Reducing Inflammation in the Oesophagus

Publisher: Natural Medicine Magazine, April 2016

Question from reader:
‘I have a narrowing esophagus and the doctor said it could be cancer. Either way they need to go in there with a balloon and stretch it. I need expensive meds and scans etc. What could possibly have caused it? I would love to try something natural instead of drugs and procedures. My daughter thinks its possibly due to the Aromat I love to use (she says MSG in it is bad) and I always have diet drinks in the fridge.

She suggested I stop that due to the artificial sweeteners it contains. I think she is over reacting and cannot see how what I like to eat can effect the esophagus to this degree. Any suggestions would be most helpful! The doc said its severely inflamed and he agreed with me that it is not caused by anything I take in, but he cannot tell me what caused it either.’

Jeanne’s reply:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer added to most processed and packaged food. Artificial sweeteners are used to sweeten food and beverages, but with a reduced caloric intake in comparison with sugar. Several studies have shown that MSG and artificial sweeteners are associated with an increased presence of inflammation and they have also been implicated in an increased risk of cancer development. As your daughter suggested, it might be best to exercise caution and opt for healthier alternatives to flavour and sweeten your food and drinks.

Healthy MSG alternatives to add flavour and nutrients to your foods include: Basil, parsley, rosemary, garlic, thyme, sage, dry-roasted seeds, Himalayan salt, pumpkin seed oil, macadamia oil and avocado oil. Reduce your intake of MSG by cutting out processed foods, pre-packaged foods and junk foods. MSG isn’t always labelled as ‘MSG’, as it can be present in many forms; therefore, have a look at food products labelling to ensure that it’s free from the following ingredients: Autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolysed (vegetable) protein, monosodium/monopotassium glutamate, sodium caseinate, yeast extract or protein isolate.

Healthy, nutrient-dense sugar alternatives to sweeten foods and beverages are organic coconut sugar or raw honey.

I cannot comment on a potential cancer diagnosis; what I can do is provide guidelines that may reduce inflammation and soothe the esophageal lining:

  • Aloe vera juice: a soothing, anti-inflammatory and healing plant extract that you can enjoy in a juice form. Drink ½ a cup of aloe vera juice 15-20 minutes before each meal, diluted in water if you prefer.
  • Manuka honey: Honey is known to be soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and may additionally help to protect and strengthen the esophageal lining.
  • Siberian pine nut oil: An anti-inflammatory oil that protects, heals and strengthens the esophageal lining. Take 10ml before meals until you experience relief and thereafter 5ml per day can be used for maintenance.
  • Walnuts:
    • Walnuts are rich in anti-inflammatory plant chemicals and omega 3 fatty acids. Crush the walnuts and mix with your meals and snacks; whole walnuts may irritate the esophagus tissue.
  • Spices with anti-inflammatory properties:
    • Turmeric (add a pinch of black pepper to promote absorption)
    • Ginger
    • Rosemary
    • Cinnamon
    • Chamomile tea
    • Parsley
    • Basil
  • Green tea, white tea and chamomile tea are all highly anti-inflammatory; add raw honey and a sprig of parsley for a more powerful effect.
  • Golden milk is a therapeutic drink used in Ayurvedic Medicine to support immune function, reduce inflammation and promote overall health and well-being:
    • Mix 1x cup coconut milk with 1 tsp turmeric powder, a pinch of black pepper, ¼ tsp ginger powder, ½ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp honey. Mix the ingredients in a blender and cook the mixture in a saucepan for 3-5 minutes on medium heat and drink immediately.

There are certain foods and beverages that can irritate the esophagus and provoke inflammatory activity; to reduce inflammation and support healing, try to avoid these foods and beverages until you experience relief from the symptoms:

  • Spicy foods (chillies, peppers, curries, etc.)
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine and alcohol drinks
  • Acidic food and beverages (tomatoes, citrus fruits and soda drinks)

Hard, solid foods with a rough texture may irritate the esophageal tissue; ‘softer’ foods include: smoothies / shakes, soft cooked eggs, cooked oats, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables or any mashed foods. Eat small meals, make sure you chew food properly before swallowing and try to avoid eating for 3-4 hours before retiring to bed.

Reference:article written for Natural Medicine Magazine