Treating or preventing reflux esophagitis may be as simple as supplementing traditional acid suppression treatment with an antioxidant extract of the wormwood herb Artemisia asiatica.
Reflux esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus caused by regurgitation of the stomach contents, or acid reflux. The condition is more commonly recognized by its symptom of heartburn which reportedly affects 10% of American adults every day.
Currently the treatment of reflux esophagitis is mostly based on the suppression of acid. Therapy with readily available antioxidants such as vegetables and fruits may help prevent and treat the condition, researchers noted.
Investigators surgically induced reflux esophagitis in 60 rats and divided them into four different groups: one that received no treatment; two that were pretreated with 30 milligrams (mg) and 100 mg, respectively, of the oral antioxidant; and one that received the traditional Zantac treatment. A fifth group that was not subjected to reflux disease was used for comparison.
The antioxidant treatment, as opposed to the traditional drug therapy, decreased the severity of reflux disease and was more protective against ulceration and inflammation of the esophagus. The best results were seen in rats that received 100 mg of the antioxidant.
For example, 80% of the rats that received no treatment developed large ulcers in the lower and middle parts of the esophagus, compared with 27% of the rats that received 30 mg of antioxidant treatment and 20% of the rats that received 100 mg of the antioxidant, the report indicates. In contrast, nearly two thirds of the rats that received the acid suppressant developed ulcers.
Rats treated with the antioxidant also exhibited greater evidence of healing in the affected areas of the esophagus and less cell damage than did the rats treated with ranitidine.
The rat model is unlike human reflux disease, particularly because "humans do extremely well on acid suppression," one of the authors noted
Gut September 2001;49:364-371