Category Archives: Acid Reflux Healing

New Hope for Healing

I am excited to present my new video about my book. I hope it inspires you to really take charge of your health!  Sourcing your foods from farms that follow traditional farming practices will help you to heal and build health. Real food saved my life! Watch!


Grandfather’s wise healthy traditions speak to his grandaughter’s vocal health

I recently received this letter from a singer in Norway who suffered from career-threatening acid reflux:

I’ve received your e-book and find it very inspiring, thank you. I’m a vocalist and was diagnosed with reflux disease a year ago. None of the medics I’ve been given has solved this problem. In fact–it’s worse. It’s only one and a half month to concerts and I’m so happy to be able to start a new approach, changing my diet.

Luckily there is a store here in Norway (where I live) that sells organic broth. My grandfather who is 95 has never been sick, except from food poisoned once during a holiday. When he was hospitalized, the doctors could not believe his high age. His health and body is comparable to someone decades younger. Guess what he’s been eating his whole life? Self-caught fish, meat and broth from cows and mutton and chocolate :) (He’s also eating some bread, but I guess his stomach tolerates it, living on fresh foods from day 1.)

Again, I’m very happy to have find your book and are now going to follow the recommended diet.

Traditional, nutrient-dense foods are what our ancestors thrived on–take heed and return to real food. Sourcing your foods is critical. Organic, pasture-based and home-made is best.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see my book, Performance without Pain and my e-book on healing acid-reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle


Through Pain to Victory, A Journey Through Food: The Story of Kathryne Pirtle

Listen to my interview on blogtalk radio with Stephen McCarthy:

Through Pain to Victory
A Journey Through Food: The Story of Kathryne Pirtle

Stephen McCarthy of The McCarthy Project covers a few of the concepts of the book, Deep Nutrition, along with an interview with Kathryne Pirtle, author of Performance Without Pain. She tells her story of overcoming pain to live life and perform her absolute best. Catherine Shananhan’s book covered recent research related to nutrition and traditional gene theory.  Kathryne Pirtle joined Stephen to talk about her journey through pain and struggle with food to gain victory and some ideas on how each of us can improve our performance by eating a non-gmo, organic non-western diet.

Here is a link to the interview:

A Journey from a Lifetime of Acid Reflux, Asthma and Medications to Healing:Real Food Replaces Medication

Is it possible to have acid reflux and asthma for most of your life and at nearly 50, be able to recover from these serious health problems through nutrition? It was for a dear friend of mine. Last summer I met David Morales, a terrific police officer who was helping my daughter with her car. After talking, I learned that he was an excellent musician, but that he suffered from chronic acid reflux and asthma.  In fact, his asthma at times was life-threatening and his acid reflux, pervasive. He had recently also suffered from some very frightening health experiences that needed effective answers, and he knew that his medications were just covering symptoms.  I had the privilege of sharing my books with him and found that he really took the advice to heart.  Since then, real miracles began to take place with his health.  His story sends a powerful message that I hope will help many other people.  Kathryne Pirtle

I am 49 years old and I’ve had acid reflux and asthma for pretty much all my life. In what I call the early years, the only thing that gave me any type of relief or comfort in controlling my acid reflux was milk, as in those days there were no medications. I still remember the countless nights I slept in a sitting position with a belly full of milk hoping for at least a half night’s good sleep. I was introduced to common acid-blocking medications in my early twenties and welcomed them with open arms. With time, I found myself using these medications anywhere from three up to four times a week without dependable relief. In fact, I would often have to take antacids along with my medication regimen so much so that I would buy them in the largest quantity available to save money.

 In early spring of 2012, while at work, I began to suffer from chest pain. Thinking I was having a heart attack, I was rushed to the local emergency room. After six hours of tests, I was sent home with a clean bill of health, a $7000 emergency-room bill and a RX for a narcotic pain killer. I was informed by the ER doctor that they couldn’t find anything wrong with me even though my body told me otherwise. The cause of this event literally became a mystery and made me very fearful of a possible recurrence.  I was on a serious search to find out what was happening to my health.

In the summer of 2012, I met Kathy Pirtle who enlightened me about raw milk. She told me how drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows had played a crucial role in her recovery from a life-threatening digestive disorder and 25 years of chronic pain.  I had already been drinking store bought milk for years and really didn’t believe it would help me any further than it already had in my early years. She told me about a few sources where I could purchase raw milk. I felt that I had nothing to lose  and that the ten dollars a gallon would be a very small  price to pay if this would help my condition. So the experiment began!  

 I immediately began drinking a minimum of 16oz to 24oz a day. I actually think I drank so much of it because I enjoyed the way it tasted and was tired of drinking juice and soda. Juice and soda were my preferences because I had stopped drinking liquor and smoking completely almost two years earlier.

In addition to raw milk, I began a strict regimen of consuming organic pasture-raised foods such as eggs, bacon, butter and meat and largely cut out grains, sugar and any processed food. I learned how to make milk and water kefir, which helped my digestion improve.  Culturing my own beverages saved me a lot a money—especially the water kefir , which only cost few dollars a gallon to make. I also religiously consumed fermented cod liver oil which I would add to my morning portion of milk. Cod liver oil was a childhood memory as my mother regularly gave it to me and my siblings.

It hasn’t been easy to make these changes because I was used to eating certain foods like corn products, which were an important staple in my diet. Additionally, I have learned that many foods in the store, like corn, are often GMO’s and may contribute to health problems.  Because of this, I began to purchase much of my food from different farms as I didn’t trust the local stores. It wasn’t enough for me to read that the products were organic. I felt that just because the label stated it was organic didn’t mean it really was.  I demanded proof! I wanted to make sure that all my products came from free-range grass-fed animals. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck—then it’s probably a duck!

