Can't Stop the Acne
July 24, 2006 9:12 PM   Subscribe

It appears as if I have a acid sensitivity. I get acne fairly often (which apparently according to homeopaths can be from acid) and I also have chronic heart-burn issues that can become very painful. Unfortunately I am not willing to give up coffee, coca-cola or spicy foods. Maybe spicy foods, but caffeine is pretty important to me, I think caffeine pills are less acidic but I always end up strung out after a few months of a consistent periodic dose of caffeine.

So is there anything that is cheap and discrete that I can eat to hopefully change the pH in my digestive juices? Is that a junk-science thing to say? I personally don't understand how adding such a weak acid as CO2 dissolved in water could change the amount of acid in my already acid-filled stomach...
posted by Napierzaza to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Calcium-based antacids like Tums?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:18 PM on July 24, 2006

Well, you could get a good start by giving up Coke, since it's highly acidic, full of sugar, and doesn't even have that much caffeine in it. Stick with coffee, or caffeinated mints or water or somesuch (available from places such as ThinkGeek).

If you have chronic heartburn, you might try taking a course of Prilosec OTC, which you can find in drugstores. I found it helped me some, though a few months later my heartburn came back (though not as bad as it had been before taking the Prilosec). You could just take regular antacids, of which there are many OTC ones, from chewables like Tums to pills like Pepcid and Zantac (I find Zantac works best for me). If your troubles continue despite trying OTC stuff, you might ask a doctor to examine you and make recommendations.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:20 PM on July 24, 2006

Calcium citrate--which my chiropractor in LA told me was the best--supplements help my occasional heartburn.
posted by brujita at 9:39 PM on July 24, 2006

I don't want my bluntness to turn you off to what I have to say...but I don't know any other way to say it.

In short...homeopathy is bunk. Please consult a real doctor—a general practitioner first, to see about the heartburn, then to get a referral to a dermatologist.
posted by limeonaire at 9:53 PM on July 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

The humorist of the medical profession. the devil's dictionary
Try yerba mate tea, one ounce brewed delivers 30% of the Ca, RDA. coffee strips Ca. from your system. Sodas don't have as much sugar, as high fructose corn syrup, and not everyone digests it with ease. The caffeine in matte is different from coffee, much smoother, and mate has food value.
posted by hortense at 10:00 PM on July 24, 2006

what limeonaire said.

To answer your questions very strictly:

1. Yes. Lots of antacids you buy over the counter are just mild alkalis that neutralise some of your stomach acid.

2. Notwithstanding 1 above, yes. Heartburn and indigestion aren't because your stomach contents are too acid per se, but because the acid is getting where it shouldn't be, ie up your esophagus or through the stomach mucus lining.

IANAD but I was raised by skeptics with common sense.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:24 PM on July 24, 2006

Chronic heartburn can cause serious medical complications and you should probably deal with it in a serious medical manner. If you can afford a doctor visit and a sorta expensive prescription, you can take prescription Prilosec indefinitely. Otherwise, I recommend Zantac.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:31 PM on July 24, 2006

Slooooooowly cut back on the caffeine. I was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia in May, and since then I've got myself down to about half a glass every 2 days.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:34 PM on July 24, 2006

Homeopaths believe that if you dilute a drug, the effect becomes stronger. They take it to ridiculous extremes, and in fact they dilute drugs so far that there's a virtual mathematical certainty that there's no drug at all remaining in what they give you, or sell you.

As the others above have said, homeopaths are quacks. There's no such thing as "acid sensitivity". Acid doesn't cause acne. You've been taken for a ride.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:34 PM on July 24, 2006

If you are having chronic painful stomach acidity, you should be checked for GERD and for helicobacter pylori bacterial infection of the stomach lining, by a doctor (probably a gastrointestinal specialist). The tests are effective, easy, and fast, and the cure for infections is a reliable course of common antibiotics.

