pieces of gum, nicotine gum

An inexpensive and simple tactic-chewing gum after meals-helped one reader overcome acid reflux problems.

Q. I have had difficulty with reflux since childhood. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec and Prevacid have helped with the heartburn pain, but did nothing for reflux. The reflux became violent projectile vomiting without nausea. Physicians have been unable to determine the cause.

After reading your guide to Digestive Disorders, I began to chew gum following moderate to large meals. This simple suggestion has all but stopped the reflux, which is no longer troublesome. Thank you.

Why Chewing Gum Helps

A. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which washes acid and other stomach juices back down the esophagus into the stomach and alleviates symptoms.

While acid-suppressing drugs reduce the irritating effects of stomach contents, medications like Nexium and Prilosec do not prevent reflux.

Problems with PPIs

In recent years we have learned that long-term use of PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors like omeprazole or esomeprazole) has been linked with a number of complications, including an increased risk for pneumonia, diarrhea due to C diff infections, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and weakened bones.

The most recent side effect to be documented is kidney failure in older patients (CMAJ Open, online April 16, 2015).

We discuss the pros and cons of PPIs and many non-drug approaches to heartburn, including a popular recipe for persimmon punch, in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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  1. am

    I was taking over the counter meds for heartburn when the heartburn got so bad, i ended up at hospital and tested for Barrett esophagus, which it turned out I had. How long i had Barretts i do not know. Was told by surgeon the last two times they cannot find the Barretts , had a monitor put in to monitor acid and got terribly sick while it was in me. I am angry, I now have osteoporosis cannot take the medication could only take Forteo. Allergic to the other and my bones density is severe. Here i am suffering from Gerd as my surgeon listed it and hiatial hernia to boot. I have tried cutting back on diet, not eating spice, or fats, no heavy meal at night time,raised bed, change positions, not overweight, and living on Zantac and Protonix. Chewing gum has helped and i am increasing water that seems to help. Scared to go back to surgeon because last time they had another Dr in operating room in case my sternum would break. What do i do? I feel like i been poisoned.

  2. james

    try chewing Extra gum spearment—it is sugarless and really works for me, but for me I chew 2 sticks….been using it for years and trust me it works

  3. Debi
    Festus, MO

    In addition to saliva washing the acid down the GI tract, I believe chewing gum stimulates peristalsis. This, in turn, keeps the bolus moving forward instead of back washing into the esophagus. It seems to work for me. I hope others can use this affordable technique.

  4. DS
    Denton, TX

    Try digestive bitters. Half a dropper of my favorite bitters on the tongue up to half an hour before eating has helped me tremendously. I used to choke up occasionally from stricture from many years of reflux, but experience no reflux and no difficulties swallowing when I remember to use bitters.

  5. wendy

    I had acid reflux twenty years ago, such that the esophageal pain was searing if I bent over after a meal. A friend suggested I take a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme before meals. I’ve continued to do that, and I’ve never had it since.

  6. CB

    Most gum has artificial sweeteners and I avoid all of those. Instead, I suck on a piece of Werther’s caramel hard candy. It promotes saliva and coats the esophagus. A spoonful of honey also works, but don’t drink water right after it.

    • Daniela

      Try to chew a piece of honey comb. It is natural/organic, this way you avoid all the artificial sweeteners that are very dangerous for the human body.

  7. KAREN

    I started chewing gum to help relieve the thirst (and resulting bad breath) caused by a medication. Since I teach elementary school, I can’t relieve my thirst with just water and run to the bathroom every 30 minutes. I’m hoping the gum will help with the hiatal hernia discomfort I experience from sitting scrunched up in small chairs.

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