For exercise,  I continued my daily habit of walking 3 to 5 miles three times a week, which I had been doing on and off for the past 15 to 20 years. I walk instead of running due to shin splints and asthma.

With all of these changes I began to notice some exciting improvements in my health.  After about a month, I noticed that I had lost approximately ten pounds without doing a single exercise except for my walking ritual. About four months into this regimen I noticed I had, give or take a few, lost between twenty to twenty-five pounds! 

Most importantly, my acid reflux and asthma were improving dramatically.  First, I realized I had only taken my acid reflux medication a total of about 5 to 6 times compared to the usual 3 to 4 times a week.  I still, from time to time, consume an antacid for temporary relief, but there is no comparison to the amount I was ingesting previously.  Second, my asthma attack pattern completely changed.  I don’t know if this is coincidence or not, but this fall I didn’t have my yearly asthma attacks, which I could set my clock to occur in early fall, and again in early spring. However, I have noticed that if I stop drinking the raw milk for longer than two weeks that my acid reflux returns immediately, even if I consume a small portion of spicy food.

I must admit that this food and lifestyle change requires a great amount of dedication, hope and discipline and may not be for everyone. I feel that I was blessed with an early warning system call that told my body that I must change what I was doing if I wished to continue to exist. Kathy turned me on to what I think is a great saying, “You Can Pay The Farmer Or You Can Pay The Doctor.”

Guess what—the farmer’s getting my money!
Hope this helps inform people about real milk and real food.

David Morales
25 Year Veteran
Chicago Police Department

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see my book, Performance without Pain and my e-book on healing acid-reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

My Television Interview on Healing with Nutrient-Dense Foods on Deeper Living

My 2007 television interview on healing from 25 years of chronic pain and a life-threatening digestive disorder. It is a great resource for understanding how to permanently solve chronic inflammation and digestive ailments. Press the link below to go to the interview:



My Canadian Radio Interview on Healing with Nutrient-Dense Foods

Listen to this fantastic interview on 1290 AM CJBK, London, Ontario about healing digestion and chronic pain and building optimal health with nutrient-dense foods.

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods and seminars on this subject, see

Best in Health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Quenching the Fire—Real Hope for Those who Suffer from Acid Reflux

After decades of being told by the experts that a diet high in fiber and low in fat is the key to robust good health, why is it that one in every 5 Americans is being treated for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, (GERD)?

Studies show more than 60 million Americans are currently being treated by their physicians for acid reflux. Last year there were 470,000 hospitalizations and 1.9 million visits to the emergency room as a result of GERD, commonly known as acid reflux. What’s more, GERD is now being diagnosed in children, birth to four years.

Since 1999 the majority of Americans say they are now following the dietary guidelines recommended by the FDA, eating at least 5 servings of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains each day.  We are also following the advice of the medical community and eliminating from our diets traditional fats,(like butter) and decreasing our intake of protein—especially our favorite food-to-hate—red meat.

What is it, then, that such a large percentage of our population is doing that would promote the massive increase in this ailment? Should our entire nation succumb to popular medications that merely treat the symptoms but do nothing to remedy the underlying cause?

In my e-book, Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness I pull back the curtain of misinformation to reveal the truth about why we are all chronically ill not only with GERD, but a variety of ailments including cancer, heart disease, allergies, dementia, even autism: see The Healing Diet for Acid Reflux Disease

Much of what we are told about good nutrition today is based on trends and faulty research funded by the Goliath factory farming industry. For 25 years I suffered from debilitating pain and chronic illness. Over that time I also suffered from symptoms of impaired digestion including persistent flatulence and at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with acid reflux that almost ended my career as a professional clarinetist. Even though I diligently followed popular health dictates as outlined in the traditional Food Pyramid and the resulting digestive illness and malnutrition nearly cost me my life.

If the Food Pyramid isn’t the answer, what is?  In Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness I explain how our bodies actually work to digest and assimilate the food we eat.

Before the 1950s most of our foods came from small family farms. These high quality foods were from animals eating their natural diets.  Cows ate grass, chickens ate bugs and worms, and all fish were caught in the wild.  These are nutrient-dense foods our bodies need for optimal health and digestion, but unfortunately, this is not what we find at our grocery stores today.

Consider how many ads you see for drugs to address chronic health problems like acid reflux, gas, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Pharmaceutical companies expect to earn a whopping $400,000,000 in annual sales from going over-the-counter with the ‘little purple pill. This remedy for acid reflux is nothing more than a slow death.

Current information on so-called healthy eating will not heal digestive disorders and will ultimately lead to nutrient deficiencies, illness, and even death, it behooves us to learn the difference.

The principles of a truly healthy diet are but one aspect found in this exceptional e-book.  Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness also provides information on where to find nutrient-dense foods, shares delicious recipes and menu ideas, and makes the road to true healing informative and enjoyable.

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods and seminars on this subject, see Performance without Pain and The Healing Diet for Acid Reflux Disease

Best in Health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Acid Reflux–A Singer’s Worst Nightmare

Help for Singers: Effective Nutritional Solutions to Healing Acid Reflux Disease

Imagine: You are rehearsing for your first major singing role with an opera company and your vocal range has become unpredictable. Some days you have your full range; others, you do not. But you have never experienced this problem. The opening night is in just one week. Your doctor says you have a nodule on your vocal cords, which has developed because you have acid-reflux disease. He tells you that you must rest your voice and not do the performances. You are devastated.

