Written by Carla Alpert
So you might be thinking you have a lot of stomach acid which is causing your heartburn—no problem.
You take either an over the counter antacid as needed or one prescribed by your doctor daily. Boy do you start feeling better, so you think it's under control. As someone with experience with this, I don't deny the relief antacids provide temporarily, but I can say for sure that the symptom relief you experience from these medications are NOT helping you get rid of the underlying problem.
They actually are making it worse!
You might be shocked to know that most of the time, heartburn, acid reflux and GERD are truly caused by LOW stomach acid. It doesn't matter how much acid is in the stomach, even a small amount can cause serious damage if the lower esophageal valve is not working properly. This lets acid into the esophagus which is not protected like the stomach for ANY amount of acid at all. This causes damage and the pain associated with heartburn and GERD.
By ignoring the true cause of the problem, you're actually making it worse with all these pills because they suppress the acid even more. Sadly if you've been on daily drugs, and try to go off, your symptoms will most likely be more intolerable but with testing to uncover any hidden infections, dietary changes and the right support, over time it IS possible. And you'll be better off in the long run!
Why you need high stomach acid:
Stomach acid is our first defense against bacterial overgrowth. With the normal PH of 3 or less, most bacteria can't survive. When the acid is insufficient and PH rises above 5 bacteria thrive in the bowel. This causes inflammation and can contribute to IBS, gut distress and leaky gut. Acid suppressing drugs cause bacterial overgrowth too and they deplete the absorption of B vitamins since they need stomach acid to be absorbed. Depletion of this crucial vitamin causes a host of additional problems, like fatigue, nerve damage and psychiatric problems.
Low stomach acid also causes mal-digestion. Without proper acid the enzymes you need to digest and absorb the food will not be secreted and therefore won't allow the foods to be broken down or absorbed properly. This can also lead to anemia, depression, anxiety and more.
With both of these issues, you'll be experiencing a lot of GAS and an eventual breakdown of the Mucosal Barrier which leads to many other dysfunctions in the body.
Instead of your daily dose of antacids you can try to build up stomach acid slowly and eventually not use any drugs.
Here's what you can try:
Minimize your intake of sugars, starches and grains to help calm inflammation.
Apple Cider Vinegar-1 tsp in water before meals.
Bitters-right before or after meals to help with digestion.
Digestive Enzymes-help to fully break down food.
HCL only if H. Pylori is not present. Get tested first to find out before starting HCL. Once the infection has cleared you can take HCL.
Aloe-to sooth and heal the stomach
DGL-helps to sooth and coat the stomach with licorice.
Baking Soda-for relief of heartburn and gas.
Are you ready relieve symptoms of heartburn GERD and IBS without medication? With functional lab testing I can teach you to how to remove the triggers and rebuild and restore your GI system. If you would like to work with me, feel free to contact me for a free consultation.
To learn more Chris Kresser has several in-depth articles on the subject here.