The People's Perspective on Medicine

Papaya Enzymes Helped Heartburn

Q. I have read your articles about various ways to treat heartburn naturally. What I have found most helpful are chewable papaya enzymes. They work GREAT!

A. We have heard from other readers that chewing a tablet with papain, an enzyme from the tropical fruit papaya, can help with heartburn. Although we could find no recent scientific research supporting this natural approach, we did locate an article in the British Medical Journal from April 3, 1886. A physician writing about acid reflux (dyspepsia) noted that, “this drug [papain] is extremely valuable in this form of indigestion.”

Papain is found in powdered meat tenderizer because it breaks down proteins. Anyone who is allergic to latex should steer clear of papaya enzymes, though. Papaya might also cause an allergic reaction for such individuals.

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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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4 raw almonds each day. Learned about this at People’s Pharmacy. Cured GERD after 10 years of Nexium & omeprazole.

I would like to know what I can eat, I have acid reflux.

I’ve been taking Prevacid for several years. I also have hives and recently found out hives is the first listed side effect of Prevacid so am looking at alternatives. Tried once to quit with terrible painful results. Recently became aware of papaya enzyme tabs so started taking them recently and quitting prevacid. So far so good. Have had minor recurrence but take a couple papaya tabs seems to work. Am going to try adding pineapple, ginger tea, apple cider vinegar (when symptoms arrive), change diet and try to lose weight. Thanks for all the great tips. This site is the first time I’ve heard of fennel seed…

You’re the only person I’ve seen talk about the cough associated with your reflux. I thought for one year I was allergic to something. I would cough around 2am every morning. Went through the blood work up and the allergist found nothing.
When I finally associated the coughing with the reflex, my doctor put me on Protonix (40mg at dinner time). I FINALLY started sleeping through the night. I was also trying acupuncture, but it got too expensive. I’m trying to move off of the Protonix so I’m going to try fennel, papaya and pineapple since I’ve read this page. **It’s disconcerting to me that the Acupuncture/herbologist said STAY AWAY from GINGER but lots of folks are promoting it. I’d stay away from it…. Good luck!

so chive is not good what about garlic?

Dairy allergies cause ferocious heartburn for me (along with the symptoms of the allergy). Wheat and dairy may be two large sources of unknown allergies for people in general.

I am also dying day and night.. My acid re flux is killing me.. I live in Miami I will go to Panama to see others options over there, here no cure… 13 doctors in three years, endoscopy twice, ENT abd GI, Vision swallowing, etc… nothings is working I am just desperate… they do not find anything but my throat is in hell, globus sensation.. I will be eating papaya starting tomorrow to see how this will work with me….

I have suffered GERD and severe acid reflux for the past four years. My esophagus was damaged. When chewables failed, my gastroenterologist ordered 40 mg Nexium each morning, and when that was not enough, 20 mg omeprezole with evening meal, with calcium chewables in between as needed.
Things got worse. I had a series of tests which determined that my LES was practically useless and surgery was recommended. The doctor recommended 80 mg Nexium per day.I had to go off my acid-containing meds for 9 days to prepare for the tests, suffered horribly, but decided to stay off them due to the negative impact on my bones. I chose not to go the surgery route in Jan 2010, and kept trying other medical and home solutions including Zantac, Prelief, acidopyllis, almonds, papaya tablets, candied papaya, different diets, and eliminating acidics like coffee.
My most serious difficulty, besides the heart burn, is coughing and running nose. The coughing sometimes stimulates me to vomit my entire stomach contents. My discomfort begins 2-4 hrs after I eat and is not associated with bloated stomach.
So far, the best result I have gotten was fresh papaya fruit, which I cut in one inch slices, and eat half a slice with meals or when I feel symptoms coming on. I presently take Zantac 150 once or twice a day, and the papaya, and chewables when on the road and in need. I would like to get off the pills and heal my esophagus. I will try the papaya tablets as an alternative to fresh fruit, which is expensive and not always available.

I went back on the HCL tablets because I was having a bad night not being able to roll on my left or right side. So for some reason I took two HCL tablets and had a sandwich. Went to lay down and to my surprise the LES valve was closed I had finished my sleep.
The next day I used the HCL with meals and my GERD is under control again. I think the reason I stopped the HCL last time was the constant monitoring. But this time I am going to use it for a few weeks and see what happens. Definitely makes my LES valve close when I take it. I can also eat anything when I use the HCL tablets. The PPI’s will have to wait until I am done experimenting with the HCL tablets.

I should also mention that I have determined that I have a Hiatal hernia. I found that after a meal and when the acid reflux starts most of the time if I jump off the 2nd step of my stairs it pulls my stomach down and resets the LES to below the diaphragm and the acid reflux is gone and I can lay down on my side. I am doing the PPI thing because the Doc gave them to me as step one for him and when I go back he and I will discuss the next step which to me seems like a operation for hiatal hernia or jumping after meals.LOL

Right I only used the HLC after I felt the acid reflux coming on and then it reduced the acid for that meal. I think the stomach saw the extra acid and turned it acid cells off. Just my opinion. I also believe that it is not about the acid but about the LES. You can spend your day trying to lower the acid when you feel the reflux coming on but the real problem is the valve. Until the valve is working all these products are just covering the real problem.

not supposed to take hcl on an empty stomach.
did you ever have a test for acid before you start the PPI’s? Heidelberg test or gastro caps, I believe are the two that dr’s do.
supposed to tell if you have too little or too much acid in your stomach.
what are you saying about the hcl is it only worked around mealtime but not at other times. it wore off or whatever?