Health problems that affect performance are extremely frightening. They not only affect you physically, but they are an enormous burden to your mental well-being. Acid-reflux disease is a serious ailment that can permanently damage the voice. If we heed the profound statement of Hippocrates (460-370 BC) that ”All diseases begin in the gut,” then we must make a serious pursuit finding the root cause and correcting the source of any digestive issue. Since the longevity of a vocal career depends on health, it is imperative that true solutions are found to this problem.

Have you ever asked yourself why digestive ailments have become so common? There are endless radio, television and magazine ads about medication that helps acid-reflux and other digestive complaints. What is a large percent of our population doing that would promote this massive increase in the incidence of digestive disorders? Should the entire population succumb to these medications? It would seem that there are underlying reasons that so many people have these disorders.

I had acid reflux disease in my early forties just prior to becoming extremely ill with a life-threatening digestive disorder that nearly ended my musical career. I am the clarinetist and executive director of the Orion Ensemble, now in its 18th season. We tour throughout North America, present three series each year in the Chicago metropolitan area, and perform a live, internationally broadcast series on WFMT, Fine Arts Radio in Chicago. Besides playing principal clarinet with the Lake Forest Symphony, I frequently perform with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. In addition, I have taught for over 30 years and have served on the faculties of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, Northern Illinois University, Indiana University and Bradley University. In 2004, the Hal Leonard Corporation released my solo album of Bach unaccompanied cello and violin suites and sonatas transcribed for the clarinet.

In the fall of 2001, I became chronically ill for two years, suffering from a severe inflammatory condition in my spine, which caused debilitating pain in my arms, shoulders, hands and fingers making it difficult to play. I developed chronic diarrhea and my embouchure, the facial muscles I use to produce my sound, also began to shake uncontrollably. This was ultimately diagnosed as coming from a long-term digestive problem, intestinal damage and malabsorption as a result of following common nutritional dictates and Celiac disease—an intolerance to gluten grains.

Of great significance, despite the fact that I was chronically ill for two years, is that I had experienced ongoing musculoskeletal inflammation, often of a severe nature, since my 20s and relieved it through physical therapy-type approaches common to the field of music—you name it; I became an expert at it! In my late twenties and throughout my thirties, I was constantly “chasing” pain and stiffness from practicing and performing. When I would solve the discomfort in one area, another area would become irritated. I was also trying to eat a healthy diet and closely followed popular guidelines for healthy eating.

Along with inflammatory conditions, I had early digestive illness symptoms starting in my childhood.  Beginning in my youth I had ongoing flatulence, which is a sign of poor digestion and intestinal bacterial flora imbalances. When I was 42, I began to experience acid reflux disease. A very distracting problem for a wind player, I felt a constant pressure in my throat and the sensation of wanting to burp. Of course, when I did burp, acid would be released into my esophagus. This was very frightening and I sought answers to this problem. At this point, my solution was to stop eating wheat, which was quite helpful for the time being. However, several years later, I developed a spinal inflammation followed by a severe digestive disorder—life-threatening chronic diarrhea and malabsorption. Obviously, cutting out wheat was not the full answer to acid reflux, as my digestive disorder, unknowingly to me, continued to develop.

We have become complacent in accepting the widely publicized recommendation that a low-fat, high fiber diet is essential to good health. I later learned that the nutritional advice I was following was not based on the study of healthy people, but on trends. Although I thought I was eating a healthy diet, and for years had faithfully followed the US governmental guidelines, these modern conventions were clearly causing health problems.

If following modern dietary trends resulted in digestive problems, what then were the answers to healing? In order to not only save my career, but also save my life, I needed accurate information. This complicated puzzle was solved through a radical change in my diet based on studying the work of Dr. Weston Price that reversed my acid reflux and intestinal damage, and provided my body with the nutritional elements necessary for building health. I am now recovered and vibrantly healthy! For the first time in 25 years, even with a full performing, practicing and teaching schedule, I have had no pain or inflammation in my body for over four years. My embouchure is completely strong and I have excellent stamina and muscle strength.

Dr. Price was a prominent dentist in the 1930s who was baffled by the large percentage of degenerative illness in his patients—chronic ailments of all sorts such as arthritis, inflammatory conditions and digestive complaints, fertility problems, cavities, crooked and crowded teeth and behavior and learning problems in children. He sought answers to these problems by traveling worldwide to see if there were cultures free of these types of conditions. He found 14 vibrantly healthy isolated cultures that had no signs of degenerative illness and had eaten the same foods for centuries from generation to generation. Although their diets were completely different, he analyzed their foods and found common characteristics that determined their diet’s ability to promote optimal health and genetic potential in humans. He was able to cure chronic illness in his own patients through his findings. He wrote an incredible book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Through his unprecedented work and the development of the Weston A. Price Foundation, ( there is a growing movement of people who are finding solutions to healing chronic conditions and serious illness through traditional foods.

