Updated: Jul 27
Conventional medicine typically treats heartburn or acid reflux with the following types of medications:
Antacids – neutralize or weaken stomach acid
H2 Blockers – blocks the H2 receptor, which reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) – blocks production of stomach acid
As you can see, all three types of medications decrease stomach acid. But our bodies need stomach acid for proper digestion and absorption of certain nutrients. Medications can promote nutrient deficiencies within the body, and we can experience these deficiencies as “side effects” and even chronic illness. Medications used to treat acid reflux can also deplete nutrients: Pepcid – depletes iron, calcium, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12 Tagamet – depletes (or interferes with the absorption or function of) iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D; may decrease clearance of caffeine from the body, causing increased caffeine levels in the blood Nexium - depletes iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamins B1, B12, and D. Can cause bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine (i.e. SIBO) Prevacid - may deplete beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B12 Prilosec - with long-term use, depletes vitamin B12, calcium, folic acid, vitamin C, zinc and iron. May also interfere with protein digestion. Continual PPI use (ex. Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec) can promote osteoporosis in about 3 years. B12 needs stomach acid to be removed from protein that it is attached to so that it can be used by the body. Protein needs stomach acid to be thoroughly digested. A deficiency of B12 can lead to anemia, diarrhea, neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, depression, weakness, balance problems, and dementia. Sometimes, it is not an excess of stomach acid that is the problem, but inflammation and a deficiency of stomach acid that can cause acid reflux. When the body has enough stomach acid, the esophageal sphincter can properly tighten, inhibiting stomach acid from entering the esophagus. Two ways to promote acid production are gentian root and supplementation with hydrochloric acid (HCl). I help my clients lower inflammation and improve stomach acid through addressing the following areas:
Underlying yeast or bacterial overgrowths
Overeating or constant eating
Herbs, homeopathy and nutrients that help to promote proper digestion and reduce inflammation
I experienced severe heartburn in my 20s. The points I have listed above helped me to get acid reflux under control and have helped my clients to do the same.
Always remember that proper digestion and reduction of inflammation are paramount to resolving acid reflux.
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