GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) is becoming all to common among middle aged people, causing many lost nights sleep and seemingly limitless ingestion of tums after every holiday dinner.
The tricky part of this problem is due to the deceptive nature of the symptoms. Many people are “duped” into thinking that this is due to having too much stomach acid but this could be nothing farther from the truth.
You may find it interesting that the age demographic of the people that get the most acid reflux tend to be the same population that have the lowest stomach acid levels, the average senior citizen.
Wait a minute, why do antacids work if they reduce stomach acid when most people who have reflux have too little? That’s the tricky part. The symptoms you experience are due to what little stomach acid you have being in the wrong place causing irritation of the esophagus. This is due to an esophageal valve problem, not an excess acid problem. You see, when you have enough acid in your stomach it “tells” your esophageal valve to close more tightly therefore keeping the acid where it’s supposed to be, with your food in your stomach.
Now it is important to keep in mind that there are other reasons that esophageal valves don’t work properly and in these cases it may involve other treatments that improve valve function. Stress, food allergies and severe hiatal hernia may require other modalities to improve reflux.
How do we treat this problem?
First, I recommend 1 tbsp of apple cidar vinegar before meals to help to increase acid levels of the stomach. I also recommend some demulcent herbs to coat and protect the esophagus from recent irritation like marshmallow, Deglycyrrized licorice (DGL), and Slippery Elm. Homeopathic remedies like “Nux Vomica Homaccord” also can reduce irritation. Next step of treatment is manipulation of the stomach (your local chiropractor, osteopath or naturopathic physician can do this).
Sometimes the results of these previous steps are short lived so to fix the underlying malfunction I use a nervous system technique called NMT that is often an effective treatment of acid reflux by itself. Within 4-6 treatments the reflux should be well on its way out the door unless a person has a severe structural issue causing the reflux. To find an NMT practitioner in your area refer to the website www.nmt.md.
It is important to remember that reflux is your stomach and digestion’s way to cry for help. It isn’t a symptom to be shut off or be ignored. Many chronic health problems start with bad digestion (refer to “immune confusion” article). People often do not realize the importance of digestive function when it comes to illness.
The proper function of your immune system, for the most part, is largely determined by the complex chemistry and germ warfare going on in the gut. Therefore, if you hope to improve general health it’s a great place to start!