By vitalhf, Feb 16 2018 04:00PM
By Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD is increasingly common. Almost everyone has experienced the very painful and annoying symptoms. Those who experience them on a regular basis often turn to acid suppressing medications to resolve them. You can easily get a prescription, or a case of it at Costco, so it must be safe. If you have “acid reflux”, the problem must be too much acid in your stomach, right?
Wrong. Although it seems that way, the cause of GERD is very rarely “too much stomach acid”. In fact, it is usually just the opposite. If that is the case, then why do acid reducing medications work? They do work. In fact, they work so well that they completely suppress the symptoms of GERD, leaving the real issue untreated. Worse, they contribute to even bigger health problems that may not be so easy to resolve.
In 2014, Americans filled more than 170 million prescriptions for acid blockers, falling only behind statins in total cost expenditure worldwide. The amount of money generated by the sale of these medications is huge! That’s a lot of advertising and lobbying potential to sway professional and public opinion regarding the safety of these products. PPIs are the most common of the acid blockers. They go by a variety of names but typically end in the suffix “-prazole” (omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, etc.).
For today’s healthcare practitioners this is a real dilemma as many patients want an easy fix, something to make the problem just “go away”. And if these medications do that, then why not? There are many problems with that approach. One of the main ones is that drugs don’t just have intended effects, they also have unintended effects. If a drug suppresses acid production, what else is it doing that may not be beneficial? What are the effects of acid that are beneficial?
Let’s start with the bad news: numerous studies link long term PPI use with kidney disease, stomach infections, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures, and dementia. But what if we could fix the underlying problem?
The good news: we can. By promoting the body’s natural functions. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is the primary gastric acid secreted by your stomach. Its role in digestion and the regulation of pH in the body is critical for maintaining your health in many ways. It breaks down proteins, preparing them for assimilation. It acts as a protective barrier, killing many potentially harmful micro-organisms in our food. It assists in the elimination of excessive tissue acidity.
It’s kind of a big deal. Without it, we are virtually starving in a nutrient-depleted desert overrun with nasty bacteria. It isn’t all about HCL. There are many underlying causes for GERD, but this one simple piece of our metabolic machinery displays the brilliance of our design. When we work with our body to promote its intrinsic function, we will always be rewarded with better health.
Learn more by attending my upcoming health class, Beyond Tums: Drug-Free Solutions for Heartburn, Reflux, Indigestion & Upset Stomach, Wednesday, Feb. 21st 7pm at Vital Health in CDA. Fee: $10. RSVP: 208-765-1994 or register here.