Stomach Acid: Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux - Paula Owens, MS

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Stomach Acid: Natural Remedies for Heartburn & Acid Reflux

The Importance of Stomach Acid - Natural Remedies for Heartburn, GERD & Acid RefluxStomach acid aka hydrochloric acid (HCL) plays an important role in digestion. You need stomach acid to activate the enzyme pepsin that breakdowns protein, absorption of nutrients, proper pH levels, bacterial balance and a healthy microbiome. Stomach acid helps to digest our food and kill off bad bacteria. Stomach acid is also required for the assimilation of B12, folate, vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium, and many other important nutrients.

Stomach acid is our body’s first line of defense against disease-causing microbes and infections. The secretion of HCL by the stomach protects the body from pathogens and reduces risk of infections such as yeast, Candida overgrowth, parasites, UTIs, SIBO and other bacterial infections. On the other hand, acid-blocking drugs aka proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)  shut down production of stomach acid. These drugs have endless detrimental side effects.

Those with low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) or no stomach acid (achlorhydria) often complain of bloating, belching, a feeling of heaviness in the stomach after eating, or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food. Then, there are those with little or no stomach acid who experience absolutely no symptoms at all.

More often than not, those with leaky gut, digestion problems, acid reflux, GERD and heartburn have LOW levels of hydrochloric acid (HCL). They also tend to have several nutrient deficiencies  (amino acids, vitamin and mineral deficiencies).

Low stomach acid inhibits the breakdown and digestion of the food you eat, thereby causing proteins to putrify and carbohydrates to ferment leading to malnourishment, digestive dysfunction, nutrient deficiencies, and endless health problems and disease.

Causes of low stomach acid, heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux

  • Poor food choice. The standard American diet (SAD) high in sugar, processed carbs, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, omega-6 fats, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, glyphosate, processed frankenfoods
  • The normal aging process. HCL deficiency is very common after age 50 and by age 65 many individuals are achlorhydric.
  • Antibiotic use, NSAIDs, OTC and prescription drug use
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stressful lifestyles
  • H. pylori infections
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Long-term use of antacids and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Vegetarian diets
  • Drinking liquids during mealtime (doing so reduces your natural production of HCL)
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Eating too much too quickly; not chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
  • Nutrient deficiencies, specifically zinc and thiamine deficiencies result in an inability to produce hydrochloric acid. Production of hydrochloric acid is dependent on many factors, two of them being adequate levels of zinc and thiamine.

Advertising suggests that heartburn and indigestion are caused by too much stomach acid.

This is seldom, if ever the case. Actually, it is just the opposite—not enough stomach acid. It is unfortunate that many in the medical community fail to recognize how serious a health problem hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria are.

Stomach Acid - Natural Remedies for Heartburn, GERD & Acid Reflux

Acid-blocking drugs and PPIs increase the risk of esophageal cancer by 340%!

Clostridium (bacterial infection) is common with antacid use and often require heavy doses of antibiotics to eradicate the bug.

OTC antacids, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and commonly prescribed drugs for heartburn set the stage for later degenerative diseases by interfering with digestion and absorption of minerals, proteins and vitamins.

Many commercial antacids contain toxic ingredients such as aluminum, artificial colors and sweeteners. “These chemicals disrupt digestion and alter the structure and function of stomach lining cells and cause side effects like headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain.” –Jonathan Wright, MD author of Why Stomach Acid is Good for You

Symptoms Associated with Hypochlorhydria (Low Stomach Acid)

  • Indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD
  • Gas, bloating or belching shortly after meals
  • Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Hair loss in women, dry hair, dandruff
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Weak, soft, brittle fingernails
  • Bad breath
  • Hives, acne, dry skin
  • Abnormal flora (altered microbiome)
  • Loss of taste for meat
  • Chronic intestinal infections: H. pylori, Candida, intestinal parasites, SIBO, UTIs, yeast, and other bacterial infections
  • No appetite for breakfast
  • Excessive fullness after meals
  • Feeling nauseous after taking vitamins
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Food sensitivities
  • History of taking acid-blocking drugs
  • Stressful lifestyles and adrenal fatigue
  • Zinc, iron, thiamine, vitamin B12 and other nutrient deficiencies
  • Any autoimmune disease diagnosis

Over time, low stomach acid will lead to serious health consequences. If sub-optimal stomach acid is your problem, you can literally add years of better health to your life by reversing low stomach acid.

Natural Remedies for Hypochlorhydria (Low Stomach Acid)

Good-bye Acid Reflux, Heartburn, Indigestion and GERD

  • A helpful DIY natural remedy is to drink a mixture of one to two teaspoons of Bragg’s raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar mixed with 4-6 ounces of filtered water before meals.
  • Drink a cup of water with the juice of a fresh lemon or lime upon rising and again before meals. Add a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt to the mix. The addition of salt helps increase natural HCL production.
  • Practice mindfulness when eating. Be present when eating. Chew food until it’s liquified before swallowing.
  • Hot peppers, spicy foods, tomatoes, caffeine and alcohol can irritate the stomach for some individuals and may be problematic.
  • Sit down during mealtime. Eat in a calm, relaxed environment without distractions. Turn off electronic devices.
  • Avoid drinking liquids with meals, which inhibits your natural production of stomach acid.
  • 20 Natural Remedies to Improve Digestion
  • While it has a reputation as a sleep aid, melatonin can also be used to treat heartburn. Your gastrointestinal tract (GI) makes melatonin, secreting up to 500 times as much your pineal gland. Because melatonin serves many functions in the GI system, it is often used to treat digestive issues like ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Supplemental melatonin may alleviate symptoms of heartburn. Given the serious side effects associated with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), melatonin could be a safer alternative for heartburn sufferers.

You can expect improved digestion, less bloating, healthier elimination, and better assimilation and breakdown of protein, amino acids, minerals, and other important nutrients with sufficient stomach acid. As a bonus, your energy, strength, endurance, mood and sleep will also improve.

Avoid HCL if you take OTC or Rx anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoid HCL if you suspect you have an ulcer, gastritis or take PPIs, and instead use Gastrazyme, vitamin U (raw cabbage juice) and other nutrient components for digestion and healing the gut. NSAIDs and corticosteroids increase the chances of ulcers in the stomach and together with Betaine HCL increase the risk of gastritis.

If acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, indigestion or sub-optimal levels of stomach acid is your problem, you can literally add years of better health to your life by addressing this problem. Healthy digestion is a fundamental requirement for optimal health.

All disease starts in the gut! —Hippocrates

Approximately 90% of Americans produce too little stomach acid. When organs get older, they usually don’t work as well as they did when they were younger; we don’t run as fast at age 47 as we did at 27—why would our stomachs be any different?” —Jonathan Wright, MD

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