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Some Experiences with Natural Medicine
and related observations
Sep 2011 to Jan 2012
I caught a sore throat and cold in September 2011. The root of my tongue was swollen and sore and I had some difficulty in controlling the food in my mouth while chewing and unchewed food had a tendency to slip down the oesophagus (or gullet). I kept eating as normal, which was perhaps the wrong thing to do. Once a piece of apple got stuck in the throat and scraped its way down, stopping in places and forcing itself into the stomach. On another occasion a piece of pitta bread did the same trick. My stomach rebelled, turning very acidic and full of gas, causing gastric pains under the ribs, the back, the shoulder, arms etc. I had difficulty swallowing, and in bringing up air from the stomach, which was also getting trapped in the gullet. Other than for this local problem (from stomach up to throat causing gastric pain), I felt well.
When I went to see the GP in late Nov 2011, he referred me to an ENT consultant since I had had this problem before and believed that the sore throat began with an abscess in the throat and this was related to my tinnitus. In mid December, the ENT consultant could not find anything wrong with the throat and suggested that it might be due to heartburn in the form of a silent reflux http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastroesophageal_reflux_disease. Some sites refer to it as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux, Heartburn). The following site summarises the medical information on this complaint. http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm .
Silent reflux is also known as Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) - http://heartburn.about.com/od/gastrictractdisorders/a/whatis_LPR.htm. The consultant noted that my hearing was impaired in the ear with tinnitus. She asked for a barium meal, an MRI scan and a sonar scan. She gave me a leaflet on silent reflux which suggested various things, like raising the head of the bed, avoiding pungent food like chillies, and antacids like Gaviscon. These suggestions did not really help and I did not want to become dependent on chemical panaceas (See http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/gastritis-000067.htm). By now, my stomach felt as if it was going to explode since it was already causing a big painful bulge on top of my ribs under the left breast - and the acidity was now causing problems all the way up the gullet to the throat. I thought that this might cause ulcers by the time I saw the ENT consultant again. I noticed that my system did not like black tea, especially with milk which turned sour in the mouth. My system did not tolerate too much of sugar or cheese either. (By the way, now I am cured I can eat these with no adverse reactions).
So, I decided to try what Easterners call warm herbs which are good for a cold stomach. I initially made a decoction of many types of carminative spices to expel gas and got immediate relief but not a cure. After a couple of these doses, I wanted to know which of the spices brought greatest relief. Since my gastritis was triggered by a sudden change to cold windy weather, I decided to focus on ginger tea. Since my stomach had been bloated well beyond normal capacity and its digestive power was impaired, I also tried a Tea Masala, which seemed to consist mainly of pepper. To counteract the acidity and to improve the muscle tone of the stomach, I used Biochemic Tissue Salts. I did not want to take an excess of any one of the following remedies given well known contraindications - so I took one remedy only in a day, supplemented by just one dose of each of the biochemic salts as follows:
- ginger tea
- Tea masala - I do not know what the ingredients are but it seems to contain a lot of pepper and possibly pippali (or Long Pepper). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_pepper
- New Era Biochemic Tissue Salts - Mag Phos 6c 30 mins or more before meals (to improve muscle tone); Nat Phos 6c 30 mins or more after meals (to counteract acidity); Calc Phos 6c at bedtime (again for acidity). I did not have to have these after a week. Mag Phos was particularly helpful if there was muscular cramps. Nat Phos is helpful if the gastritis is accompanied by arthritic pain in joints. It usually leads to immediate burping of some gas and considerable relief.
I found a very interesting piece on Nat Phos and Obesity/Acidity at: http://www.homeopathyandmore.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=237 Note the comments on acidity. The homeopath reported I have noticed that it only helps about 80% of those who use it and it is essential that the patient does not use any coffee, cola beverages and any preserved meats that contain Saltpeter as they all antidote the Nat Phos. ... I have observed that Nat Phos is a very shy remedy when used for weight reduction if the patient also used other remedies and drugs when it usually does not work. You are advised to stop using Arnica and all other drugs and must not take Coffee, Sausages, ham and bacon and all canned beverages, especially cola drinks. Alcohol will also antidote Nat Phos.
