The pain and discomfort from acid reflux and ulcers can make daily tasks difficult and sleep virtually impossible. To help relieve symptoms and even provide a cure, there are lifestyle changes and home remedies that are relatively simple, inexpensive and very effective.
Most cases of reflux and ulcer heal naturally, but serious complications may occur, including bleeding, perforation of the stomach/duodenal walls, or obstruction of the digestive tract (in the case of ulcers), and Barrett’s esophagus disease in the case of reflux. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following: weakness or dizziness when standing, fainting, vomiting blood, black tarry stools, or pain that is sudden, sharp or severe.
Both peptic ulcers and acid reflux are exacerbated by excess hydrochloric acid in the stomach which erodes the lining. If you have a chronic condition, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes such as avoiding smoking, drinking too much alcohol and overeating, particularly large meals. Losing weight will also help a great deal. One change you can make for instant results is to modify your diet by cutting back on trigger foods such as caffeine, coffee, tea, chocolate, spicy foods, onions, and high-fat or fried foods.
Cabbage juice is a digestive remedy that has been studied in clinical trials. In one study, Dr. Garnett Cheney of Stanford University’s School of Medicine had peptic ulcer patients drink four glasses of raw cabbage juice daily, and all patients reported dramatically reduced pain with faster healing time than standard drug treatments. Fresh cabbage leaves are best, and can be placed in a blender with water or almond milk and pureed, or boiled in water and eaten twice daily.
Banana is another effective home remedy for the treatment of peptic ulcers and acid. According to British pharmacist Dr. Ralph Best of the University of Aston in Birmingham, bananas stimulate proliferation of cells and mucus that can form a barrier between the stomach lining and corrosive acid.
Almond milk is useful as a treatment for peptic ulcers. You can make your own by combining blanched almonds and water in a blender, although many stores now carry commercially-prepared almond milk. The milk binds excess acid in the stomach and also supplies high quality plant protein.
Ginger contains 11 compounds that have demonstrated anti-ulcer effects. According to Paul Schulick, New England herbalist and author of “Ginger: Common Spice and Wonder Drug,” eating honey-candied ginger is particularly effective.
Herbal teas can be helpful with the symptoms of ulcers and acid reflux. Make a tea from the leaves of wood apple by soaking about 1/2 ounce of the leaves overnight in one cup of water, then straining. You can also make a tea from fenugreek seeds moistened with water, which provides a mild coating of mucilaginous material that forms a protective shell against ulcers.
Licorice has been used by many doctors and herbal practitioners for ulcers since the time of the ancient Greeks. Look for the deglycyrrhizinated form of licorice (DGL) which doesn’t raise blood pressure. DGL has compared favorably to the popular drug cimetidine for treatment of ulcers, especially when taken in the form of chewable tablets (250 to 500 mg) 15 minutes before meals and one to two hours before bed.
Other herbs can be helpful. Studies conducted in Germany published in “The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines” showed that chamomile, licorice and cinnamon are particularly useful in decreasing the chance of an ulcer getting worse or recurring.