Barrett's esophagus natural treatment and prevention with herbs, vitamins and supplements, dietary intervention and nutritional therapy
June 2 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which cells that line the esophagus become abnormal, which may progress to esophageal cancer. People with Barrett's esophagus have a significantly increased risk of developing cancer of the esophagus. There seems to be a benefit from the use of fish oils, vitamins and certain herbs in preventing or reducing the risk of esophageal cancer in those who have this condition. Increased intake of vegetables and fruits is associated with a lower risk of Barrett's esophagus in men and women.
   Fish oils, berries, vitamin supplements and wine may be helpful for those with Barrett's esophagus in the form of prevention and perhaps treatment.

Diet and food advice
I have been diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus, a more advanced form of GERD. What conventional treatments and natural products do you recommend? What about using prickly pear. What alternative treatment remedies are there?
   Eating more berries, more fish, and fish oil supplements are good options.

Obesity as one cause, role of exercise
Excessive abdominal fat increases the risk of Barrett's esophagus. Those  who are obese are at a significantly increased risk.
Being tall may reduce the risk of esophageal cancer and its precursor, Barrett's esophagus, a study suggests, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, news release, Sept. 25, 2014.

BMC Gastroenterol. 2014. Physical activity is associated with reduced risk of esophageal cancer, particularly esophageal adenocarcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Fish oils may prevent or reduce the risk of Barrett's esophagus, food and diet
You may consider eating more fish or taking fish oil capsules.

Effect of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on Barrett's epithelium in the human lower esophagus
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008. Samir P Mehta, Alex P Boddy, Jane Cook, Elizabeth K Lund, Ian T Johnson. From the Department of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery (SPM, APB, JC, and MR) and the Department of Histopathology (VS), Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, United Kingdom, and the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, United Kingdom
Epidemiologic studies suggest a reduced risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in populations with a high consumption of fish, and n–3 fatty acids inhibit experimental carcinogenesis. One possible explanation is the suppression of eicosanoid production through inhibition of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2). The objective was to determine the effects of dietary supplementation with the n–3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on a number of biological endpoints in Barrett's esophagus. Fifty-two participants with known Barrett's esophagus underwent endoscopy. Biopsy samples were obtained from a recorded level within the area of Barrett's esophagus, and then 27 patients were randomly assigned to consume EPA capsules (1.5 g/d) for 6 mo or no supplement (controls). The EPA content of esophageal mucosa increased over the study period in the n–3–supplemented subjects and was significantly different from the content in the controls. There was also a significant decline in COX-2 protein concentrations.

Black raspberries may prevent cancer of esophagus
Black raspberries added to the diet of animals inhibits the development of chemically induced cancer of the mouth, esophagus and colon, chiefly by decreasing DNA damage, and cancerous cell growth and markers of harmful oxidative stress. Dr. Laura A. Kresty from Ohio State University, Columbia had 20 men and women with Barrett's esophagus eat 30 to 45 grams of concentrated freeze-dried black raspberries daily for six months. The patients had a  decline in average levels of 8-Isoprostane in urine - a marker for oxidative stress - as well as in DNA damage. In about a third of the Barrett's esophagus patients, the black raspberry regimen also led to an increase in expression of tissue levels of a key enzyme called GSTpi, which detoxifies cancer-causing compounds. This enzyme is often reduced in irritated Barrett's tissue.
   Comments: It is quite likely that other berries would offer similar benefits.

Vitamin supplements and Barrett's esophagus
Dietary supplement use and risk of neoplastic progression in esophageal adenocarcinoma: a prospective study.
Nutr Cancer. 2008. Cancer Prevention Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
We evaluated the association between use of supplemental vitamins and minerals and risk of neoplastic progression of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. The Seattle Barrett's Esophagus Program is a prospective study based on 339 men and women with histologically confirmed Barrett's esophagus. Participants underwent baseline and periodic follow-up exams, which included endoscopy and self-administered questionnaires on diet, supplement use, and lifestyle characteristics. Use of multivitamins and 4 individual supplements was calculated using time-weighted averages of reported use over the observational period. During a mean follow-up of 5 yr, there were 37 cases of EA, 42 cases of tetraploidy, and 34 cases of aneuploidy. After controlling for multiple covariates including diet, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, obesity, and smoking, participants who took 1 or more multivitamin pills/day had a significantly decreased risk of tetraploidy and EA compared to those not taking multivitamins. Significant inverse associations were also observed between risk of EA and supplemental vitamin C and vitamin E. In this cohort study, use of multivitamins and single antioxidant supplements was associated with a significantly reduced risk of EA and markers of neoplastic progression among individuals with Barrett's esophagus.

Drinking wine may help
Having a glass of wine a day may lower the risk of developing a disorder Barrett's esophagus. How wine helps is unclear. Dr. Al Kubo, from Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California, and colleagues compared 320 patients with Barrett's esophagus to a similar number of people with other conditions as well as healthy individuals. The researchers found that overall alcohol use was not significantly associated with Barrett's esophagus. However, wine specifically did have a protective effect. Wine contains certain compounds such as polyphenols that could reduce damage to the esophagus. Alternatively, drinking wine could represent a proxy for some other lifestyle factor that has a beneficial impact. Compared to people who did not drink, those who drank seven or more glasses of wine per week were 66 percent less likely to develop Barrett's esophagus. Higher education was also linked to a lower risk, Kubo and colleagues found. Gastroenterology, March 2009.

Esophageal cancer and carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks may raise the risk of esophageal cancer. A team at Tata Memorial Hospital in India found a strong correlation between the rise in per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the past 50 years and a documented increase in rates of esophageal cancer in the United States. Team members studied U.S. Department of Agriculture data to find that per capita consumption of carbonated drinks rose by more than 450 percent, from 10 gallons on average in 1946 to 49 gallons in 2000. And over the past 25 years, the incidence of esophageal cancer has risen by more than 570 percent in white American men. The number of esophageal cancer cases clearly followed the rise in intake of carbonated soft drinks, the researchers found.

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011. Epidemiologic risk factors for esophageal cancer development. In retrospective studies of esophageal cancer (EC), cigarettes and hookah smoking, nass use (a chewing tobacco product), opium consumption, hot tea drinking, poor oral health, low intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and low socioeconomic status have been associated with a higher risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Barrett's esophagus is clearly recognized as a risk factor for EC, and dysplasia remains the only factor useful for identifying patients at increased risk, for the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma in clinical practice.

Questions and correspondence

I was diagnosed with Barrett esophagus and my Dr prescribed Nexium 40mg PO qd - It seems like I tolerate the med but sometime I have abdominal cramping for 2 or 3 hours “that kill me”... The cramping is not daily, sometime I take the pill and everything is fine, on other day I would have cramping.. I talked to my Dr and he said to switch to Aciphex. He did not say anything else about my occasional abdominal pain .I went back -on my own- to Nexium because I got constipated with Aciphex. I stopped drinking wine, eating tomato, onions, garlic, spicy food. The only thing I could not stop is my 2 cups of coffee in the morning and occ. some chocolate