- Home-made pills
The whole process of seeing the GP, an ENT consultant and having 3 scans (sonar, MRI and barium) took over two months. I did not take any medication during this period but just relied on the above spices. When I went for the sonar scan, I was told that there was no organic growth in the throat although I still had the sensation of a lump which affected my swallowing. I thought that the problem might be muscular. So, I mixed 1 tsp of dried ginger and 1 tsp of turmeric (antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial etc.) in a tiny bit of honey to form a paste which could be rolled into pills. After breakfast, I placed a pea-sized ball of this paste on my tongue and let it slowly melt and coat the tongue, throat, inside of cheeks etc. Please note that turmeric powder is often adulterated - it should be a bright yellow colour and not unduly unpleasant. As it dissolves, the pill will leave a slightly bitter, burning sensation, which will soon pass. I also placed a 'pill' on the tongue at bedtime. My throat was a lot more relaxed after three to four days.
I believe that my problem started with the throat and that it was made worse by breathing through my mouth when I had to walk uphill in very cold windy weather. Although the following remedies have reduced the symptoms, the LPR (if it is that) was still there and is liable to flare.
When I eventually saw the ENT consultant for the results some two months later, she said that the only problem shown by the barium meal was tight throat muscles which had affected my swallowing. I told her what I had done to help myself and she made some notes. I found the following Cricopharyngeal spasms occur in the cricopharyngeus muscle of the pharynx. These spasms are frequently misunderstood by the patient to be cancer due to the 'lump in the throat' feeling (Globus pharyngis) that is symptomatic of this syndrome. In practice, real lumps in the throat, such as a cancer, are generally not felt until they impede ingestion of food. This is one of the reasons that a cancer can get so big before it is discovered. However, a cricopharyngeal spasm is a harmless, if uncomfortable, self-limiting disorder and will resolve itself over a period of time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricopharyngeal_spasm)
- Update 2013 - I had severe chest and head congestion which lasted for over 2 months in late summer 2013. The home treatment for this not only cleared the residual bronchitis, it also settled the occasional acid/bloating. This made me read up more on the acid-base balance of the body, which seemed to make sense to me. I was trouble free for a couple of months until I had Bolognese sauce and cheddar cheese toasted on soda bread. I had not had tinned tomato (in the Bolognese sauce) for a long time, since I was uneasy about the change in the colour and acidity (excess Citric acid, which is no longer from citrus fruit these days) in most recent batches of tinned tomato. I will monitor this and report on it. In the meantime, the Alkalising Drink in chest and head congestion has brought instant relief.
- Update 2016 - In early December 2015, I had to call 999 when I had severe chest pain, could not swallow or breathe and had difficulty talking. The paramedics noted that I had high blood pressure (which I said was unusual for me) but could not find anything wrong with me. They noted that the blood pressure was falling and waited until it was normal before leaving. I mentioned my past gastritis and bronchial problems and felt that working for long hours outside in the cold and then trying to get a meal ready in a hurry for my nearly-blind husband may have caused some stress. The paramedics thought that what I had experienced was a spasm of the oesophagus at the cardiac valve (the valve which stops the food in the stomach coming up the gullet). They said that others had found it helpful to have peppermint as tea, sweets or even pills. I tried peppermint sweets since they can be carried around in the pocket and had when I felt some discomfort, usually an hour or two before the evening meal. I am pleased to report that I am now completely free of acid reflux but still enjoy ginger tea with spices and peppermint sweets.
- a cure at last in September 2017 Up until September 2017, I was only managing a problem with herbs, spices and other remedies as noted above but since I was under considerable stress as a 24/7 carer, it sometimes flared up with cramping pain in the chest. The cure was simple and cheap and I have not had any problems in the last 2 months. Please see my notes on nutcracker oesophagus.
