On 12 February 2016, a 64 year old male presented to clinic with Barret’s Disease and a history of gastric reflux.
Barret’s disease can be potentially fatal, and patients suffer a very uncomfortable time for lengthy periods. It is however, rarely fatal, but if not addressed the patient will be extremely uncomfortable until resolved.
Barret’s disease basically means that the lower oesophageal sphincter does not close properly (reflux). This means the connection between the tube which food travels down (oesophagus) and the stomach does not close properly.
This is also called ‘heartburn’ which actually does not have anything to do with the heart, it feels like the heart is burning because the lower oesophageal sphincter is close to the heart, and when the valve does not close properly the stomach acid is able to rise out of the stomach and burn the lining of the oesophagus.
The cells of the stomach are protected by a thick mucosal layer which prevents the acid burning the stomach. The oesophagus does not have this protective lining so if stomach acid passes the valve (lower oesophagus sphincter) then a burning sensation is experienced by the patient.
This is dangerous because the unprotected cells of the oesophagus will begin to change and it time can become cancerous, and even fatal in extreme cases. This is known as ‘Barrett’s disease’.
The problem is cured by getting the valve to close properly. The problem is NOT, and never has been, ‘excess stomach acid’.
This patient was referred to me by my mother, Dr Rosemary Latto (Osteopath) with whom I work in clinic with. He was a very long term patient and had been coming to see her since the mid 1980’s.
She thought I could help him, as gastric complaints are seldom treatable using Osteopathic techniques, and my qualifications in Chinese Medicine and as a clinical Nutritionist were likely more suitable.
The patient was taking Nexium when he came to see me, prescribed by his G.P. This drug suppresses hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and belongs to the drug class known as PPI’S (proton pump inhibitors).
Although this helped, it was not a good long term plan and he no longer wished to continue with it.
As a practitioner of natural medicine I CANNOT and WOULD NOT suggest he stops taking the prescribed medication. I can however, treat the cause rather than the symptoms, making the use of this drug unnecessary and he can then decide with his G.P. whether or not it is worth continuing with, which is exactly what I did.
On the 2nd July 2015 he has some scans done (Endoscopy), and brought them in to me at his first appointment on 12th February 2016.
He had previously been prescribed Nexium but had ceased it as his reflux was less severe, but after this Endoscopy report he was advised to continue Nexium which he did not want to do.
The conclusion of this Endoscopy showed;
- Possible Barrets’s
- Mild erosive gastritis
- Small hiatus hernia
First appointment 12th Feb 2016
We went through the basics of the stomach/oesophagus/intestines so it was clear to the patient what his issues were, having the Endoscopy report was very helpful. I made him fill out a diet diary so we could focus on problematic foods and prescribed him;
- Inflavanoid (Turmeric based natural anti-inflammatory tablets)
- Intestamine (Nutritional powder to improve gut health)
- Acupuncture (specific points to descend Stomach Qi, and clear heat/reduce inflammation)
2nd appointment 19th February 2016
The patient reported feeling good after the previous treatment, and was sleeping well. He was still experiencing reflux and his bowels were difficult to move and not complete.
It was also interesting to note the patient related that the reflux had an emotional component, and was also worse when he was feeling anxious, when had been a long term issue for him.
I made him continue with the previously prescribed herbs and nutrients, and again implemented Acupuncture with a focus on the digestive system.
3rd appointment 11th March 2016
The patient reported only one event of reflux since the last treatment. He also mentioned some musculoskeletal issues (arthritis right knee and pulled muscle in back).
This was addressed with Acupuncture, as well as continuing to work on his stomach. He also reported drinking more alcohol over this time period which seems to inflame his stomach ect.
He increased taking Intestamine twice daily which helped and settled things quickly.
4th appointment 18th March 2016
The patient reported increased pain and discomfort with both reflux and bowel movements, which were irregular. He wanted to ‘test my theories’ which he did by greatly increasing his alcohol intake over the week to see his response.
I did not mind him doing this, as firsthand knowledge is invaluable. His musculoskeletal pain worsened, and did his stomach and bowels.
He reported that he felt average after ‘testing my theories’, and worsened on all fronts almost exactly as I described. The worst result was from drinking neat whiskey, when also immediately made his stomach sore and reflux worse. Not so easy for an older Irishman to admit this!
He was now fully committed to change. We continued with the previous treatment, as well as including something new. Bitter greens!
I prescribed a simple salad of bitter greens, which he needed to at least five times per week, as well as cutting out all alcohol.
Bitter green salad
- Dandelion leaves
- Cress (land or water)
- Mustard leaf
The patient was given a list like this, and asked to eat at least three of these in a salad with normal lettuce if required, at least five times per week.
Bitter greens work by alkalizing body tissue, toning the lower oesophageal sphincter, and assisting the Liver to break down toxic metabolites and eliminate them. He usually added lemon juice, apple cider vinegar/balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil as a dressing.
Purple Mizuna, also come in Green variety
Green Mizuna, also come in purple variety
Purple mustard leaf, notice the green Mizuna to the left
One of the many kale varieties
Dandelion – No it’s not a useless weed, so stop chopping it with the lawnmower!
5th appointment 1st April 2016
The patient reported significant improvement, with hardly any reflux and consistent bowel movements that were easy to pass.
This patient continued to see me every 2-4 weeks, and continued to improve.
Gastroscopy report 11 August 2016
The patients Stomach, Oesophagus and Duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) had all significantly improved. He was thrilled with the report, and his Gastroenterologist was shocked that all cellular tissue that was previously a concern had almost completely normalized. He told the patient that he had never seen this happen before and did not know what to make of it! (A pity he did not ask the patient what he had done…)
I am not interested in taking any credit for this case, I am simply explaining one of the many cases I see in clinic, and what can be achieved with a compliant patient who listens, and more importantly takes action to naturally correct his health, with the assistance of Acupuncture, Nutrition and herbs/supplements.
He managed to completely reverse his condition; something which he was told could not be done.
He still comes to see me every few weeks for maintenance, but manages his condition by using the things he learned from the clinic.
I hope this helps your case, and please feel free to contact me at the clinic if you wish to discuss your personal case. Thanks for reading!