How to heal stomach acid naturally should be the first thing we look at, but if you're anything like me, the first thing recommended to you (or a family member) was to take an antacid or a heartburn pill. If you've ever suffered from heartburn, stomach acid, acid reflux, or stomach ulcers, you know how painful they can be. When it's really bad, it's not only painful, but it begins to negatively impact multiple areas of your life.
Below is episode #126 How I Quit My Stomach Acid Meds & Healed Myself Naturally-Part 1, of the Pioneering Today Podcast , where we teach families how to grow, preserve and cook their own food using old-fashioned skill sets and wisdom to create a natural self-sufficient home.
This is Part 1 of this series, you can read and/or listen the rest of this series here
Episode #127 How to Find Your Trigger Foods – Part 2
Episode #128 What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Healthy & Cut Out Sugar Part 3 a seasonal & ancestral look at eating naturally and with Keto
Today I want to share my story, how I went from being on prescription medications up to six times a day (and still suffering with breakthrough acid) to healing my stomach acid and ulcers naturally and without having to take any medications for over six years and counting. I've received numerous emails asking me how I did this and my goal is to give you the steps (or to share with a loved one who is suffering) that I took in the hopes it will help you.
Disclaimer: Important to note– I'm not a doctor, nutritionist, or professional medical personal, and this shouldn't be taken as medical diagnosis or treatment plan. I'm merely sharing what worked for this homesteading mama and if you're on any medications or have a health condition, please discuss with your doctor and pharmacist before making any changes or discontinuing any medications, okey dokey?
My Stomach Acid Story
I first had heartburn issues when I was pregnant with my first child. Very common and after giving birth to my son, it went away. With my second pregnancy, the stomach acid started much earlier in my pregnancy and intensity. I first tried an H2 (histamine-2) blocker, Ranitidine, but it didn't quell the symptoms. I went on a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI for short) which is what Prilosec and Nexium are classified as.
I thought the symptoms would resolve themselves after the birth of my daughter, like they did with my son, but that was not the case. By the time my daughter was close to a year, the symptoms were so bad that I was in physical pain every day, not just heart burn, but chest pains and a burning all the way from my stomach to my throat.
My sleep was suffering and the burning was turning into a constant pain and ache in my stomach as well. At the end, I was on the maximum dose of the prescription PPI and another prescription that acts as a chemical band-aid on the stomach, which meant I was taking prescription meds up to 6 times a day and having to time my eating around them.
Worst part, it wasn't solving the problem, I was still having uncontrollable acid reflux. Finally, my regular doctor referred me to a specialist, who ordered an endoscope of my stomach. During the procedure they took a biopsy from my upper stomach and esophagus to test for cancer.
Thankfully, they came back benign, and I didn't have cancer. But, they showed cellular change and damage to both areas which meant I was on my way to having a serious problem. “You've been on these medications much longer than we like to see anyone and I want you to get off of them within the next 4 months.”
“Um, ya doc, me, too, but I can hardly function with them and you want me to go without?” My internal monologue might have been a wee bit harsher than this, but you get the gist.
He handed me a sheet of foods to cut out and I stuffed it into my purse, a little bit miffed, and started the drive for home.
It was on that drive that I realized I had a life defining decision in front of me. At the time I was in my late twenties, I had two small children and a husband at home, and if I wanted to be around for a long time, I was going to have to do something differently. No pill was going to solve this, I had to figure out how to heal myself, not just mask the symptom.
Foods I cut out to heal
First thing I did was beginning to look up foods and ingredients. I immediately cut out all high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and GMO crop/ingredients. This naturally took away a lot of conventional convenience foods.. and some not so convenient foods.
I cringe to admit, I was a big diet soda drinker, but I immediately cut out all pop and switched to water. Cold turkey. Proud to say I've never went back nor do I intend to.
Next up, I had to cut out chocolate and coffee. I preferred to drink these two things together but I stopped them both. The first few days I had a caffeine withdrawal headache, but in light of the pain from my stomach, it was worth it.
I began using all organic grass fed butter, unrefined coconut oil, and olive or avocado oil for all my cooking and baking. No Canola, vegetable, and/or shortening.
All though we already grew a large garden, raised our own beef, and eggs, we started raising our own meat chickens and pork. With all of the research I'd done, I knew that I didn't want the meat we were eating to come from animals that were fed GMO feeds and commercially raised. I wanted grass-fed and organic. I started grinding my own flour to retain all of the nutrients and health benefits of fresh ground flour.
