Digestive Problems

Manage Excess Stomach Acid without Powerful Antacid Drugs

Date: 18 April, 2006

My daughter suffers greatly with an esophageal ulcer.
Can you recommend anything that will help?

After receiving that request from an HSI member named Vern, I discovered that esophageal ulcers are often associated with excess stomach acid. As long-time readers know, HSI Panellist Dr Allan Spreen, has occasionally offered tips on how to manage excess acid in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract without resorting to powerful antacid drugs. So I checked in with Dr Spreen and he offered a plan that will hopefully provide Verns daughter (and others) with welcome relief.

The six-step plan

Here are Dr Spreens six steps for addressing an esophageal ulcer:

1. First, of course, you need to track down the cause of the ulcer, if possible. An aspirin stuck in the esophagus, for example, can do the job nicely, as can some other drugs. Esophageal ulcers are not common, so the cause may be unusual.

2. If no known cause presents, a Heidelberg gastrogram might be in order (all of this should be monitored by a doctor who is knowledgeable in nutrient therapeutics). The gastrogram is a capsule that is swallowed to show the acidity of the GI tract at different points. If the acidity is low (i.e. has a high pH), digestive enzymes could be in order to cause the GE sphincter (the trap door between the stomach and the esophagus) to tighten (it loosens if theres inadequate acid).

3. L. acidophilus powder should be used pretty heavily, in my opinion. The liquid variety is okay, but it tastes pretty bad. Capsules can be opened, squeezing the powder onto the tongue and letting the saliva (and minimal water) take it down. It has a non- acid-neutralising protective effect.

4. Dissolving De-Glycerrhizinated Licorice (DGL) can help. Hopefully she likes licorice, because thats what it tastes like.

5. I havent tried Potters Acidosis for this, but it might be worthwhile. This herbal formula is a traditional remedy that relieves acid indigestion.

6. If a known cause is unavailable, a close examination of the diet is in order. All soft drinks (especially those with phosphoric acid), refined sugars and flours, and artificial agents need to go. A food diary and a good nutritionist (experienced in nutrient therapies dieticians are not usually well- versed here) would be most helpful.

Six and then some

I have a few notes to add to Dr Spreens six tips.

Unfortunately, due to new EU regulations, it is getting harder to find a place offering gastrograms in the UK. Consult your doctor, who may be able to help you. Alternatively, Nutritional Physician Dr John Briffa describes a simple home test to identify low stomach acid. A level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in some water should be drunk on an empty stomach. The bicarbonate of soda should be converted into gas by stomach acid, causing significant bloating and belching within five to ten minutes. If there is little or no belching, this would indicate low stomach acid.

Acidophilus is available at most health-food shops and through many Internet sources. Dr Spreen recommends refrigerated varieties in capsules or powdered form. And he adds, They should be measured in billions (with a B) of cfu (colony-forming units).

DGL is also available at health-food shops. The brand recommended by Dr Spreen is made by Enzymatic Therapy (enzy.com), and is available online. He suggests that patients chew or suck on a tablet 20 minutes before eating.

Potters Acidosis is a herbal product that includes meadowsweet (an antacid and anti-inflammatory), medicinal vegetable charcoal (excess acid neutraliser), and rhubarb (an astringent and digestive aid). You can get more information at the web site for Academy Health (www.academyhealth.com).

Vern states that his daughter suffers greatly from her esophageal ulcer, so I assume she is already under a doctors care. Before trying any of these natural treatments she should discuss their use with her doctor or a health-care professional who is knowledgeable in nutrient therapeutics.

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  1. charley Posted August 16, 2011

    my partner suffers with reflux and certain foods make it worse, where can i get nutrition info or meal plans to reduce suffering in his stomache? does anyone know of any ideal foods he should and shouldnt b eating?

  2. CH Posted July 9, 2009

    Potter’s acidosis has been de-listed by the manufacturer so it seems you can’t get it anymore.

  3. manoor Posted June 17, 2008

    it is good site i myself am a suffer of gerd reflux oesophagitis.morning while empty stomach i have pain in stomach while eating it goes .stools often with undigested food not digested properly ang often left shoulder mid pain plz suggest medicine

  4. Robin Bowles Posted June 15, 2008

    My mother has been diagnosed with acid reflux (asymptomatic, no heartburn, just a horrible chronic cough). How much acidophilus and when is used to treat this condition? Can someone help?

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