Natural Reflux Remedy Without That Pesky Purple Pill

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 30, 2013

The Cabbage Cure

Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is at epidemic levels today. Not only do many adults suffer from it, but children and even infants frequently do as well in ever increasing numbers.

According to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons:

The term gastroesophageal reflux describes the movement (or reflux) of stomach contents back up into the esophagus, the muscular tube that extends from the neck to the abdomen and connects the back of the throat to the stomach. Because the stomach manufactures acid as an aid to digestion, this phenomenon is often referred to as acid reflux. Most people experience acid reflux from time to time as heartburn, a burning sensation below the breast bone that occurs after eating or at night. When the frequency of acid reflux is much greater than normal, or complications develop as a result of acid reflux, the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Now that we know what reflux or GERD actually is, let’s examine what causes this chronic and sometimes debilitating condition and how to resolve it without dependence on drugs.

Contrary to conventional thought, it is not too much stomach acid that is causing the discomfort.  In fact, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MDthe nexus of the problem is too little stomach acid which causes the food that is consumed to sit and putrefy in the stomach instead of being immediately and properly broken down by hydrochloric acid produced by the digestive glands.

This putrification process generates a secondary acidic environment. This is the acid that people experience as reflux, but the truth of the matter is that if the stomach produced adequate acid to begin with to digest food properly, acid reflux would never occur in the first place!

The uncomfortable result of this secondary acid in the stomach is that the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) gets paralyzed, allowing both acid and partially digested food to flow back up into the esophagus. Hence the acid in the back of the throat and the related discomfort.

While the putrefication of the food in the stomach from a lack of hydrochloric acid itself generates an acidic environment, it’s not the kind we need for digesting food optimally in order for us to be nourished by it. Toxins are generated and the surrounding tissue is affected and ultimately damaged – especially the sphincter which opens and closes to allow passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach.

Of course this cannot be a good thing on a long-term basis and it’s only natural that complications would develop over time, the worst being esophageal cancer.

Besides the typical burning in the throat sensation, acid reflux sufferers also typically experience slow digestion which makes metabolism very inefficient.  A healthy digestive system uses about 30% of the body’s energy on a daily basis.  As a result, any major reduction in its capacity will tire you out quickly.

Sleepy after meals anyone?

So what’s to be done? According to lectures by Dr. Campbell-McBride, it is actually ridiculously simple.

Help the stomach produce more natural acid to prevent the problematic, secondary acid from occurring!

Whatever you do, don’t suppress the stomach’s efforts by shutting down what little beneficial acid it is producing with TUMS, a purple pill, or any other medication – over the counter or otherwise.

Reflux medications are a monster cash cow for the drug companies, but it’s at the expense of the long-term health of the consumer, even if there is some short-term relief because there is less secondary, putrified acid to be refluxed up the esophagus. The toxins are still being produced and the damage is still being done to your sphincter.

Reflux Remedy: Cabbage to Encourage Normal Stomach Function

Your natural production of stomach acid can be stimulated and enhanced easily, safely and cost-effectively with cabbage.

Yes – cabbage!

Cabbage is a reflux remedy as it naturally stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid (HCL) to permit digestion to proceed normally without a secondary wave of acid from paralyzing the sphincter and causing putrifying stomach contents to erupt back into the throat.

You can juice it and drink some before eating or make yourself some good old coleslaw (you know, the kind grandma used to make – or at least someone in your ancestry if you go back far enough). Or, here it comes, just eat some traditionally fermented sauerkraut. Not the canned or jarred stuff on the shelf at the supermarket.

It’s as simple as that. Sauerkraut, especially, is treasured traditional tucker in various parts of Europe. And now I understand why.

So, in order to have a comfortable digestive experience all day long, start in the morning by eating a quarter cup or so of sauerkraut five minutes before your meal. Dr. Natasha’s orders! Just be sure that first meal is a good one, such as soaked porridge, eggs fried in butter with some cooked veggies or fruit on the side and maybe a little homemade broth for good measure.

If you’re eating processed cereals with skim milk, pop-tarts or doughnuts for breakfast, forget about the cabbage as nothing will help. Just take your purple pills.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Comments (82)

  1. Haha! Thanks for the last paragraph. Made me laugh out loud.

    I seem to be seeing more recommendations for eating raw goitrogenic foods lately from WAPF/real food people. Are they being disassociated with thyroid disease?

