Have you become accustomed to daily digestive issues like heartburn, acid reflux disorder or ulcers?
Do you think they’re normal? No big deal? Not really too much to worry about?
What is normal anyway?
Years ago my Doctor prescribed me an acid blocker after complaining of a burning sensation and pain in my stomach.
“How long do I stay on this?” I asked
With a shrug of his shoulders, he replied, “Most people stay on them forever. ” As if to say no big deal.
But it is a big deal… Heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux issues are large warning signs that the digestive system is not running the way it should.
Proton pump inhibitors (acid blockers) rank among the top 10 prescribed classes of drugs and are commonly used to treat acid reflux, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. Doctors proclaim that these symptoms are a side effect of producing too much acid and that the only answer is to take a proton pump inhibitor or chew tums all day long.
Sadly what we aren’t told are the detrimental effects of these prescriptions, inluding; impaired nutrient absorption, increased risk for cardiovascular events, kidney disease, dementia and an altered gut environment. More specifically other complications of PPIs include significantly greater risks of developing pneumonia, Clostridium difficile (C diff) infection and magnesium, iron or vitamin B12 malabsorption, as well as a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia that may lead to excessive bleeding (Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, Jul. 2013).
Now this being said, I understand that when you’re suffering with the pain of an ulcer or severe heartburn you simply don’t give a shit about repercussions – you just want to take a magic pill that will make it all go away. That’s all fine and dandy for short term relief but you must also see it as a symptom of a larger issue that needs to be addressed. In most cases easily through diet and supplementation.
Acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, or nausea after eating are signs you very likely have a stomach acid issue. Here is the scary part it is more than likely due to LOW stomach acid not high! Pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe otherwise since actually addressing and healing the issue would mean that one of their top prescribed drugs in north America would no longer be needed. Here is what is most likely happening when you are experiencing acid reflux…
“It’s a condition related more commonly to hiatal hernia – a condition in which the acid is coming out of your stomach, where it’s supposed to remain.
After food passes through your esophagus into your stomach, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes, preventing food or acid to move back up. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the LES relaxes inappropriately, allowing acid from your stomach to flow (reflux) backward into your esophagus. Heartburn is the primary symptom of acid reflux — a burning sensation that radiates up from your stomach to your chest and throat.” Dr. Mercola
Before you flush those PPI’s down the toilet and set fire to your Tums, you must start by addressing any underlying infections, digestive issues and food intolerances whilst weaning yourself off them slowly. Otherwise you are likely to get a rebound effect and experience terrible reflux.
The most common gut infection found in people with ulcers is Helicobacter pylori.
The vast majority of people infected with H. pylori have no symptoms and will never develop problems. However, H. pylori can cause a chronic low-level inflammation of the stomach lining and can cause a number of digestive problems, including ulcers and, much less commonly, stomach cancer. It is responsible, or at least a major factor, for producing many of the symptoms of acid reflux.
The best way to test for H.pylori is through a breath test with your doctor. It is most commonly treated with antibiotics but there are very successful herbal treatments that have shown to be just as effective and much safer. Mastic gum – a resinous extract from the Pistacia lentiscus tree has been shown in a recent study to apparently inhibit growth of H. pylori as well as act as an antibiotic against the bacterium.
Increase your acid
Like I said earlier, and in case you are still in disbelief about acid reflux being caused by too little acid – Try taking a supplement called Betaine Hydrochloric with pepsin supplement, which is available in health food stores without prescription. You’ll want to take as many as you need until you get the slightest burning sensation and then decrease by one capsule. This will help your body to better digest your food, and will also help kill the helicobacter and normalize your symptoms. You can also add in a full spectrum digest enzyme to help you break down food and assist in absorption of nutrients. One of my favorite brands is Designs for Health, Digestzymes or Now, Super Enzymes both of which contain HCL and pepsin.
In my practice I have found that majority cases of heartburn are caused by food sensitivities and a change diet quickly eliminates the problem. The top two food culprits are gluten and dairy. Try eliminating for 3 weeks minimum to see if this is the problem.