What are some of the foods that Dr. Price found to be absolutely essential to optimal human health? The surprising traditional practices involve high-fat, easy-to-digest, nutrient-dense nutrition from pastured animals and wild-caught fish including:
•    Nutrient-dense, high-vitamin A and D foods, such as liver, cod liver oil and egg yolks—essential for nutrient absorption (Price found that healthy populations had 10x the amount of Vitamin A and D from natural sources in their diets.)
•    High quality traditional fats critical for digestion and nutrient absorption, such as raw butter and coconut oil.
•    Bone-broth soups made from chicken, beef, or fish with vegetables, simmered for up to 36 hours that heal the intestinal tract, are easy-to-digest, and provide essential nutrients in an easy-to-assimilate form, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other amino acids. Secondly, they provide important bone and tendon-healing components.
•    Easy-to-digest, high-enzyme, traditionally cultured foods to help develop a healthy intestinal flora, such as homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets, and raw milk kefir and yogurt from grass-fed cows.
•    High quality proteins—meats, raw dairy and dairy products, poultry, eggs and fish—from animals eating their natural diets.

By focusing on eating ample nutrient-dense, traditional foods that support good digestion, such as raw milk from grass-fed cows often cultured into kefir or yogurt (yes, it’s legal—for details on finding a certified raw milk source, visit ), traditional lacto-fermented vegetables, egg yolks, meats and poultry from pastured animals, liver and organ meats, wild-caught fish—especially salmon and seafood, bone-broth soups daily, cod liver oil, and ample traditional fats, I was able give my body the nutritional elements to heal and build optimal health. Through these easy-to digest, nutrient-rich foods that supported the development of a healthy intestinal flora, I also corrected the low-acid state of my stomach, which ended the ongoing stomach and intestinal fermentation that I had experienced for so many years. Therefore, I no longer suffered from flatulence or any other digestion ailment symptoms, including those from acid reflux and a hiatal hernia. And after five years of following the principles of that Dr. Price discovered, I continue to notice improvements in my well-being.

Since my recovery, I felt that I needed to write a book that would help people in high-performing fields and others understand how our modern foods are causing so many health problems and offer accurate answers to healing. I knew that many artists were desperately trying to find solutions to serious career-threatening ailments, and had often exhausted all available resources. With the help of co-authors, Sally Fallon, international lecturer on nutrition and the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Dr. John Turner, DC, CCSP, DIBCN, the doctor who helped me with my recovery and has over 25 years of experience treating athletes, artists and the general public, I wrote a book called Performance without Pain (pub. 2006 by New Trends Publishing) and an acid reflux e-book called Acid Reflux: A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness: Achieving Lasting Healing with Traditional Foods.

I have given over 70 seminars since 2004 for the general public, performing artists and families with children who have Autism. Since then, I have had the opportunity to witness how powerful Dr. Price’s principles are in helping world-class singers permanently recover from acid-reflux. The following are two recent stories that chronicle recovery with traditional foods:

I am a successful, internationally acclaimed singer in my fourteenth year of singing professionally. In that time, I have often struggled, plagued with GERD or performance anxiety that resulted in a reduced performance capacity. Let me start from the beginning, though, before I became a singer.

I grew up poor in a small town in Indiana. I was blessed to live in an area where growing one’s own vegetables or going to local farmer’s markets was common. We drank powdered milk and ate lots of red meat, all of which was corn-fed. Wonder bread was a staple, but, luckily, junk food was an expensive indulgence, as was eating-out, so we seldom experienced either, although we had our fill of KoolAid. I was diagnosed at the age of seven with a nervous stomach, which I now believe was reflux. I avoided sausage and very spicy foods, which seemed to make we feel the worst, and didn’t think anything else about it. I was always a very high-strung person, with lots of energy, nervous and otherwise, and I attributed that to metabolism and personality.

Fast-forward to college, when I am finally singing on a daily basis. I experienced problems with lots of unfocused, frantic energy that made settling into singing difficult. I also panicked easily. I would experience my “nervous stomach” problems before important events, and would never really know when I would have trouble with my voice. Being an extremely determined person, I soldiered on and performed well by sheer willpower. I advanced and improved and managed to make it into Orlando Opera’s Resident Artists program. I shortly thereafter was admitted into the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. I had to complete my work with Orlando, which included many exhausting programs for children and adults, sometimes having three to four shows in one day. I snag myself into a vocal node, and was on vocal rest for almost two months, only talking for two minutes a day. The first time I sang in public again after the node was my house audition for the Lyric; thus began my vocal descent.

My node never healed, my “nervous stomach” got much worse, my range was erratic, my voice unpredictable, my nerves shot. People heard that I was in trouble, but attributed it to bad repertoire choices and tried to change my fach. I still had the same willpower, which did help me get through performances, but it wasn’t enough. I had my biggest successes during this time, but suffered from the fact that my voice wasn’t “stellar” like it used to be. On a day that I was in vocal distress, I visited an ENT in Portland who scoped my cords and informed me that the node I had contracted five years earlier had never healed, and the “nervous stomach” from which I had suffered was indeed GERD. Scared, shocked, and a bit relieved, I visited a famous doctor who specializes in vocal surgery, which was very successful. My surgery was very successful and my cords were perfect again, and there was no reason that I should struggle anymore. Yet, I still had GERD, which acid reflux medicine and the diet the doctors prescribed didn’t help, and it wasn’t consistent enough for me to want to be on a medication constantly. My nerves were still shot, also, and I was panicked beyond belief. I found a wonderful teacher and got into therapy, which helped enormously. I also had a baby, which tends to affect the voice in a positive way, but I still could not get rid of the GERD, so my top range was inconsistent, and my focus and nerves were spotty on the best days, like I couldn’t stop the constant stream of noise in my head.

