Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. The esophagus lacks the protective lining of the stomach and is irritated by the strongly acidic stomach content, causing pain known as “heartburn”. This happens rarely because the stomach is too acidic, but because of either inappropriate relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter or a hiatal hernia. Dr Jonathan Wright found that 90% of his patients with GERD, when tested, actually had low stomach acid. Underlying causes of acid reflux can be an infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria or stomach gas from insufficient stomach acid.
Standard treatment for acid reflux is the use of ant-acids to neutralize the stomach acid or stronger prescription drugs called proton pump inhibitors. While these alleviate the symptoms, they do not address the underlying causes. In fact lowering stomach acid reduces your ability to control H. pylori and other food-borne bacteria, parasites and yeast. It also impedes digestion of food, particularly protein and calcium (increasing risk of osteoporosis), and is associated with a long list of other diseases.
Fortunately there are safer more natural ways to prevent or alleviate acid reflux:
• eat slowly and chew food thoroughly; avoid overeating or drinking too much with meals; avoid too much fatty or fried foods
• avoid eating for 2 hours before bed or when under stress
• sleep with head of bed elevated 6” and lie on left side
• take apple cider vinegar or sauerkraut with meals to increase stomach acid
• take Betaine HCl and Pepsin supplements to increase stomach acid
• fortify the good bacteria in your digestive tract with a probiotic along with a prebiotic (#003 16 March 2009 and #078 30 August 2010)
• control H. pylori (#058, 12 April 2010) with antibiotics or mastic gum
• exercise; lose excess weight; stop smoking
Sources and further reading:
• Gut Solutions by Brenda Watson, ND and Leonard Smith MD, 2003
• Why Stomach Acid is Good for You – Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux & GERD by Jonathan Wright MD and Lane Lenard PhD
• Mercola.com “Why Does Successful Treatment of GERD Increase Cancer”
• CBS news story on acid drugs “Are Nexium and Prilosec Too Popular?” quoted on Renew Life website
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.