Alternative medicine for GERD

Having had infrequent mild heartburn since pregnancy, I was suddenly hit with horrible GERD in November (probably brought on by a period of high stress). Taking a PPI first 1x, then 2x, per day finally got rid of my esophagitis, and it seemed like I was making progress. I'd hoped to taper off the PPIs. A few weeks ago (still on PPI 2x) the reflux and heartburn got worse again, and now I have them on and off all day (I don't have nighttime GERD problems). From the beginning I eliminated the typical food triggers, as well as my own, including most fruit (even bananas). More recently I've also tried to cut sugar, white flour, and most dairy. My normal diet is mostly vegetarian, high fiber and low in processed foods / sweets. The 'self-help' books all seem to suggest different diets, which leaves me unsure what I should eat. My Kaiser doc’s only suggestions were to up my dose of PPIs (at least temporarily), and just ‘deal with it.’ I’m in my mid 40s and spending the rest of my life on meds and with such a restrictive diet depresses me. Plus, the PPIs seem to give me indigestion, and I've lost 10 lbs thru this process (I was already thin). I'd prefer a more holistic approach to get at the cause (stress? other digestive issues?). I think the stress brought on by feeling unwell (GERD, plus some muscle / joint issues that I used to resolve w/ occasional ibuprofin) isn't helping. Has anyone had success with a homeopath, naturopath, acupuncturist, or functional / integrative med doc for issues like this? I’d love another opinion, but am not sure where to begin.

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I went through a phase of very bad GERD a couple of years ago. Kaiser put me on PPIs but then took me off them when I developed stomach polyps (a common side effect). I, too , tried to handle it with diet, exercise, etc. but I couldn't really figure out all of the food triggers (citrus that bothered me when I was at home was fine when I was on vacation in Hawaii!) .So I think the biggest trigger was stress; I wound up quitting my job and found something less stressful. The other thing that helps me, despite the mixed opinions of experts, is taking a probiotic pill nightly. I have been doing that for two years and I rarely have any GERD symptoms.  I also take a prophylactic over the counter PPI on rare occasions when I know I will be out for dinner and won't necessarily be able to control the ingredients in my meal or might drink wine. I, too, would be interested in learning about some sort of non-Western holistic approach. Good luck.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I also suffered from GERD and have found profound success with acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. I can only speak to the practitioners I've used but they both worked very well together.I'm no longer on any prescription medicine and rarely have acid reflux (no longer on a restrictive diet either).

I see Jill Stevens at Whole Family Wellness in Emeryville and Aaron Rossell at Icor Chiropractic in Piedmont.

I would definitely consider traditional osteo.  You might have a nerve that’s irritated bc of some misalignment somewhere in your body that’s having an effect on our organs.  This is promising:

Ps- pregnancy certainly can put your body out of whack. And an osteo can help realign your body. 

I'm so sorry to hear this.  Unknown digestive issues are so annoying!  You could see if OTC probiotics help. Usually they cost $15 - $40 and most people tolerate them well.  (Lifeway Kefir also has a lot of different probiotics.)  Look for one with many different strains (at least 10), rather than just a few.  I find Bifidobacterium strains especially helpful for digestive issues.

If eliminating certain foods hasn't helped, you could add them back in (for variety) and then eliminate others. What is a trigger for everyone else may have nothing to do with your own situation. Maybe you've developed intolerance to one of your usual dietary staples?

For stress, you probably know the basic recommendations--trying meditation, deep breathing, walking, etc.  I find gardening, reading, and visiting with friends work best for me, but the key thing is to make it a priority to find the time.

You could also ask for more tests to make sure you don't have something structural like an ulcer or hernia causing the problem.

Just becareful because when I went in for my endoscopy, the gastroenterologist said that even though I wasn't feeling any symptoms, the acid is still there. I sleep on a wedge, avoid trigger foods, overeating, etc. My GERD has caused Barrett's Esophagus, a precancerous condition that means there are abnormal cells that I have to monitor and get regular endoscopies. So make sure that whatever you are doing, that you are not producing the acid, whether or not you feel it. I don't think there are any "alternative" methods that can do that for you. I have known 2 people well who have died from esophageal cancer and it is certainly not something I want. Just take it into consideration.

I’m so sorry you’re going thru this. I experienced GERD during my pregnancy and it was horrid! I tried to stay off the PPI’s as I was pregnant and took Zantac instead. It wasn’t a cure but at least helped ease it. What really helped though was acupuncture! I only wish that I had started treatment earlier in my pregnancy. I went to Berkeley Acupuncture Project as they are really affordable and you can nap in the chair for as long as you need. It’s very relaxing and did wonders for my pregnancy induced GERD. I wish you well on your recovery!

Hello, I'm so sorry you've had such a hard time! I have a long history of GERD (2 pregnancies, on a PPI throughout both), but just thought I might put one more idea out there, in case it hasn't come up - have you ruled out gallstones? They often become symptomatic (and problematic) after pregnancy, because babies compress the gallbladder and prevent the normal flow of bile, and stones form. Then the stones can cause a LOT of pain (and it isn't just with fatty/greasy foods, either). The classic location of pain would be right upper quadrant, but could also be mid-epigastric (where mine was) and feels a lot like reflux pain or esophagitis or an ulcer... I know it's all very confusing. I just think that any pain related to GERD should resolve with a twice-daily PPI, and if it's not, you might keep looking for other potential issues, maybe with an upper endoscopy or at least a fasting abdominal U/S to rule out gallstones. I had laparoscopic cholecystectomy to take out my gallbladder 2 weeks ago and ALL of that horrible daily pain is now gone and I'm ready to wean off Omeprazole, hopefully forever. Best of luck to you!