I met Kathy Pirtle when I was a guest performer with the Orion Ensemble, of which she is a founder. She saw I was drinking a lot of water, and had mentioned that I had GERD, which is a bad combination. She talked to me about Weston Price and the book she herself had just written about her performing problems and the life-changing diet she discovered. At this point, I had tried everything, from vegetarianism to Atkins to South Beach to the Blood-type diet, so I was willing to try anything. I was terrified that such a high fat diet would make me blow up like a balloon, and I had just gotten rid of all the weight I had gained from giving birth, but I thought my voice and health were more important. From day one, I noticed that I was hungry on less, and felt vital. My mood calmed down and my nerves settled, so that I could focus and think while singing, which is something I was rarely able to do. Also, reflux was a thing of the past, as well as gas, which I thought was something with which all people had to deal. I also continued to lose weight, and didn’t bloat the way I used to at any hormonal times of the month. If I decided to cheat and eat lots of refined grains and sugars, I would bloat up again, quickly put on pounds, get gassy, and might have reflux that night, so the proof for me has been, so to speak, in the pudding. Now, I am happier in my singing than any other time in my life, and feel I finally have the stamina to do it.

Another huge reason I decided to take up the diet was because of my mother. She recently has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, high blood pressure, Atrial Fibrillation, plantar fasciatis, bone spurs, thickening of the uterus, and depression. It all started for her with GERD, which went unnoticed for fifty years. I knew if I did not do something, I could end up in that condition. It wasn’t all about my voice, it was about my quality of life after my singing career was through.

Here is another professional singer’s story of healing from acid-reflux through traditional foods:

When I was in my early 20’s, I remember having a ‘sensitive’ stomach but thinking it was dorm food in college or stress. I didn’t think much of it. My stomach would hurt but I didn’t have throat burning or excessive throat mucous. This was prior to the first surgery.

I had my first vocal surgery in 1992. I was 33. I had a varicosity on my left vocal cord that needed to be cauterized. They had no idea what caused it. They said it could’ve been overuse—hereditary—they weren’t sure. No one at that time mentioned acid reflux. I had been experiencing erratic vocal symptoms. Sometimes I felt great, strong, like I could sing anything and for extended periods of time. Other times I would experience quick fatigue, muscle tensions that I couldn’t control and tightness in the throat. I later learned it was from the varicosity, which would swell sometimes but not always. He thought it had probably been there a long time and was working it’s way to the surface of the cord. It eventually burst which was how I figured out what was wrong. I lost my singing voice entirely when that happened. It was like I suddenly went hoarse.

I had another vocal surgery in 1997 for a similar thing. This time I had a pollup on the left vocal cord but when they went in to take it off, they found more varicosities on the cord, which they again cauterized. At that time, my doctor mentioned that he thought I maybe had some acid reflux symptoms and suggested I go on some medication. I can’t remember which one it was—maybe Nexium? He said I could take it whenever I felt it was necessary so I messed around with it a little but didn’t feel like I wanted to get dependent and didn’t end up taking it. I didn’t really believe him because at that time I wasn’t experiencing throat burning or even upset stomach. This surgery was a surprise. I had been singing regularly and had been feeling great. He thought it was a ‘vocal accident’—just a fluke.

By 1999, I had started my own business and was having more severe problems. I would notice that certain foods seemed to trigger symptoms. I was experiencing painful upset stomach and lots of gas and burping. I tried to control it with eating blandly and eating more often in lesser amounts. This helped some. I was under a tremendous amount of stress at that time with a new business and trying to get pregnant with our second. We eventually ended up adopting. I was noticing that the acid reflux was sometimes affecting my endurance and my voice would tire more quickly. I also felt like I needed to clear my throat a lot which of course exacerbates the symptoms. I was in a vicious cycle and it was starting to mess with my head. I felt I had no control over my instrument and couldn’t rely on it. Sometimes it was fine. Other times I felt nothing but struggle. I was experiencing a mild form of depression because of it. I had fantasies of quitting entirely and just giving up.

By 2002, I needed another surgery. This time, I had had it. I worked with a vocal therapist who told me that acid reflux can cause varicosities on the vocal cords. I had always been against taking medication and so struggled with the idea of taking something every day. But the therapist said I needed to take it regularly or it wouldn’t work. It needed to build up in my system. After the surgery, I had barely been talking, let alone singing and one month later, another swelling appeared on the right vocal cord (first time on this side). I went into a tail spin. I decided to go on the medication to protect my voice. I also decided to wait and see if I could ‘heal’ the problem naturally. I just wasn’t ready for another surgery. I found a great voice teacher who helped me get back on track. I was singing better but still feeling some vocal symptoms that I couldn’t control. (Weird fluttering in my mid register was the most annoying and prominent). I decided to have a fourth surgery in 2004 to get rid of the pollup. At this surgery, he said the cords looked cleaner and there was less redness and varicose problems so I felt like the medication was helping. I still felt uneasy about being on it indefinitely though.

Since that time, I have read your book and have been following the recommendations (at least about 80% of the time). I have taken myself off the medication and my voice is healthier than it’s been in a long time. I feel like my range has diminished slightly but other than that, I’m in good shape. This may be due to the fact that I’m older and am not using the upper most part of my range as much as I did when I was singing more classical music. It may also be because I’m peri-menopausal—at least that is what my doctor has suggested. I like to think that it has nothing to do with that, but I’m not sure. Additionally, through eating this way, after suffering my whole life with debilitating back pain, my back is much better. I’m sure it’s all related. I have a ways to go but am doing what I can to get as healthy as I can. Your book, along with Sally’s and the Weston Price Foundation’s stuff has been an inspiration. I finally feel like I’m on the RIGHT track.

