A Natural Approach to Heartburn, Acid Reflux & GERD

Do you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or GERD?  If you do, you’re not alone!  In 2017 alone, the sales for over-the-counter and prescription medications for these conditions topped 1.1 billion dollars.  That’s billion with a “B”.  It’s been estimated that more than 44% of Americans experience reflux monthly, 20% weekly and 7% daily and as many as 22% of all first-time doctor visits were for GERD related symptoms.  That’s a lot of heartburn!  So what’s going on here?  Why is GERD so prevalent and why is it getting worse?  

There are several factors that could be considered but I believe one major reason is diet.  It’s almost as if the Standard American Diet (SAD) is designed to create heartburn.  

Consider a typical day for a typical American.  He or she wakes up and has a cup of coffee (or 2 or 3) before rushing off to work.  On the way to work, he may swing through the drive-thru and grab a breakfast sandwich with hash browns and orange juice.   During the morning she’s drinking coffee or perhaps soda.  At lunch it’s a sandwich and chips with a soda or tea.  Then it’s more coffee with a candy bar or cookie for a mid-afternoon snack.  After work it’s time for a cocktail before a big dinner of salad, fettucine Alfredo, garlic toast and something sweet for dessert.  Perhaps later it’s popcorn for a late night snack and then it’s off to bed.  Within a short period of time, she’s up and taking Tums or the purple pill just so she can get some sleep.  Wake up the next day and repeat.  Again and again.  

Eventually, the indigestion irritates the esophagus and it becomes inflamed which makes it more sensitive to irritation which leads to more inflammation and on and on and on.  Soon you start eliminating foods because you simply cannot tolerate them anymore.   It must be the popcorn.  Or maybe it’s the pasta?  Or maybe it’s the alcohol or coffee.  Soon, you have a very short list of foods you can eat that don’t cause pain and life becomes very uninteresting.

Does that sound like an unlikely story?  It’s not.  I have seen it many, many times with patients who have experienced a similar scenario. 

So what can be done?  Are drugs the answer?  It is commonly accepted in the medical community that the medications used to treat heartburn and GERD are safe however I strongly disagree.  In reality, these drugs induce a state of hypochlorhydria (not enough acid) in the stomach. These drugs virtually stop digestion and therefore stops most absorption of nutrients from occurring, which can cause impaired functioning of the other digestive organs.  A pH of about 2 (this is VERY acidic) in the stomach is necessary to trigger the pancreas to make and release its enzymes, and for the liver and gallbladder to engage bile flow.  The stomach is SUPPOSED TO BE ACID and when you take something to neutralize the acid you set yourself up for problems.  

Initially this class of drugs was only permitted to be taken for a six-week period, and they were used for ulcers and GERD.  Now they are used for months and even years at a time, and are routinely prescribed for any and all GI symptoms.  When someone continues to take these medications for long periods of time, the body becomes deficient in minerals (especially iron) and protein.  This causes organ dysfunction in other areas which leads to more nutritional deficiencies which leads to more symptoms which too often leads to more drugs and the cycle continues.  At some point, you have to STOP the process and do something different.  

If you suffer with heartburn or GERD, are you ready to do something about it? If so, I suggest you attend our FREE public health workshop on Tuesday, May 22nd at 5:30 pm in our office.  Learn what you can do to prevent heartburn and to treat it once and for all.  There are natural ways to treat and heal heartburn that are safe and effective without the downstream side effects that come from drugs.