In the U.S., it is estimated that 60 to 70 million people suffer from digestive-related diseases. Doctors are writing $114 million in acid-reducing medication prescriptions. That doesn’t include over-the-counter sales. It’s big business! What’s worse is that taking acid-reducing medications to treat these issues can actually cause, or contribute to many of the diseases we are suffering from today. Yet there are many remedies that actually fix the problem, not just cover them up.
There’s no question that heartburn and reflux can be serious, especially when it gets into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong. That’s why it’s so important to treat the causative factor. Acupuncture and nutritional modifications are great ways to restore healthy digestive system function. Taking the medications to stop hydrochloric acid (HCL) just doesn’t make sense. Even the FDA issued a cautionary statement against the prolonged use of acid-stopping medications. These meds were designed for short-term use, in order for the stomach to heal. “Short term use” when first introduced meant two weeks! Why? Because they knew at the onset that to stop digestion meant people would suffer from malnutrition.
The FDA cited risk of infection, bone fractures (including spontaneous hip fractures) and dementia as being the reasons for the caution. However, there are many other diseases linked to use of acid-reducing medications.
Indigestion, heartburn and reflux are all being blamed on too much acid in the stomach. While this may be the case, the cause is NOT too much acid enzymes in the stomach. In fact, the main cause is too little of the acid enzymes — HCL — in the stomach. It is the primary (probably the most important) enzyme in the digestive system. Its pH runs around 1.0 — almost the equivalent to battery acid! That’s pretty acidic! However, your body has natural protective mechanisms to prevent damage to the stomach’s lining. Hydrochloric acid has several functions besides digesting your meal. These enzymes digest unwanted parasites, bacteria, viruses and other “bugs” that don’t belong in the body. It also is responsible for the breakdown or conversion of minerals, proteins and vitamins into a useful form, stimulates the release of other enzymes in the digestive tract and more.
So why does stomach acid burn? I thought you’d never ask! When there is an INSUFFICIENCY of HCL in the gut, food will rot instead of being enzymatically digested. When it rots (or ferments), acids are released as a byproduct, and that is what burns. A simple test is to take some betaine hydrochloride (an HCL precursor supplement). If your stomach burns, you are one of the RARE ones that may have too much HCL, or you have gut damage such as an ulcer. Most will feel better. Once that’s been tried, and although HCL supplements will help, you need to go deeper and have the underlying reason for the HCL deficiency addressed.
Learn more and attend our upcoming health class, Beyond Tums: Drug Free Solutions for Heartburn, Reflux, Indigestion and Upset Stomach, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Vital Health in Coeur d’Alene. Fee: $10. RSVP: 208-765-1994.
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Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Carling is a “Health Detective.” She looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place.
Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.