (breastbone).

Conventional medicine wants to neutralize the stomach acid or reduce the stomach acid production in order to reduce the gastritis. However, the stomach acid has an important function–it is the major step in the digestive tract to digest proteins. When proteins don’t digest properly, months and years later amino acid deficiencies are noted.

Alginate becomes like viscous gel that coats the stomach lining, thus reducing the inflammatory effects of the acid. Anything that coats the stomach lining, while permitting the acid to remain in the stomach is healthy:

  • DGL
  • aloe vera
  • liquid vitamin E

Unfortunately, Gaviscon has 2 ingredients other than alginate–aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate or magnesium trisilicate, both of which are antacids. Aluminum is a toxic metal and is associated with neurologic disorders–Parkinson’s , Alzheimers.

You may want to try Gaviscon Infant, which has the alginate without the antacids. Inflammation in the stomach is very much tied into your diet, and it is quite different for everyone. Some of the most common triggers include: sugar and sweets, acidic foods, processed foods (with sugar, additives, colorings, flavorings), certain meats. Find what works for you and stay with it until the inflammation is resolved. Then don’t fall back into the same habits which may have caused it in the first place. (Because of conflict of interest with another company I represent, I can’t mention another product that has been very successful in this setting. If you would like more information about it, email Cristie at ctrcristie@hotmail.com. and mention this topic.)

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Acid Reflux and Esophagitis

Dr. Gardner,

Can you recommend a supplement please for grade one esophagitis and a small sliding hiatus hernia? I refuse to take any conventional medication.  Thank you.

Esophagitis is usually caused by reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. Conventional medications decrease stomach acid so it is not so harmful to the esophagus, but the stomach acid kills organisms introduced in food and is the major mechanism to break down proteins.

Many people on long-term acid blockers have amino acid deficiencies after months or years. I recommend the following:

  1. Try to identify which foods are contributing to the reflux and avoid them–usually it is carbohydrates or meat
  2. Swallow aloe vera liquid which will coat and soothe the esophagus and stomach
  3. Try a number of other supplements and decide which ones work for you:
  • DGL also coats the heals the stomach
  • panacreatic enzymes to help digest food
  • Betaine as an acid stimulant (some reflux is caused by inadequate acid production and food sits in the stomach for a longer period of time)
  • a homeopathic called Nux vomica helps tighten the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach, thus reducing reflux
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Reflux (GERD)

A reader writes:

Well i been diagnosed with Gerds by endoscope since 2006. It was so bad i went from 130lbs to 115lbs. Dr put me on prevacid 30 Mg am and 30 Mg pm.during this time i was able to eat and gain and gained my weight back. Off meds 2009 . I stayed with a bland diet. I thought i was cured so i started eating what i should not eat in 2012 and now feb 2013 i am with Gerds again. Worser than in 2006. Dr put me back on prevacid same disagree. Symptoms now are mid upper back pain, growling stomach,pain in stomach, tickling in mid upper stomach that makes me cough. Dr put me on liquid carafate, to coat ulcers or damaged stomach while it heals. Nothing was working.so i read about juicing cabbage. It has L-Glutamine which is a botonic acid that cures ulcers. But its so nasty. So i put cabbage, carrots, apple, cucumber, Brussels spout, and beets or broccoli. But i wash veggies off with vinegar and water to kill pesticides and bacteria. Since this is a raw produce once u juice it, u have to drink it right away cause the nutrients disappears quickly when air hits it. Also it can develop bacteria if u store it, but if u store it add 1 lemon to preserve juice. But i Jus drink mines right up. After i drink my juice i eat 1 hour later, whole grain oatmeal with raisins. I make this from scratch that way i know what’s in it. Scramble 1 egg in olive oil. And drank soy milk or water. For lunch i will eat fruits. For dinner boil chicken or baked fish with corn or sweet peas. No bread no junk food no sofas no candy. And i am seeing results and its march 11 2013. I stopped carafate last week and use DGL tabs to coat my stomach. Carafate is good but it was making my heart skip beats. No pain in stomach, no more coughing spells at night, no bloatness, no pain in upper mid back. I am gonna keep this routine up and will update once i stop all meds. Hopes this helps and GOD BLESS

