jalapeno peppers; jalapenos

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. Ronnie

    Very good question, is it just relieving the pain rather than actually preventing or countering the harmful acid effects. I am not a medical person but I strongly suspect that it is doing more than acting as a pain killer. Reason for this is that the sensations caused by the chilli peppers on sensitive parts of your body ( at least on the outside ) last for between five minutes and twenty minutes ( eg the stinging effect on your face, eyes, or genitallia, if you made the mistake of a toilet trip after handling hot peppers ) The beneficial effects of the Chilli peppers to counter acid however lasts for many hours, if not SE real days. Furthermore, I have noticed that reflux, when the acid stomach contents come up through your innards into your mouth when you are lying down, almost never happens to me when I have been taking peppers, so from a layman,s perspective, it would at least seem that it is doing more than acting as a pain killer.

  2. Ronnie

    You have obviously never been doubled up in discomfort with burning acid eating at your asophigus, forcing its way through it with pain. If you find your life plagued by such agony, you would be rather agitated by someone telling you that it’s perfectly normal, because acid is required for digestion.

  3. Ronnie

    The reply function on this website does not seem to work. How frustrating. The person named Ernie who commented ” Don’t kid yourself, chilli peppers causes acid reflux ” is wrong. I have suffered from chronic acid indigestion all my life and am now completely of all medication since eating red hot chilli peppers every day. It is a better prevention to heartburn than an instant relief cure, but even when I now occasionally get acid problems from eating foods that used to have me doubled up in pain, after a few hours, it disappears without taking medication. For me, chill peppers fix the problem better than any medication devised by mankind. Like many people I am also living proof!

  4. Earnie

    Don’t ‘swallow’ these stories, hot peppers CAUSE acid reflux!

    • Terry Graedon

      Peppers can cause reflux for some people, but others find them helpful. We are all different.

  5. Don

    I found that taking a Jalapeno pepper cutting it in half length wise and stuffing it with Pimento Cheese spread and eating one half at bed time has nearly elemenated my acid stomach problems. Who would have guessed.

  6. Lili
    Sunshine State

    I was prescribed a biophosphanate (ACTONEL) for osteopenia by my GYN. I was on this medication for 2.5 years. I had trouble swallowing and eventually developed GERD. This was in 2005. Today is August 5, 2015 and I have been trying to deal with all the side effects of the biophosphanate for 10 years. Along the way I lost my voice and went to see the ENT. My gums receded so badly my dentist referred me to a periodontist. I’ve been under periodontal care, every three months for 8 years. The ENT referred me to a gastroenterologist for GERD issues. I’m allergic to all the meds that were prescribed. About a year ago I made a recipe with jalapenos (clearly not recommended for anyone with GERD). I don’t know how or why the capsaicin in the little green jalapenos can make such a difference and I cannot find any helpful information online (is Big Pharma blocking it by any chance – the same Big Pharma that told my GYN I “needed” biophosphanates) – I no longer have a raspy voice or intestinal issues, I’m not totally exhausted from taking prescribed meds like ACIPHEX and I feel like I’m slowly getting my life back. It’s taken me 10 years to get to this point. The jalapeno costs pennies at any grocery store, not hundreds of dollars for a brand name drug I cannot afford that doesn’t make me feel good anyway. I don’t know why chopping up the little jalapeno into my food works but it does and it has changed my life. It would be nice to have some honesty from researchers on this topic – many of us suffer needlessly. We’re just the “little people” trying to make it through this world. It would be nice if someone would help us out.

  7. Kara

    I have suffered from acid reflux since I had my gallbladder removed in 2008. I tried the acid-blocker Zegerid, and it made me feel angry. I have since been searching for natural remedies. By chance, I tried a Thai food curry made with red and green peppers, and it miraculously helped my GERD! I do have to stay away from ginger and peppermint, too much caffeine, too much sugar, pastries, and high-fat foods. It also helps to eat dinner early and to drink plenty of water. I also eat a stick of celery before bedtime (I dip it in apple cider vinegar).

  8. Helen
    Hillsboro, OR

    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.

  9. Ronnie Pilkington

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

  10. Ronnie Pilkington

    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!

  11. SheriL

    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!

  12. John

    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.

  13. Beth

    Has anyone tried the almonds covered in wasabi for heartburn?

  14. Michele M.

    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.

  15. MJH

    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.

  16. LeeAnn

    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.

  17. R G

    What are jalapeno topped snacks?

  18. Furst M.

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

  19. LAB

    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.

  20. Joan

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

  21. JK

    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.

  22. GS

    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?

  23. John

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

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