Sunday, January 11, 2015

Daily Doin's - Acid Reflux, Diets, And The Aloe Vera Plant

Ever since I had surgery, I've been having acid reflux!  Oh, it's just horrible.
At first I just started hitting the TUMS bottle.  I went to WMT a few weeks ago and bought some pills for acid indigestion, which is related.  I didn't see anything on the shelves that dealt specifically with reflux.  The problem is, you can only take one pill every 12 hours.   It helped for a little while but after that wore off, then what?  I've been trying to be careful about not eating too much at a time, and not eating right before bedtime.  Yesterday afternoon, I felt like my mouth was on fire after I had some tomato soup.  So guess I can't have that.

So I decided to do a little research.

It seems the things that cause acid reflux can be injury to the esophagus, and a lot of people start having it after surgery because of that tube that they stick down your throat.  It can also be being overweight.  We don't think about how that works, but the fat we are carrying is not just the stuff we see in the mirror.  It's accumulating inside, too, and crowding our internal organs.  And then there's age, that causes a weakening of the muscle at the opening of the stomach that keeps the contents of the stomach from going up into the esophagus.  So I guess there are lots of directions in which to lay the blame.  But it strikes me as odd that I didn't have this till after I had surgery this last time.  Every time drops were put in my eye, during the weeks that followed, I could taste them, and by the end of each day I'd have a sore throat and a burning sensation in my mouth.  I thought the problem would go away after I was finished with the drops, but it seemed like it just got worse.

I know that if you don't do something about acid reflux, eventually your esophagus will develop enough scar tissue that you will find it hard to swallow, you will be choking on a bite you haven't chewed enough, and you will start finding it hard to breathe.  You can even develop cancer of the esophagus.  I know a woman who has had a 'stretching" procedure done twice, and her doctor has told her each time that the danger in having the procedure is that, whenever you stretch something, you are thinning it out and a hole can develop.  Now he says that he dares not to do this procedure a third time, for that very reason.  So if she has difficulty swallowing again, I hate to even think about it.

It is possible, however, to add and remove foods to your diet, give your esophagus a chance to heal, and then maybe you can be OK.  If you haven't let it go too long.  I've quit drinking coffee and have switched over to herbal tea.  They say green tea, chamomile or fennel, are good candidates. 

As far as what foods you should avoid......   uh, that's almost everything I like, it seems, and it has to do with what the body considers "acid" or "alkaline.  There is a "new" acid vs. alkaline diet program going around so lists on what's acid and what's alkaline abound on the internet.  To find a list, all you have to do is make a search on "acid vs. alkaline foods" and you'll get several hits.  What do I think of the "new" diet?  It's healthy so it won't hurt, is all I can say.  As usual, folks have taken an idea and embellished it so much that it's practically become the "snake oil" of the day.   Somebody's getting rich providing programs that expound upon the theory, as usual.  Books.  Kits.  That sort of thing.  I think science could succeed in solving the riddle as to why it's so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off.  But if they did, nobody would be fat anymore and there'd be no market for all these "get slim quick" schemes that pop up every January.  As with everything else, it's all about the dollar and no one really wants anybody that's fat to be able to lose the weight and keep it off, I don't care what they say, because then they'd have to find some other dishonest way to make their millions.  And it IS dishonest when YOU pay THEM money and YOU do all the work, and when they know, darn good and well, that the results won't last and you'll either have to be "A Lifetime Member" or you'll be back every January.  That's success for THEM, not YOU.

But anyway.

Some things that I thought were acidic for sure, were on the alkaline list, and vice versa.  I think there's more to it that might clear up the inconsistencies, but I don't know what it is.   When I looked at foods you should avoid vs. what foods are ok, if you have acid reflux, I was surprised that they recommend you start your day with a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar and some honey in a glass of water, and that apples will relieve the discomfort, but that tomato products are sure to set you on fire.  A banana will soothe, and so will raw almonds, but a piece of bread will set you on fire.  Does that sound as strange to you as it does to me? 

