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Can You Use Almonds to Stop Heartburn?

Eating a few almonds after a meal, avoiding highly processed foods and taking DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) can help stop heartburn without drugs.

Heartburn may seem like a recent problem, but in fact, people have been struggling with indigestion for as far back as medical history reaches and probably beyond. Hippocrates wrote about it more than two millennia ago. Traditional Chinese and Indian (Ayurvedic) medical practitioners worked to alleviate the pain, and many people around the world and across the centuries have come up with remedies to stop heartburn. One reader shared a favorite low-impact approach.

Munching Almonds to Stop Heartburn:

Q. I use almonds to stop heartburn. After years of being on Prilosec and thinking there was no way off it, I took the plunge and stopped. I keep almonds with me wherever I go.
At home I also drink aloe vera juice and take licorice root pills (DGL). Every once in a while, I have to take a Zantac, but not often.

A. Congratulations on getting off omeprazole. People who try to stop this or another proton pump inhibitor drug suddenly often find that rebound acidity makes that difficult.

Scientists writing in the World Journal of Gastroenterology (March 14, 2011) characterize almonds as a traditional heartburn remedy in Israel. We haven’t seen any studies on whether eating a few almonds actually helps heartburn, but scores of readers attest that it does.

An extract of licorice has been shown to ease indigestion (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012). Licorice also contains a compound that can discourage the development of stomach cancer (Oncotarget, Nov. 1, 2016).

Can DGL Stop Heartburn?

DGL is a safer version of licorice because the glycyrrhizin that can raise blood pressure has been removed. Here is what another reader related about using DGL:

Q. You have been writing about problems with heartburn drugs. A prominent naturopathic doctor told me to use DGL.

I take one tab twice per day and have not had any heartburn since starting this regimen. This is excellent information for those who do not want to take drugs that could be potentially harmful.

What Is DGL?

A. DGL is deglycyrrhizinated licorice. That means the medicinal herb licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has had the glycyrrhizin taken out. This ingredient is primarily responsible for the adverse effects of licorice, such as increased blood pressure.

DGL has been used to help heal stomach ulcers and is often recommended to stop heartburn. We did not find many medical studies supporting this approach. Nonetheless, one study suggests that DGL works as well as bismuth, a standard treatment, for eradicating Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers (Pharmacognosy Research, Oct-Dec. 2014).

We appreciate your experience. Other readers have also commented on using DGL.

Brent B. wrote:

“DGL is supposed to be good for intestinal health, and slippery elm is another alternative you may want to consider. In many cases the real problem is insufficient stomach acid, which tends to decline with age. Many years ago I used to suffer pretty bad heartburn at night when I was trying to fall asleep, but since I discovered ginger beer, that problem no longer happens. And it also helps to avoid processed foods, sticking with whole ones whenever possible. And definitely ditto on the digestive enzymes and probiotics. The new Nutritional Outlook magazine has a heavy emphasis on probiotics (especially in functional foods), and one scientist writes that at least 60% of our immune system is in the GI tract — so it certainly serves our health to feed it right!”

Chandler reported:

“DGL ROCKS! I gave up coffee a week and a half ago, much to my dismay…

“I was having a very physical symptom that scared me, every time I had heartburn, my heart would have palpitations. Apparently this was caused by some kind of leakage tickling a nerve in my heart or something. Anyway, when I started to feel the presence of that leakage more and more (it actually felt like something was pressing up slightly against the wall of the left side of my chest, near my spleen) I sort of panicked and said, enough is enough.

“I forced myself to give up the coffee I loved so much, but really, my heartburn and that left chest anomaly/heart palpitations have changed since then. And that coupled with DGL, whenever I eat, it truly is a wonder drug! I hope your DGL is working for you as well as mine is for me. I had the pills called “gastro ease” and then ran out and bought the drops, seems to work the same. In the past I’ve used all kinds of remedies, but quitting coffee and DGL seem to be saving me. I’ve also been on my diet, which is a lot of brown rice and veggies. But, I am able to eat things that used to give me heartburn thanks to DGL..”

Thiery is also enthusiastic:

“DGL and L-Glutamine really helped me wean of the PPI medications and feel 100% heartburn free. Also, I am taking a lot of probiotics (Fivelac, Yoghurt, Acidophilus etc.) And needless to say, alcohol, smoking, and certain foods need to be avoided for at least few months until your system is back on track but stopping them is the ultimate solution for a healthier lifestyle.

“Stress is a major cause of heartburn and other terrible diseases, so exercise more and that will help improve your moods that have been severely altered by taking all these PPI medications that somehow affect our moods as well (personal experience and not scientific research).

“Happy at last! Free at last from heartburn. Hope this helps someone out there!”

Gussie said:

“DGL was the answer to avoiding fundiplasty. Two surgeons recommended it was my best option to prevent esophageal cancer.

“Had Barrett’s brought on by Fosamax. On omaprazole and others, Messed with immune system. Spoke to two recent surgery patients — both had complications — I’ve met others since. So glad I said no.

“We were all in late 50’s, slender. Seems a decade ago Barrett’s and reflux were all the rage medically speaking. Reflux meds on drugstore shelves in overweight/obese society

“Reading Euro research, I learned of DGL & within six weeks it (plus continuing with healthy diet with occasional enjoyable slip-ups) turned the tide. Docs wanted me on immune suppressing drugs after second year of clean endoscopes . I sent them both a bottle of DGL with a goodbye letter. Buyer beware.”

Deborah also found DGL helpful to stop heartburn:

“My acid reflux (throat on fire at night) had been going on for years and a Gastro doctor saw an ulcer, gave me a hpylori test and put me on a 15 day antibiotics/PPI treatment for it. Two months after I feel 85% better and after the two weeks of treatment, only once or twice have taken non PPI anti acids. I have read about PPI studies in the health section of The NY Times and they have found that prolonged use of protein pump inhibitors can cause kidney failure and many people end up on dialysis.

“I find that DGL can be helpful when taking it before meals. However, one of the most helpful things is also to avoid the typical foods that bother you but to also take probiotics. I take one of those super 60 million strain probiotics daily and “try” to avoid eating a lot of flour, late at night and no spicy foods ever.”

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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