  2. Uggg, please tell me there is another food besides cabbage or sauerkraut? Both of these foods I dislike. I can eat cabbage finely chopped and cooked in a crockpot all day but that’s about it. I have suffered from GERD as long as I can remember, as does my mother, and her mother. Neither of them eat well, but I have learned to and yet, I still suffer.

    • Hi Erica, I have found homemade from raw cultured buttermilk to work for me. I started drinking it last year before learning about fermenting (which I now do saurkraut, Kimchee, corn relish, okra, pickles salsa and even pica from the islands.) My advice is go to the shopping list section on this blog and buy Nourishing Traditions I am certain you will find ferments to your liking in that book. Best of health to you!

  3. Thank you Sarah, I love this article. About a year ago I started to have occasional reflux. I bought some Betaine HCI capsules to take before dinner. It definitely helped. Co-incidentally I began eating more cultured foods about 6 months ago including home made sauerkraut about twice a week. After a few weeks I instictively felt I didn’t need the capsules any more and I haven’t had a problem since.

    I enjoy your blog and videos very much so thank you for your hard work. I am in Bendigo, Australia.

  4. I had suffered from heartburn for decades until about three years ago when I read about the positive effect fresh lemons could bring heartburn sufferers. I have been cutting lemons in quarters and squeezing one per eight glass at least twice a day and have not had heartburn since. If I go out on the road and or forget to have them on the weekends I get an attack, so I am a firm believer of this natural remedy. But, since I love cabbage and coleslaw and my wife makes her own home made fermented sauerkraut I now have other alternatives to supplement my lemon regimen. Thanks!

  5. I used to have HORRIBLE acid reflux. As long as I don’t eat wheat, it’s completely gone! Wheat was my culprit. I do love Bubbe’s sauerkraut and try to eat a little nearly every day! :-)

  6. Is consuming apple cider vinegar before meals the same concept? Between this and a digestive enzyme my sons acid reflux has greatly improved.

    • I mentioned this in another comment, but for whatever it’s worth, we’ve found kombucha to be much tastier than apple cider vinegar, and equally or more effective.

  7. Pingback: Natural Reflux Remedy Without That Pesky Purple Pill | Nourishing News

  8. Can you also give this to babies suffering from reflux? I can imagine that they can’t eat the cabbage or any sauerkraut. So maybe just the jus?

  9. I realize reflux and heartburn aren’t necessarily the same thing, but for whatever it’s worth, we’ve recently found kombucha a simple and tasty alternative heartburn treatment. I have the testimony of two very pregnant women in their early thirties, and one nine year old boy. :)

    • I’ve struggled with bad heartburn for 17 years. Tried Omeprazole, but eventually I saw that it stopped working and it all just got worse. I got off of it. I started juicing cabbage and celery. That did help, but was trouble, and not tasty. I found a an all-natural product called Gastrazyme (I’m not affiliated with it.). It has the extract from cabbage that heals the stomach lining and helps heartburn. It has helped tremendously. I too HAVE to stay off wheat and most highly-processed foods, even if they’re gluten-free, or I get an acute attack. I might try to add some real sauerkraut in as well. Thanks for the post. I’m sure it will help many.

      • I too had the same thing as you , the purple pill wasn’t working so I ordered some gastrazyme and have found complete relieve. I can’t believe how much this pill has helped me. I ordered mine on amazon. I’m not an any way affiliated with these companies, just want people to know there’s help out there others than the purple pills.

  10. Leila Best Trinidad via Facebook December 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I drink aloe Vera juice and I add aloe from the plant to my carrot juices for this problem.
    Stay away from dairy, colas and all processed foods, eat more raw fruit/vegetables and drink more (filtered) water.

  11. Courtney Crowell via Facebook December 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Aloe Vera juice and DCL did not help me at all. I’ve been taking 1/2 tsp of Apple cider vinegar diluted with water every day (not an easy swallow). It has really helped. I also take a tsp of manuka honey before bed and drink camomile tea.

    I’m not a cabbage fan. But, if the ACV stops working, I’ll try that next.

  12. Here, here! I ditched the “purple pill” years and years ago. I’m taking 1/2 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in about an 1/4 cup of water before meals, along with a supplement with ox bile and pancreatin (not a life-long supplement; just till digestion recovers). Also eating some kraut and pickles here and there too.

