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July 07, 2013

Does Drinking Alkaline Water Help With Reflux?

Image by WJ Pilsak from Wikipedia
Treatment in some reflux-sufferers may require addressing not just the acid in reflux, but also the pepsin. In one tantalizing research paper, alkaline water (pH 8.8) was found to instantly and permanently inactivate pepsin in vitro (ie, in a test tube). Pepsin is a stomach enzyme that can cause inflammation and mucosal damage when in the throat area. This peptic enzyme can be deposited outside the stomach due to laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) and can cause symptoms of globus, burning, hoarseness, chronic cough, chronic throat clearing, etc.

With pepsin triggered symptoms, treatment to resolve can become exceedingly frustrating given standard treatment with zantac, prilosec, and other "reflux" medications do not work as well. Furthermore, human pepsin remains stable at pH 7.4 and can be repetitively reactivated by acid from any source (ie, orange juice).

BUT... keep in mind that test tube results in this research may not necessarily translate to actual improvement in humans. However, drinking a small amount of alkaline water a few times a day (just enough to coat the throat) can't hurt.

Keep in mind that most tap and bottled waters (typically pH 6.7 to 7.4) would not be expected to affect pepsin stability.

I should also mention that drinking alkaline water will not do much to help acid reflux as the alkaline water will only briefly neutralize any acid and is ineffective for long-duration acid suppression. For those suffering from acid reflux, stick with the traditional reflux medications which work extremely well.


Reference:
Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2012 Jul;121(7):431-4.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

1 comment:

  1. Just to say that drinking 500 ml of bottled alkaline water a day has made a big positive difference to my typical LPR (no acid silent reflux).

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