5 Affordable Solutions for Acid Reflux Disease

By Andrea Karim on 29 March 2007 (Updated 24 May 2010) 18 comments

I've had acid reflux (also known as GERD, for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) for about three years. It's painful, constant heartburn that is tough to control. There are a number of reasons why people get it. The most common is gaining weight. In fact, my doctor told me that it doesn't take much of a weight gain to start experiencing the symptoms of GERD.

Permanent heartburn might seem fairly tame in comparison to other health problems out there, but in the long term, GERD can damage your esophageal lining and can make you prone to all kinds of ulcers and even cancer.

In my case, the reason I have GERD is that my stomach sphincters (there are a few of them) stopped holding my stomach closed. Acid that should be spending time hanging around in my stomach backs up into my esophagus, which is extremely painful, because the espophagus has nerve endings that the stomach does not.

There are a number of ways to treat GERD. Here are some of the most affordable.

Lose some weight

A weight-loss of as little as ten pounds can start you on the road to a GERD-free life. Also, don't wear tight pants. I know that sounds extremely lame, but it does make a difference. In fact, this is the most surefire way to actually be cured of GERD.

Change the way you eat

Avoid spicy, sour, and highly acidic foods, including: chocolate, alcohol, coffee, tomatoes, onions, and cigarettes. There's a full list of foods to avoid here. Eat your last meal 3 hours before you go to bed. Don't snack before bedtime.

Avoid mint

This might seem counter-intuitive, because mint seems like a very soothing herb. In fact, when I first started to develop acid reflux, everyone I knew kept telling me to drink lots of mint tea. "It's medicinal! It will heal you!". Hell, no, it won't. In fact, mint in all forms (gum, tea, whatever) should be avoided. Although mint does provide some relief to heartburn sufferers initially, it eventually stimulates acid production and makes the symptoms worse in the long run.

Drink some aloe juice

Aloe juice has the consistency of runny snot, but is really an amazing thing. Be warned, it can also function as a laxative, so don't drink too much in one sitting, or you'll be sitting more than you want... aw, you get the idea.

OTC meds

There are lots and lots of medications out there to treat GERD. They are as mild as Tums and as strong as Prilosec. If you are taking an over the counter drug like Prilosec, and you have health insurance, have your doctor prescribe the OTC meds for you. Your insurance should cover most of the cost. A one-month supply of Prilosec can run you between $40 and $70, depending on how much you have to take, but if your doctor prescribes it, you should only have to pay the co-pay. In my case, this amounts to $5.

There are more drastic ways to deal with GERD, from strong medications to surgery. You should obviously talk to you doctor about treating this condition if you feel that you have it. But if you are like me, and you just to have to live with it for a while, following these steps can make the experience less painful all around.

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Jessica Okon's picture

Popping a P'sec now....things that have made mine a lot better have been: avoiding orange juice--just looking at a bottle puts me in danger, do not under any circumstances even think about bending down, laying down, reclining or doing back-flips until at least 30 minutes after your last meal. I know these work, because the times I've done otherwise have been hellacious.

 

Paul Michael's picture

Mr DR told me to prop one end of the bed up just a little and that will help stop the acid rising while you sleep.

Guest's picture

This is a very tough thing for me to have as a college freshman, and was really tought in highschool where i was an active football player. Even thinking about taking a shot of liquor puts chills down my spine and beer is hard to chug...Damn acid reflux! I laugh at those commercials where people say "im on day 4" for prilosec otc...I'm on day 945...

Troy Hadley's picture

I didn't know that this was so prevalent. I can't imagine life without beer. How long do most people stay on these medications? Is it a lifetime thing?

Paul Michael's picture

I tried both. Prilosec didn't do anything, Prevacid cleared it up in 2 weeks. Ask your doctor for it.

Guest's picture
Chris Carleton

I did the prevacid thing for a month and mine cleared up mostly, but would reoccur about once a month very bad - aka bowing to the ceramic throne.

Even after I cut out tomatoes, orange juice, and not eating within 2 hours before bed.

Then, 2 months ago I went in for sleep apnea. 2 weeks later and 5K+ medical bills paid 100% by insurance for a sleep study, I had a CPAP machine I had to wear every night. It keeps air pressure built up on my throat so it doesn't collapse. I sleep like I've never slept before, no snoring (now my wife has to get used to NOT hearing me snore), and as a side effect, the pressure in my throat also seems to keep the acid in my stomach - thus no reflux.

Slight disadvantage is a burp most mornings. Small small price to pay.

Guest's picture
Ammy

I took generic prevacid 15 mg. it cleared my acid reflux in 2 weeks.