In a nut shell, I became aware of processed foods and strove to eat more whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Becoming an ingredient reading super-sleuth is a must.
Let me be clear, this is a process.
How I Got Off the Prescription Medications
In the mean time, stopping the prescriptions was important to me… and my specialist (to this day I'm still thankful the Lord put me in that specialist's office).
Let's chat a few minutes about why being on and staying on proton-pump inhibitors (and I'm still aghast that these are now over the counter and don't require a prescription) may not be a good idea.
The use of PPI medications, especially long term, has been linked to kidney disease, heart attacks, and increased risk of dementia. *source
Also this report shows the adverse effects of PPI use with an increased risk of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, community-acquired pneumonia, community-acquired pneumonia, bone fractures, and interference with mineral and vitamin absorption. *Source
Not only that, but a study done in Hong Kong (while it doesn't prove that the use of PPI causes stomach cancer) it did show in an observation study (meaning we don't know that the PPI was the cause of this or to blame) that people who had Helicobacter pylori (h-pylori for short) infections and who were on PPI long term associated a more than double risk of cancer. *source
I do want to take a minute and say that there are definitely short term uses or certain medical conditions/diagnosis when the use of PPI can be a very beneficial thing. I'm going to give you this warning again, if you're on a PPI don't stop taking it, or any medication, without talking with your doctor or pharmacist. You can get rebound acid production so developing a plan is very important. This is going to vary depending upon your dose and how long you've been on it. For me, it took months of tapering.
How long will it take to heal
As I stated above, it took me months to taper off of the medication and it took several weeks for my stomach to stop hurting once I was serious about cutting out all of the above foods and beverages.
After a few months I was able to bring back in cold brewed coffee (it has 67% less acid than hot brewed coffee) and chocolate. This is where you take cold water, pour it over grounds and let it sit for 12 hours, then drain. The coffee is stored in the fridge and can then be heated or used iced. I have this cold brew system and have used it for years.
I was able to have chocolate again, but now its organic and dark, much less sugar content and Theo brand is one that doesn't have soy. Because each of our bodies are different, the amount of damage, the other underlying health causes, I don't think we can really say how long it will take.
Truthfully, I believe it's a life long process and it involves healing our gut. A great place to start is homemade bone broth, here's how I make mine super quick and always get's a gel (and why that's important) . These were the steps I initially took and outline in my book, The Made-from-Scratch Life: Simple Ways to Create a Natural Home.
4 Steps to take to Heal Your Stomach Naturally
- Evaluate your diet and how you feel after eating certain foods. Do you feel an increase in pain or stomach acid after eating or drinking certain foods? I used to have a pop every afternoon and within a 1/2 hour I would have a physical ache in my stomach. It helps to document what you're eating and when you feel changes in how you feel so you can pinpoint if it's always after eating something specific.
- Cut out common trigger foods. For some people this is coffee, chocolate,soda, high sugar foods, acidic fruits, tomato based products (tomatoes have never bothered me), spicy foods, etc.
- Give your body a healing time. When you first change your diet, give your body a healing time. This may be a few weeks, months, or longer, but look at each food you're eating and ask yourself this, “Is this bringing true nourishment and healing to my body?”
- Slowly reintroduce foods, one at a time. After you feel your body is healed, you may wish to try certain foods again like I did with coffee and chocolate. You'll still want to find healthier versions if at all possible and only bring back one food at a time. Again, document how you feel after eating it. Many people suggest trying the same food several times in a row to see if you have a reaction before introducing another.
Many of my readers wrote in and shared their natural acid reducing tips. Please note: I have not tried all of these myself and they shouldn't be taken as medical advice.
Reduce stress, one reader's story:
“A few years ago I went to the doctor for issues with my stomach. I was having indigestion and a spot in my stomach that burned constantly. He asked if I was under stress- I was a single mom, with little to no support from my daughter’s father, with a full time job-of course I was under stress!! He prescribed me Nexium. I started taking it and it helped my stomach aches. But, I never liked being on medications. While in church one Sunday, I was listening to a message on worry. I decided then to give my worry to God. Now, I will admit- it is a process. It did not happen overnight by any means, but eventually I stopped taking the medication. I can honestly say I do not worry near as much as I once did. It’s sometimes scary to me that things don’t bother me as much as they bother others. I wanted to share with you my experience with stomach issues and how I overcame them. Anytime I feel over-stressed, I remember how good God always takes care of me!” R.