There's benefit to paying attention to how you sleep, you want to elevate your head, not sleep on your stomach or on your right side.  Don't lie down until at least two hours after you've eaten.  Some people recommended drinking lots of water and others said it helps to chew gum.  Some talked about honey and bananas and then I saw something about how aloe vera was edible, that it helps heal the esophagus, and in fact, is so full of minerals and other good stuff that it cures a bunch of stuff, and, well, here we go on the old snake oil bandwagon again.



However, I happen to have several mature aloe vera plants because the "mother" plant went crazy making what they call "pups" a couple of years ago, and I transplanted them all, intending to put them in the garage sale.  But once they start getting big, they take up a lot of space.  I knew the gel inside the leaves was good for burns and rashes, but I haven't had a burn in a long time.  So I decided to try aloe vera for my acid reflux.  I mean, what could it hurt?  Maybe it'll cure something that I didn't even know was wrong with me!  Heh.  John, who has a website called Growing Your Own Greens and who has uploaded a lot of You-Tubes about gardening, has put up one about how to process the leaves.  That's HERE     .  Though I must admit, I had some concerns with this video.  He's saying he's practically germophobic about cleanliness but yet there's a really dirty bandaid on his finger, and then by the time I got all the way to the end of this particular video, I felt like he was trying to help a friend to market "pups" and the frozen juice of a "special variety" of aloe that is supposed to be better for you than just the ordinary aloe vera you can buy anywhere.  This is where I started giving John the old fish eye on this one.  So I watched several other videos about the topic, and some people had a little different method, but none of them were using anything but the aloe vera and everyone was in agreement that you must use the bigger leaves and not the small ones, and the green slime that first comes out of the leaf when you cut it is bitter and it is not the part that you want to consume, as it'll really clean out your colon.  In fact, that green slime is not what you want to use to put on your skin, either, and I didn't know that.  What you want is the clear part.  There were lots of videos posted about it and you can just about take your pick which ones you want to watch, but I found it interesting that people of Indian and Asian descents have been using aloe vera for ages.  This morning I prepared some aloe by whirring the clear middle part in a blender with some apple juice and it just tasted like frothy apple juice.  I didn't get some of it liquified, a few little pieces were floating in the froth on the top.  I chewed these up and they just reminded me of peeled grapes.   There was no bitterness whatsoever.

Against his better judgment, Hubs had a little glass of aloe/apple juice this morning, too.  But another concern I had about John's video was that he was making enough for a crowd.  You really shouldn't overdo like that.  I'd use up my aloe vera plants really quick that way.  And it takes, like, three years for a plant to get big enough to use.  One of the other You-Tubes that I haven't been able to find my way back to now, showed the man's wife, Mitsu, blending theirs with fresh orange juice, and he said you only need about a 2" section of a fat leaf.  That sounds more like it to me.  They were drinking it as a "health tonic", I think.  You don't want to make up more than you'll drink at the moment, as it doesn't keep well, but if you have some of the filet left from one leaf, I think it's OK to put it in the freezer for the next day or two. 

I saved the flat skin, because they still had a lot of the mucilaginous pulp clinging to them, and I rubbed those on my skin.  This winter has been hard on my skin and it itches allllll the time.  Although I did watch the video of an older Indian man who was scraping the skins with the back of his knife and adding it to the container where he was putting his clear "filets".  Apparently the green goo that you don't want is under those ribs along the sides of the leaf, and in the tips.


This is now a couple of days later, in fact this will be the third morning that Hubs and I will have aloe-apple juice with our breakfast.  So the fact that Hubs hasn't balked attests to the fact that it doesn't taste bad.  Neither of us has had any digestive upsets because of it.  I am getting some relief from the acid reflux, though I know it will take some time to heal completely.  I still have a bit of a sore throat and my mouth feels like it has been burned.  I have my last follow-up with the retina specialist in a few days and I'm going to tell him about the problems that I've been having.  I think it might be a common post-surgical issue because during the post-surgery interview, the nurse asked me specifically if I ever had acid reflux or acid indigestion.  I don't know that he would do anything other than write me a prescription, but I just want him to know.

