Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Sep

GERD: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

The symptoms can be abject misery: searing abdominal pain, debilitating stomach cramps, an excruciating, rising burn, acid-filled hiccups, tightened throat, constant sleep disturbance, and even the rare but terrifying bouts of choking from nighttime acid inhalation. I’m talking of course about acid reflux or GERD as it’s commonly called these days. I personally suffered from occasional bouts of GERD and experienced all the symptoms above for years during and even after my endurance days. (It wasn’t until I gave up grains that my GERD completely disappeared.) Maybe you’ve had it. Maybe you know someone who’s had it. GERD, by the way, isn’t your run-of-the-mill occasional heartburn (which isn’t much fun either) but a chronic pattern of heartburn in which you experience symptoms at least a few times a week. I get emails about it all the time, and it’s little wonder. Statistics suggest that 25-30% of American adults experience GERD related heartburn multiple times a week (PDF). Of all the pharmaceutical categories, proton pump inhibitors (a predominant prescription for GERD) have ranked consistently in the top twenty for years. And that doesn’t even take into account the old-fashioned antacids like Tums and Rolaids that people pop like candy. What, for the love, is going on here? It used to be heartburn was generally confined to women in their last months of pregnancy or to the annual Thanksgiving overindulgence. It certainly wasn’t a chronic condition plaguing a large percentage of the population. I sense a familiar pattern here, no?

What is GERD anyway? What causes – or at least contributes to it? How do everyday lifestyle choices influence the condition, and what measures – beyond the CW pharmaceutical schtick (e.g. the happy, ubiquitous “purple pill”) – can we employ in treating, let alone curing the condition. (While the establishment might be content with taming the reflux beast, most folks I know who have GERD would rather beat it to death with a stick.)

First off: the what. The standard explanation for GERD goes like this. When someone suffers from a bout of heartburn, acid in the stomach essentially rises into the esophagus following a spontaneous lapse of the lower esophageal sphincter. Although the stomach lining can inherently withstand the caustic digestive acid, the esophagus has no such protection. The result of the chemical invasion is the characteristic pain and cramping those with reflux experience. Over time, the esophagus can build up scar tissue. In more serious cases, the scarring can narrow the passageway, so to speak, and make swallowing more difficult and painful. Worse than that, prolonged exposure to digestive acid can induce changes in the cells of the esophagus themselves, which can – in relatively rare but increasing instances – result in esophageal cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

As for the why, the medical community doesn’t point to a specific cause, but the conventional pharmaceutical treatments address “excessive” production of stomach acid. (Yes, do the double take.) The most common drugs used for GERD are H2 blockers and the aforementioned proton pump inhibitors, which block the stomach’s production of acid (just at differing points of the signaling-production-release process). The old style antacids neutralize stomach acid that’s already there. The irony of treating people with GERD by raising the pH of their gastric juices (making it less acidic) is that food doesn’t digest as well, which can be a contributing factor to GERD. Decreasing the acidity of your stomach acid may provide short term relief, but it’s not a long term solution.

Prescription medication usually accompanies practical suggestions like eating small meals, limiting alcohol and avoiding nicotine (which relax the lower esophageal sphincter) and raising the head of your bed to discourage acid from rising too far up your esophagus at night and disrupting sleep. (On a personal note, some of my worst bouts with GERD occurred in the reclined position of an airline seat, so that final bit of advice never worked for me.) GERD sufferers are also advised to steer clear of common “trigger” foods like chocolate, alcohol, mint, citrus, tomatoes, onions, and spicy dishes, and (drum roll, please) fatty foods because they contribute to what’s known as slow stomach emptying, which can make GERD symptoms feel worse.

All this leaves GERD sufferers with few answers and no real solutions unless you count a lifelong pharmaceutical dependency as a solution. This doesn’t even take into account the countless people who take acid reflux medications who actually report a worsening of their symptoms with medication. The response? A higher dose prescription. Never mind that research connects long-term use of these drugs with a higher risk for serious infection and fractures. Keep in mind that the stomach acid’s job is to both digest for absorption of key nutrients and to kill off pathogens.