    For sure, when heartburn comes out of nowhere, if I can just push aside the brainwashing about “too much acid” and drink more ACV, it immediately goes away!!

    • can someone tell me if I can take the ACV in pill form for this. I want to get off the omeprazole but last time I tried I was in major pain and seriously found it hard to eat anything or sleep for that matter.

      Thanks, Ted

    • I used to drink and use drugs, heroin, pot, speed, smoked very heavily and ate very poorly. I got GERD pretty bad. The pill took it away. Now that I take care of myself and eat really healthy, don’t smoke etc. I find it hard to get off these pill because when I stop taking them I get a very painful condition. Last time I could barely function because of the pain. So I really am looking for a healthy solution. Unfortunately there is a lot of advice on columns like this but no one really seems to be able to answer simple questions or knows for sure. I would like to take the ACV in pill form to try and get off the pill but no one responds to tell me if this is a good solution. Thanks, Ted ted619 at

  13. Julie De Groot Radmacher via Facebook December 31, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I’ll have to try this! I’m 38 weeks pregnant & have horrible horrible problems with this!! Nothing helps more than 15 minutes. I eat healthy & avoid “triggers” but everything even water is a trigger now (not everyone with this problem eats junk!). Thanks for the info!

  14. Does anyone know of a good way to make a cabbage dish for a toddler? Is the cabbage more affective when not cooked? I’m concerned that she will get gassy as she doesn’t do well with broccoli and will wake-up in the middle of the night with gas. She was a ‘happy reflux baby’ and I’m still under the impression that she is still affected by this as she doesn’t sleep well at night. Thanks, for the article!

  15. So what exactly causes this low acid condition. Ive had GERD for 25 years & had ups and downs with it, its a lot better since ive been paleo, about 10 months now.

  16. Thanks a great deal to get revealing the following effortlessly people you undoubtedly recognize what you are communicating about! Saved as a favorite. Please as well speak with my site Implies). We might use a web page link buy and sell design in our midst

  17. I have a four month old who is exclusively breast fed and suffers from acid reflux. If I consume cabbage would it pass through my milk and help him?

  18. When I try to view your other articles on my Samsung, a pop up keeps blocking me and tries to make me apply an app.

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
      Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 22, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Thank you Marty … I think I’ve found the source of the problem .. a wordpress widget that got hacked. I’ve removed it now. Please let me know if you experience further problems.

  19. Courtney Crowell via Facebook February 23, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Please share. I was recently diagnosed w. GERD and am doing ACV, manuka honey and chamomile tea. So far, I’m not sure if it is working. I’d love to hear what is working for others.

  20. Erika von Hoyer via Facebook February 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I like and agree. Annoying to read blah, blah, to get to it.

    Would be nice to have more resources say ‘got this?’ ‘Do that!’ Instead of writing a whole blog.

  21. My dad has a bad ulcer in his throat. He can only swallow liquids and he is having trouble swallowing that! His doctor tried to scope his throat and the camera couldn’t pass through due to that ulcer. Doctor told him it needs to heal by his next scope on March 14 or they will operate and remove part of his esaphogus :(

  22. Just made my first batch of lacto fermented kraut. Cured my reflux in 3 days. I had been taking the pill almost daily for over 15 years.

  23. Jah-nē Abernethy via Facebook February 23, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    All I know is eliminating processed foods and not eating too close to bedtime have pretty much eliminated my reflux. There has not been an episode to which I could not connect eating processed foods (or poor food combining) consumed in the evening. Any daytime episodes are even more indicative of eating lousy food. (That supermarket scone is NEVER a good idea :-/ )

  24. Pregnant and my ACID reflux is worse than ever….I have tried every natural remedy out there, along with top-notch probiotics. I wish this were a true “super fix” in my case…but did not work either. I am very grateful for that little purple pill at this point in the game. Maybe after pregnancy it will help.

  25. My 13 yr old daughter recently began suffering with reflux. We tried your remedies, and lemon, sugar, and water before eating fixed her issues! Her daddy has been on the purple pill for 25 years. Thank you! (PS… The fresh cabbage juice worked but wasn’t the tastiest thing for her. The cider vinegar burned too much and gave her a stomach ache.)

    • What do you make cabbage juice with? Water or what? I have Barretts
      esaphogus from acid reflex. I had it burnt and have to have it done again. my grandfather died of stomach cancer years ago.

