The huge lie about heartburn

The huge lie about heartburn

We’ve all been told a HUGE lie about heartburn. It’s a lie the first conventional doctor I saw about my heartburn fed me while she handed me a prescription for Prilosec. It’s the lie that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid. You heard me right. Heartburn is actually caused by too little stomach acid. Sounds crazy, right!? Let me break it down for you.

Digestive Anatomy

You need to know a bit of digestive anatomy in order to understand this. When you put food in your mouth, chew and swallow, it travels down your esophagus, through your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and into your stomach. In an optimally functioning digestive system, your LES opens just enough to allow food to pass into your stomach and then closes, preventing stomach contents from traveling the other direction, up into your esophagus.

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Your digestive system

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is located at the junction between your esophagus and stomach.

Why heartburn happens

When you have heartburn, your LES malfunctions, allowing acid to move the wrong direction, into your esophagus. Why does this happen? When you don’t have enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes to sufficiently break down the food you eat, undigested food starts to rot and causes gas to build up in your stomach. The pressure of the gas and undigested food forces your LES to open, allowing acid to enter your esophagus.

If you allow heartburn to continue, it can cause painful ulcers and cancer, which is why the conventional medical solution is to hand out prescriptions for proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) like I was given. These drugs stop heartburn by reducing your production of stomach acid, thus “curing” heartburn while exacerbating the underlying cause of heartburn. Over time they can actually weaken your LES, making your heartburn even worse!

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Integrative treatment

One integrative treatment I may suggest is to actually take more acid. You can take hydrochloric acid capsules to increase your acid production, while practicing mindful eating and sound nutrition, to boost your digestive capacity. You’ll also take supplements to soothe the inflamed tissues of your esophagus to provide relief and promote healing. Some simple changes to how you eat can prevent you from suffering heartburn and ensure your digestive system is working optimally so you can get the most nutrition from your food.

If you’re currently on PPIs, I highly recommend working with me to wean yourself off of them. PPIs inhibit your stomach’s production of intrinsic factor which is needed to absorb Vitamin B12 from your food. B12 is an essential nutrient and B12 deficiency can cause fatigue and mood imbalance. More alarmingly, B12 deficiency is related to the development of cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's and kidney disease.

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