My response:

I’m delighted that you are enjoying greater health.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is common, but often responsive to safe and effective supplements and life adjustments. What causes it?  The problem is that the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus does not adequately close, thus permitting the highly acidic stomach juices to reflux or regurgitate up the esophagus. Since the esophagus tissue that lines it does not tolerate this acid, it causes damage to the esophagus. Over time, changes may occur in the lining of the esophagus that may eventually be a precursor to cancer, called Barrett’s Esophagus. Conventional medicine treatment typically consists of two options.  One is to take antacids, which have aluminum in them (as Carafate does). This may build up in the body as a toxic metal. The other treatment is to reduce the production of stomach acid. Unfortunately, the stomach acid has several uses–it kills the viruses and bacteria that may be on the food we eat, and it is the major player in the breakdown of proteins. This is why people on these medications often have amino acid deficiencies months and years later.

My treatment approach is as follows:

1) Try to identify what foods are contributing to the problem and avoid them–usually they are carbohydrates or meats, but the cause may be almost anything. Processed foods are a common cause of GERD.

2) Coat the esophagus and stomach lining with a soothing substance, like aloe vera or vitamin E oil.

3) Some supplements have proved helpful–DGL helps heal the stomach lining, homeopathic Nux Vomica helps to tighten the gastroesophageal sphincter; pancreatic enzymes help to break down poorly digested food which may contribute to reflux; Betaine stimulates gastric acid production to help digest proteins (undigested proteins may be the cause of reflux); Probiotics to improve the whole intestinal tract.

I have additional options that can be of help to you.

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Stomach Acid

I have been taking Omeprazole 20 mg for a long time. I would like to get off it but when I try I feel like I am raw from my throat to my belly button and after about 4 days without omeprazole I am in pain. What can I do but keep taking it?

Omeprazole (Prilosec) is used for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  The discomfort is caused by a loose sphincter between the esophagus and stomach.  This sphincter should be closed except when food is transported down the esophagus to the stomach.

This loose sphincter permits the acid to ‘reflux’ up the esophagus, often to the mouth and occasionally aspirated into the trachea.  The acid will burn the esophagus tissue and be painful.

Omeprazole suppresses the production of the acid, thus relieving the symptoms.  The lack of acid in the stomach decreases the ability of the stomach to digest proteins, and interferes with the anti-bacterial and anti-viral function of the stomach.

My approach is to decrease the harmful effects of the stomach acid with substances that coat the stomach and esophagus to protect it while it heals.

You must wean off the omeprazole slowly, because stopping cold-turkey will cause an over-production of the suppressed acid and make everything worse.

Also, try to identify which foods make it worse–usually it is carbohydrates and sugar, but some people tell me it is meat that makes it worse.  Of course, stop eating the foods that make it worse.

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Healthy Alternatives to Nexium

Is there a good alternative treatment to Nexium?

Nexium is usually used when there is reflux of stomach contents up the esophagus. The acid in the stomach is harmful to the tissue of the esophagus, causing a burning sensation or chest pain, and the condition eventually changes in the esophageal tissue to what we call Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.

The problem is that the sphincter at the junction of the upper stomach and lower esophagus is open, thus permitting acidic stomach contents to reflux. Nexium is called a proton pump inhibitor.  It decreases the production of acid in the stomach. This makes the reflux less damaging to the esophagus. Unfortunately, it also inhibits the breakdown of food (especially proteins) that only the stomach can do, thus impairing later absorption.

Treatment starts with understanding some of the causes of sphincter dysfunction. Certain foods seem to make reflux worse.   The trigger can be a different food in everybody. Carbohydrate ingestion is the most likely, with meat proteins next most likely. All pro-inflammatory foods need to be stopped by everybody who wishes to be rid of the problem–sugar, processed foods with trans-fatty acids and additives, alcohol, caffeine.

