Q. I was on reflux drugs like omeprazole (PPIs) for over ten years and even had surgery for severe reflux. I was determined to get off the PPIs, so I started drinking ginger tea, eating crystallized ginger when acute pain hit, snacking on several almonds every few hours, and taking a teaspoon of honey at night before bed. It definitely helped ease the symptoms but did not eliminate the heartburn.
Feeling discouraged, I ate some jalapeno-topped snacks even though my doctor had warned me to avoid anything hot. My reflux is now kept in check by jalapenos every few days without needing anything else! The reflux pain only returns if I go a week without eating any jalapenos.
I have been PPI-free for over 18 months now and feel so much better. Why would jalapenos make such a difference so quickly? The pain eases within an hour of eating them and lasts for several days.

A. There is research suggesting that capsaicin (the hot stuff in jalapeno peppers) may be protective for the stomach lining (Journal of Physiology, Paris, Jan-Dec, 2001). Although some people experience discomfort when they eat hot peppers, regular use appears to decrease reflux symptoms (Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, April, 2010). This may be related to the way regular use of capsaicin cream on the skin can reduce pain, by depleting substance P that transmits pain. You can learn more about mustard, vinegar and hot peppers for heartburn in the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy.

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  1. Helen
    Hillsboro, OR
    Reply

    Plane almonds work for me. Also, if I avoid High fructose corn syrup I’m less likely to get heartburn. That additive didn’t start bothering me until I was in my late 40’s. Regular sugar doesn’t bother me but I’m sure to get heartburn if I eat or drink something with HFCs in it.

  2. Ronnie Pilkington
    Reply

    Not too sure what solution you are suggesting in countering unbearable discomfort and agony caused by this acid.

  3. Ronnie Pilkington
    Reply

    Thai food of the type that has virtually no fat and is loaded with Chili Peppers has worked best for me. Small food portions of the type that you get from local Thai street food vendors, with boiled rice. The food that is presented usually cold in stainless steel trays, not the stuff from fancy restaurants aimed at tourists.
    Worst things I have found for creating heartburn include bread, especially very new fresh bread, and worst of all, soft dough type pastries. Avoid soft pastries at all costs. Also fried mackerel can be bad, although I have found that heartburn usually tends to go in cycles that can last for months.
    When it is bad, virtually any food stuff will result in heartburn. The thing I find rather annoying is the constant comments I have received from people that I should go and see my GP, as if he will have some magical cure!

  4. SheriL
    Reply

    Hello, my acid reflux was so severe that I was on four prescriptioiacids a day. It became so bad that I could not sleep more than one hour at a time. When I did sleep, the acid reflux gave me a bad headache upon waking.
    But then I ate some Thai hot sauce. I thought the hot sauce pain would be better than the constant reflux but to my surprise, the reflux went away!
    I now consume about 4 oz of the spicy hot sauce a day to keep the acid reflux away! I feel great now! I don’t need the anti acids any longer and all my stomach pain is gone!
    My 80 year old dad told me vinegar would cute it but I ignored him because that sounded counterintuitive but he was so right. I wish I would have listened before the acid reflux hurt my esophagus! But my dr says things are healing now & he cannot believe how the peppers cured it!

  5. John
    Reply

    I have mentioned cayenne tincture in a previous post. It’s important to keep the tincture in your mouth long enough to stimulate your salivary glands. This signals digestion to occur in your stomach.

  6. Beth
    Reply

    Has anyone tried the almonds covered in wasabi for heartburn?

  7. Michele M.
    Reply

    I love and swear by DGL tablets available online and some nutritional centers. Personally prefer the chocolate flavored. One three times a day. Cost about $8.00/month.
    Vinegar, cayenne pepper also work for me. Also eating small meals after a full glass of water and staying away from my trigger foods. Being aware helps most. Our bodies teach us if we pay attention.
    Please find another way than PPI’s — not healthy for digestion, good acid kills bad bacteria in gut, many now linked to bone weakness, very expensive in USA
    and addictive.

  8. MJH
    Reply

    I highly recommend eating according to your blood chemistry. Read Eating 4 Your Type and Cooking 4 Your Type. Available online and often found in used book stores. Eating and avoiding the foods listed in the Beneficial, Neutral, and Avoid lists for my blood type has helped stop almost all the gastric problems I had from sore tongue all the way down to hemorrhoids. Now I know from PP that chocolate before bed can relax the muscle between esophagus and stomach, I think I’ve found the last clue to complete healing.
    The author has lots of stuff to sell on his 4 your type web page, which I ignore, since I no longer require massive doses of vitamins or any extra nutritionals. But his main thesis is amazing and helpful. I’d like to hear the author on PP sometime.

  9. LeeAnn
    Reply

    My husband read that following a gluten free diet helps people with acid reflux. I have been on PPI for many years and still struggled with severe heartburn. My specialist advised to double the dosage of the PPI (2 zegerid). I was uncomfortable with this since I also struggle with osteoporosis.
    I have been gluten free for three weeks now and there has been an incredible change! Very rarely do I have heartburn (although I still take 1 Zegerid per day). I sleep through the night and am no longer chewing gum constantly to relieve the symptoms.
    Talked to the Nurse at my Dr’s Practice and she said she was not surprised I was doing better.

  10. R G
    Reply

    What are jalapeno topped snacks?

  11. Furst M.
    Reply

    Why don’t people and their doctors realize that acid is required for proper digestion? Should never completely block the natural acid flow.
    Thanks

  12. LAB
    Reply

    I’ve also had a problem with acid reflux for several years, and had two surgeries to fix it (the first one failed within a year.) I always hoped I could do without the drugs, so I’ve been researching online for a while. There are a lot of remedies, but what worked very well for me: first, no more morning coffee – I think on an empty stomach it created too much acid. Now I drink tea in the mornings, no problem. I do drink a cup of coffee later in the day, tho.
    The other thing is raw cider vinegar. After work I drink a couple of glasses of water and pour in a little bit of the vinegar. It actually tastes good (tart) when you get used to it. I know it is putting some acid in my stomach, but now I do not have to take any pill.

  13. Joan
    Reply

    be interested in any follow up to this. seems counter intuitive.

  14. JK
    Reply

    Exactly what my husband used to do when he was having stomach problems. Really didn’t have to be jalapenos, just hot Mexican food and salsa.

  15. GS
    Reply

    It may be reducing the PAIN but isn’t the acid still coming up and thus creating the scarring of the esophageal lining which may lead to Barrett’s Disease and eventually cancer?

  16. John
    Reply

    I have had similar results with cayenne tincture. The recipe to make it is on the internet.

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