It is not normal to have constant pain and acid symptoms in your stomach, if your digestion is working properly. Before loading up on calcium or other materials to try to lower your "acidity," try diluting the acidic contents in your stomach and flushing your stomach after eating with a glass or two of plain water. Beyond the nearly immediate relief from acid pain you get by dilution with water, you also provide the water your digestive enzymes need to efficiently break down concentrated foods, such as breads, pasta, nuts, fats, and meats. You don't need to go overboard on drinking water if you are eating enough (5 to 7 portions a day) of fruits and vegetables, but your stomach and duodenum will clear faster and more completely if you include a reasonable amount of plain water with, or shortly after, your meals.
posted by paulsc at 10:40 PM on July 24, 2006

acne: eat fresh fruit and veg, drink water, get quality sleep, keep your hair out of your face, wash your hands/don't touch your face, change your bedclothes/pillowslips weekly, don't smoke, get some exercise/cardio, try a zinc supplement, maybe a tea tree oil/antibacterial facewash, find out if you are lactose intolerant and if you are, cut out the milk. try that for two months and tell me how you feel. if you can do the first three then you can probably do without caffeine.

acid reflux: dunno, try wikipedia
posted by Tixylix at 10:58 PM on July 24, 2006

This might sound odd, but instead of anti-acids, you should try gelatin. Ie, Gummies. gummy bears, or similar. The Haribo brand is excellent. You need only 3-4 bears, not a whole bag, to calm your stomach.

But it probably sounds too crazy to try, saved my life when I had my ucler though..
posted by lundman at 11:57 PM on July 24, 2006

Could you tag this with homeopath (and homeopathy - is that necessary?), please?
posted by dance at 12:14 AM on July 25, 2006

What the others said. Homeopathy is junk science and has never been proven. Do not trust a homeopath - go see a real doctor.
posted by blag at 3:16 AM on July 25, 2006

For getting the acid level down, I highly recommend cold-brewed coffee. I use a toddy maker when I'm home or order it at the local coffee shop. If you make your own toddy be careful to not overbrew as the acidity will start to come back.
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 4:26 AM on July 25, 2006

My mother and I both have what her doctor referred to many years ago as "high body acid," which means we can't eat very much citrus. It also means that cheap jewelry turns us both as green as AskMe. So, if you are allergic to metals (for example, you can't wear shirts with snap buttons because they make little round marks on you, and those marks are itchy), you might just cut back on the citrus/other sources of citric acid and see about getting vitamin C from elsewhere (supplements). Excesses of citric acid also upset my stomach as you're describing. This may not be your problem, but thought I'd throw it out there.

As for milk, I'd go organic and stick to 2% or less and leave it at that. You need some dairy. And as others have said, drink lots of water.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:40 AM on July 25, 2006

I have skin problem (probably linked to high body acid), and coffee always seem to make it worst. The solution: tea.
posted by bluefrog at 5:01 AM on July 25, 2006

Another vote to go see a real doctor.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:05 AM on July 25, 2006

Are we talking homeopathy or holistic medicine here? (Not that I'm a believer in either, but I'm curious.)

I'd go for base to offset the acid - milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese. Also, try to keep something bland in your stomach if you're going to have something acidic. (Some people can't drink orange juice on an empty stomach, for instance, but are fine if they have toast first.) Many spicy meals come with something bland to offset, as well (refried beans, naan, etc.).

If taking simple 'I have an easily upset stomach' precautions don't work, try seeing an MD. As stated by many above, you may have something more serious than a 'sensitivity' to acids.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 5:32 AM on July 25, 2006

How old are you? Acne is common until the early 30's and is probably not linked to the acid reflux. In any case you should clearly see a doctor.

Acne is not easy to treat and you won't get quick results, but there are several things a GP can prescribe that can help: long term antibiotics, facial washes and in extreme cases roaccutane.

Either way go and see a doctor and stop believing utter nonsense about homeopathy. Sensitivity to acid my ass.
posted by tonylord at 6:01 AM on July 25, 2006

If you can come up with any way to tell the difference between the most "potent" homeopathic preparations available and plain water (or cheap vodka, if the preparation concerned includes alcohol as a "preservative") you can make a million bucks.

Homeopaths are basically making shit up as they go along.
posted by flabdablet at 6:07 AM on July 25, 2006

How is acne and acidity connected?
posted by onepapertiger at 6:39 AM on July 25, 2006

Listen to everybody else about the stomach stuff.