A shot of apple cider vinegar, one reader's story:
“I was put on prescription Nexium, which I continued taking until I was closing in on 60. By chance one day I happened to read that the FDA approved Nexium for ONLY up to 3 weeks of daily use! My doctor(s) never mentioned this to me, but then I didn't do my due diligence, either, so I have to bear most of the blame for that. Nevertheless, I determined at that moment to stop taking Nexium, even if it meant resuming my daily Tums/Rolaids routine.
About the same time a friend had been urging me to drink apple cider vinegar, so I decided to give it a try that before going back on the antacids. I was quite surprised, a bit amazed, and considerably delighted to discover that it worked! It didn't even take as long as I expected to get used to the taste, but my heartburn/GERD/reflux became a thing of the past. Now I seldom have to drink the ACV and rarely do I need to take anything to calm my stomach acid!
Incidentally, I also read that roughly 40% of adults with heartburn actually suffer from too LITTLE acid, not too much! That might explain why vinegar – an acid – helped me, but it has also helped many others, and it certainly is worth trying instead of the harsh prescriptions so readily available these days. I only use raw organic apple cider vinegar.” L.
Digestive enzymes, whole foods and watching for trigger foods, one readers story:
“Stomach acid issues are something I have just about overcome from taking enzymes, eating whole foods, and watching for trigger foods. Holistic living and eating has helped enormously in my journey—that and stress reduction. ” C.
In Part 2 I'll share what I learned and the protocols I'm now using for my continued gut healing and health, because I believe there are levels of healing and it's a life long process. In part 2 I'll specifically talk about thyroid, hormone levels, and the connection with our foods and stomach.
But there you have it, how to heal stomach acid naturally, going on 8+ years and counting. Do you suffer from stomach acid? What's worked for you?
Friends share the best from scratch recipes, tips to make raising your own food easier & naturally (amen!), their favorite natural health remedies, and invite you over when you need someone to share your homestead victories and set backs, you with me?! –>
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Find Your Trigger Foods – Part 2 of Healing Your Stomach Naturally
- Part 3 – What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Healthy & Cut Out Sugar
- 7 Signs You Suffer From Thyroid Disease
- Rebekah Rhodes' Journey With Thyroid Disease
- My Health Journey & Tips for Fitness
- Thyroid, Adrenal Glands & Hormone Health
Your show notes do not contain the links that you promised repeatedly throughout your podcast.
Which resource are you having trouble finding? After each study or fact the word source in green text is a link. As well as in the paragraph on acid rebound with PPI, any words that are green are links exactly as I promised.
Hi Melissa, you should check the advice from this great holistic,ayurveda doctor here though, it’s very important, God bless you.
Sabrina R Cox
What is the name of the cold brew coffee system you use? We have been doing cold brew for several years now and are still perfecting how we do it.
Hi Sabrina, this is a link to the system I have http://amzn.to/2F6bJ9l *affiliate link, it’s called the Toddy Cold Brew System
Melissa, much of what you shared sounds like me…the stomach was not as painful as yours but constant acid reflux, no energy and tired…needing naps in the daytime, have hypothyroidism and have taken Synthroid forever, also suffer from clinical depression that requires meds but did find what works for me in that area and if I am faithful to taking the meds and not forget, it is a life saver for depression. The key, as you mention, is to find what are one’s own triggers and what works for you…because that will not work for someone else necessarily. We each have to custom our care and health to what is so for each of us.
It is helpful that you are willing to share yourself and are so resourceful in your research to share. That Is very helpful as we all need a place to be able to share, ask questions and help each other through the stuff of life! What one has found or experienced may help someone else and so on…
I am interested in the Keto plan to see if it will help me. I have cut out soda except for a rare occasional treat and frankly have gone to flavoured sparkling waters
or carbonated waters, but found I was drinking too much of it. That can harm the stomach too…moderation is the key in so many of our favorite things I think.
I do not drink the coffee I once did but am and all my life have been a tea drinker both iced and hot-love it with lemon. I have a lemon tree in my backyard so they are in abundance which is nice. They are so healthy and have so many uses in cooking and in cleaning around the house.
Anyway thank you for sharing with us and helping all of us be one with our health and sharing with each other. For who can do it all alone, right!? Well, with the Lord we are never alone, but to have an army of other folks out there in tune and touch sure is nice!
