I've been dealing with GERD for almost 2 years, and actively dealing with it (doctor's visits, tests, PPIs) for about 4 months. Here's what I've learned:
1. The standard lifestyle formulas help me little to none! I tried limiting my diet as recommended (chocolate, caffeine, mint, alcohol, spicy foods, etc.), raising the head of my bed (I don't get reflux at night after my dinner is digested, and I've never woken up from it). I exercise 6 times a week and am not overweight. I'm 29 years old (female). I had had an iron stomach and never had heartburn in my life until Jan. 2004, when I started getting it more and more frequently.
2. PPIs didn't help at all! I was on 40 mg of Nexium daily, with occasional Tums as needed. When I accidentally didn't take my Nexium one day, I realized that I felt exactly the same, so I stopped taking it. I realized the only help it had given me was psychological. My symptoms were burning in stomach and chest 2-3 times a week, and general gnawing chest pain and belching every time I ate. (Treated for H.Pylori, with no avail). The doctor could only suggest greater doses of drugs, which I don't want to do since I want to have a baby within the next year or so, and can't be on drugs if I'm pregnant.
Over the last two weeks, I've been keeping a log of everything I eat and researching exhaustively on the web. I cut out all wheat and dairy, took a magnesium supplement once a day, and started each morning with a tablespoon of fresh ginger juice. (I'm hesitant to try any unproven alternative remedies such as DGL, because I know people have had adverse affects.)
I feel much better! Generally 80-90% well. Heartburn is gone, chest pain lasts only a few minutes after eating (though I still burp more than average). So something I'm doing is working, I just don't know what yet. It's even possible that due to these dietary limitations, I'm eating fewer carbs and Dr. Norm's supposition is correct. I'm going to reintroduce wheat and then dairy gradually at the end of this week, and keep track of any effects.
I just want to give support to those who are suffering. It's clear to me that this condition is NOT well understood, and manifests itself differently in different people. Clearly the standardized treatment doesn't work for everyone, and we shouldn't have to put up with the general state of ignorance for the rest of our lives. I hope everyone reading this can find the solution that works for them.