Handling heartburn without the purple pill

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a case of heartburn at some point. Every once in a while is one thing. But if you have it on a regular basis, it can lead to some serious problems. You can wind up with a condition called esophagitis. Which, in the worst case scenario, can turn into Barrett’s esophagus. Which can turn into esophageal cancer.

But even for these potentially dangerous ongoing cases of heartburn (technically known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD), conventional medical doctors have always had one go-to treatment.


The problem is, these drugs were only designed to be taken for 8 weeks, max. Plus, they don’t really solve the problem.

The fact is, our bodies were designed to have acid in them. In fact, for difficult-to-treat cases of GERD, I often prescribe a mild acid to be taken with meals. And I have to tell you, every single patient who has tried this approach says it works much better than that little purple pill.

But now there’s a new study on another non-drug approach to easing heartburn and GERD.

Researchers found that an elimination diet led to complete improvement in 64% of the patients and significant improvement in 78%. Also, 94% of the study participants reported that they no longer had difficulty swallowing (one of the hallmark symptoms of severe cases of GERD).

Shocking right? Not shocking that it worked, of course. Those of us in integrative medicine field have been prescribing elimination diets for all sorts of health problems–including GERD–for years.

What’s shocking is that it took mainstream medicine so long to find out that what you put in your mouth can actually can affect your health.

Why are they always the last to know these simple truths? Oh, that’s right. Because the pharmaceutical companies brainwash them into thinking the only thing that could possibly fix anything is something they churn out in their labs? It’s a sordid tale, but one that may be turning in our favor.

Of course, small victories like these don’t mean we’ve won the war. But I’m happy to take them where I can.

Anyway, in this study, the researchers eliminated milk, soy (an evil “food” that ranks right up there with sugar), eggs, wheat (another one of the most deadly foods on the planet) peanuts/tree nuts and shellfish. These are very common allergens so I know why they chose these specific foods. However, I don’t think this list goes far enough. I test each of my patients for over 100 foods so that we can be very specific about what needs to be eliminated.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most allergy testing done by conventional medical docs really doesn’t work. And this study proved it. Because in the patients who had traditional “skin prick” testing, 67% showed no sign of food allergies. Yet their symptoms  improved significantly when they cut out the foods listed above. In fact, skin prick testing accurately predicted a reaction to a food just 13% of the time. I recommend blood testing instead. I typically recommend the ALCAT allergy test.

You can actually order the ALCAT testing kit yourself either online at www.alcat.com or by calling 1-800-872-5228. They will send someone to you directly to draw your blood sample then overnight it to the lab. Then they will help you find a doctor in your area to review the results or provide a wellness advisor. At the very least, get the “100 Food Panel.” But of course if you can afford it, go for a more comprehensive test panel.

In this study, the most common food triggers were wheat (no surprise there) with 60% of patients sensitive to it. Followed by milk (casein–again another common allergen), with 50% of patients reacting negatively to it. Nuts, which most people think of as the most common food allergen, really only ranked at 10%. And eggs were even lower, with just 5% of patients sensitive to them. Soy also ranked somewhat low–at 10%.

But there are so many other reasons not to eat soy (more on that another time) it’s worth cutting out anyway.

Only time will tell if this study makes a dent in the use of drugs to treat GERD. But there’s certainly no reason you should wait around to find out. It’s a condition that I have been successfully treating without drugs for decades.