Kick TUMS to the Curb
By Erica Zelfand

Part II of My Series on Reflux

Here are 7 simple ways to get over reflux for good:


{1} Clean Up Your Diet.

Avoid the common reflux trigger foods, including:

  • Spicy foods like salsa and hot sauce
  • Acidic foods like tomatoes
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee, chocolate, caffeine
  • Cigarettes
  • Refined carbohydrates like pasta, bread, pastries, and cookies
  • Alcohol
  • Food allergies/intolerances
  • Peppermint* and mint-flavored foods

*Fun Trivia: In some cultures where it’s considered polite to burp after a meal, people eat something minty to relax the LES to make it easier to burp and compliment the chef. This is where the after dinner mint comes from!


{2} Make Time for Meals.

Get the most out of your body’s digestive processes by following these rules:

  • Before eating, say a prayer or take 3 deep breaths to help you slow down
  • Chew your food well before swallowing. A good goal is 32 chews, so the food is liquid before you swallow it. This technique also gives your brain time to register the “full” signal, so chewing your food well may actually help you eat less, feel full longer, and keep a trim waistline.
  • Do not drive, watch TV, play on your computer/smartphone, or multitask while eating. Eat sitting down.


{3} Enhance Stomach Acid with Herbs & Foods.

Increasing stomach acid levels strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby treating reflux at its root cause.

(Check out my earlier blog post for more details on how this works.)

  • Squeeze the juice of ¼ to ½ fresh lemon into a small amount of water and drink 15 minutes before every meal or big snack.
  • Drink ¼ teaspoon raw Apple Cider Vinegar (good brands include Bragg and Spectrum) diluted in a little water 15 minutes before every meal or big snack.
  • Chew on a little piece (about the size of a silver dollar) of raw kale, chard, or dandelion greens 15 minutes before every meal or big snack.
  • Herbal bitters can also be prescribed by your holistic healthcare provider (always check with your doctor about the safety of using herbs, especially in pregnant women and children).
  • Do not take betaine HCL unless prescribed by your provider.


{4} Soothe Heartburn Symptoms with Herbs.

Mucilaginous (or “slippery”) herbs can soothe the irritated esophagus and form a temporary coat to protect the lower esophagus from being burned by refluxing stomach acid. As always, check with your provider before starting any new products.

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL): chew 500-1,000 mg between meals or as needed for acute heartburn. (Note: this form of licorice will not typically raise blood pressure.)

Marshmallow, Licorice, and/or Slippery Elm Tea: Steep 1 tablespoon of dry herb to 1 cup of hot water. Drink hot or cold between meals or as needed for acute heartburn. This product is also nice for pregnant mamas.

Aloe vera juice: Drink 1 tsp to 1 ounce four times daily or as needed for acute heartburn.


{5} Get Tested for Food Allergies & Intolerances.

Eating foods to which you’re allergic or intolerant will aggravate reflux. I therefore offer my patients blood tests to screen for both food allergies and delayed-reaction food intolerances to help identify food triggers.


{6} Balance Your Hormones.

High levels of progesterone/low levels of estrogen can cause or exacerbate reflux.

Consider getting your levels checked and working with your doctor to balance your hormones as needed.


{7} Abdominal Massage.

If your symptoms are longstanding, it’s possible that the top of your stomach is pressing into the bottom of your diaphragm, causing what’s called hiatal hernia syndrome. This can exacerbate reflux symptoms and make reflux harder to treat.

Consider making an appointment with a naturopathic physician or functional medicine doctor specializing in Applied Kinesiology for visceral manipulation – a gentle abdominal massage technique that takes about 15 minutes to perform.

Reflux is Curable.

In fact, I’ve helped numerous patients get off of the medications they were taking daily for decades. Your body was designed to heal.


Learn More About Reflux.

Check out my earlier post on The Real Cause of Reflux, & Why I Hate Prilosec

…And my piece on Treating Reflux in Babies