After my first brain surgery, I suffered from a burning stomach and esophagus. I was in constant and excruciating pain. I went on PPIs for a year and they didn’t help at all. I began listening to a man named Dr. Marshall and he taught that NO ONE has too much stomach acid. It’s not stomach acid that is causing the burning but lack of stomach acid that causes food to putrify in the intestines and lactic acid comes up from this putrifying and damages the stomach and esophagus. He said that taking HCL and digest after each meal is what will heal it so I did this along with drinking a bit of his aloe juice multiple times a day. It took a month to heal but I have been healed ever since. I continue to take his HCL and digest after every meal that has protein. His teachings on health are fabulous. I spent years listening to him on the radio and learned so much from him. His site is http://qnlabs.com/.
Hi Melissa. I had years of troubles with acid, acid reflux and was on various types of prescriptions.
I quit taking the last one a year ago, and haven’t had issues with heart burn, however, in the last 5 months or so, I have developed gas. It is non smelly, but rumbles around in the stomach and the intestines. I have watched and don’t swallow air when I eat, but it can start even with drinking my water. It is actually noisey
I can stand up and literally belch orally, and then some of it passes through the intestines.
Would taking charcoal help this, or is there some herb I can use stop this as it is embarrassing. (I have had people sitting beside me and looking at me weirdly.
I have had the endiscope as well as a colonoscopy recently, but that hasn’t stopped the gas issue, and I don’t have ulcers.
One thing in my own observation is that if I eat a carb, it isn’t as bad, however, I am overweight, and want to cut back on eating as much carbs.
Hope you can give me a suggestion or two.
I know from my personal experience that when I eliminate gluten and sugar, I don’t have this issue. If I eat a piece of bread, I’ll get symptoms the next day. Have you ever done any food testing? Here’s an article with tips on that https://melissaknorris.com/how-to-find-your-trigger-foods-part-2-of-healing-your-stomach-naturally/
You might want to look at digestive enzymes. I haven’t personally used them but there’s a lot of people who do.
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[…] after my health scare and learning about the state of our food, (check out the 3 part series on How I Healed My Stomach Acid and Ulcers Naturally Part 1 here) I drastically overhauled the foods we ate and the ingredients I use to cook with. But it can be […]
Hello just got diagnosed with lpr and wondering what kind of foods you ate to heal the gut. Mine I silent reflux so I don’t get the burning but I get where my throat wants to close feeling. Thank you in advance.
Oh, my gosh. I have been on a PPI for years! This podcast has encouraged me to seek out a gastroenterologist. Hopefully, I can find out what is causing my acid reflux, and get off this medicine! I have already been working on cleaning up my diet (yes, it IS a process!), and am trying to get off many of my medications. Thanks for your help!
Love hearing this and hope you find someone! You got this
So let’s say if you have discomfort and a tiny tiny bit of burning, like little to none when you eat pizza, tomatoes or miss your meals, is it possible to cure and get rid of my GERD? Because I don’t have a bad case of GERD, in matter in fact it’s actually not even affecting me, I just get a little discomfort when I get lazy about my eating but it has improved since 2017. I’ve always wondered about if I can fully heal my stomach, I have been itching to try HCL pills too, but I need to know from you. Is it possible to heal my GERD and stomach acid (Whether it may be high or low, though I believe I have high stomach acid) if I maintain a good eating habit/diet and avoid trigger foods? Thanks <3
You’ll have to find out what your trigger foods and underlying issues are. I had a lot of medical testing done to rule out anything else (an endoscope and biopsies after many lab tests), so it depends on what your root cause is. Mine was food and tomatoes don’t bother me, the key of what I was sharing is you have to figure out what YOUR trigger foods are, they’re not the same for every person. But definitely discovering what they are and eliminating them will help your symptoms, I can’t say it will cure you because it depends on what other factors are causing your condition.
Thanks for this! My story is almost exactly the same, but instead of a diet cola habit, I had a skipping breakfast, drinking coffee and Grapefruit La Croix (I thought that was “healthier”) habit that I believe really took its toll after my 2nd kid on top of having an already kind of weak stomach. Eliminating those habits and strengthening my diet has been a game changer, but not after learning the hard way through using H2 Blockers & PPI’s which didn’t help, scared me to use and caused other problems for me. Lately sometimes people have said, “You’re too young to have these stomach problems” which makes me feel so bad, so it’s nice to find that I’m not the only one! I like your honest & funny writing! Giving me the willpower to stick to it! Thanks!
HALLOW! THANK YOU! YOU HAVE BEEN A BLESSING!