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. Stomach acid is required to activate the enzyme pepsin to break down protein, increase absorption of nutrients, create proper pH levels, bacterial balance and a healthy microbiome. Stomach acid helps to digest food and inhibit and destroy harmful bacteria. Stomach acid is also required for the assimilation of B12, folate, vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium, and many other important nutrients.

Good health depends on good digestion. From a nutritional point of view, the level or quality of health can be traced to an individual’s digestive functioning.

The stomach produces a variety of substances that promote digestion and assimilation; gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid and pepsinogens (precursors of the family of proteolytic enzymes called pepsins). Parietal cells produce both stomach acid and intrinsic factor, a protein required to bind vitamin B12 prior to its absorption in the small intestine. Not to solely single out vitamin B12, inadequate production of hydrochloric acid can result in impaired uptake or deficiency of all B-vitamins, potentially leading to muscle weakness and neurological deficit.

Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a strong mineral acid that functions to maintain gastric pH between 1.5 and 2.5. This acidity serves three important roles; low pH kills microorganisms in food, it activates pepsinogen, and it denatures proteins, making them more accessible to proteolytic degradation.

Hydrochloric acid is our body’s first line of defense against disease-causing microbes and infections. The secretion of hydrochloric acid by the stomach protects the body from pathogens and reduces risk of infections such as yeast, Candida overgrowth, parasites, e. coli, H. pylori, 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 an endless list of 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 creating an environment for protein to putrify and carbohydrates to ferment leading to malnourishment, digestive dysfunction, multiple nutrient deficiencies, and endless health problems and disease.

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

  • Poor food choice, processed foods, inflammatory foods
  • The normal aging process. HCL production declines naturally with age.
  • Antibiotic use, NSAIDs, OTC and prescription drug use
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Overly stressful lifestyles
  • Underlying infections such as H. pylori
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Low vagal tone
  • Long-term use of antacids and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Drinking water and liquids during mealtime (doing so reduces your natural production of HCL)
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Poorly planned vegan and vegetarian diets
  • Eating too much too quickly; not chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
  • Nutrient deficiencies, specifically salt (Celtic sea salt), 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 (vitamin B1).

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

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

Long-term use of acid-blocking drugs and PPIs increase the risk of esophageal cancer by 340%!

Clostridium (bacterial infection) is common with antacid use.

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 Linked to Hypochlorhydria (Low Stomach Acid)

  • Indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD
  • Gas, bloating or belching shortly after meals
  • Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Hair loss, dry hair, dandruff
  • Constipation or diarrhea, undigested food in the stool
  • Weak, soft, brittle fingernails
  • Bad breath
  • Hives, acne, dry skin
  • Abnormal flora (altered microbiome)
  • Loss of taste for meat
  • Chronic infections: H. pylori, Candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, SIBO, UTIs, yeast overgrowth, and other bacterial infections
  • No appetite for breakfast
  • Excessive fullness after meals
  • Feeling nauseous after taking vitamins
  • Food allergies, environmental sensitivities and food sensitivities
  • History of taking acid-blocking drugs
  • Overly stressful lifestyles and adrenal insufficiency
  • 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

  • Drink a cup of filtered water with the juice of a fresh lemon or lime with a pinch or two of Celtic sea salt upon rising and again before meals. The addition of salt helps to naturally increase hydrochloric acid production.
  • Consider digestive supplementation such as HCl with pepsin, bile support and digestive enzymes (Digestzymes)
  • Tame the flame in the GI with GI Support powder
  • A helpful DIY natural remedy is to drink a mixture of one to two teaspoons of organic raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar mixed with 4-6 ounces of filtered water before meals.
  • Practice mindfulness during mealtime. Chew food more (until it’s liquified before swallowing).
  • 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.
  • Stay away from processed, non-organic inflammatory foods
  • Watch this video for more Natural Solutions for Acid Reflux

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 supplements with hydrochloric acid if you take OTC or Rx anti-inflammatory drugs, suspect you have an ulcer, gastritis or take PPIs. NSAIDs and corticosteroids increase the chances of ulcers in the stomach and together with hydrochloric acid can increase the risk of gastritis.

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

All disease starts in the gut! —Hippocrates

Related Articles

  • 20 Natural Remedies to Improve Digestion
  • Video: What You Should Know About PPI Drugs
  • Vagal Tone and Digestion
  • Video: Frequent Indigestion?
  • Melatonin Health Benefits. 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.