Nutritional Therapy for Conditions of Hyper-Acidity

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Nutritional Therapy for Conditions of Hyper-Acidity

Traditional Medicine typically classifies heartburn and acid reflux as patterns of Stomach Heat with Rebellious Stomach Qi.  This ancient terminology conjures a helpful image of the internal condition.  One could imagine a bonfire originating in the stomach with its rising flames penetrating the regions above.

Pharmaceutical acid-blockers and neutralizers “control” this fire by flipping off the stomach’s power switch, an action that doesn’t bode well in the longterm.  The stomach needs acid in order to function.  Without acid, food cannot be broken down efficiently or effectively; when food does not break down effectively, energy will not descend properly; when energy cannot descend, it will rise, thus “rebelling.”  Meanwhile, the longer food sits in the stomach, the more acid the body will try to create to digest it.

Nutritional Therapy takes a two-pronged approach.  It aims to eliminate foods that would add heat and/or obstruct digestion and simultaneously add foods that are cooling and nourish body fluids.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine can clear heat, descend qi and nourish the fluids of the stomach in order to support proper digestion.  But if the patient is willing, nutritional therapy plays an integral role in the course of treatment, particularly to ensure that the fire is not literally being fed from the diet.

1.  Foods to Emphasize:

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Vegetables (whole form, not powdered or dehydrated)

  • Cabbage
  • Carrot (some texts say a cup of carrot juice a day)
  • Celery
  • Cucumber (no seeds)
  • Lettuce and dark leafy greens
  • Sea vegetables/ algae

Vegetables in the cabbage family, which includes broccoli and kale, should only be eaten cooked.  Raw spinach is also quite acidic, and should be either cooked or eaten very sparingly in its raw form.

Eggplants, Peppers, Tomatoes and Potatoes are notorious for aggravating acid reflex.  In theory, these foods should be metabolized easily, so long as they are ripe.  Eating these foods when they are immature or rotten (as is often the case with jarred or premade products), can introduce toxicity and heat to the body.  Those with reflux should refrain from eating potatoes that have a green hue and/or buds.


  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Coconut and coconut water


  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rice

2. Foods to Avoid:

Coffee, heated vegetable oils, red meats, alcohol, vinegar, citrus fruit, tobacco and hot spices (cinnamon, chili peppers, black pepper and mustard).

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