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Case Study Issue 71: Patient Case Study - Acid Reflux

by Paul McAuliffe(more info)

listed in case studies, originally published in issue 71 - December 2001

I was finally forced to visit my GP in the latter part of 1999 due to ever- increasing attacks of acid reflux, especially during the night. Acid reflux is where the stomach acid comes back up the oesophagus and into the mouth, causing a burning sensation in the throat. The condition reached a stage where I was taking antacid tablets up to five times a night.

My symptoms had started two years beforehand, in an intermittent and mild form. My drinking and smoking had increased due to stress and bereavement following the death of both my parents in 1996 within six months of one another. My eating habits became very junk food orientated, and I would consume large amounts of tea and coffee.

These habits were escalating as I tried to deal with my grief. I then entered into a destructive relationship, which became very stressful, and again I used alcohol and nicotine to help me cope.

My GP put me on lansoprazole, a proton pump inhibitor. After a month's course it stopped the acid reflux. I thought I was cured. But three weeks after finishing the course of tablets, the reflux returned and I started to suffer heartburn, which I had never experienced before. Also my whole digestive system started to slow down, and I became constipated. My colon remains sensitive to this day.

I returned to my GP, who informed me that I should have come back for another course, which I hadn't been informed about. He told me that I would probably have to take lansoprazole for the rest of my life, which was shocking and distressing to hear.

In retrospect this was a good experience because it initiated an awareness that I needed to take positive action to restore my health, which up to four years ago was trouble free.

I began to investigate alternative medicine and I discovered Dr Shyam Singha,[1] a naturopath, acupuncturist and osteopath. I was sceptical hearing about Dr Singha's mono food diets and acupuncture treatments for patients, some of whom had life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and HIV. But I was desperate and in despair. I made an appointment at his west London surgery. Dr Singha had an extraordinary persona. After taking my case history, he wrote out a prescription, which was to eat ripe bananas and live yoghurt, morning and evening, and to eat just bananas during the day, the minimum being 16 daily over 7 days. All I was permitted to drink was hot water with 5 drops of Echinacea – no alcohol, tea, coffee or supplements.

As I started to walk out of the consulting room, I was somewhat perturbed because I could not drink alcohol. Also I had just paid someone to prescribe ordinary everyday bananas, and I felt that I was bananas to have paid the consultation fee. As I walked down the hallway Dr Singha beckoned me back into the surgery and looked straight into my eyes with a knowing and sincere look, and informed me that if I did not follow his diet and stop drinking, I was not to return to his surgery, because I would be wasting his time and my money.

I felt confused, but I had no other strategy to deal with this condition, and felt that I could no longer rely on allopathic medicine. The first day of the regime I only consumed ten bananas. I started to get continuous headaches, almost certainly due to caffeine withdrawal, which was not surprising, considering I would drink over ten mugs of tea and coffee every day. The headaches took away my desire for alcohol.

At the second visit seven days later, I was given acupuncture, and told to continue with the bananas and live yoghurt in the mornings. I was also put on a raw food diet, including meat and fish. When asked, "Is it dangerous to eat raw meat?" Dr Singha replied, "Crossing the road is dangerous". I did not, however, eat any raw meat, but I obtained very good fresh fish. Most of my meals were a combination of vegetables. I also ate muesli. Dr Singha suggested that I avoid wheat and dairy products.

This diet lasted for three weeks. After the third week, there was a definite improvement, and I noticed I was waking refreshed, clear headed and I remained focused throughout the day. I would wake in the joyful knowledge that I was more energetic than I had ever felt, and I no longer depended on caffeine. Whilst on the raw food diet, I was having weekly acupuncture and taking supplements prescribed by Dr Singha, which were acidophilus, co-enzyme Q10, vitamin B complex, vitamin E, digestive enzymes, ginkgo biloba, royal jelly and four homeopathic tinctures.

After eight weeks of treatment, there was a 95% improvement. Within six months, the condition had totally disappeared. I gradually reintroduced some cooked food back into my diet, and finished all the supplements and remedies. My consumption of alcohol was virtually nil, which was incredible to me, considering the quantities I had consumed in previous years.

I became aware that food could be used as a medicine. The research that I have investigated shows that bananas can heal stomach problems. Experiments have been carried out to show this and, in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, bananas are used for healing stomach ulcers.

On 23 August 2000 I gave up smoking.

I feel that although conventional medicine did not pay enough attention to my long-term well-being, this nudged me towards taking responsibility for my own health. It also introduced me to the concept of holistic medicine.

The last time I saw Dr Singha was at a cooking workshop in the spring of 2000. I took him to one side and thanked him for all his help in getting me well. Again he looked into my eyes and said, "Thank yourself." This confused me initially, but yes, I can feel proud for undertaking something that was new and different, for carrying on diligently with the diets and remedies, and for having committed money to looking after my health. Dr Singha pointed out that people will not think twice about spending money on servicing their car, but are reluctant to spend money on maintaining good health.

Footnote

1. Dr Shyam Singha born 2 August 1920; died 30 April 2000.

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About Paul McAuliffe

Paul McAuliffe lives in London and can be contacted at Tel: 020-8993 8479; linda.thorpe@dial.pipex.com Patient Case Study – Acid Reflux

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