Yes, I tried HCL with Pepsin and found that it does reduce the pain if my stomach has food in it. I have not tried it on a empty stomach. It seems that the stomach reduces it’s production on acid when it sees acid. I have been trying every thing I can buy and order on the internet to see if I could find something to control my reflux before I went on the PPI drugs.
My LES valve must be open most of the time. I was having a problem even if I would lay on my left or right side in bed. I raised my bed with the brick method (used two bricks) but found that for me I needed to be even higher so I bought a bed with the electric lift and was able at time to raise it high enough to take to pain away when having a acid attack.

The last 3 weeks of testing I used the apple cider vinegar mixed with water to give me the quickest relief. This allowed me to experiment with the different products. Here is a list of some of the products I tried: Mastica Gum, d-Limonene, digestive enzymes, Gaviscon, various antacids, Persimmon tea, also many products like heartburn free which is just a cover for d-Limoene. All of these products worked to some extent but nothing that I could use to mange my heartburn and still have a life.

The last thing I tried was the Low Carb Diet. This I thought was going to be the answer, I started and my reflux almost disappeared after the first day and I was able to sleep on my side for the first time in weeks. But 3 days later was back just the same and I really didn’t like the diet. Limiting myself to less than 20 grams of carbs a day was not for me.

I started my PPI’s yesterday, I am hoping that the LES heals and I can watch the food I eat, if not I will be talking to my Doc about a operation.

Anyone tried betaine hcl to increase acid, rather than decrease it?

” I practice better posture during and after meals because slumping in an overstuffed chair triggers a chain reaction”
I think this is what started my reflux.

I have suffered from heartburn for many years and have tried all the prescription medications plus everything I have ever heard of. Nothing helped. About 2 months ago when I had a severe case of heartburn lasting all day and night, I finally went to the refrigerator about 3 AM thinking something non fat might help. I had some canned pineapple chunks open so ate one. As soon as it hit my stomach the heart burn stopped. I ate a few more, went back to bed and felt wonderful. Since then, whenever I get heartburn, I eat a few pieces of canned pineapple and it stops the heartburn instantly. I have not tried fresh pineapple. Do U have any idea why canned pineapple helps? This is truly a miracle for me.

This is my first experience with acid reflux and after trying several recommended digestive enzymes, my nutritionist suggested American Health white label Super Papaya Enzyme Plus. I chew one before my meal, two during and one after I’m through eating. What a difference! Papaya helped eliminate the burning. Also, I drink liquid with my meal but nothing after, which has made a huge difference. I use either peppermint and/or ginger tea with my meals to aid digestion as well. Finally, I practice better posture during and after meals because slumping in an overstuffed chair triggers a chain reaction. All of this has helped immensely.

I’m just recovering from a GI bug, and have had the worst reflux for the past couple of days: not just a nuisance, but a very uncomfortable bloated, painful sensation in my upper abdominal area extending through my chest with regurgitation. I happened to have some canned pineapple in my cupboard and decided to try it. I felt better within the hour. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

You might want to try a banana pepper for your heartburn. I learned from a friend that it helped her and I tried it myself and it helped me.
It seems that that is why Papa Johns includes them in their pizza box, to help keep heartburn at bay. My friend learned this from her son who works for Papa Johns.

Oh, and I drink a lot of ginger tea.

When pregnant I had horrible heartburn, and my midwives told me to take this. I didn’t find it particularly helpful, but there wasn’t any other options out there at the time (about 20 years ago). I did better, and still do, avoiding eating large meals, breads and crackers with PB or high fat cheeses. Sometimes other foods will also kick it off. I’m in the process of slowly getting off Protonix, now down to 20 mg every other day. The other big help for me is keeping my weight down. If it goes up, I start to have problems.

I’ve found that eating a piece of dried papaya ends (minor) indigestion quite successfully.

I’ve used these as well (the chewable ones), and the American Health or Puritan’s Pride brand makes some good ones. Evidently there are some tropical tribes which eat papaya after meals, and it helps to digest the meat. (Kiwis and pineapples are also good sources of enzymes — as well as beets, which contain betaine hydrochloride). I’ve also heard that DGL (which has removed the blood pressure-raising component of licorice) is helpful for heartburn and ulcers, and is also beneficial for overall intestinal health.
And since digestive enzyme levels tend to decline with age, it’s a good idea to supplement those with a combination formula. These are a more effective solution than acid-blocking drugs, which may lead to undigested food and even pneumonia (when the food “backs up” into the lungs). Thanks for providing this forum for nutritional (and sometimes unexpected) solutions!

I’m currently DYING (not literally) of heartburn and could use some papaya.

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