Lu (1992) suggested the following amongst others for gastroenteritis (p 144-146):
- Ginger and tea -Bake 100 g of tea leaves and 50 g of fresh ginger; when dry, grind into powder. Take 3 g of the powder each time, 3 times a day, with warm water.
- Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves for cold stomach - these are ingredients of Tea Masala.
- Licorice for gastric and duodenal ulcers and cold stomach - but not if you are having kidney problems. Use DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). I sometimes sweeten ginger tea with Licorice instead of honey and find it soothing.
Most digestive disorders are caused by too little rather than too much hydrochloric acid, especially in older folk. Undigested food remaining in the stomach can cause belching and heartburn. In the past, I have sipped cider vinegar and honey in warm water, while preparing a meal to help digestion. This time I found that it exacerbated the injured and inflamed throat, gullet and entrance to the stomach. Carminatives may be stimulating the taste buds and the stomach to increase the production of hydrochloric acid (http://www.naturalnews.com/026419_black_pepper_food_piperine.html). Please note that this website claims that ground pepper loses much of its piperine, which is the medicinal ingredient. So, it is better to buy the whole spice and grind it yourself for health maintenance.
Suggestions from friends
- Green tea on an empty stomach on rising in the morning. I have recently (Dec 2017) come across some research which suggests that this is effective (see below). Although we do not have green tea daily, we do brew a pot full of black tea three times a day and I tend to microwave the tea and drink it warm all day long. Until I finally cured my gastric pain with squill, I used the remedies listed above. Tea (black and green) seem to protect the stomach but was not enough to relieve pain of gastritis, let alone cure the problem.
- Siva's ginger tea recipe, which is also good for liquefying phlegm.
- Helicobacter pylori
I did not have this problem.
In spring 2013, a friend was diagnosed with H-pylori (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7048830) and used allopathic medicine to clear the bacteria. She still has gastritis and has since been diagnosed with a hiatus hernia. In case I needed information on H-pylori in the future, I did a search. The links are provided for information only since I have not tried the remedies.
Most people have H-pylori but a healthy immune system is capable of keeping them in check, like they check candida and other bacteria and fungi, which perhaps perform some unknown function in the body. However, they can flare up sometimes when the biochemistry of the body is altered by faulty feeding, some medication, smoking, alcohol, too much coffee, illness, surgery etc. http://www.acu-cell.com/dis-hpy.html suggests that low stomach acid is a predisposing factor for H-pylori. This may explain why apple cider vinegar has been useful to some. Too much acid-reducing drugs and supplements (calcium, magnesium) can also increase H-pylori activity. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/h-pylori-cancer - research suggests that H-pylori colonisation can increase the incidence of some types of stomach and oesophageal cancer and decreasing other types of cancer.
You will find more information on H-pylori and the allopathic and homeopathic remedies for it at:
http://health.hpathy.com/gastritis-symptoms-treatment-cure.asp - this page provides a good summary of gastritis, its diagnosis and gives the symptom profiles for the homeopathic cures listed in the EzineArticles page (see above) on H-pylori.
http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/h-pylori-alternative-medicine.html - lists cures for H-pylori sent by readers. These include licorice powder, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar (lemon & apple cider vinegar can exacerbate candida - so coconut which kills candida is better), cayenne pepper etc.
http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/content/treatment-of-helicobacter-pylori-with-nux-vomica-and-calendula-officinalis - Research shows that homeopathic Nux Vomica and Calendula Officianalis diluted in ethanol significantly reduced H-pylori. Calendula Officianalis is a common garden plant which monks cultivated as Pot Marigold for use as a medicine and food.
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2014.952837 Medicinal plants in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections. See Table 2 on Green Tea.
© Mahes Visvalingam, 17 Jun 2006
Last updated on 07/12/17