I know a number of people who’ve felt utterly wrecked by their long-term battles with GERD, many MDA readers included. I’ve heard stories from folks (on medication, yes) who said they would get a bad bout of GERD and be in agony for days unable to eat anything, unable to sleep or even find a comfortable position. When they were finally able to lick the condition, they felt they finally got their lives back.

So, if it’s not excess stomach acid, what the heck is it then? Let me put it this way. It’s not about excess stomach acid (unless there’s some other kind of underlying and unusual medical problem). The acid itself is a red herring. It’s ultimately the weakened esophageal sphincter itself. While some things like alcohol and nicotine genuinely relax the sphincter, most of the other maligned food categories are simply irritants to an already irritated stomach and esophagus.

Am I going to tell you going low carb is the answer? Partly, yes. There’s been scant research done in this area (as is generally the case with low carb eating). One small study highlights the effectiveness of eating low carb, but the connection has been noted for years in the low-carb community (check out some of the reader success stories) – but without clear rationale. Sure, obesity is a clear culprit, and a low-carb diet will undoubtedly address that condition. Yes, there’s the potent anti-inflammatory power of a low-carb diet. We’ve always known there’s more to the story, however.

Although the research will continue to hone in on the exact mechanism, one microbiologist expert presents a compelling explanation. Dr. Michael R. Eades has written in the past about researcher, Norm Robillard, and his book Heartburn Cured. Like Dr. Eades, I believe Robillard’s theory provides the most sound explanation for the growing incidence of GERD in Western society. If you have GERD, I’d encourage you to read the entire book, but the gist is this. When we eat a high carbohydrate diet, our digestive systems can become overloaded with their breakdown. (Remember, of course, that our systems aren’t evolutionarily designed to consistently handle the common 250-350 grams of carbs per day). The malabsorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine (the seat of many digestive ills) can result in a damaging overgrowth of bacteria. As anyone who’s suffered from digestive bloating knows, gas is created in the process and can be excessive when something is awry. According to Robillard’s theory, the gas “pressurizes the upper digestive system,” which sets in motion the reflux mechanism. Robillard, a long-term GERD sufferer himself, reports being fully cured by adopting a low glycemic diet.

But there’s more. Many people who are diagnosed (and pharmaceutically treated for GERD) can trace to a variety of medications that take a major toll on the stomach. NSAIDs constitute one. (Do you know those people – often chronic trainers – who down Costco size bottles of Advil in the course of a few weeks just to keep doing what they do? Add to this list oral antibiotics, which dermatologists often prescribe for long-term use in cases of acne. Others? Try nitrates, calcium channel blockers, theophylline, and one more of note….

You won’t hear this one from many people, but it’s important. Higher estrogen levels can relax the lower esophageal sphincter and can irritate the stomach and even cause the GERD or GERD-like symptoms (which – as in many cases in general – may be more simple stomach irritation than actual reflux). Most women who’ve been pregnant experienced heartburn in their later months. Sure, a growing fetus and all its supportive baggage (e.g. amniotic fluid and the like) pushing up on all of your organs can impact digestion, but rising estrogen has a hand in this as well.

Pregnant women usually have the baby and that’s that. The hormones shift again, and the reflux goes away. But there are millions of women who every day effectively supplement estrogen with the birth control pill or post-menopausal hormone therapy. For most, the uptick won’t be a major issue. For others, however, this medication may cause significant irritation and inflammation in the stomach as well as encourage GERD by its effect on the esophageal sphincter. In follow up research to the expansive Nurses Health Study, GERD symptoms were more common in those who were taking estrogen hormonal therapy. The larger the dose and longer the use strongly correlated with a rising severity of symptoms. Although the nature of the study didn’t isolate other risk factors, it does begin to illuminate a connection we’ve known for years and should expect now. On an anecdotal and wholly unscientific note, I knew a woman who took Nexium for three years before a nurse practitioner suggested the Pill might be related to her debilitating stomach pain. After going off the Pill (which she’d been on for 10 years), her symptoms finally subsided.

If you experience GERD even on a low-carb diet (and without medications known to negatively impact digestive function), a food allergy (often dairy or grains related) or chronic infection (including H. pylori) might be the culprit. Keep in mind also that for some people, an acid reflux problem can become imbricated (today’s fifty-cent word) with a whole host of other conditions (e.g. a systemic yeast overgrowth or other internal inflammation, etc.) A complete work over might be in order, and an intensive, very low carb period can help starve systemic yeast.