As far as the acne goes, the first thing is to make sure you are not using a skin care regimen that makes things worse! If you wear make-up, make sure you are using a mineral-based foundation, such as Physicians Choice. Acne bacteria can't grow in it because there's nothing organic for them to eat. Seriously consider dumping all your makeup, buying new, and applying with brushes; make sure you clean your brushes with a brush cleaner after each use (you probably won't find brush cleaner at Walgreens, I use MAC, which is available at Nordstroms). In the long run this is cheaper and will give you a better result than disposable applicators.

Next, make sure all your skin care products say somewhere on their label "Non-clogging" or "non-comedogenic". These links may help.

If I can only get you to spend an additional 60 seconds on your face each day, my advice is to a) clean with a high quality product (I recommend Skin Medica) and b) be sure to use a good quality combination moisturizer/sunscreen every day. In any event, make sure your hands are clean before you start, and change out applicators, washclothes, and towels often. If you have the patience to spend 5 minutes a day, twice a day follow this regimen:

* Clean (obvious)
* Toner. This normalizes skin pH and preps skin for other treatments
* Serum. This is where your topical acne meds come in, whether it's ben peroxide or salicytic acid or whatever.
* Moisturizing sunscreen during the day, moisturizer at night.

If you are in the Seattle area, let me know. I will put you in touch with a lady who has been helping people with acne for 20 years.
posted by ilsa at 8:42 AM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'd go for base to offset the acid - milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese.

None of those are basic. (In fact, very few foods are basic--most are acidic, to a greater or lesser degree.) Now, milk, yogurt, or cheese might well settle your stomach, but it's not because they're basic.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:32 AM on July 25, 2006

Slooooooowly cut back on the caffeine.

Yeah, but he says he doesn't want to do that. Which sounds to me like "help me see without asking me to open my eyes."

Listen to your body, man. If it can't take the amount of sugar and caffeine you're loading into it, it will tell you. And it is.

I'll bet you the acne is caused more by the sugar than by the acid. Adding quick-burning carbohydrates to a topical infection is like throwing gasoline on a match.
posted by squirrel at 9:33 AM on July 25, 2006

Though I'm sure no one is reading this at this point (thanks metafilter setup) I never mentioned sugar! I drink diet coke (don't say aspertame is bad, or you're as bunk as any homeopath). I don't know if my acne and stomach problems are linked, though if I eat an acidic food and get a stomach upset (often) I typically get an outbreak.

Also the answer of "see a real" doctor is NOT helpful! I've seen them, they enjoy writing off any reported condition as normal. Ex that I don't have chronic problems with my stomach or that I DON'T need a specialist to look at me, they always seem to _know_ there's nothing wrong, so they can eat it.

I definetely think there might be something wrong with my stomach bacteria, espcially because I went on antibiotics for flu once and my digestive track blew up like a balloon for weeks after. I can tell you that the doctor didn't make any connection, but acidophilus helped.

Also for the most part I don't want to pay for a medication for just my skin, nor do I (or can I) pay for a consultation with a dermatologist. I'd expect nothing but skin care information with the consulation so I was hoping to get it for free.

I like how I can ask a question like "how can I lower the acidity in my GI" and get a million "there's nothing wrong with your GI" responses.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2006

I like how you can ignore all the answers you received because they don't fit your preconceptions.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:54 PM on July 26, 2006

Diet Coke is really acidic, for what it's worth.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:24 AM on July 27, 2006

DevilsAdvocate: "None of those are basic. (In fact, very few foods are basic--most are acidic, to a greater or lesser degree.) Now, milk, yogurt, or cheese might well settle your stomach, but it's not because they're basic."

Wow. I had no idea. I'd been told for years that they were. Someone must have mixed something up, and I accepted what they said because they sounded so sure and they did indeed calm my stomach. Thanks for setting me straight. :)
posted by Meep! Eek! at 10:09 AM on July 27, 2006

Using milk to settle a stomach give quick short-term relief but actually makes it worse long term. Google it. They no longer recommend anything lactose for acidic stomachs.
posted by lundman at 7:52 PM on July 27, 2006

You need a better doctor who will connect these important dots. And you need to face the facts and change your eating and drinking habits. Tough but true.
posted by trii at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2006

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