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, if you can find one.
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, toxins, stress, 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 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 Plus. Can be taken as capsules or a tea several times a day for a few days to weeks.
- Rule out H.Pylori or strep infections (bacteria responsible for most gastric ulcers) through stool, blood, or breath test with your licensed healthcare professional. I've found most pateints with reflux have upper GI infection, whether they realize it or not! Great support options include Berberine Complex caps or GastroMend-HP. Take either as directed on bottle. These two products are gentle and well-tolerated by most. For a personalized regime, call or email for an appointment with Dr. Barsten.
- 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 a specific yoga stomach exercise, which greatly help the abdominal organs, called Uddyana Bandha. Check youtube for various videos showing you how to do this.
- Take a full-spectrum, non-acidic digestive enzyme with 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). I like Digestive Enzymes Ultra. (Pure Encapsulations). This can be taken long-term with complete safety and confidence, as it helps support all known digestive processes, without becoming dependent. Another option is a short trial of Betaine HCL Pepsin (Pure Encapsulations or Thorne Research) for a couple weeks. Try 1 - 2 caps near the end of each meal. If you are sensitive, start with only 1 cap. If you feel improvement of symptoms, gradually transition after 2-3 weeks to using only the Digestive Enzymes Ultra caps. If you have any digestive upset with the HCL, simply stop or reduce dosage, or you may need a longer period of the demulcent/soothing herbs (DGL Plus caps).
- Eat less fat and oils to take the load off the liver and gallbladder (even if you had yours removed, you still have the common bile duct and the associated nerve and lymph vessels). So whatever fats or oils you eat, including healthy ones, cut them by 50-75%. Some people require a fat-free diet for a month or two to get acid reflux under control. This is one of the secrets to truly resolving acid reflux/GERD, and heartburn. Maintain this indefinitely for best results. A complimentary and powerful digestive option for the liver and gallbladder is Ultra Liver Support (by Douglas Labs). Take as directed on the bottle.
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! Nearly everybody chews too fast and not enough.
- Eat in a relaxed environment and avoid TV while eating.
- Drink no more than a half glass of any beverage with meals (it dilutes digestive juices).
- Eat more fruits and veggies.These help alkalize the body and normalize pH.
- Try proper 'food combining': Fruit at least 30 minutes before or 2 hours after meals, avoid all starch & protein combinations at the same meal. Fruits may be combined with leafy greens (example: spinach and fruit blended in a smoothie or juiced).
- Try chewing on a piece of orange or tangerine peel (outer rind), which contains natural limonene and helps digestion.
- Drink 16+ oz. of fresh-squeezed celery juice each morning, on an empty stomach, at lest 20 minutes before any other liquid or food. According to Anthony William, the NY Times five-time best selling author of Medical Medium, it contains numerous mineral salts that re-invigorate the gastric cells to enable normal production of HCL. Clinically, when followed for at least 3 months, I've seen this work on even the most stubborn cases!
Lifestyle, dietary and nutritional changes have proven highly successful for reflux disorders in my practice at www.healthquestforme.com
for decades. Please consult your licensed healthcare professional before starting any treatments. Note not all products are required for correcting these type of digestive concerns, but everyone is unique. Use what works for you. After a period of time, consider reducing or eliminating the products if you feel they are no longer needed.
, Betaine HCL Pepsin
, Digestive Enzymes Ultra
, Berberine Complex
and Ultra Liver Support
can be purchased on our website Virtual Pharmacy at 20% off
. This is a permananent discount, on every product, from over 400 companies! If this is your first time to the pharmacy, click on the website's photo showing The Virtual Pharmacy and 'Go Now
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*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.