As Melissa from Hunt.Gather.Love. suggests (in relation to her own battle with GERD), it’s important to have patience with the healing process. Once you get rid of the underlying cause(s) of your GERD (and get off the pharmaceuticals), there’s a weak, out of order digestive system to bring back into balance. Commit yourself to a restorative mindset and regimen for a few months.

Here are a few things you can do to support healthy digestion:

  • Take an HCl or other digestive enzyme supplement for at least a few weeks if not months (if your reflux is bad). I believe Robb Wolf recommends NOW Super Enzymes.
  • Try old-fashioned bitters (remember those?) with or after each meal which can encourage better digestion.
  • Repopulate your system with healthy bacteria with hefty probiotics (e.g. Primal Flora) and frequent fermented foods.
  • Up your intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3s (e.g. Vital Omegas).
  • To contend with lingering symptoms while your system heals, try slippery elm, ginger, or DGL (deglycyrrihizinated form of licorice).
  • Some people – men and women – have luck with the various morning sickness teas, which contain a combination of stomach soothing and pro-digestive herbs.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. I’d love to hear from folks who have beaten GERD and those who are still working toward a full solution. Share your thoughts and perspectives, and have a great hump day!

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I’ve never been formally diagnosed with anything, but had problems with heartburn for decades (along with other issues with my stomach and digestion). It got so bad I was waking with panic attacks because I couldn’t breathe. I had been to regular doctors over the years and they never helped so this time I went to an allergist. He explained that was because my esophagus was swollen and prescribed me the little purple pill. It worked, and the heartburn, and the late night panic attacks, both stopped but at $50 a month I was not thrilled.

    Then I went primal and it went away. For me, it was the grains. I know because after a few months primal I started eating sugar again (I know, I know! – and not in moderation either) and my heartburn stayed away. I never went back on grains though.

    So for some people it might be low carb, but for me, it was specifically cutting grains. All grains. I went gluten free years ago and it didn’t make as big a difference as 100% grain free.

    ShannonCC wrote on September 7th, 2011

      Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
      • Sorry for shouting. That is just some crazy $&@#, man.

        Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
  2. Yep, I had acid reflux, took medication for it, etc.

    Then I became primal and it stopped *that very week*. Haven’t had a single reflux event since then (July 2010).

    It’s one of those secondary bonuses of Primal Life :-)

    JLM wrote on September 7th, 2011
  3. I suffered from mild but persistent reflux for a couple of years when I was peri-menopausal. I had good success using HCl tablets with meals, so I assume that low stomach acid was at least part of the problem. Around that time I also became hypothyroid. When I finally got that condition corrected (with Armour thyroid), the reflux stopped. I read later that low stomach acid can be a result of hypothyroidism, so that may have been a factor.

    Danae wrote on September 7th, 2011
  4. Another miserable GERD sufferer for many years. I had an upper endoscopic done about 4 years ago which confirmed I had esophageal damage, a hiatal hernia and polyps in my stomach (proabably caused by the PPI’s) I was on the drugs for over 15 years. I shudder to think of all the damage that has been done. Several years ago I had severe anemia mostly likey the result of a combination of factors including the PPI’s which block the absorbtion of minerals like calcium and iron.

    Nearly, 2 years ago I went LC for health reasons: to avoid getting T2 diabetes like my brother and father. I actually didn’t lose much weight even though I ate less than 40 grams carb for a month. But what I DID lose was my GERD! In the first week, I tried to taper off the meds but by the 2nd week found I didn’t need them at all! Like most, grains are the primary culprit and too much sugar. Now, I know if I decide to have a small amount of GF grain, I’m going to pay a price. But instead of PPI’s, I reach for Alka Seltzer heartburn relief and it works great!

    Kim wrote on September 7th, 2011
  5. I had complete cessation of GERD on my first low carb experience–immediately before any significant weight loss. This time around it’s still a problem, but I had 10 years of additional damage :o( It is much, much better on low carb, though.

