September 13th, 2005 at 11:59 pm Jason “Asked the Doctor

My wife has an ongoing problem with acid reflux disease and has been on Nexium for a few years now. Besides being fiendishly expensive I really dont like the idea of an ongoing dependency on pharmaceuticals of any kind.

I’d really like to hear your opinions, or an article if you will, on acid reflux and alternative therapies. I have heard of a couple, most noteably vinegar…

Dr. Villines Responds

October 4th, 2005 at 9:35 am Dr. F. Scott Villines said …


Thank you for your question. This is one I get on a regular basis in my office. I share your concern about being on pharmaceuticals indefinitely. Most prescription drugs for reflux inhibit acid production in the stomach, which in turn relieves the symptoms.

I am concerned with long term inhibition of stomach acid production, which is essential to proper digestion. It seems that overproduction is less the problem than production of acid that is to weak. This allows food to stay in the stomach too long and causes the acid and the gases associated with stomach acid to reflux (back up) into the lower esophagus which is the cause of most symptoms.

You said that you heard of vinegar being touted as relief for this problem. This goes back to weak acid production, this is a good test to see if you are producing strong enough stomach acid. If the symptoms are relieved with vinegar (which is an acid) you are dealing with weak acid production.

My suggestion is to reduce significantly or eliminate food eaten at least four to six hours before bedtime. Once you do this and get control of the situation you can start to add back fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Late meals of heavy proteins and refined carbs. are probably always going to be off limits.

Another area to look at, is the amount of fluids taken with meals as this will tend to dilute already weak stomach acid. Your goal should be no fluids 30 minutes before or after meals and only small sips with meals.

For specific treatment I recommend Zypan from Standard Process, this is an  acid/enzyme supplement that aids in digestion. Other things that can help are digestive enzyme supplements made from papaya and pineapple. These can help to speed the digestion of certain proteins.

Last but not least is proper spinal biomechanics especially in the thoracic (mid-back) area. There are major nerve relationships from this area to the stomach. If nerves are being “pinched” or spinal joints are subluxated in these areas this can be a major factor in the symptoms your describing.

If your goal is to get off the prescription drug you should discuss your intention with your physician. Some medications must be slowly eliminated to prevent adverse effects.

Again, thank you for your question I hope I was able to shed some light on the subject.

Dr. V

Just an added note to this post.

I have seen a significant amount of  success with Organic Aloe Vera Juice with this particular problem.  The Aloe juice seems to have an almost immediate soothing effect and a healing affect with longer use.  In addition it is absolutely safe unless your allergic to Aloe (very rare).