Acid reflux is a very common problem and is associated with many terms. GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), heartburn, indigestion and even ulcers are conditions that are often lumped together with acid reflux.
My purpose in writing this article is to help people who suffer with acid reflux or any of the conditions associated with it. In my opinion the typical treatment for acid reflux is terrible! Once I teach you normal digestive physiology, I think you will agree with me. This is one of those conditions I’ve been treating for over 20 years with excellent success. People are often surprised that a chiropractor would know anything about acid reflux. Many of my own patients don’t know about a lot of the things I’ve been successfully treating without drugs or surgery over the past 20 years. I created this website and continue to write articles to get this information out to the people who need it. So pay attention!
This video is a summary of this article. I know some people prefer to watch a video over reading. Because I’m here to help you, I created both! You’re welcome 😉
The symptoms of acid reflux are:
- Burning pain around the middle of the chest
- “Wet” burping. You know that wonderful taste left in your throat after you burp, caused by the contents of your stomach in your throat.
- Nausea after eating
- Tummy ache
As with everything I treat, understanding how things work when they are working well is the first step in being able to fix the problem. Acid reflux is an excellent example of how important it is to understand normal physiology.
Let’s imagine you’re sitting down to a scrumptious meal. For me it would be a nice steak, fresh steamed broccoli, green beans and a colorful salad with some balsamic salad dressing. MMmmmmmm! Even the thought of that meal makes my mouth begin to salivate. Guess what, that’s the first part of digestion. So then the food gets put in the mouth, and those teeth are for chewing! I bring that up because some of my sons seem to think that food is supposed to go in the mouth and INHALED directly into the stomach. Chewing food well is a really important part of good digestion. From the mouth the well-chewed food bolus (that’s the fancy term) goes into the stomach. The food passes through a valve that seals the contents of the stomach in when it senses stomach acid in the stomach. Here is the important thing to understand. Normal healthy stomach function is to make VERY acidic acid (ph 2) when there is food in it. We’re talking about hydrochloric acid (HCL), the kind of acid that is in your car’s battery, the kind of acid that will eat right through concrete. Watch this video to see what HCL does to a cheeseburger. My kids turned me on to this guy. I could watch his stuff all day.
Pretty crazy that acid that powerful doesn’t eat a hole right through the stomach! The reason that the HCL doesn’t eat a hole through the stomach is that the stomach was created to be able to safely hold HCL. That’s some crazy cool stuff. Remember this point it is very important and I will come back to it later. Once the HCL in the stomach has had its way with the food, it leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine. It is very important that this food bolus in the small intestine is ACIDIC because it’s the acid that stimulates the gall badder and the pancreas to secrete their contents into the small intestine to finish the digestion. As you could see in the video, the HCL did not digest everything. The fat in food is digested by the bile that the gall bladder secretes, and digestion of the proteins, carbohydrates and starches is finished by the enzymes that the pancreas produces. Also living in the intestines are millions of micro-organisms that help in digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food. I wrote all about these amazing creatures here. There is obviously lots more going on here, but for our purposes I think this gives you a good general understanding of how your digestion is supposed to work.
I wish I could be having this conversation with you in person right now. I love this part. Now that you understand how things are supposed to work, let me ask you a question. What do you think would happen if the stomach did not make enough HCL? BAM! Did a big light go on? I bet you could figure out that there would be some major problems. It would pretty much be the end of good healthy digestion in the body. Remember that valve that seals off the stomach? Remember I said that it needs HCL before it closes? Guess what the valve does when there is not HCL? That’s right, it does not close and the stomach contents can go back up into the throat. When there is not sufficient HCL in the stomach guess what happens to the food–it rots. Rotting food does two nasty things. Rotting food produces gas! Can you say BURPING, BLOATING, and HEARTBURN? Oh yeah, nasty. The second thing rotting food does is produce acids that the stomach is not protected from. Guess what these other acids can do the stomach? If you guessed that they hurt the stomach, you’re right! The stomach is not hurt by HCL but from the acid created by rotting foods. It is these rotting food acids that cause ulcers in the stomach and damage the esophagus.
What is the first thing you have been told to do for acid reflux? Were you told to take an ANTacid? Can you see how this will not fix the problem. Antacids will provide some temporary relief with acid reflux but they will only make the problem worse in the long run.
The topic of this article is acid reflux, but real quick, what do you think happens to the function of the gall bladder and pancreas when HCL production is poor? Yeah that’s right, the gall bladder and pancreas don’t do much if the food in the intestine does not have HCL. If you’re wondering if this can cause gall stones you’re very smart! Yep! When there is not enough HCL it creates all sorts of bad things with the gall bladder, and the intestine. Poor HCL production will also result in poor absorption of nutrients. The nutrients could be in food or the best supplements in the world, but if there is not sufficient HCL, most of the nutrients will pass right out the back end.
Making HCL in the body requires lots of energy. When we get stressed or sick, the first thing to go is the HCL production. As you might guess this is a very common problem. Pretty much everyone has had times in their life that they have not been producing enough HCL, and as we get older the more common the problem is.
All the drugs that get prescribed for acid reflux turn off acid production. Pretty crazy, don’t you think?
If you’re suffering from acid reflux, there are some really simple things you can do to fix this problem.
- First, limit beverages with meals. Anything you drink will dilute any HCL your stomach does produce. If you must drink with a meal, make it a small hot beverage. Heat makes HCL work better.
- Use a digestive aid. The best digestive aid is Betaine HCL. This stuff is strong and you can hurt yourself with it if you don’t use it right. If you think you might have an ulcer it would be smart to find a doctor who understands this stuff to help you get this right.
- There are amazing natural cures for the damage the rotting-food-acid causes. One that I have used over the years is called Gastrazyme. This stuff has a Vitamin U complex from cabbage that is almost miraculous in how it can help the esophagus and stomach heal.
Pretty simple stuff. I have used this approach many times and it works every time. There are other causes of acid reflux, but this is the main cause, so I recommend starting here before moving on to other treatments.
If you have any questions, and I hope you do, please communicate with me in the comments!