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ADVERTISING: Advertorial — Reflux and heartburn

| September 15, 2021 1:00 AM

More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn or acid reflux as often as once a week. Many people pop over the counter antacids like candy, and long-term acid suppressing medications like Prilosec are among the most prescribed pharmaceuticals. While some may consider this “normal”, the most obvious question few seem to be asking are: is continually suppressing our stomach acid good for us? Or: what causes heartburn and reflux, and shouldn’t we be treating that?

Conventional medicine views heartburn as too much stomach acid; hence, the use of acid suppressing medication. Certainly, this is one cause, triggered by the frequent consumption of high acidic foods like coffee and tomato sauce, or of “food sensitivities” like dairy. However, a significant percentage of heartburn is actually caused by a deficiency in stomach acid. How can this be?

A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES joins the esophagus and stomach, tightening up the esophagus after food passes through. If the muscle becomes weak, stomach acid can backflow, causing pain, burning, or pressure in the chest or throat after eating. Acid reflux symptoms include chronic cough, sore throat, nausea, and difficulty swallowing, and when it occurs more than twice a week, a person may be diagnosed with GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Long-term acid suppressing medications have been related to many health issues, including osteoporosis, pneumonia, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and even premature death. Why is this? We need our stomach acid to break down food properly, and to destroy pathogenic bacteria that enter the body via our food. When we overuse acid suppressing medications, this leads to chronic malnutrition, digestive and infective disorders.

What causes weakening of the LES? Stomach acid has a pH close to battery acid, and LES contraction responds heavily to a highly acidic pH. The higher the acidity of stomach content, the stronger the contractions of the LES. Like a muscle, if the LES isn’t exposed to high acidity, over time it becomes less toned and weakens.

What causes lowered stomach acid levels? Inadequate chewing of foods, eating while stressed, and aging are three big players. Poorly chewed food ferments in the gut, breaking down into organic acids that—while still acidic--are not acidic enough to cause the LES to contract adequately, leading to weakness over time. Stress eating shuts down the digestive process, including suppressing hydrochloric acid and enzyme secretions. Finally, our bodies naturally decline in HCl stomach enzymes with age.

At Vital Health we take the time to identify the underlying causes, so we can “treat to heal”. Acupuncture works powerfully to strengthen digestion, while high precision, food-based supplements create the environment for gut repair.

Learn more by attending tonight’s health class, "Beyond Tums: Drug-Free Solutions for Heartburn, Reflux, Indigestion & Upset Stomach," 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Vital Health in Coeur d'Alene. Fee: $10. This class will be available in-person at Vital Health and will also be available for online viewing via Zoom. To register, call 208-765-1994 or go to

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Darcy Greenwald holds a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, is certified in Western Herbalism and has extensive training in nutritional therapy. She has more than 20 years of experience in natural medicine.

Darcy is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Darcy is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements at Vital Health in Coeur d’Alene.

Visit our website at to learn more about Darcy, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Darcy can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.