    People should not overlook another connection with GERD which is sleep apnea. Dr. Steven Park hypothesizes that when the airway is closed off during sleep, the struggle to breathe causes a negative pressure in the upper airway, and that pulls gastric juices up into the airway. People with GERD should be evaluated for sleep apnea and vice versa, EVEN IF THEY DON’T FIT THE USUAL PROFILE (middle-aged, overweight male who snores).

    Janknitz wrote on September 7th, 2011
  6. I had gerd so bad it was making my ears hurt.. I would take HCL and antacids and I would still get heartburn. Went Primal about a month ago and no more heart burn.

    Greg wrote on September 7th, 2011
  7. That’s it, we’re changing our diet. My husband’s family has a history of reflux which usually clears up by the time they turn one. My nephew, however, is 11 and will vomit after eating too fast or drinking soda.

    My son had horrible reflux as a baby, but since he never acted like he was in pain my pediatrician didn’t think we needed to do anything about it. He has severe cavities from the reflux and getting his first teeth at 3.5 months, he looks like he has bottle rot (never had a bottle, though).

    Well, the last few weeks my son, now 3.5, has informed me that he still has reflux (“Mommy, I throw up in my mouth.”) several times a day. A few days ago he told me, “When I eat sweet things the sugar makes me throw up.”

    So! I’m feeling we need to just bite the bullet and go primal. Thank you for this article, it was very enlightening.

    Krista wrote on September 7th, 2011
  8. Thanks Mark! Started Paleo, lost twenty-five pounds and GERDS. No more medication or antacids. Have started a new life at 53!

    Joe Clark wrote on September 7th, 2011
  9. Reflux is actually one of the main reasons I ended up here. I had a HORRIBLE case of GERD, and felt like I was dealing with absolute IDIOTS at the hospital. I was told to try an “easily digested foods” diet which meant rice, potatoes, sugar, and all that other garbage that is horrible for you. My symptoms of course got WORSE. I was very heavy…around 325 when this started. I lost about 40 lbs in little over 2 weeks, as I could not swallow. The hardest things to swallow were water and yogurt. I choked down broth and boost shakes and slowed the loss. I ended up getting down to about 260 until my swallowing got better (after starting a PPI and about every diagnostic test known). I had ulcerations from the back of my throat to my jujunem (the farthest place a scope goes in an endoscopy..just before the intestines). The PPI pill eventually gave me the WORST reflux I had ever experienced. I finally found a good doc (still with him today) and started modding my diet. It has been almost 2 years, and I still have side affects and occasional dysphagia (trouble swallowing), but with my primal diet (for about 7 weeks now) I have definitely been feeling much better.

    I never felt so helpless, and had so many problems like the ones I had with GERD….Hell is an understatement!

    Jeff wrote on September 7th, 2011
  10. i’m glad to see you recommend bitters! herbalists differentiate the bitter herbs a little more. if you can find calamus, you’re in luck — it not only has the bitter principle that stimulates healthy digestive juices, it also has a tendency to normalize stomach acid levels, bringing them down if they’re too high, up if they’re too low.

    marshmallow root is another very helpful herb for heartburn, reflux, and GERD. just drop a tablespoon of the cut root in a quart of water, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and you’ll have a slightly thickened, mucilaginous drink in the morning. you can water it down further if the texture is displeasing. another way is to just put a pinch in your water bottle and leave it there through the day. this is soothing to irritated tissues in the throat and esophagus.

    ryn wrote on September 7th, 2011
  11. I had heartburn for years. I ate Rolaids, and never went any furhter into diagnosis or treatment (Army doctors are great at patching up war wounds, less good at treating illness). One thing I did know was that the ususal things such as spicy and greasy foods did not send me off, but that eating bread to moderate symptoms just sent me over the roof.

    I have not had heartburn since going primal. I’m not going to dig too far into any cause and effect relationships, but I’m not going to eat grains again without a ready supply of antacids, either.

    Jim Greig wrote on September 7th, 2011
  12. I got rid of it by going low carb. It was amazing to not need a super size bottle of tums at hand.

    bbuddha wrote on September 7th, 2011
  13. My heartburn ended about 6 months after I quit smoking.

    jay sherman wrote on September 7th, 2011
  14. I had been on Prevacid for almost 10 years! Every doctor just said to cut down on acidic foods and soda. Despite all of the info stating it is not for long term use, they continued to assure me of it’s safety. My GERD was painful and if I missed a dose, I was almost paralyzed with discomfort. Once I went Paleo almost 10 months or so ago, I am glad to report that I no longer need Prevacid or any antacid (except for the occassional Friday night – my “cheat day” – pizza.) I knew I wasn’t imagining things. Thank you for this post.

