How To Fix Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) & Heartburn*
“All diseases begin in the gut” - Hippocrates
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) isn’t really a ‘disease’, but a functional disorder of the stomach and lower esophagus. GERD or heartburn can manifest as:
- Pain in the stomach,chest or throat
- Burping,bloating and gas
What is Happens?
When we eat,food passes into the stomach via the esophagus,where a ring of muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) prevents food from backing up into the esophagus.When this doesn’t happen,foods and acid can back up, causing symptoms.Statistics show 1 in 10 Americans experience GERD or heartburn at least once a week.Triggers can be obesity,smoking,alcohol,pregnancy,certain foods,and some prescription medicines.
Standard Medical Treatments
Although weight loss and avoidance of trigger foods (spices,tomatoes,citrus,caffeine,etc) can be suggested,most conventional treatment revolves around drugs.These fall into 3 main categories:
- OTC medicines(Tums,Rolaids,Pepto-?Bismol,Mylanta,Maalox,etc)
- H2 antagonists(Pepcid,Tagamet,Zantac,etc)
- Proton Pump Inhibitors(PPIs) Prilosec,Nexium,Prevacid,Protonix,etc)
With nearly $14 billion in sales,they rank as the 3rd highest selling drugs in the U.S.,with PPIs leading the way.However according to the SF Department of Public Health,up to 69% of these may not be necessary.
Serious Side Effects
These drugs come with side effects like constipation,hair loss,bad breath,diarrhea,depression, joint pain,opportunistic infections such as candida and clostridium difficile(1),as well as mineral deficiency and osteoporosis.In fact,a recent study found that people taking PPIs for 1 year or more increased their risk of hip fracture by 44% (2). However if untreated,issues can arise such a dental problems,ulcers and Barrett’s esophagus (precancerous tissue). Although knowing your triggers can be preventive, it’s important to know your REAL CAUSES.So what do you do?
What’s REALLY Going On? Restore Normal Gut Function
Drugs may be useful short-?term.However all interfere with normal digestive function. Many physicians don’t realize the problem is NOT hydrochloric acid (HCL) excess, which we need to ionize and absorb minerals,disinfect pathogens and stimulate gallbladder/pancreatic enzyme release.The acids causing symptoms are metabolic waste acids due to food fermentation from a lack of sufficient HCL production. This can be proven with a Heidelberg Gastric Analyzer in a clinic.
Ultimately,we need to restore normal nerve signaling between the brain and stomach through the vagus nerve located in our brainstem.What causes the weak communication? Turns out that inflammation (from stress,poor diet,infections,smoking,weight gain,etc) dampen the area in the brain responsible for telling the stomach to secrete a normal amount of HCL (through the parietal cells). Guess what doesn’t happens with chronic,low HCL production? You get esophageal sphincter relaxation,and then bingo, hello reflux!
The 5-Step GERD/Heartburn Fix
- Soothe gastric/esophageal irritation:using time-tested demulcent herbs like marshmallow root, slippery elm,plantain and deglycyrrhizinated licorice, also known as DGL (code: DGL4). Can be taken as capsules or a tea several times a day for a few days to weeks.
- Rule out H.Pylori infection (bacteria responsible for most gastric ulcers) through stool,blood,saliva or breath test with your licensed healthcare professional.
- Rule out a hiatal hernia.Severe cases require surgery,but most are mild and easily fixed by a specific manual therapy (chiropractor or osteopath). It may take several visits to stabilize.Also consider yoga stomach vacuum exercises,which greatly help the abdominal organs.
- Take plant-sourced digestive enzymes with cooked meals.This helps support normal digestive process along with eating more raw foods(note:you may need to blend/puree raw foods initially if any gastric upset). We like Digestive Enzymes Ultra (code: DIG32).
- Add 1-3 teaspoons of raw,organic apple cider vinegar after meals or take Betaine HCL Pepsin (code: BET15). If you feel improvement of symptoms, most will need to supplement with Betaine HCL Pepsin capsules to normalize digestion and relieve symptoms. Yes, this is REAL hydrochloric acid. Start at 1 capsule and slowly work up to 2 or 3 capsules with each cooked meal.If you have any digestive upset,simply reduce dosage or you may need a longer period of the demulcent/soothing herbs.
In addition,you may want to try these long-?term lifestyle changes:
- Eat earlier in evening.Wait at least 2 hours after dinner before going to bed.
- Chew your food well!
- Take 2 caps of a quality probiotic like Probiotic G.I. (code: PGI6) upon arising in the morning.
- Eat in a relaxed environment and avoid TV while eating.
- Drink no more than 1 glass of beverage with meals(dilutes digestive juices).
- Eat more fruits and veggies.These help alkalize the body and normalize pH.
- Try chewing on a piece of orange or tangerine peel (outer rind), which contains natural limonene and helps digestion.
Lifestyle,dietary and nutritional changes have proven highly successful for reflux disorders in our practice at www.healthquestforme.com
for many years.Please consult your licensed healthcare professional before starting any treatments. DGL
(as DGL Plus), Betaine HCL Pepsin
, and Digestive Enzymes Ultra
can be purchased on our website's Virtual Pharmacy at 20% off
. If this is your first time to the pharmacy, click on the website's main rotating banner photo showing 'Your Virtual Pharmacy', or on 'Find Out More' under the Virtual Pharmacy paragraph, which is just under the main rotating banner photos. Either one will get you to the welcome sign-in page. Simply enter the required information in the boxes to set up your secure and private account. Once approved you sign in and then search by product name, product code (if known), or manufacturer. All are made by Pure Encapsulations. Discounts are applied at checkout.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose,treat,cure or prevent any disease.
1)Amy Linsky, MD, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risk for Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection. Arch Intern Med 2010 May 170(9):772-?778.
2)Yang YX, et al. Long-?term proton-?pump inhibitor therapy and risk of hip fracture. JAMA.2006 Dec27; 296(24): 2947-?53.