Know This Love: Fire in the throat

Whenever I saw those Prilosec commercials a few years ago, I didn’t really understand how much heartburn can suck.

But in the last year, I’ve dealt with bad heartburn — known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or its twin, laryngopharyngeal reflux.  Let me tell you, if you haven’t ever had it, it’s awful.

Being a proactive sort, I went to the doctor (eventually, after much hemming and hawing) to see what I could do about it. I dismissed their suggestions.

Had I followed recommendations to take a high dose of prescription antacids for several months, the problem would have only gotten worse, not to mention I would have been even more nutritionally deprived because I wouldn’t be absorbing nutrients in my stomach.

So I talked to God (err, Google), as well as a couple of natural practitioners.

Through trial and error, I’ve found a few helpful things that aren’t often discussed with conventional medical approaches.

These ideas are not original — just what I’ve taken from research (especially from the work of Dr. Lawrence Wilson) and my own experience.

1)  Eat slowly, chew a lot.  I never bothered to do this before, mostly because I like to eat quickly.  I’m working on changing that.

One way I’ve found to help myself avoid shoveling piles of food into my mouth at once:  setting down my fork.  Yes, actually putting the thing down for ten seconds while I chew.  Try it.  Even if you don’t deal with acid reflux, it will help you feel healthier.

2)  Don’t do anything stimulating while you eat.  Pleasant conversation or just a state of gratitude are best.  This is where prayer can help.

It’s not about addressing some old dude in the sky, necessarily, unless that’s your thing — it’s placing your mind and body in a space of gratitude.  Happiness aids digestion.

Conversely, watching TV, reading something that gets your blood pumping or ruminating on how somebody screwed you over will only make the acid reflux worse.

3)  Don’t eat processed crap. This is probably most important of all.  This includes, essentially, most food at most stores.  This also includes everything — yes, everything — at fast food restaurants.

Organic produce, high-quality, organic meats (focusing on chicken and turkey, and avoiding hamburger and pork), a bit of brown rice, nuts and seeds — these are all good options.  I list this only because I think it should be already apparent, but for some it may not be.

4)  Hiatal hernias are often part of the problem.  Check out Dr. Wilson’s suggestions on how to fix this yourself with your own two hands, easily and for free.

Of course, this is a very, very truncated exposition on the subject.  There’s much more to it, but within a short column, these are the aspects I felt were most important.

Note:  Since writing this, I realized the only instance of reflux I’ve had in the past few months (since starting a nutritional balancing program that has had a profoundly positive impact on my being), was caused by short-term use of Benadryl as a sleep aid.  According to a pharmacist I know, ceasing use of this can cause temporary reflux.

Matthew Stensland-Bos explores consciousness, love, healing, and grounded spirituality in Know This Love, a weekly SFBay opinion column.  You can find him on his website, www.wordswithmatthew.com