    Anthony Mendez wrote on September 7th, 2011
  15. again, it’s not the saturated fats from meat that is the problem….it’s the starchy carbohydrates and bad trans-fat oils that many people ingest mindlessly along with it

    Kevin Lin wrote on September 7th, 2011
  16. Eating Primal cured my goiter.

    rob wrote on September 7th, 2011
  17. I suffered from gerd took pills every morning and ate tums every night for years.. Even went so far as to have my stomach scoped to check for cancer or physcical cause. I have been eating primal for 4 months and have now been free of symptoms for over 3 months. If being ugly and an early death wasn’t enough motivation to eat primal you can also know that eating primal will prevent you from waking up choking with lungs full of stomach acid. But hey if you like death, obesity, and waking up in horrible pain then by all means hit up the extra pasta. :)

    Mike wrote on September 7th, 2011
  18. I have been almost 100% GERD-free since I quit grains. I don’t knowingly eat grains away from home, but may once in a while, have grains or sugars added to a food. I am quite convinced that, for me, grains are the culprit. It is very easy to live grain-free at home, and I find myself more discerning when away from home.

    Aili wrote on September 7th, 2011
  19. I had neurological damage about 10 years back, and while my brain was healing, I suffered from GERD. It came back when I started working out again. And stayed until I discovered Primal Blueprint and stopped eating the SAD. I’m so relieved that I don’t have to pop pills every day anymore!

    Sanctus Real wrote on September 7th, 2011
  20. Another great article Mark. Thanks!

    I’ve been on PPIs for years, and anytime I forget to take them I suffer. I’ve been mostly grain-free/low-carb for almost 2 years now, but the tummy symptoms persist.

    I’ve been taking digestive enzymes, probiotics, Omega 3’s, about 11,000 IUs of D3 daily…still no improvement in GERD(but my overall health is much improved). I still drink alcohol occasionally, and too much coffee (20+oz/day)…

    When I haven’t had my reflux pills available, I’ve been able to successfully fall back on Aloe juice…but I’m not sure if that’s swapping one dependency for another.

    Sounds like I could conceivably cut PPIs entirely and treat with aloe until I overcome the rebound effects of the PPIs but that sounds like mostly uncharted territories.

    Silverman wrote on September 7th, 2011
    • alcohol and coffee are stomach irritants–you may want to consider cutting back. Take a few days vacation and just sleep and detox. (Drink water, or water with electrolytes for the caffeine headache, but avoid aspirin and NSAIDs, as both destroy your stomach lining.)

      Too much w3 can apparently lead to GERD so maybe you should make sure you aren’t over-supplementing.

      Also, if you’ve had stomach/intestinal problems for a while, look into FODMAPS. I no longer have reflux but I had a tiny amount of raw garlic today and I am expelling ridiculous amounts of garlic-flavored gas (as burps), which is way too close to the reflux line for my comfort.

      Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
    • Coffee has caffeine, which relaxes the LES and promotes reflux. Also, coffee is relatively acidic so it can activate pepsin molecules that are still present in your esophagus.

      Brian wrote on November 20th, 2012
  21. It was after I read Healthy Skeptic Chris Kessler’s heartburn article a that I went low carb. I had been on H2 blockers and all the rest for years. But I was haunted by Chris asking (I paraphrase) “If hyperacidity is the cause of GERD/IBS/etc why isn’t it a disease of young people since stomach acid declines with aging?” Plus all the things he pointed out about how protective stomach acid is of our lower gut.

    After a year and a half of low carbing I can say my IBS/GERD has been gone for over a year, I can eat coffee, tomatoes and other trigger food. It was all a matter of diet. I am so much happier and healthier today!

    RowanF wrote on September 7th, 2011
  22. I was on prilosec for 10 years and that was with tums but as soon as I went paleo all my symptoms vanished…I’ve been asymptomatic for 3 months now and I’ve never looked back!

