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25-05-2003 | General practice | Article

Gastroenterology: Chewing gum reduces acid reflux


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Chewing gum after eating may help to reduce gastroesophageal reflux, results presented at the Digestive Disease Week in Orlando, Florida, USA, suggest.

"Chewing gum stimulates the flow of saliva and initiates primary peristalsis," Angela Anggiansah, from King's College London, UK, and colleagues note.

They postulated that gum-induced peristalsis would reduce the volume of reflux after a meal, and that any remaining acid in the esophagus would be diluted and neutralized by the saliva.

To test the hypothesis, 21 individuals with reflux were starved for 4 hours before being given a standard refluxogenic meal on two different days. On one occasion the participants were asked to chew gum for half an hour after eating.

Monitoring pH for 2 hours after eating, the team found that the average and median esophageal pH values were less than 4 for 9.2% and 5.8% of this time, respectively, but just 4.7% and 3.6% of the time when patients used chewing gum.

The authors therefore conclude: "Chewing a piece of gum for half an hour after a refluxogenic meal significantly reduced acid exposure in the esophagus during the postprandial period in these subjects."

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