Esomeprazole, known by the brand Nexium, is a prescription medication that reduces stomach acid production. Doctors prescribe this proton pump inhibitor to relieve chronic heartburn associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, and to promote healing of erosive esophagitis, or damage to the esophagus caused by stomach acid washing upward. Nexium also can prevent or treat ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria or the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, according to Drugs.com. You may be looking for a natural alternative to avoid side effects associated with Nexium, such as headache and digestive problems. Some herbal remedies might help.
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Deglycyrrhizinated licorice may help treat peptic ulcers and GERD, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The UMMC advises people with these conditions not to take licorice that includes glycyrrhiza, because that component can cause serious side effects. Look for the abbreviation DGL on the label. The UMMC cites a study in which 100 participants with gastric ulcers took licorice root liquid extract for six weeks. Most of these patients had not improved during previous attempts with conventional medication. A total of 22 patients experienced complete disappearance of the ulcer, while 90 percent experienced improvement.
Components of licorice called flavonoids kill H. pylori bacteria in test tubes, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Chewable DGL tablets are available for healing stomach and intestinal ulcers, and the UMHS notes that capsules may not be effective for this purpose because DGL must mix with saliva for activation.
Additionally, preliminary research indicates that an herbal formula called Iberogast, which contains licorice and eight other herbs, may help relieve GERD symptoms, according to the UMMC.
Slippery elm is another possible natural alternative to Nexium. This herb contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that coats and soothes the mouth, throat and digestive tract, according to the UMMC. Mucilage appears to prevent damaging effects of stomach acid on the esophagus. Slippery elm also causes increased mucus secretion in the digestive tract, which can protect against ulcers and excess acidity. You can take slippery elm as a tea, tincture, lozenge or capsule.
Another herb that contains mucilage is marshmallow. This herb is most commonly used to soothe irritated mucous membranes in the respiratory and digestive systems, according to the UMHS, including treating indigestion and symptoms of ulcers. For these purposes, you can take marshmallow as a hot or cold tea, a tincture or in capsule form.