Acid reflux is something that far too many people are dealing with on a daily, if not hourly basis. Whether you are a singer, speaker or neither, but suffer from gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), I would suggest the remedies we discuss below.
My reflux started in my first year of university. As a high achiever with very little sleep and a busy schedule, I had chronic outbursts of acid reflux every night. In my mid twenties, my reflux had become so terrible that my singing voice completely disappeared for a year and my speaking voice was constantly raspy. I was taking 40Mg of Omeprazole daily and it was barely working. As a singer in training, this also caused a tremendous amount of issues with my voice.
I decided to change my entire diet, mindset and I started to take natural remedies. I tried a number of natural remedies; a number of them did not work. However, I found three that worked absolute wonders for me and for other people who I knew that suffered from GERD. The diet that I changed to (which lasted around 6 months) will be outlined in a future blog. While you take these remedies, I would recommend changing to an extremely low-processed diet for a few months as you are waiting for the stomach to settle and reset itself.
I would also like to say that drugs like Omeprazole and losec (doctor prescribed medications) are Proton-Pump inhibitors. In layman’s terms that means they stop the pumps that produce Hydrochloric Acid. The acid designed to properly digest protein is being inhibited. You need to seriously think about the ramifications of this in the long-term. Rather than stopping the acid from being produced, there are some good alternatives that myself and colleagues have found helpful over the years.
Disclaimer: These are products that helped alleviate acid reflux before my hiatus hernia surgery and that has alleviated acid reflux for other people without my physiological issue. If you are getting chronic reflux, consider getting a gastroscopy to ensure that your issue is not physiological.
Top 3 natural products for Acid Reflux
Apple Cider Vinegar
If your acid reflux is diet related (which it will be for the majority of you), then your first port of call is Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
So why would vinegar be good for the aid of acid reflux?
In its raw (or “from the mother”) form, apple cider vinegar is slightly alkaline in pH. When you dilute a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, you are preparing your stomach for proper digestion of food throughout the day. This is especially important as most drinks are either acidic or neutral (i.e. water).
The best brand of raw apple cider vinegar is Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar.
I spent years dealing with acid reflux until I met a physiotherapist who worked on the muscles around my larynx. He could tell straight away that a lot of my issues at the time were a result of acid reflux (see my article on acid reflux and the singer for more details). Having worked with singers from the West End with similar problems, he suggested Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. After asking around, most people I knew with a similar issue had a bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar at hand.
I never realized that so many singers actually had a stash of this somewhere and never told me about it! Although I did not know I had voice issues from acid reflux until then.
My suggested dose was one teaspoon diluted in a glass of water before any meal in the morning. The water should be separate from the meal. Then an hour or so before dinner I had to take another teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water.
As the physiotherapist said, there would not be any noticeable results for about 2-3 weeks. I was pleased to see after 1.5 weeks that my reflux was noticeably reduced. After about a month I stopped sleeping with my pillow elevated. I did not wake up with a cough! My voice was becoming a lot stronger and I stopped having so much phlegm on my throat before performing.
Other colleagues with similar issues have gone down this road and have found the same results.
Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar (Prices vary around the $10 mark)
Definitely the best value for your first purchase. I always get it in this size.
Slippery Elm in its powdered form can be mixed in boiling water to become a gluggy-texture. It is exceptional for removing any acid reflux that may have occurred at night. It also coats the esophagus, so if you take it before bed, you will reduce the amount of reflux you have at night.
My advice would be to get Starwest Botanicals Organic Slippery Elm Bark Powder for $31.76. Don’t get slippery elm in pill form. You want to have the benefits of the throat-coat as well as the digestive benefits. This product is cheapest on Amazon. Singers, I recommend you also get a pack of Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges for $10.33.
The image does not seem to be working at amazon’s end but if you click on the above you will see the product!
These are dual-purpose for both reflux and for keeping your throat moist if you are inclined to dry-up before singing.
This was a product recommended to me by an aroma therapist whose family also suffered from extremely bad reflux. They were closely associated with a number of singers and they found that powdered slippery elm was one of the best remedies for acid reflux.
You can make this in bulk. Boil two cups of water, and then add two tablespoons of slippery elm powder. Mix through until the product is slimy in texture. I would recommend drinking a small portion of this prior to sleeping, working out or waking up or if you experience any strong reflux symptoms.
Starwest Botanicals Slippery elm powder (Prices vary around the $30 mark)
Use to assist in relief of heart burn and soothing of the throat if you
have had GERD the previous night, particularly the night before a performance.
Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges: (around $10)
Recommended for use prior to and during a performance for days that you have
experienced GERD or if your throat is drying out.
You have two option here. If you have a food processor, you can boil down flaxseeds until they become gluggy. Then you strain the water out and put them in a food processor.
The other way is to just get the powdered form which is far more condensed and will probably be better value for money in the long run. Spectrum Organic Ground Flaxseed is the one I use. The one that I have linked is the best value on Amazon. The other sizes are either more or less weight but for more $ per kilo/ounce.
Flaxseed is what I use in my diet now. I reduced the apple cider vinegar after two years of use. It probably worked the best for me, but once my reflux subsided, I did not want to drink it every morning. So now I stick with Slippery Elm for when I am performing or if I have a bout of reflux and I use flaxseed in a lot of my daily cooking. It goes really well in smoothies and in breakfast cereals. I have had very little reflux since using either of these products – and I used to have extremely bad reflux.
I do have a disclaimer though, some people have mentioned being allergic to flaxseed – it worsens their reflux rather than improve it. If you find that your reflux worsens after using it then cut it out and see if it improves and then stick with Apple Cider Vinegar and slippery Elm.
Spectrum Ground Flaxseed 24 Ounces: (Around $8.55)
The best value brand and size I can recommend at the moment.
It is important, though, to note that these tips were useful while I HAD reflux. As my reflux also came from a physiological issue (Hiatus Hernia), there’s more to what I needed to do to fix things. If you want to read the full story, click here where I talk about the full progression of my reflux, my surgeries and recovery.