Living with Beauty/wellness: my acid reflux healing story
Thursday, February 6, 2014 by {darlene}

After my post last week on how I use my essential oils, I had a lot of you ask me to share my story about how I combatted my acid reflux naturally. Actually, a few years ago, I wrote a post about my personal battle with debilitating acid reflux. And then, that post sat and sat in my drafts folder, because who wants to read about something as ugly as reflux on a site that is dedicated to Beauty!!?

Living with Beauty button-WELLNESS

But as you know, recently, I have been feeling pulled toward sharing more about my own mission to fully live with beauty in my life. And that includes sharing a huge part of my life that I am sharing a wee bit more on this blog: Wellness. Working toward wellness in our lives is truly a huge part of living with beauty. We all know that our health is important for living life to the fullest. And so, as we are able, we should care well for our bodies.

side note: {Having health to live a full life is not essential, though! Some of the people I admire MOST are those living life fully amidst their physical pain and suffering, and not waiting for it to go away before they find joy.}

Ultimately, I share this post for one sole reason: I hope my words bring hope and motivation to someone who has been suffering.

How I healed my Acid Reflux Naturally via Fieldstone Hill Design

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Here is the post in entirety, as written a few years ago:

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A few months ago, I saw a twitter post from Layla. She was reaching out for natural ways to deal with reflux. I immediately DM’ed her with this:

And boy, do I have a story to share about this.

First, I gotta tell you, I am not a doctor. I do not claim to have medical knowledge. I am in no way trying to discredit doctors, who I respect immensely. I am only claiming my own personal story, and sharing with you what truly happened to me. I hope that it can help you in some way.

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In 2003, it was only weeks away from Opening Night. I was the female lead in the musical Guys and Dolls {Sarah Brown, for my fellow theatre nerds out there}, and I was so frustrated. For weeks, I had been suffering from a strange “cold,” and I just could not sing like I always did. I rested and rested, but never got well. Singing was my life. With two degrees, one in vocal performance and one in Opera Theatre Performance, I had dedicated years to my professional craft. I never had experienced such a strange illness that effected my voice so badly. I made doctor appointment after doctor appointment, and finally, one ENT told me it looked like I had acid reflux. From there, after several attempts at healing my voice, I went to one of the top voice doctors in the world.

It was one of the most devastating days in my life, when the callous doctor told me: “One of your vocal cords is paralyzed, and you will never sing the same again;” and then he breezed out of the room without an ounce of sympathy.

I never did sing the role of Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. In fact, I never sang in a show again. Which was life altering, considering I had been in over 40 onstage performances, and I couldn’t remember a time when I was not “in a show.”

For the next 8 years, I suffered.  After years of testing and bloodwork and MRI’s and even vocal surgery, and seeing many different doctors, they were never able to find a conclusive cause for my paralysis. One thing that was always a factor, though, was this pesky acid reflux. And the reflux caused me to suffer too. It was painful. And it just got worse and worse.

I can tell you that I have officially tried every single medicine that is available for acid reflux. None of them healed me. Some helped, but the help was quite temporary, and I would finally react to the meds by refluxing even worse; there was not a single thing I could eat. Even water caused reflux. I continually asked my doctors,”What about diet???” And every time, it was dismissed. They simply gave me the classic reflux diet list, to which I would reply, “Yes. I have been avoiding those, of course.”

By 2011, I was sick. Really sick. I was in constant pain… and who cared that I could not sing??? I couldn’t eat and I could barely talk.

The doctors just kept wanting to do the same things, over and over. They wanted me to take the same awful tests, and even suggested that I increase to 3 Nexium a day.

Then something happened: My insurance company denied a test, and I ran out of my last Nexium, and I just could not bear spending $400 more dollars on another bottle that did not work anyway. I begged the doctor: “I swear, this stuff is making me sicker! Isn’t there anything else we can do???”

Stomach surgery.

That is when I decided to quit all of my reflux meds. Cold turkey. I informed the nurse over the phone that I was choosing to go against the doctors recommendations and I was going to stop meds and  ‘go wacky’ on holistic diets {You are NOT supposed to quit medication without your doctor’s consultation, but I want to be honest about what I did. I am not encouraging you to do the same. With some medications, there can be very serious repercussions to quitting, so here is my CYA: check with your doctor}.

That was almost exactly one year ago {3 years ago at the time of this posting}. I am telling you: It took me EIGHT years of pain to get to the point of drastically changing my course. Because, if I could have taken an easy little pill and be well, I {just being honest} probably would have done just that!

Now, if you think this is the easy route, or the immediate answer, I can tell you that is not true. I wasted lots of time and energy and money on different holistic methods. I also invested time through trial and error: by trying over 4 different ‘kinds’ of holistic diets. And not only that, I have invested countless hours into researching, changing my habits, cooking, etc. BUT, I persevered. I listened to my body and did not give up.

