Monday, June 23, 2014

A Possible Dairy Answer

I love cheese.

I mention this not just because I've gone into the "random conversation" portion of the day, but because it's a relevant topic in my life.

You see, dairy products of all kind have given me heartburn since I was in about sixth grade. At first, it was the ultra-processed stuff; after a few years, I realized I couldn't drink milk without being in pain. A few more years and I didn't even pour milk on my cereal. I've never had to avoid it entirely (which is why I usually refer to myself as "lactose irritated" instead of intolerant) but each day has its limit and no two days are entirely the same.

And while I've certainly found ways to cope with it -- rationing my intake if I know ice cream is in my future, planning meals as necessary, always having Tums on hand -- it's not fun and I know I've been doing permanent damage.

After trying a couple of prescriptions over the years and a couple of rounds of OTC drugs (like Prilosec) with minimal lasting effects, I figured I was pretty much stuck with my problem.

Then one day, Mia Sorella sent me a pin -- and for the first time ever, I saw the true value of
Pinterest.


She'd found a site that recommended aloe vera gel as a dietary supplement for frequent heartburn sufferers. Being a rather cautious human, this lead to a pile of other research ... because, well, the Internet can't be trusted. Aloe as a dietary supplement hasn't been tested enough to be totally sure of its effects (certain forms of processed aloe have caused cancer in rats) and it's definitely something that can be overdone if you don't do your homework. [Note: In this case, "overdone" means "severe laxative effects." So I didn't want to overdo it.] Knowing full well that everything else I've ever tried also comes with unpleasant risks and side effects, I decided to give the aloe a try. One bottle, no more than once a day (the bottle suggested "up to 8 ounces a day," which I thought was ridiculous), for no more than two weeks to see what happened.

Here's what happened.

  1. I did not develop a taste for the stuff. It pretty much tastes like sour dirt. But mixed with my cranberry juice, I could deal with it. Even started to seem normal.
  2. I probably only used half to three quarters of an ounce each time.
  3. It's now been a month and I've had heartburn exactly once.
  4. I have also started eating dairy products without worrying about them anymore.

I don't for one moment believe in cure-alls and it hasn't been totally and completely effective (more accurately, it's worn off a little bit), but the fact that I can eat yogurt, nachos, and ice cream all in one day is such a vast improvement that I'm still a bit shocked. Moreover, I cut back on what I call residual heartburn, something that happens if you've had chronic problems and one day your body's just angry at you.

I'm not sure it's a permanent answer ... but wow, is it nice to be able to eat normal summer food right at the moment.

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