Wednesday, January 18, 2012

GERD and Herbs

As you may know I have had GERD for the last 12 years.  On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, I'm a 15.  I had a cough, congestion and hoarseness from the beginning that wouldn't go away with any cough syrup or antibiotic.  I finally went and had a scope done at an ear, nose and throat specialist and found out that acid was coming up into my throat.  Not a good thing.  I have been on medication of some kind since.  For the most part, my GERD has been under control.  For the better part of the last week, I have been having a burning sensation in my throat and my medication times two failed to help.  My major trouble is my lower esophagus sphincter is lax so the acid just has a party every chance I give it.  I also have a hiatal hernia which gives me other complications.  No tomato sauce!

My English Herbal Companion emailed and encouraged me to try homeopathy.  She said it does take time, but it works.  I thought I really don't have time.  I can't have this acid in my throat.  I was already biopsied for Barrett's esophagus which could lead to cancer!  Not good.  I usually don't talk medicinal herbs on this blog.  I am not a practiced medicinal herbalist, but I'm sharing my story with you so it may help you.  One of my favorite websites is the Mayo Clinic for health information.  Well, long story short I went to one of my medicinal herbal books.  Yes, I do have them, but I haven't used them as much as others.  This may change after the story I am about to share.
My Herbal Companion, Bonnie and I got to hear Dr. Duke speak in 1998.  At various times, I read his book because it is easy to follow and he uses good common sense and research.  Why I didn't remember this section on heartburn is unclear.  I must have read it at least a couple of times over the last 12 years.  The first paragraph talks about a colleague that had come to him asking him for a remedy for heartburn.  He told Dr. Duke that he had used ginger and it had worked.  Dr. Duke was surprised because he knew it would be good for nausea caused by motion sickness and morning sickness in pregnant women.  Dr. Duke also suggested that he add peppermint, but he also states that some people cannot tolerate peppermint and I am one of them.  I can tolerate spearmint which works just as well.  I don't understand why antacid which sometimes I have had to rely on is peppermint flavored!

Heartburn does not occur in the stomach.   It is mostly in the throat.  That is because the lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close completely allowing acid back into the throat.  That is exactly what I have.   So I thought I don't have anything to lose.  I might as well try it.  First, though I had purchased some ginger root candy (I can't find this candy on the web any longer or I would suggest it for you.) at The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls.  I was chewing on a piece every so often and it was helping the symptoms.  Not completely but it was helping.  Then I made a tea from the root and sipped that and when I completed the tea, my symptoms were gone!  I'm not kidding.  I have gone back to one pill instead of two.  I did see a new GI doctor in the practice where I go and he was impressed.  We talked about other herbs Dr. Duke suggested including camomile, dill seed and fennel seed.  Because I take blood pressure medicine, I have to be careful about which herbs I use, but he said all of my choices were fine to try.  He said we prescribe ginger ale for patients with upset stomachs and he was pleased that this worked so well for me.
So always go to your doctor if you have persistent burning in your throat.  If you know you have GERD and you are looking for relief, try candied ginger or ginger tea.  Here is what I did:  Take about three slices of fresh ginger root and chop them up and place them in a tea ball or strainer.  Pour boiling water over them and let it steep for about 5 minutes.  Enjoy!  As always, do your homework.  What worked for me might necessarily work for you.  GERD is a very serious disease and if you have heartburn two or more times a week, you need to seek the advice of your doctor.  Again this is my experience.  Your experience may be completely different.  I'll let you know about the other choices of herbs in later posts and I want to discuss foods and herbs you may be should avoid and others that you may want to incorporate into your diet.

And look what came in the mail today.  I think there is a message here for me.  This is one of the seed catalogs I discussed in my Herb Companion post, Herb Seed Catalogs Mark the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  Isn't this the most beautiful cover for an herb catalog you have seen from Mountain Rose Herbs?  You don't have to wait for the paper catalog to show up, but I love on the inside it says, "~Our catalogue is best viewed while sipping tea~"  Think I'll do that!  Very cold here, but we were in the 50's yesterday!  A weird and wacky January in the 'Burgh!  Talk to you later.


Penelope said...

Nancy! I'm sorry your GERD is so bad! I'm glad to hear the ginger is helping you. My GERD was really bad a couple of years ago....before my heart attack. I would gag every morning and cough at night. I got really sick once eating almost killed me! But after my heart attack, my GERD went away. Losing 40 pounds and following a very strict diet (and continuing with meds) seems to have worked. If you can find herbal remedies to help, stick with them. Good luck...I hope you feel better!

lemonverbenalady said...

Thanks Penny. I have lost weight as well. It is creeping back and I hope to lose what I gained shortly! Yeah, citrus is a no-no. Hopefully I can shed some light for people who may be having problems. I'm glad you survived your heart attack and got rid of your GERD! Lucky you! xxoo Nancy

PeggyR said...

I have it and have learned over the years what I can eat and what I can't eat. Also not to eat after 7:00pm...

FlowerLady said...

Ginger is very good, and we also have our tins of Altoids which is heavily peppermint. They help.

Another thing I've learned about heart burn is calcium is great for it.

Yes, I agree we cannot prescribe for others, but I don't see anything wrong with promoting natural remedies that work. They were here long before prescribed medicines and do not have side effects. JMHO.

Hugs to you dear heart ~ FlowerLady

lemonverbenalady said...

Yes, Peggy, I'm going to be talking about those issues in my next posts.

Unfortunately I can't tolerate peppermint, FL, but spearmint is OK. And I do take calcium.

Thanks ladies for stopping by.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Glad the ginger and other herbs are helping, Nancy! Here is an easy recipe for making your own ginger root candy. The benefit of that, is it can be carried when you travel to nibble on, although at home, I am like you and would still prefer the tea. I put my candy in the dehydrator for a bit to make sure it is good and dry before storing. Anyway, here it is hon! Big hugs xoxoxox

Carla said...

Nancy, so sorry to hear that you are suffering so with this. I hope the homeopathic way will work for you from now on.

Carol said...

So glad the ginger is working for you! I use ginger ale for my acid reflex. I have found Shasta makes a diet ginger ale that is sweetened with splenda and I drink it every day...quilt free. I have also managed to gain back a few more pounds than I wanted over the holidays so I'm hoping to take that back off.
One if my newer medications for fibromyalgia has a side effect of increased appetite so I'm fearful this may be a real battle.

lemonverbenalady said...

Thanks Leslie for the ginger candy recipe. I will use it. xxoo Nancy

Well, I'm still on standard medication at the moment Carla. It was that my standard medication wasn't working at all even with a double dose. I'm going to keep exploring. Thanks for stopping by.
xxoo Nancy

Hi Carol, unfortunately soda pop and I don't agree. I gave that up a long time ago. I try every so often to drink it because I miss a cold Coke in the summer, but it burns all the way down. Not a good thing. Well, I hope you can get those extra pounds off. I have gained as well since last year's physical and I need to keep my weight off as well. Thanks as always for stopping by. xxoo Nancy

*Ulrike* said...

Oh my goodness! So weird that I came across this! I have been having some problems lately, and am ready to go to the doctor for tests. This was one of the things that I'll ask the doctor if I might have. I have been taking a teaspoon of honey before eating or drinking which really helps. Thanks for writing about it!

lemonverbenalady said...

You are very welcome, Ulrike. Hope the information was helpful to you. It is good you are going to your doctor.