Heartburn and GERD

You might be surprised to learn that “heartburn” and GERD (gastroesophagael reflux disease) are primarily caused by having TOO LITTLE stomach acid and NOT by too much.

Look at the most prominent displays in pharmacies and you see the most frequently sold products. These are pain and high blood pressure medications and acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPI).

The mainstream approach to treat heartburn and GERD involves antacid drugs for as long as these problems occur. These drugs don’t address the underlying cause and may make it worse. People who start taking them usually take them for the rest of their lives.

For a perfect digestion, nature provides us with a highly acid stomach environment. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) breaks down food and proteins, kills bacteria and prepares the digestion for the intestines. Digestion plays an important role in our immune and overall health system.

Young people normally don’t complain about heartburn or reflux disease. The problems usually start around our 40’s. After we have mistreated our stomach for many years, we finally get the message  “please stop eating in a hurry, please chew well, don’t have heavy meals late at night”.
We know that being overweight, eating too much fat, sweets, refined carbohydrates, consuming too many chemicals in food, drugs, caffeine, alcohol, plus a stressful lifestyle contributes to digestive problems. Doctors then tell us that there is too much acid in the stomach and we need medications.

We take them without knowing if there is really too much or too little acid that causes the problem.  Millions of people who are on these drugs were never tested for the acid level in the stomach even though there is an easy and accurate test.  A radio telemetry transmission device called the Heidelberger capsule has been available for years.

Many studies done during recent years show evidence that the main cause of heartburn and reflux disease is caused by a combination of  reduced stomach acid, increased intra-abdominal pressure, bacterial overgrowth and malfunction of the muscular valve that separates the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach (LES). (www.Dr. Wright “Why stomach acid is good for you”).

Of course drug companies who make billions of dollars by selling antacids and PPI drugs are not motivated to learn about treatments that don’t need these drugs.  It is important that PPI’s drugs were originally intended only for short term use!

In natural and herbal medicine, it is known that production of stomach acid is reduced  especially in elderly people and therefore stimulation and support of the digestive system is necessary for treatments.

Stomach problems must be addressed through lifestyle changes, including diet, weight, stress and sleep regulations and sufficient water intake during the day. In addition the use of bitter herbs i.g. gentian root, ginger, wormwood, dandelion etc. are recommended.Swedish Bitters, a combination of 10 herbs, is an excellent digestive aid and also supports the liver function.

The use of apple cider vinegar is easy, simple, and inexpensive. Take 1 – 2 teaspoon in 6 or 8 oz glass of water before each meal. I know many people who could solve their heartburn and reflux problems just with this simple method.

If someone cannot tolerate the taste of the vinegar or it is not helpful, there is a synthetic supplement called betaine hydrochloric acid (HCL) or HCL in combination with pepsin to improve the digestive function overall (be careful with HCL products if you take NSAIDs or Steroids). If these simple measures help you, you know without a test that your stomach problem is not caused by too much acid!

In the next article I will write more about the hidden causes of heartburn and GERD, its relation to intestinal problems (IBS) and natural solutions for treatments.

Information contact Barbara Rotthaler, German certified Naturopath, www. ChapalaHealth.com, barbararotthaler@gmail.com, phone  (376) 10 80 444, Riberas de Pilar.

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