Rubbing the aloe gel on my skin is not helping to stop the itch.  It's winter that's drying out my skin and I just itch all over.  Worse on my back than anywhere.  There's no visible rash.  I have started running a humidifier in the house in an effort to add a little moisture to our inside air. 

As I get each big plant used to the point where it just has it's top two or three leaves, I will cut that top part off, let it dry for a few days, and then plant it in a new pot.  I may try cutting the stump that will remain down to ground level and see what it does.  The "pups" grow around the sides of a mature plant by suckering up from the root.  It might be worth it just to see if more of them will appear.  For the time-being, though, the two plants that are set down in buckets (because they have gotten so top-heavy that they tip themselves over) were relieved of five "pups" before the picture was taken.

I like these cups for aloe vera "pups", it keeps the plant from falling over.  When they need to be transplanted to a bigger pot, they will go in straight.  I made a drainage hole in the bottom of each cup with my trusty wood-burning kit.  I haven't added water to these cups yet, when I do I'll have to put them on something that won't be damaged by the moisture.

And just now, I dug out one "pup", and two plants that will probably be mature in another year, from the brown pot that was in the kitchen.  This leaves the largest plant alone in the pot, to grow bigger and to make more "pups".
I just dig down with a serrated knife.  Then I just wrap my fingers around the base of the plant and pull up, sometimes using the other hand to stabilize the soil around the mother plant, and they come right out.  Some of the roots will be cut and maybe some of the mother's roots, but these are tough plants and they will take it in their stride.   Even if you don't get ANY roots, they'll make more after they're planted as long as the base of the plant isn't damaged.

Not much new to report on the gardening front.  Of the seeds I placed in damp coffee filters, The Elecampane and Valarian are up and were carefully transplanted into cups a few days ago.
I hadn't germinated very many seeds, and they are so tiny that I decided to put several into each cup.  You just can't beat this coffee filter method for germinating seeds that are supposed to take a long time.  It reduces germination time considerably.

I have another milk jug emptied out for Winter Sowing, I plan to sow Good King Henry in it.  I WS'd some last year, and transplanted into the asparagus bed, but they didn't make it through the summer.  

Hubs drew my attention to this fella that he watched come in for a landing on the fence between our back yard and the garden.  I took this picture through the window blinds and was just getting in position to get a better one when he flew off.  Then ---duh--- it occurred to me I still have that window upstairs that doesn't have a screen on it, I could've gotten a really good picture from up there with my zoom.
 I feel kind of bad about not having the garden cleaned up better, it seemed like winter came so soon this year.  But it's habitat for small birds and such, and is a "method" approved by some gardeners.  I don't know what it was watching and I wish I hadn't interrupted it.  Maybe it came back when we weren't looking.  We've been seeing lots of birds, they are all looking for food now.  I haven't thrown out any seed as they seem to be finding grass and weed seed and I want them to get all of that, and any insects that are around, that they can.  Usually I don't put out bird seed unless there's snow covering the ground. 

Well, this is about it for this time.  I hope everyone's staying safe in this perilous world of ours.  Till next time, Rock On.....     xoxoxoxo


  1. Oh I hope the Aloe works for the reflux!!! My Steph has horrible problems with this and has had the surgery you mentioned. Just after Christmas she got the dreaded Tummy Bug and it did a number on her insides. I'll be sharing this possible solution with her. As always, you sent the right info at the right time!

    And I'm going to try to set out some bird seed today. We are supposed to have snow mid-week. Take care and stay warm!

    1. Got any chamomile tea? With honey. And they said apples, odd as it sounds, and raw almonds to relieve the pain. I'll send you some links of where I've been.

      Don't put the birdseed out till AFTER it snows or it'll just get covered up! xoxoxo

  2. Hope the Aloe works. I will check with my neighbor he found some otc meds for his wife for acid reflux and it helped her greatly.

    Great shot of the bird. I rarely get anything cleaned up before spring!

  3. Thanks, Glenda. I had an email from Jane and she said Prilosec was prescribed for her when she had it, and that it took care of it. It's an over the counter drug now. I wonder if that is what your neighbor found for his wife.


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