  26. Cheryl Wells Carpenter via Facebook February 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Yes! I did just the juice from sauerkraut for my baby starting at 6 months when she spit up virtually all of her food and was on the failure to thrive chart. She instantly kept her food down with 1-2 tsp mixed in every meal. I also started her on GAPS foods. By 12 months she was up to 80th percentile and drs said they’d never seen such a turnaround! By the way, I used Bubbies sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your health food store.

  27. Hdr Supermama via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I’m highly allergic to any reflux med out there. Raw aloe juice has changed my life. A shot a day.. No problems.

  28. Slippery elm bark- they come in capsules but I get it in the powder form and mix it with tea. Only thing that has worked for me and I’ve been dealing with GERD and stomach ulcers since I was a teenager. I don’t really see anyone else talking about it, but I’m telling u it works! Try it

  29. Julie Jabaley Wilborn via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Paula Wilborn check this out. I would try this or braggs apple cider vinegar (put 1 T in a glass of water morning and evening).

  30. Great article. I’ll share my experience – Had GERD for a couple years, the first bout sent me to ER because I thought I was having a heart attack! Was on RX proton pump inhibitors and then went on Omeprazole for economics and got disgusted with the mantra that you can’t heal it and that sort of thinking doesn’t sit right with me. Firmly convinced we can healour bodies any nearly everything I did a search and turned up that one of the main causes is a weakening of the LES ( lower esophageal sphincter) as noted here. Further querying noted that a lack of a certain dietary Calcium causes poor function of the LES among other things. I changed my diet and have had only one or two relapses, usually after having had too much wine! Enzymes helped too! To your health, Brian

  31. After over a decade of reflux treated with marginal and declining success by Aciphex and other drugs, I stumbled upon my own cure when I decided to climb on the South Beach Diet bandwagon a little over a decade ago. Since that time I have had occasional flare ups at times when I have been lax about controlling refined carbs and sugars, but in general it is mostly under control without medication. I also have a hiatal hernia which has aggravated the situation but, once again, if I keep with the low carb protocol, it’s mostly not a problem unless I’m doing a lot of bent over activities, such as gardening, or some types of exercise. Low carb has been a lifesaver for me–no other tricks or potions required.

  32. Jay Miller via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Gastrazyme which has vitamin a, vitamin u from a cabage extract and a couple enzymes has worked wonders for my reflux.

  33. Robin Kelman via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 6:48 am

    After several years on the purple pill with minimal relief took things into my own hands 4 years ago. Few reflux attacks now, eat smaller meals, limit foods and fluids after 6, limit fluids right before/with meals, tomatoes early in day and limit quantity, no black pepper, white is okay for me, learn your trigger foods, ACV, increased fermented foods, eating better overall like Weston Price guidelines. Each person is different but well worth figuring out what works for you.

  34. Luis-Christina Aldrich Torres via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 7:34 am

    I had acid reflux that was being treated with Nexium & I really didn’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life. I like natural remedies. After 3 months of the purple pill I looked up natural remedies for Acid reflux & found cabbage!!! I hate cabbage, but it found ways to cook it & make it edible for me. I read the best way to battle it for the first month without the pill, was to eat about a cup of cabbage before breakfast & to stay away form cereal during that month. Cabbage CURED my reflux & the possible ulsar it was creating. Now I try to eat cabbage at least 2 x a week, and that it to ensure it doesn’t come back. Sour kraut, cole slaw, any kind of cabbage will work. I sautéed mine in a little olive oil, salt & pepper, a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar with grated carrots. Makes an excellent side dish. Never knew it could be such a simple CURE!

  35. Ahlgren Fam via Facebook February 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    My dad has been doing it for a couple of months now with great success!
    He told his doctor that he quite taking the reflux medicine and his doctor asked what he was doing instead. “Cabbage!” my dad replied proudly.
    “So you’re taking a cabbage supplement?” the doctor queried.
    “No. I’m eating cabbage!”
    Haha, you know, the food, the real thing you put in your mouth and chew!!!!! :D I so thankful for the healing powers that God has put in nature all around us! Thanks for sharing this idea!

  36. I have been trying to treat my son’s acid reflux naturally for about a month but it isn’t working. He doesn’t like most fermented foods so I used store brought dill pickle juice instead. Is this the problem?


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