    Bryan de la Puente wrote on September 7th, 2011
  23. Anecdotally… My wife has GERD, and her symptoms are dramatically lessened when we’re grain-free (to the point where a bottle of antacid will actually last a couple of months, versus a couple of weeks).

    I don’t have GERD, and I don’t get heartburn at all so long as we’re grain-free, but if we start eating grains again I’m popping Tums like candy.

    gcb wrote on September 7th, 2011
  24. Recently my 50 year old husband had an ingual hernia repair. Over and over again throughout his pre-operative care, doctors and nurses were amazed when he reported that he was not taking any drugs. They would probe and prod, thinking he’d forgotten something, or wasn’t understanding that they meant any and all drugs, even NSAIDs.

    It was as if they’d never heard of someone his age not being on a drug.

    Sandra wrote on September 7th, 2011
  25. I’m surprised no one has mentioned d-limonene yet as a helpful supplement for GERD. I’ve seen this stuff work over and over again in friends and clients. 1,000 mg every other day for 20 days (10 doses total) and that usually does it. The research on this showed some people having persistent relief for 6 months after the 20 day treatment period was over. It might not actually address the root cause, but it sure helps the symptoms in the meantime.

    David wrote on September 7th, 2011
  26. I had gastroscopies, barium meals and used meds for years to manage GERD, which began when I was about 22. I used to find my esophagus was so sensitive that the various hideous liquids I ingested to help (Gaviscon in the UK) actually burned and irritated my esophagus as I took them. A glass of wine would literally bend me over double in pain. I couldn’t understand why curry, spice etc had no effect, and skipping meals made precious little difference either. Looking back now I see it was all about the grains and as soon as I stray (like I tend to do on holiday) towards cereals and bread then I end up in pain within hours. I’m so delighted paleo saved me from what I thought would be lifelong discomfort.

    RG wrote on September 7th, 2011
  27. I have tried primal/paleo for breakfast to replace my cereal and that is when I get reflux. I am gluten free and my cereal is corn based (I know, I know), and when I gave it up and tried eggs one morning, even a salad another morning, I got horrible reflux; where it is controlled with the cereal. Interestingly, I don’t get reflux from eggs or salads if eaten for other meals. Could it be I have high acid levels in the morning and add protein from the eggs or fat from the salad(put avacado on it) and not much to absorb the acid? Whereas the cereal absorbs the acid setting me up for the rest of the day?

    Any suggestions are appreciated as I would love to get off grains entirely, but for the time being I need them for my breakfast.


    Keith wrote on September 7th, 2011
  28. I had only begun to suffer from GERD and IBS over the last year– coincidentally I also started Weight Watchers during that time. One of my favorite foods was the low calorie bread that I convinced myself was guilt-free.

    I’ve only been primal for a couple of months, but the difference has been significant. Not only have I not had any heartburn, but my joints (I have severe osteoarthritis) have been much, much better. I rarely need to take Ibuprofen any more (I used to take 4 tablets at least 4-times daily). Eating bread is not a good enough reason to be in that much pain.

    Thanks for the reminder about the fermented food. I’m going to make a concerted effort to add them to my diet.

    sqt wrote on September 7th, 2011
  29. I had chronic GERD and was prescribed medication that didn’t work. However, I removed ALL starches and dairy from my diet, and have been completely symptom free for years.

    I eat plenty of non-starchy fruit, so in my experience carbs have nothing to do with it. Maybe it’s the TYPE of carbs that factor in.

    Zernike wrote on September 7th, 2011
  30. bingo mark. we all know what causes pregnancy, as for flatulence, it comes from bacteria munching on undigested food. chasing the mighty margin has us rushing through mealtime. thus creating undigested food for the hungry bacteria, which then creates gas. a primal lifestyle as well as diet will cure what the problem. people of zee world relax! (play more)

    dasbutch wrote on September 7th, 2011
  31. I have had GERD for the past 3 years. It started after my third C-section. Life is a living Hell. I have tried everything, including PPIs, but I have received no relief. How long after starting Paleo and eliminating grains did ya’ll start to feel relief? (I’ve also tried fasting, ACV, kefir, sauerkraut, etc.)

    Christine wrote on September 7th, 2011
    • Have you been examined for a possible hernia post-operation?

      Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
  32. I’m surprised that no one has suggested the Water Cure. This is based on the old Chinese cure-all of drinking large quantities of water at one time, basically flooding the system. I read about it years ago in a small book; title and author long forgotten, but the one thing I took from it always gave me immediate relief from the pain. Get up and drink 3 large glasses of water one after another. The result is immediate relief. Of course there are several trips to the aptly named water closet (WC) for some time after wards! This may help fellow sufferers whilst changing to the Primal diet and take care of any relapses.

    Mark Tisdall wrote on September 7th, 2011
  33. Interestingly I’ve begun having heartburn when eating more primally. If I eat grains I don’t tend to have heartburn but my lower digestive track is unhappy. If I eat more primally I tend to have heartburn following meals but my lower digestive is happy as a clam. Reducing meal size, slowing eating speed, and avoiding excess acidic foods (e.g. tomato soup) and too much dark chocolate (my one remaining vice) helps. I wonder if it’s just a transition stage as my system adapts to different consumption patterns.

    Kate W wrote on September 7th, 2011
    • Do you suspect a “trigger” food? You could have an undiagnosed food allergy. Eggs or dairy may be a culprit.

      Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
  34. I was one of those people who was getting acid reflux and I had one of those terrifying nighttime choking events after inhaling acid in my sleep. As soon as I started eating paleo/primal ALL my “heartburn” went away. Yay!

    Catharine wrote on September 7th, 2011
  35. Slippery Elm helps . Also if you get acid reflux at night in bed lie on your left side. Our anatomy is so that when you do your esophogus is above the acid level and the acid does not come up, stays where it belongs.

    Aloe Vera seems to help heal my esophogus after acid reflux episodes

    Neil Meharg wrote on September 7th, 2011
  36. Great article Mark!
    I’ve been a GERD sufferer for over a decade. My med journey started off with the antacid sweets, then to a pharmacy pill then a prescription. It wasn’t until I gave the Atkins Diet a spin about ten years ago that I realised the cuplrit was wheat and grains in general. Over time I found that more highly processed grains such as pastries etc were absolute killers and that also the meds effectiveness decreaed over the years.

    Thankfully now I made the choice to eliminate grains from my diet and hey, guess what… no GERD!

    In a bizarre way I look at it as a blessing – its my body telling me in a very painful way not to eat grains – many people aren’t so fortunate to have these warning signs and suffer far worse consequences with little or no warning.


    AdamOfBondi wrote on September 7th, 2011
  37. Count me among the low carb GERD success stories. I experienced the benefits long before I had much weight loss (which was also significant for me). It was amazing. I had been a daily Prilosec user out of sheer desperation. Even with the Prilosec, I had to sleep sitting upright in a chair and about one in four nights, I still refluxed bad enough that I would lose significant sleep. About two weeks after starting low carb, I saw an improvement. About four weeks in the symptoms were almost totally gone. The only time I have symptoms now is when I have a cheat…which ironically was night before last when I had some chips to go with my salsa. I eat lots of peppers and very spicy food, so I know it was all about the chips. It wasn’t terrible, but noticeable when you don’t have any issues at all. Personally, I think wheat is probably my major culprit, but too many variables to know for sure.

    Tony Plank wrote on September 7th, 2011
    • I have problems with corn chips. Corn doesn’t cause reflux for me across the board so I don’t know why it’s such a problem.

      (Eating maize does make me feel “weird” so I try to avoid it. But I’m not intolerant to it like I am with gluten grains.)

      It might be resistant starch? I mean, I’m guessing here. I can’t have resistant starch because I still have FODMAPS issues since my guts aren’t totally healed. Plantains and cold potato salad can sometimes explode in my innards… ugh.

      Another Halocene Human wrote on September 10th, 2011
  38. Yuk, the article is simply hawking cheesy supplements like a tacky salesman.

    Kathy wrote on September 7th, 2011
  39. Mark,

    I used to get heart burn when I ate crap foods.

    As soon as I started introducing a ‘reckless’ amount of vegetables into my diet (which corresponded with minimal grains), it all went away. It’s been years now.

    In other words, eat primal, lose the heart burn.


    Ryan Denner wrote on September 7th, 2011

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