These are just a few examples of healing through traditional foods. Why did our food supply change? To better understand this, let’s first examine the drastic changes that occurred since the dawn of the profit-based industrial farming industry in the 1950s. The foods we are purchasing in our grocery stores today have almost no resemblance to the quality and types of foods that our ancestors ate for thousands of years. With profit as the sole guiding force, our livestock are fed unnatural diets, which are generating foods that are very low in nutrient value; we pasteurize, homogenize, irradiate and alter our fresh foods in countless ways; we use chemical fertilizers and spray our foods with insecticides and herbicides; the shelves of our grocery stores are bursting with processed junk food of all kinds and the average person is eating about 180 pounds of sugar a year.

Before the 1950s, most of our foods came from small family farms. These high quality foods came from animals eating their natural diets—cows ate grass, chickens ate bugs and worms and all fish were wild caught. The food from animals raised on their natural diet was nutrient-dense. The grains, nuts and seasonal vegetables and fruits were, of course, also naturally, or “organically,” grown. Sugar consumption was much less—at about 40 pounds a year per person. With the industrial farming industry, came dramatic changes in land use. As our livestock were now fed grains instead of their natural diets, much of the land that was formerly used for pasturing animals was now allotted for grain production.

Significantly, profit from grains was essential to this new system of farming. This ignited a huge push to make profit from products made from grains. Thus the processed food industry progressed, vegetable oils were developed, the cholesterol-heart disease theory evolved and the Food Pyramid, which emphasized grains, became our nation’s nutritional guide. We went from a country that primarily ate nutrient-dense foods—raw whole milk and milk products; eggs; high quality meats, poultry and organ meats; traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil; seasonal fruits and seasonal vegetables—to a country that ate a lot of nutrient-poor grains and new-fangled processed foods, refined sugar, vegetable oils, and meats, dairy and poultry that were factory farmed. Beginning in the 1970s, fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world also gradually became available year round.

How did these changes to our food supply affect my dietary choices? As a child in the 1960s, my family ate plenty of grains—both whole, refined and in some processed foods—modest amounts of meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, sugar and vegetable oils, including margarine, which was hydrogenated vegetable oil, and no butter or other traditional fats. I remember “Velveeta Cheese,” “Miracle Whip,” powdered milk (which my mother added to whole milk to make it stretch farther), “Blue-Bonnet” margarine, and many “new” sugarcoated breakfast cereals. All these exciting products had endless television commercials touting their wonderful attributes. My mom (thank goodness), having to stretch the family budget to feed 5 kids, did not let us have “Twinkies,” “Hostess Cupcakes” or other very popular—and expensive—snack cakes in our lunch like all the other kids—we got plain old, store bought, bargain cookies and fresh fruit.  I also remember the “bran cereal phase” where my mother heard that bran was really good for you—fiber was the “craze” in the early 1970s. We had bran breakfast cereal with added wheat germ every morning! My approach to “healthy eating” beginning in college in the late 1970s, did not include the “new-fangled” processed foods, but incorporated lots of salads, whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit, peanut butter (it was cheap), small amounts of meat, dairy and eggs, vegetable oils, little sugar and no “evil” traditional fats—the Food Pyramid was in full force in our country and the “key” to healthy eating.

The consequences of these dietary habits were profound. First, I learned that the lack of traditional fats contributed to my problems with digestion and nutrient absorption. Second, I developed malnourishment and a “leaky gut”—a factor in inflammatory conditions—because most of the foods I ate as a child and those I thought were so “nutritious” as an adult were difficult-to-digest, nutrient-poor, and created intestinal flora imbalances, an incomplete digestion of foods to occur and nutrients to be unavailable. In fact, without foods that promote a healthy intestinal flora, the whole grains that I consumed could not be fully digested, and contributed to the development of “gut dysbiosis,” where unhealthy bacteria thrive in the intestinal tract and cause bacterial fermentation and intestinal damage. When the intestinal tract become damaged, undigested proteins can “leak” through the intestinal wall, causing an immune system response and inflammatory chemicals to constantly circulate throughout the body. Third, the result of following the US high-fiber nutritional dictates was persistent flatulence and fermentation in the stomach from these bacterial imbalances, which lead to acid reflux—my first serious digestive disorder symptom.

Often, acid-reflux disease is a sign of a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach protrudes up through the esophagus and stomach acid can easily be released in the wrong direction. A lifetime of fermentation in my stomach produced a constant upward pressure against the esophagus due to the undigested foods being acted on by bacteria and yeast, thereby causing both of these ailments. Insoluble fiber is exceedingly difficult to digest, especially when digestion is not optimal, and historically, people consumed far less fiber in favor of more nutrient dense, easy-to-digest foods such as high quality dairy from grass-fed animals—raw milk, cream, cheese and butter—high quality meats and fish, bone broth soups and cooked vegetables with butter.

In a remarkable book by Konstantin Monastyrsky called Fiber Menace, (pub. by Ageless Press, 2005), the author describes major health problems that can develop from eating what’s considered a modern healthy diet high in insoluble fiber from grains, raw vegetables, fruits, legumes and even fiber supplements. He details how high-fiber diets cause large stools which stretch the intestinal tract beyond its normal range—eventually resulting in intestinal damage—and a drastic upset of the natural bacterial flora of the gut. The end results can manifest as hernias, acid-reflux, hemorrhoidal disease, constipation, malnourishment, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. He also provides numerous medical references to show that high fiber diets do not confer the benefits claimed for them.