For me, the answer WAS diet. And it changed everything, not just my reflux. I wish I could say “all I had to do was cut out brussel sprouts, and I was healed.” Ha! Hardly. No, instead, I no longer eat sugar, starches {no potatoes, no grain, no corn}, and mostly no dairy. I don’t eat soy or hardly anything that comes pre made or in a box. I do eat honey and fruit and any dairy where the lactose has been fully fermented {hard cheeses, specially-made yoghurt}.  I follow a diet that helps people with digestion problems, called the SCD diet. I REALLY recommend this diet to anyone with digestion problems of any kind.

And I am reflux-free when I follow my SCD diet. And as hard as it has been, I now LOVE my diet. Eating all natural food actually FEELS good, once I fully made the big change. And the homemade yogurt is like manna to my body; it is an essential for me EVERY day {I am still trying to figure out how to get a ton of it on an airplane… can’t live without it!}. The yogurt recipe can be found in the original, scientific SCD diet book.

This diet has been the first thing that has kept my voice pain-free for any length of time. In fact, since starting my diet experimentations of removing things like gluten, dairy, sugar, etc. in March of 2011, I have felt more relief than I ever felt from Proton Pump Inhibitor pills {Nexium, Prilosec and the like}. So, for over a year, diet alone has been healing me. And this was, in fact, the very thing that my doctors told me would do no use.

I have no idea if it would help you, but if you have health struggles, and you are at your wits end, maybe what I learned can be helpful to you too. I can tell you that doing the HARD WORK of taking these things out of my diet has totally changed my digestion, my happiness, and has helped me in all sorts of other unexpected areas, such as depression, PMS, energy.

As far as my singing voice: over time, my range has returned. And ever since I have been on my diet, I have had consistent relief to my vocal pain. I sang Handel at this year’s Easter service, and every note was a miracle to me. As you can imagine, every bit of effort it takes to follow this diet is worth it to me!

I follow my diet 90% of the time – because life happens sometimes. And, when I celebrate my birthday, you had better believe I am having some dark chocolate chunks and rhubarb pie!

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Back to the present: I want to give you an update. Three years later, I am still well. And now, hooray, I can cheat even more. I would say that I follow the diet about 80% of the time. And when I get naughty, and start to feel symptoms again, I simply get serious about my diet again, and I get better MUCH faster than with my initial search for reflux relief.

This experience has changed how I view medicine. My dream is that someday, instead of being so resistant to each others’ ideas, both traditional medical doctors and holistic medical doctors will work TOGETHER to help people, instead of working so hard to be right. I am so thankful that the very thing that has healed me is simply good foods, made by God. And that is why I go to Him and the fruits of His nature as my first resort when I need to get well or prevent sickness. I don’t believe this replaces traditional doctors, but instead, enhances them.

I hope this story helps you or someone you love.

Products that I use to help me with my diet {affiliate links. Thank you, loves!}:

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Want more natural solutions for your wellness? I use Essential Oils. I love mine for a host of reasons! Get yours here, and read more about them here. I use DiGize, Frankincense and Peppermint oil. Must haves!

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Labeled: living with beauty, Living with Beauty: Wellness

33 Comments

  • Amen, sister! After years of headaches and major fertility problems, and trying all the high powered drugs… Diet changed it all for me! I’m not talking the simple little changes that the docs suggested… but an all out revolution of my diet. No processed sugar, no grains, no gluten, no dairy, no beans, no soy, no nitrates/nitrites… Basically Paleo. My headaches disappeared, my cycle returned (and we naturally conceived our daughter), my general achiness went away, and I feel fantastic! I now sleep through the night and have energy all day! I do not get random upset stomachs, or crazy acne anymore. Everything has changed for the better! It is all because I stopped eating processed foods, and began to eat whole real food! I can now eat this diet about 80% of the time and remain healthy. When I feel any of the symptoms returning I simply watch my food choices very closely.

  • I saw this on PInterest and immediately followed the lead. Thank you for sharing your story and information. Without going into graet detail, I have been looking for some leads in dealing with this. I have been on Nexium since 2001. I would love to stop. There are complications, of courss. (Aren’t there always?) So, I will have ot see if I have the where-with-all to try this. It is so easy to do it mentally and not really do it. Now, I am going to give in to the luxury of exploring your website.

    Godspeed.

  • Our 2 year old suffers from severe acid reflux and he is on the highest dosage of Prevacid allowed for his age/weight. We have been praying for God to help us relieve his symptoms/pain so that he can stop taking the medicine. We have him on a relatively strict diet, but not as severe as you suggest. Our doctor has suggested stomach surgery to “fix” his reflux issue, but it could lead to other issues as a by product of the surgery :-/
    I saw this post on Pinterest and thank you for the encouragement that if we keep tweaking our son’s diet, maybe he can be pain and medicine free in the near future!!

    • Oh no! I just prayed for your sweet little boy. There is nothing worse than seeing your baby suffer. Your comment prompted me to add a clickable “carousel” link to my post with the books I use to help me with my diet. The yogurt truly is a miracle worker! I hope that you will be able to help your little boy through diet. It is worth it. I really recommend the “vicious cycle book” listed above because it explains the science behind it! Prayers go out to you!

  • Thank you for posting this. It validates my suspicions, as my story is similar to yours (well, all except the part where you have a beautiful voice and the ability to perform on stage). I’ve had horrible respiratory infections that made me feel like I was gargling razor blades and could eventually lead to pneumonia. I was shocked that my gastroenterologist wanted me to take 1 or 2 Prilosec every day. When I balked and asked what lifestyle choices could I change, he just said, “take the medicine…I do…you’ll be fine.”

    And then my step daughter encouraged me to try a Whole 30 (30-day whole food, limited carb diet that seems similar to your SCD), and within a week, I could put the Prilosec away. I did 3 Whole30s last year, and have just completed my first for 2014. While I am on, no problem. In between, if I would start introducing grains, sugar and alcohol back in…BAM! Reflux City. I’m not as disciplined as I should be, but at least I understand the consequences of my eating decisions.

  • Thank you so much for talking about this! I have had horrible reflux for YEARS and have only just now started thinking of what else I could cut out to get rid of it naturally. Going to check out that book right now.

  • I was looking into the books you suggest at Amazon, and I see that there is a whole category of books devoted to helping reflux through diet. Can I ask how come you went to the extreme SCD diet for severe intestinal issues, instead of one geared toward reflux? Or did you and they didn’t help?

    • Great question! The answer is, I tried about 2 diets that were geared toward reflux healing, but they eliminated all dairy, all sweeteners, and even fruit, as well as fermented items such as vinegar. I just had a VERY hard time sticking to it. I am sure I would have done those diets if the SCD had not worked, but it did! It was much more “do-able” for me, since I could get a sweet fix and stick to it long enough to “heal my gut.” The special homemade SCD yogurt is another amazing thing about SCD. It feels like healing tonic as it goes into my belly. I cannot say enough about it.
      So, I am sure those diets would have helped too, but this one allowed a few more things, and it worked for me. Every body is different, and you really need to listen to your own body – as hokey as that sounds.

  • I deal with very mild acid reflux from time to time. I know it does have to do with my diet because my health consciousness yo-yos and so does the acid-reflux.

    I doubt I need an entire diet over-haul, but, I’m a yogurt fanatic anyway and the idea of a special yogurt that would ease some of the acid reflux is appealing. Is the recipe in the book your recommend or somewhere else?

    • Yes, you can find the recipe in the SCD diet book I link to in the post {thank you so much for using my links!!! xo}, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. It is an amazingly interesting read on the science of foods, the gut, and our bodies. You could also try to do a search for SCD yogurt! Best to you!

  • Thank you for sharing! I do not have reflux but have thyroid issues that I have been able to control somewhat with help naturally. (Natural thyroid meds rather than synthetic.) I need to be stricter with my diet. I am very frustrated with the medical community and having a hard time finding more of a partner in my health than a person to just give me handouts and prescriptions. Very frustrated! Anyway, my question is: do you cook this diet for your whole family? My family has been encouraging and is open to new things, but I know they miss some of our “old” foods. Just wondering how this worked out with your family.

    • to be honest, amy, I often cook something separate for myself. But I make it easier by making huge batches of food, such as salads, soups and stews that are always available for me. A lot of dinners I do prepare SCD style, but with a grain side option for everyone else. It has not been that challenging. The kids just don’t know any better, but my oldest is 8 :)

  • Our food intake really has a significant effect on our body, even I was suffering from acute inflammation problem and fortunately recovered from it by following a healthy diet plan suggested by my friend.

  • Hi Darlene this post is so timely for me. I have had a raspy throat for about 3 months and thought it was a cold. My doctor now thinks it might be acid reflux so I just started on Nexium. Perhaps I need to try the diet approach like you did.

    • Yes, I do recommend that over Nexium. Nexium can be a quick fix, but there are terrible side effects. And for me, the quick fix went away after time and my symptoms just returned. The truth is, I had to be desperately sick before I was willing to give up all these foods. But, I am so so glad that I did, for a host of reasons.

  • When you do this diet, are you able to drink coffee? I find dairy and coffee are my triggers.

    • First of all, it is SO good that you are aware of your triggers. Eliminating things from my diet, then adding them in again, really helped to make me aware.
      The SCD diet does allow for black coffee, or coffee with almond or coconut milk, and honey.