Guest's picture
Bob

I have a pretty bad case of GERD (according to my doc, at least) and these are the things I've found:

  • Lost some weight and that seemed to help but I need to lose more.
  • No eating between meals.
  • Eat last meal AT LEAST 3 hours before bed.
  • Inclined my bed.
  • Don't skip a meal. Sometimes if for scheduling reasons there is a lot of time between meals I'll have a large snack at the halfway point.
  • The biggest food problems I have are with coffee (I've totally quit) and chocolate (I still cheat sometimes but I pay for it almost every time). Tomatoes don't seem to affect me. Citrus fruit also does not seem to bother me but OJ does.

I've tried various home cures including a vitamin regiment I read in a newsletter and apple cider vinegar but the only thing that seems to work consistently is the OTC and prescription drugs. I use Protonix.

Guest's picture

I found out I had it a couple of years ago when I got a sore throat that I couldn't get rid of. That led me down the path of actually getting treated for a potential ulcer. I had to change my diet and then I started on a enzyme treatment; the over the counter stuff really didn't work that well.

Guest's picture
Naava

I have GERD but the pills don't work. I get a rash from the three I've tried, usually within 2 days. Its heaven when I'm on the pill but hell off! Also Photosensitivity.

I've finally quit coffee/expresso, citrus, peppermint alcohol and chocolate and feel better. The symptoms are still there... but much more livable.

I'm the life of the party now, as I've had to curtail my diet. I hate appearing to be a fussy eater!

I'm looking forward to having the scope done. I really feel I need a definitive diagnosis befoer determining what else I need to do. Too many people listen to their GP and just take the pills he prescribes without verifying with a gastro doctor. It sucks and will be no fun, but best to make sure.

N

Guest's picture
D Johnson

I found your website in search of information and/or confirmation that mint is a contributor to acid reflux. Last year, after years of intermittent bouts with acid reflux, I discovered that I only suffered from heartburn hours after using Listerine mint flavored mouthwash. I immediately stopped using it and the heartburn ended. Until recently, I thought it was the alcohol in the mouthwash, not the mint, that caused the problem. Last week, at my dental hygenist's request, I began using toothpaste containing peroxide and baking soda to help whiten my teeth. Several days later, I began having heartburn again, thinking it was something I ate. To my surprising, when I checked the toothpaste, it contain mint. I went back to my normal non mint toothpaste, and the heartburn disappeared. How many people are suffering from mint related heartburn and don't know it? Thanks for the confirmation.

Guest's picture
Johnpotter777

My gastro doctor did a workup, pulled samples the whole nine yards a year and a half ago. After finding nothing wrong and exercising more I led a normal life until my stress levels shot through the roof. I enjoy beer, not in an alcoholic sense but 2-3 in the evening to unwind. My GERD has forced me to give it up, which kills me because it helped with the stress. Anyways another 4 weeks back on prilosec. YEAH!

Guest's picture
Guest

I find bread is a killer for me or even biscuts eg shortbread, I went on a protien diet with shakes (no bread) it disapeared over night.

Guest's picture
krish

For those suffering from acid reflux for a while without any reprieve inspite of trying medications like Prevacid, aciphex etc.:

Check your stomach acid levels. Sometimes acid reflux may be caused by low acid. That triggers a valve to open letting the acid move up.

Like so many on this board, I relied heavily on those medications. After doing a lot of research, I have come to believe, atleast in my case, low acid was the real culprit. These days I sip orange juie slowly during the meals and in-between - believe thast has helped me. I am free of any reflux now.

Guest's picture
Guest

Here's a tip from a Naturopathic Dr. Try chewing on a chunk of fresh ginger several times a day, if you can take the heat of it. Or make ginger juice and have a teaspoon of that. For some reason, ginger seems to help close the esophogeal valve. And another natural thing that can help--accupuncture. There are specific pressure points that can help control that valve and keep it closed.

Guest's picture
Laura

Reduce your stress level - it changed my life.

This is what let me go from Nexium (stronger) down to Prilosec (over the counter.)

Also, pay attention to your body. Take note of what bothers you, and plan to take something to help when you do eat something bothersome.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have been successfully used and am still using apple cider vinegar. It must be the one that contains the "mother". This is NOT usually found in your local supermarket. I use a tablespoon in 8 oz. of water at lunch and again with the evening meal. For me I know it works, because if I miss two doses in a row, the indigestion comes back. Try it. It cheaper than medications and if you find it doesn't work for you, you can use it on salads or other recipes.

Guest's picture
Karin

Hi,
It's true that mint makes reflux worse, but it doesn't increase stomach acid, it causes the esophageal sphincter to relax which allows acid to sneak up. The sphincter responds to acid levels, so LOW acid is actually the problem rather than high acid. Avoiding acidic foods and taking ant-acids are only short-term measures. Increasing stomach acid seems to help some people.
Also the "traffic jam" further down the digestive system needs to be cleared - consult a naturopath for dietary recommendations and also a Visceral Manipulation practitioner (such as an osteopath, Certified Rolfer, or chiropractor who have taken special advanced training to work with organs). Manual therapy on the organs can help normalize function and reduce strain.