If that does not help, try a form of licorice called DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice [you see why it is called DGL]). This is extremely helpful if there are ulcers in the stomach. Mastic gum will help with inflammation in the stomach lining. A non-processed form of vitamin E oil, which is not well absorbed but can coat the lining of the esophagus and stomach, can be used for protection, but it may not necessarily help with the cause.

Some people can stop Nexium cold turkey, but there is often a rebound over-production of gastric acid formation in the stomach, requiring weaning down off the drug over a few weeks time. As your body gets healthier over time, the likelihood of resolving the reflux problem is great.

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Zantac, Acid Reflux

I have taken a prescription Zantac for a long time, for my ulcers. When I get to the point I don’t think I need to take them, I eventually end up doubled over in pain, and start taking them again. Recently I’ve heard that taking antacids is not good. My question is: is this true? And if so, why, and what can I do so I don’t have to take them? Thanks.

There are two reasons to take Zantac-‘acid reflux’ and ‘gastritis.’ Zantac decreases the production of acid in the stomach. The acid in the stomach is useful and needed for the proper digestion of proteins, which will not be digested after it leaves the stomach. Antacids do the same thing-only they neutralize the acid instead of stopping its production. Many antacids have aluminum in them, which adds to the toxic metal load in the body.

Acid reflux is a problem with the sphincter at the stomach and esophagus junction. This sphincter should be closed except when food is being transported from the mouth to the stomach. If it is open all the time, it permits the highly acidic gastric juices to reflux into the esophagus, which is not equipped to handle that acid load. In fact, over time, the esophagus tissue will change it order to tolerate it, which is called Barrett’s esophagus.  This is a precursor to cancer of the esophagus. Many people have found that certain foods make their reflux worse–especially a large carbohydrate meal, or less often, a heavy meat meal.

Gastritis, or even ulcers in the stomach, may be helped with DGL, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, wafers.  These coat and protect the stomach lining. Some have tried an oil to coat the lining also, like olive oil (although high doses long term will not be tolerated) or a non-refined version of vitamin E.

Important:

Avoid substances that cause inflammation:

  • caffeine,
  • sugar,
  • trans-fatty acids,
  • aspartame,
  • alcohol,
  • cigarettes.
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Your Stomach and Antacids

I have taken a prescription Zantac for a long time, for my ulcers. When I get to the point I don’t think I need to take them, I eventually end up doubled over in pain, and start taking them again. Recently I’ve heard that taking antacids is not good. My question is: is this true? And if so, why, and what can I do so I don’t have to take them? Thanks.

Zantac and other antacids diminish the production or effectiveness of acid production in the stomach. The acidity of the stomach is the only place certain foods are broken, so when the acid production is reduced, that part of the digestive process cannot take place. If you must stay on Zantac, be sure to over chew your food to break it down as much as possible, especially the meats.

The two reasons antacids are prescribed are:

1. Acid is refluxing up the esophagus, call gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a problem with the sphincter that is supposed to be closed between the esophagus and the stomach. Many people have been able to identify what foods triggers their problem-carbohydrate intake is the most common, and some people have identified meat as their trigger. Obviously, staying away from the trigger is the obvious solution. I use vitamin E oil, not the refined vitamin E. One-half to 1 teaspoon every few hours will coat the esophagus and stomach and will protect the tissue from the effects of the acid.  Ginger tea is also helpful for stomach issues, as is deglycerized licorice.

2. The acid itself is causing stomach irritation, called gastritis, or even causing an ulcer.  Try DGL (deglycerhizinated licorice) wafers, that coat the ulcer and accelerate healing.

The last treatment is to look at possible emotional causes-stress, frustration, anxiety, fear, too much pressure, worrying over details, feeling of uncertainty. If these issues are not addressed, it is doubtful that any of the other above recommendations will solve the problem.  Also consider acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Craniosacral or other energy-releasing arts that may get energy to the tissue for healing to take place faster. An FSM (frequency-specific microcurrent) has frequencies for the stomach and esophagus that may also facilitate healing.