The author of this book is a brilliant professional man who suffered a life-threatening illness from years as a vegetarian living on high-fiber foods. Konstantin Monastyrsky was trained as a pharmacologist, but after immigrating to the US from the Ukraine, pursued a career in high technology. He worked in two premier Wall Street firms: as a senior systems analyst at First Boston Corporation and as a consultant at Goldman-Sachs & Co. He has also written two best-selling books in Russian: Functional Nutrition: The Foundation of Absolute Health and Longevity, and Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism.

Monastyrsky explains that human teeth are fashioned to chop flesh and that our digestive system is built to handle mainly protein digestion, with only small amounts of fiber. When we eat too much insoluble fiber, digestion lasts longer and fermentation occurs, damaging the bacterial flora and causing problems such as bloating, flatulence and enlarged stools, leading to acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea, IBS and diverticular disease.

From eating a high fiber diet that encouraged poor intestinal bacterial flora, I also developed low acid in the stomach, further contributing to acid reflux. Where most research on poor digestion focuses on unhealthy intestinal flora, the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, Mmed (neurology), MmedSci (nutrition), (pub. by Medinform, 2004), uniquely points to many problems with gut flora actually beginning with an unnatural growth of the fungus, Candida Albicans, in the stomach when it is not producing enough acid. Dr. Campbell-McBride discusses that this overgrowth interferes with the first step of digestion by causing the stomach to produce inadequate amounts of the hydrochloric acid necessary to break proteins into “peptides” before entering the small intestine. For instance, under normal circumstances, the gluteomorphine and casomorphine proteins in wheat and milk are broken down in the stomach in the presence of proper amounts of stomach acid. However, with less stomach acid, these foods in fact begin to ferment in the stomach and are not broken down into peptides before passing into the small intestine. Besides causing an inadequate digestion of foods, the pressure of the gas created from this fermentation can lead to acid reflux, esophageal problems and even hiatal hernias, which are some of the most common digestive problems that people experience. Consequently, medications that curtail the production of stomach acid further exacerbate poor digestion and bacterial flora problems.

For those who worry about getting enough nutrients without eating raw vegetables and fruits, nutrient-dense animal foods contain concentrated nutrients because the animals spend their whole lives “chowing down” literally bushels of fresh green grass and other plant matter. The result is meat and fat containing all the vitamins and minerals found in fresh produce, not only in more concentrated form, but also one that is easy to digest.

In Fiber Menace, the author gives practical advice not to eat anything that your great, great, great, great grandparents wouldn’t eat . . . but when our grandparents did include high-fiber foods like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables in their diets, they could do this without ill effects because they had a healthy intestinal flora from eating cultured beverages and fermented foods, and they knew how to properly prepare legumes and grains for easy digestibility through soaking, sprouting and sour leavening or, in the case of vegetables and even many fruits, by cooking.  Additionally, they were able to eat these foods because they did not weaken the intestinal mucosal tissue by following a low-fat vegetarian diet.

It is wise to refrain from consuming raw vegetables and fruit until acid reflux symptoms are well under control for an extended period of time. After a full recovery, it may be possible to add small amounts of these foods providing symptoms do not return. The addition of grains, however, should be very cautious, as they may be difficult to tolerate or produce allergic reactions. It is best to only test properly prepared grains.

If you are concerned about constipation, some of the healthiest cultures had very little fiber in their diets. A diet with adequate traditional fats, fermented and cultured foods and beverages for a healthy intestinal flora, and easy-to-digest bone-broth soups will correct irritable bowel symptoms of both constipation and diarrhea.
Acid reflux is a very complicated problem that requires a thorough and honest assessment of all possible causes. As the optimal health of every body system is dependent on nutrition that supports the proper functioning of the digestive system, certainly studying and applying the essential components of the diets of cultures that had perfect health is a wise endeavor.

Although finding high-quality foods and changing your diet may at first be complicated, your health is your most important asset. Without your health, you may not reach your potential and your dreams may not become a reality. The foods that Dr. Price found that supported optimal human health are not the foods that are currently recommended by US governmental standards for healthy eating. However, these nutrient-dense foods were the permanent answer to correcting malnourishment, healing acid reflux and my digestive tract, and therefore, my long-term pain. The exciting news is there is a growing movement of people across the country that is turning to these same foods to improve chronic illness of all kinds.

Written By Kathryne Pirtle

Kathryne Pirtle is a world-class clarinetist whose career nearly ended because of performance difficulties caused by celiac disease, acid reflux, chronic inflammation and other health problems. Performance without Pain, written with Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and John Turner, DC tells the story of her trials and recovery.   As a health educator, she has given more than 70 workshops around the country with Dr. John Turner and appeared on numerous radio and television shows.  She has been published in the Autism File Global, Advance Magazine (a publication for Physical Therapy), Wise Traditions, International Musician, the Clarinet and writes a blog on her website about issues relating to building health with nutrient-dense foods. She has also just published an e-book called Acid Reflux, A National Epidemic and Precursor to Chronic Illness—Achieving Lasting Healing with Nutrient-Dense Foods.

Pirtle is executive director of the Orion Ensemble, which gives three concert series in Metropolitan Chicago, presents a live internationally broadcast series on Chicago’s WFMT-FM Fine Arts Radio Network and tours throughout North America. She is also is principal clarinetist of the Lake Forest Symphony and frequently performs with the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival, The Ravinia Festival Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

The Asthma Epidemic–The Acid Reflux connection

Asthma is one of the serious epidemics we are seeing in our population. Since just 1995, the number of diagnosed cases of this illness has jumped from 14.9 million to 34.1 million! Although one would assume this jump is a direct result of toxins in the air, this is not the underlying cause in many cases. You may be surprised to learn that 41.1% of non-smokers who have a chronic cough and 60% of those who have asthma also have acid reflux!

