J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Gastritis Healing Tips

For the past few months I’ve been dealing with gastritis and gastric pain, which has put a real dent in my mood, productivity, and general quality of life. I’m recovering, slowly, but this is one of the tougher health challenges I’ve faced.

My gastritis started after a “tummy bug” … some kind of viral or bacterial infection. The more acute symptoms resolved after a few weeks, but despite dietary changes (giving up coffee, booze, and spicy food), I was left with nagging gastric pain. The pain was rarely severe, but it was constant enough to be distracting. My mood worsened, my anxiety increased, and my sleep was often interrupted by burning or even stabbing sensations in my stomach. I tried a number of natural remedies (including turmeric and black seed, both of which have traditionally been used to treat gastritis and ulcers), but nothing was helping much. I’d had similar bouts of stomach pain after a stomach bug in the past, but they’d resolved on their own within a couple weeks, and the pain hadn’t kept me up at night. Time to see the doc’.

My doctor didn’t think I had ulcers, since I had no signs of bleeding, my appetite was reasonably good, and no severe nausea or vomiting. She diagnosed gastritis (inflammation/irritation of the stomach) and recommended a two-week course of omeprazole (a proton pump inhibitor that reduces stomach acid). I took her advice, and the drug helped significantly. But when I stopped taking the omeprazole, the stomach pain gradually returned, eventually becoming worse than before. I tried a number of additional home remedies, including raw cabbage juice, Manuka honey, raw garlic, and Pepto Bismol. Some seemed to help a little, but I was still experiencing significant pain and interrupted sleep.

At that point my doctor recommended an eight-week course of omeprazole, which I was reluctant to try because of possible side effects. Complete suppression of stomach acid can lead to poor absorption of many nutrients (especially calcium, magnesium, and B12) as well as gut dysbiosis and potential gut infections. I requested a blood test for H. pylori (the bacteria often responsible for stomach ulcers and gastritis), but the antibody test came back negative.

I knew the antibody test wasn’t 100% accurate–there was a still a chance that H. pylori was responsible for my stomach problems. But a more likely scenario was that my gastritis was triggered by a combination of factors: the stomach bug, a month of vacation that may have weakened my stomach lining in the first place (timezone changes, lots of rich food, lots of coffee and wine), and a number of stressful situations that I let get to me.

My Healing Approach

I resumed taking the proton pump inhibitor as my doctor recommended, but after a few weeks of feeling only marginally better, I decided to take matters into my own hands and design my own healing regimen. At that point I’d done so much reading on ulcers, gastritis, h. pylori, acid-blocking medications, and prostaglandins that I felt I possibly knew more than my doctor on that particular topic.

I gradually reduced my omeprazole dose to 5mg (a quarter of a pill), taken thirty minutes before dinner, in a vitamin gel capsule to partially serve the function of the enteric coating. Tapering helped prevent the PPI acid rebound I experienced the first time I’d used omeprazole. That, plus 400mg slippery elm right before bed, and I could usually sleep through the night without any stomach pain.

I started taking two chewable DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) tablets twenty minutes before each meal to help soothe and protect my stomach lining.

I drank ginger tea (made with slices of fresh ginger) after meals to reduce stomach acid.

I increased my intake of linoleic acid (from walnuts, sunflower seeds, and low-oleic safflower oil). My diet had previously been very low in this essential fatty acid, which is a precursor to prostaglandin E2 (which protects and rebuilds the stomach lining). Increasing linoleic acid can increase gastric PGE2 expression in human subjects. Lower levels of linoleic acid in adipose tissue are also associated with higher ulcer risk.

I ate a healthful, high nutrient diet, with plenty of vegetables (especially broccoli and cabbage, both of which have gastroprotective properties), protein (mostly from eggs and fish), healthful fats, gluten-free starches, and low-acid fruit.

Though it’s often recommended for gastritis sufferers to avoid acidic foods and beverages, I found that a combination of 100% cranberry juice and 100% pomegranate juice could significantly reduce stomach pain in many cases. I’m not sure why, but it may be that some fruit acids may increase mucin secretion in the stomach, which is protective against stomach acid. I wouldn’t recommend this for GERD sufferers. Acidic juice with or after a meal can increase reflux, and fruit acids may be strong enough to activate any pepsin (a powerful digestive enzyme usually activated by stomach acid) that might have splashed up into the esophagus (some people find that a low-acid diet combined with PPIs for a couple months can heal gastritis).

I took 1000mg of mastic gum on an empty stomach each morning for one month. I’m not sure if this helped or not, but some research supports the use of mastic gum for reducing stomach pain, healing ulcers, and fighting h. pylori infection.

I increased my vitamin/mineral intake, especially vitamin C (buffered, as calcium ascorbate), vitamin A, vitamin D, a high quality multi-vitamin, and zinc carnosine. Not megadoses of anything, but enough to prevent deficiency in case I’ve been absorbing nutrients less efficiently.

I stopped drinking water with meals, but increased water intake first thing in the morning, and in-between meals.

I ate four smaller meals a day instead of three big ones. I also took a break from intermittent fasting.

I added probiotics and kept eating probiotic foods, though I’m not sure they helped.

I tried to reduce stress by doing things I enjoy, not taking on too many extra responsibilities, and meditating more. High levels of stress can irritate the stomach in two ways, both via cortisol:

  1. Via the production and recycling of bile from the gallbladder (which can wash back into the stomach)
  2. Via reducing levels of prostaglandins (specifically PGE2) which protect and rebuild the stomach lining

There are many more supplements and cures that I tried. Some may have helped a little, while others may have slowed down my healing process. Many anti-inflammatory foods and supplements which protect the stomach against acute injury in the short-term may actually slow down the healing process in the long-term. The stomach needs the “inflammatory” prostaglandin PGE2 and enzyme COX-2 to heal, as well as the angiogenesis process to rebuild injured tissue. Natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, black seed, green tea, and many herbs won’t hurt a healthy stomach (and may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases), but higher doses of natural anti-inflammatories may slow down tissue repair in the stomach and intestines.

My stomach lining is far from 100% recovered. I’m still taking 5mg omeprazole at night, and I often have a warm or tight sensation in my upper abdomen. But the sharp pain is mostly gone, and at this point I feel like I have my life back. I’ve gained back the weight and muscle I lost, I can eat most foods, I can exercise strenuously, and I can work for fairly long stretches without being distracted by stomach pain. Most nights I sleep pretty well. I’m still abstaining from alcohol except for a sip here and there, and the only coffee I’m drinking is a low-acid decaf variety (from Healthwise–it’s not bad). I’m also feeling calmer, happier, more energetic, and cautiously optimistic about my chances for a full recovery.

If you’ve been through something similar and recovered, please let me know how you did it in the comments.

Wish me luck in my continued healing process!

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16 Comments

  1. J.D., I initially joined your group due to the asthma healing portion of your diet. Though I enjoy reading your blog now for your unique perspective on life in general, especially your honesty. When I couldn’t get any better on my own, I called an ND. I interviewed her on the phone for about 15 minutes to make sure she was familiar with treating my issues. An ND has a doctorate in pure biochemistry, and in my opinion are unmatched when it comes to figuring out labs and gut issues. Mine also had a bachelor’s in botany also. Definitely worth a try. I don’t see her frequently, but I do go to her at least twice a year for various issues. I have genetic issues, MTHFR and COMT methylation issues and high homocysteine that doesn’t want to go away. Part of COMT is asthma. Hope this gives you some ideas. Laura

  2. thanks for sharing the journey. i will save this info for friends in like circumstances. I appreciate your willingness to mix what the ‘real doc’ suggested and yr own research. i have a lot of respect for homeopathy and even the otc approach to it. calm forte and ignatia amaura are 2 that can help mediate any trigger you have stress wise and also help sleep. I’m a retired DC, and found acupuncture often helps reduce organ inflammation. Acupuncture is where i sent clients who showed slow or little response to chiropractic for gastric and asthmatic ‘stuff’ esp. And ND’s can be amazing. Wishing you well on this path;-)

  3. Good luck on your continued healing! Have you spoken to your doctor since deviating from her recommended course of action? I’m asking since I’ve taken my health “into my own hands” a number of times and had significant push-back from healthcare professionals. I wonder how you will / plan to / have handled that. I appreciate the position they’re in, and acknowledge their expertise and training but also balance that with my own expertise (in my body and how I feel) and especially the knowledge that medical infrastructure today often doesn’t support good doctor-patient relationships (I have almost never seen the same doctor twice in a row, and malpractice suits discourage honesty and transparency).

    If this hadn’t worked, how would you approach that discussion with your doctor? If it did work, would you update your doctor with the successful treatment, to close loop on your treatment and perhaps inform her for a future patient? How do you navigate this?

    • I’ll probably loop back with my doctor when I’m fully better (or if I get worse). I’m frustrated with Kaiser right now … they were so great when I broke my foot, but when I requested to see a GI specialist all I got was a ten minute phone appointment that wasn’t very helpful.

  4. Dan

    I had similar issues in.the esophagus, mainly with coffee, at night etc… Nicotinamide R. Was making it worse also turmeric.

    Finally what worked for me was long fasts, 5 days fasts helped me recover very quickly, the first one helped a lot, with the second one a month after the symptomssymptom nearly disappeared, some omeprazol and I can take my coffee with no issues, I expect to do another lomg fast very soon.

  5. Anonymous

    I really liked how you approached your problem. It is very concerning how many people take ppi- often elderly on the – tea and toast diet, in my reading it appears that acid is needed to trigger a hormone that triggers red blood cell production. The risk, therefore is anemia- which is chronic in many elderly

  6. Hardy Stegall

    Hey, JD! I have learned a lot reading your blog. Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to offer you something useful. Look in to bladderwrack kelp which is a rich source of fucose sugar which is the antigen marker for type “O” blood,and a necessary component in the protective lining of the stomach and intestinal tract. Hope this helps. And thank you for all your thoughtful, thorough research and personal experimentation, and sharing your results with us!!
    Namaste, Hardyman47

  7. This is timely for me–and sounds so familiar. I’m suffering a second bout of reflux in as many years after having no digestive issues for my entire adult life (my theory is midlife hormone changes… I don’t know if those affect men as well as women.)

    The first time around, a short course of PPIs seemed to help with the acute symptoms. Then I tapered and found fresh ginger tea helpful, as well as cheweing gum after meals. This time, the “short” course of PPIs has stretched to several months. Things finally seem under control and I’m tapering off. I will definitely look into some of your suggestions, especially the DGL and slippery elm.

    It is frustrating how we have to become our own healers. I have a great Kaiser GP but like yours, I don’t think she’s an expert in intestinal issues and I’d bet that if I went to a GI specialist I’d get a pretty traditional medical approach.

    One other thing I tried–and I have no idea if this is total nonsense or has had any effect, since I tried it in combination with everything else–is this exercise to heal a hiatal hernia (in case that’s a factor): https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/how-to-fix-hiatal-hernia-naturally.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Audrey–sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with reflux, but glad you’re starting to feel better. PPI use with reflux is tricky. One the one hand it protects the esophagus and relieves pain, but stomach acid may also be required for proper function of the LES.

      A low acid diet may be particularly helpful for reflux/GERD. Any pepsin that splashes into the esophagus can be activated by acids as weak as pH 4, including citrus, tomatoes, and coffee.

      D-limonene is helpful for some as a coating/protective agent.

      https://fixyourgut.com/the-magic-bullet-treatment-for-gerd-d-limonene/

      Gum chewing is probably helpful, but mint can relax the LES (along with chocolate … but you probably already know this).

      Best wishes for your continued recovery.

  8. Caren

    Hi J. D,

    Firstly, I do hope you heal and feel well soon. I have been following your blog for a long time as a silent, distant reader. I especially admire how you delve into details when you feel strongly about things. I am sure you will overcome this as well.

  9. Eric Andersen

    Your symptoms and solutions have mirrored mine. Same progress. What now pray tell. Patience I guess. Good luck.

    • Hi Eric. The last few weeks have been going really well. I’ve been off all meds for about six weeks, and I’ve started a few new supplements that have been really helpful. I’m back to eating all foods and most beverages without any pain and only the most minor discomfort. Still staying away from hard liquor, caffeinated coffee, wine, and a few other things,

      Here’s the regimen that helped me a lot:

      16oz water first thing in morning (and then very little water with or after meals)

      S. boulardii (a beneficial yeast) on an empty stomach in the morning
      https://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-probiotics-saccharomyces-boulardii-30-veg-drcaps

      With larger meals (anything with meat or dairy), 2 caps AcidEase, taken toward the beginning of the meal
      https://www.swansonvitamins.com/enzymatic-therapy-acid-ease-180-veg-caps

      With 2-3 meals a day, 1 tablet Gastrazyme
      https://www.amazon.com/Biotics-Research-Gastrazyme-Tablets/dp/B00FK6RIDQ/

      2 caps zinc carnosine or 1 cap Stomach Defense Essentials with meals (3 times/day for a week, then tapering to twice/day)
      https://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-ultra-zinc-carnosine-pepzin-gi-60-caps
      https://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-condition-specific-formulas-stomach-defense-essentials-60-veg-caps

      Also, for one week, I ate a couple cloves of raw garlic each day (chop up finely, let sit for 10 minutes for allicin to form, then mix with a little water or milk and swallow without chewing, with food).

      The idea was to modify my gut biome with the garlic and s. boulardii. I was also eating yogurt and kefir to add in some beneficial bacteria. While I didn’t have SIBO symptoms and I tested negative for h, pylori, I thought it might help to reduce bacterial load, at least temporarily, kind of as a reset.

      This possibly helped. What I’m pretty sure helped a lot was the gamma oryzanol in the Acid Ease and Gastrazyme, as well as a few of the other ingredients.
      http://www.menshealthpro.org/gamma-oryzanol-the-ulcer-healer.html

      I also continued with the slippery elm mixed with hot water before bed, ginger tea after big meals, and DGL as needed.

      Now I’m in the process of tapering off all these supplements. I’m not sure if I need anything anymore but I’m taking it slow. Currently down to Acid Ease caps with only 1 meal (dinner), and I don’t seem to need the DGL or slippery elm before bed anymore.

      I’ll write a long detailed post about all this at some point, but might as well get the info out there now. Let me know if you have questions and I hope you heal up quickly.

  10. Shail

    I’m suffering from gastritis since a month and with the exact same situation as yours and it’s making my life worse day by day.Please contact me on [email protected]

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