      …. but I miss my cream, and this is an area where I am really prone to cheat! :) Fortunately, I am well enough now that I can do that.

  • I too was told by traditional medical doctors the only thing that would help was medication…with LOTS of possible side effects. I listened to God, I listened to my body, avoided situations that were triggers and finally felt more “whole”. Healed of my affliction? (not acid reflux, something else) No, but living much healthier without any medication. I too have prayed for traditional medical doctors to work with holistic medicine to help each other help their patients. I’m forever greatful I was led to a non-traditional doctor who helped me so much more than traditional medicine could. I’m very happy to have read your story. God does amazing things! :-)

  • I thought you were pretty cool before. I admire you even more now.

  • Hi! I have suffered with Acid reflux as well for the last couple of years. nothing seems to help so I figured I would try the SCD diet. I’m only on day two of the intro diet and was wondering how you introduced foods into your diet? Did you do different phases or did you just cut out the illegal list? I realize this diet was made for those with bowel diseases and not sure how much helps with acid reflux. I’m not quite sure if I need to do the phases as I don’t have any bowel diseases, but plan on sticking with raw fruits and veggies and cut out all of the soy, wheat, sweetners, etc. any advice would be helpful! Thanks!

  • When my husband was diagnosed, he started taking Prilosec snd then Nexium. Someone told him ARD is caused by lack of Vitamin B12 and the meds actually deplete it which causes you to continually need it. Started taking it and needs no me day and has no problem with AR as long as he takes it daily. So happy you were able to get off.

  • I have had IBS for many years, I don’t tolerate dairy well and just developed acid reflux about a month ago. I have been taking Prilosec for one month now and I am not happy about it. I do not like depending on meds. I was very relieved to read your post. I have ordered 4 of the books you suggested and received them a couple of days ago. I have only had a chance to glance at them. I am confused that tomato items, berries, and other veggie things are allowed when those are the things they say don’t eat with acid reflux. I am confused? I want to order the yogurt machine but isn’t that considered dairy? I really get started on this new life style but need to understand it all first.

  • I have been encouraged today reading your testimony of being healed of GERD. I have been on Nexium for over 10 years and have asked my doctor to come off of it. I have had a low grade cough and drainage that could not be defined by my doctor. I have known all along that it was GERD related. I too have gotten worse while being on Nexium. You don’t know how relieved I am to hear of a natural solution to this problem. I have already ordered the book you recommend and will start right away with the diet. I can’t thank you enough. I too have prayed for God to show me a way out with this and I believe He has answered my prayer.

  • This really encouraged me. I have been suffering with terrible acid reflux and gastritis for the past year. I’m on 3 different medicines and it only seems like they are quick fixes. Its only a matter of time before my stomach is killing me again. I’m only 26 and its very annoying to have these issues. It looks like changing my diet is the best option to make the pain go away! Do you have any other recommendations as far as books, recipes etc.?

  • Thank you so much for posting!! I just went to the doctor today for a post opt appt for esophageal dilation I had in November . I’ve been on Nexium and my doctor is really pushing for me to start a steriod but I declined. I told him I feel like with a change in my diet I could cure my reflux and EOE. Meeting with an allergist in January to find out an answer to my EOE issue. My symptoms were that I was choking a lot. He said I had silent reflux and EOE which narrows my esophagus and make swallowing very hard. So thank for this post!
    Thank you !

  • Hi
    I saw your blog and I am gonna make this dirt happen. I been suffering from major acid reflux for over 12 years and it’s getting worse by the minute. I just got over the pain yesterday and the day before. This comes and goes and it ruins my work performance. I suffer from this constantly and have been seeing the doctors on a regular basis, it’s to a point where I even ended up at the emergency room recently. I am desperate to get off these meds the doctor prescribed me and be acid reflux free…. I forgot to mention to that once it flares up it also triggers my anxiety as well. I am hoping and praying that by doing this diet it will diminish this pain and I can get back to a normal life of well being.
    Thank you for posting your experience. I wish the best for you and everyone here.

    Kindly
    Jocelyn

  • Hi Darlene,

    My name is Joao (John) and i’m from Brazil. I have acid reflux and God knows that I’ve been trying every thing! So, I decided to follow this diet (SCD) and I would like to know how long did you take to fell better after starting the diet?

    • The first two weeks I actually felt worse because I was rebounding from coming off of medication AND detoxing as the bad leaky gut was healing. I would say about 3- 4 weeks before I had solid improvement.

  • Darlene,

    Thanks for your reply! I’ll follow your steps and work to make all possible improvements!

    Thanks again!

    Joao (John) Fontes

  • […] 2. I get back to basics on the food plan that saved my life. […]

  • […] since I transformed my diet, in order to heal my acid reflux, I have considered myself to be a healthy eater. But the truth is, I am still addicted to that […]

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