How does acid reflux cause asthma? First, the refluxed liquid may cause people to inhale tiny drops of acid into their lungs thus aggravating the delicate pulmonary lining and initiating spasms in the airways triggering an asthma attack. Second, the digestive acid may damage the esophageal lining and expose some of the nerves that are connected to the lungs. The irritation of the nerve endings can create a constriction of airways, thereby causing an asthma attack. Additionally, the acid can cause inflammation of the throat and larynx. To make things even more complicated, some asthma medications that dilate the bronchial tubes can produce acid reflux symptoms as they may cause the cardiac sphincter to relax—allowing acid to escape up through the esophagus. Therefore, treating the symptoms of asthma without looking at the possibility of acid reflux is like holding your finger over the hole of a sinking boat!

If the acid reflux issues are symptomatically treated with yet more medications, there may be a risk for serious long-term health issues. Acid reflux is most often treated with acid-lowering drugs.  However, the true source of most acid reflux problems is a Candida, or yeast overgrowth, in the stomach that is actually caused by low acid in the stomach itself! A yeast overgrowth slows down digestion and foods will ferment under these conditions. As Candida will also paralyze the esophageal sphincter, the gases from the fermentation push the food up through the weakened esophageal muscles.

Because candida only grows in low acid conditions in the first place–acid lowering drugs are going to further compromise digestion. As Candida proliferates,  it can promote severe dysbiosis, or poor intestinal flora. With poor intestinal flora, foods are not digested properly, nutrients are not absorbed, intestinal damage is forthcoming and eventually malnourishment will occur. Besides compromised nutrient absorption, intestinal damage causes leaky gut, which can initiate allergic tendencies such as asthma!  Therefore, one problem incorrectly treated cascades into more problems.

If we can find the source of the asthma and acid reflux epidemic, we will have the answer to help millions of people. Both asthma and acid reflux have grown exponentially since the industrialization of our food supply that spurred the creation of processed, denatured and low-nutrient foods. Before this time, most people’s diets included foods that were high in nutrients and supported good digestion like meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals and cultured dairy and vegetables like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and pickled beets. They also ate ample traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil and foods with natural sources of vitamins A and D like cod liver oil, liver and egg yolks, which are necessary for good digestion and nutrient absorption. With good digestion and a nutrient-rich diet, a person will diminish the probability of suffering from an illness like acid reflux, allergies and it’s related condition–asthma.

By returning to traditional farming and the foods that our ancestors ate, we will diminish the exponential growth of illnesses rooted in poor digestion. If we can move from the symptomatic treatment of asthma to solving the problem, we will help to support better health for generations to come.

For more information building health and treating acid reflux and its related illnesses such as asthma with nutrient-dense foods, see our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Natural Remedies for GERD/Acid Reflux–are they effective?

There are mountains of books on natural healing from digestive disorders. Considering that 1 in five people have GERD/acid reflux–the mountain of information does seem necessary. In most circles, an illness that affects 1 in 5 people would surely be considered an epidemic! I have gleaned all the health books that have natural remedies and have compiled a good list below. While all of these are helpful for healing the symptoms, they do not address the fact that with a digestive disorder there is serious long-term malnourishment. These books also do not ask the question, “Why do we have an exponential increase in acid reflux in our population?” Or–“Is acid reflux a precursor to other degenerative illnesses?” If we look at the two profound statements of leaders in the study of optimal human health; that “All diseases begin in the gut,” of Hippocrates and “All disease is caused from malnourishment,” of Dr. Weston A. Price, we can begin to ascertain the magnitude of the acid reflux epidemic and see that we are probably at the brink of a health disaster unless we begin changing our food supply. A nutrient-dense, traditional foods diet is an effective approach to healing symptoms and the underlying cause of acid reflux/GERD. When you purchase traditionally raised foods from small farms dedicated to bringing you the highest quality foods, you vote with your wallet! (For sources of nutrient-dense foods see

Good Suggestions:
• Eat small, frequent meals
• Eat slowly
• Follow an anti-Candida diet
• Take enzymes and probiotics
• Eat fermented foods
• Eat an easy-to-digest diet
• Cut down on simple carbohydrates
• Cabbage juice, celery juice potato juice may be helpful
• Aloe Vera juice may be helpful for healing
• Helpful herbs: slippery elm, ginger, marshmallow root, licorice, bladderwrack, chamomile, fennel seed, lemon balm and turmeric, cumin, meadowsweet
• Orange peel extract may be helpful
• Papaya and papaya juice may be helpful
• Bitters may help digestion
• Colostrum may help to boost the immune system
• Raw honey and cinnamon before bed may be helpful
• MSM and Zinc Carnosine helps heal damaged tissue in stomach and intestinal lining (never found bone broth as a remedy, which will do the same thing much more effectively)
• Acupressure may be helpful
• Wear loose clothing
• Minimize stress
• Meditation is helpful
• Regular exercise is helpful
• Sleep 8 hours
• Elevate you bed
• Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
• Avoid allergenic foods
• Avoid grains
• Avoid vegetables that produce gas
• Avoid high-fiber foods
• Avoid fried foods
• Avoid juices and citrus fruits (except lemon)
• Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, mint and mint flavorings
• Avoid spicy foods
• Avoid microwaving, food additives, vegetable oils and nutrient-poor foods
• Avoid NSAIDS and antibiotics
• Avoid smoking

For more information on a healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods, see our e-book on acid reflux and Performance without Pain.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle