It is a cold, hard fact that the older we get the ~less~ stomach acid (HCl with pepsin) we produce. We know mother nature not only works this way concerning gastric acid and digestive enzymes, but, so too, with pretty much ~all~ biologically necessary substances. For example, older people produce less glucosamine and SAMe, so arthritis develops. Additionally, advanced in years, people produce less CoQ-10, so heart problems become an avoidable result.
A conservative estimate is that 75% of the people over 50 have too LITTLE HCL/pepsin available for proper digestion. That's a ~huge~ number. Conversely, if we could know the accurate percentage of people with ~real~ hyperacidity, or too MUCH acid, I suspect that that number would be surprisingly low, not high. It remains, ironically, that popular culture, and virtually all of mainstream medicine, talks exclusively about too ~much~ acid - NEVER too little. This strangely facilitates, then, the manufacture of expensive substances to suit this peculiar misinformation. What is going on? How can this be so?
...Could the preceding be because two ...very expensive... prescription antacids are among the top five pharmaceuticals sold? Also consider, the big pharmaceutical producers can't make money on the one compound that would very likely help the most - Betaine HCL w/ pepsin! These are CHEAP substances to produce and are natural, always superior, substances... ... substances that can't be patented by drug companies, I remind the reader, to sell at inflated prices! The preceding neatly facilitates a nearly perpetual alkaline condition, due to LOW stomach acidity. This is ~VERY~ unhealthy ... not just because it adversely effects digestion, but because a very acidic (pH less than 3) stomach is needed to kill harmful bacteria and other parasites!
A despair provoking ~pattern~ emerges. It becomes plain that indiscriminate and reflexive pill-popping antacid abuse only provides a continuous flow of revenues for Doctors and Drug Companies. This is not only because the antacids, themselves, are a big seller, but by adversely effecting digestion they make people sick in a predicted future as a result of the unhealthful effects of the undigested protein and harmful critters not naturally killed off by inadequate acid. Protein which has not been properly 'softened up' by hydrochloric acid (HCL) with pepsin (protein digestive enzyme) can cause allergic reactions, arthritis/joint pain, and autoimmune wackiness (the undigested protein is actually seen as a foreign invader by your immune system!).
This is such a perfect scam for Big Pharma! Not just because ~low~ acid and ~high~ acid conditions both have similar symptoms, but because antacids actually appear (but ~only~ appear!) to work by reducing heartburn! But at what cost, reader!?! The hapless victim never makes the connection between the antacids taken in the past and the disease now endured in the present!
Heartburn and reflux is an extremely complex subject ~ so much so that mainstream medical science does not fully understand all of the mechanisms that function to protect the esophagus from high acid conditions... mechanisms generally centered around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This LES opens and closes at various times for various reasons. When the LES stays open when it shouldn't, stomach acids can splash-up (reflux) and burn the esophagus. Pretty much the only answer that doctors seem to have (short of surgery?) is various forms of antacid, smarmily sold by a smiling washed up quarterback who never warns you of the potential for a future misery... ...that is very, very real!
Doctors cite bogus reasons in an attempt to explain what appears to be a ~defective~ LES... it's either hereditary, a physiological fluke... or it's YOUR fault because you have gained weight, don't exercise, eat fatty foods, or eat too much at once. Two things they never mention though, are the aforementioned and likely ~insufficient~ Stomach Acid... or the 40 or 50 ~other~ pharmaceuticals compromising an already distressed or abused LES ... things like blood pressure meds, NSAIDS (Aspirin etc), or sedatives.
To understand why ~I~ think heartburn is caused by too little HCL/pepsin, let's state some reference facts and casual observations. In order to find applicable references, one has to use animals, babies, or go back several decades before it was discovered that prescription antacids were such a "gold-mine." The thread is there.
1. Why does the LES easily open with only 5 mm Hg of pressure from above (swallowing) yet 80 mm Hg pressure from below WON'T force it open. It will; however, gently open to burp with a full stomach, yet slams closed at the first sign of acid (Dornhurst AC, 1954).
2. Doctors were surprised to discover that neither high nor low stomach acid determines whether or not one got heartburn. Shouldn't heartburn be pretty much associated with HIGH acid? I mean, after all, don't doctors prescribe antacids as a matter of course if you complain of heartburn (...and they rarely, if ever, check acid levels).
3. In 1967, Lastaste and Conthier made the following observation concerning acid secretion and inhibiting reflux. "If acid/pepsin is required to activate the receptor, it would be expected that removal of the acid secreting portion of the stomach would cause a failure of sphincter inhibition and consequently reflux. This complication has been described. Again, if there is a loss of gastric acid production from atrophic gastritis, there is increased reflux." In this condition the pH may be greater than 5 instead of the normal less than 3 (Lastaste and Conthier, 1967).
4. When burping babies, mothers put the baby in a position so air pushes against the receptive area, not gastric fluid on the posterior wall of the fundus ~ so gastric fluid won't activate the inhibitory reflex. In other words the LES will close because of acid thus prohibiting the burp.
5. As early as the previous turn of the century W. B. Cannon did extensive research in animals that showed that changing from an alkaline to an acidic stomach caused the cardiac sphincter (same as LES) to rapidly slam closed ~ thus PROVING the acid~closure connection ( yeah - I know... it's animals, but so what...) (Cannon, WB 1908).
7. In 1953 see what T. Collis had to say about HCL and the receptor that closes the sphincter. "To be sure, this important reflex is not the only one affecting the sphincter. For example, it has been shown that acid stimulation of the esophageal mucosa causes increased basal production of HCl in the stomach. This seemingly paradoxical vicious circle may actually serve the organism by feeding back a signal that will stimulate the CD receptor and thus close the sphincter. ." Think for a second, reader, with regard to the preceding citation. Mother Nature... or God, if you'd rather, designed a system ensuring that when acid hits the mucosal cells of the esophagus, it doesn't do what one might logically assume, that is to say, stimulate a reduction of acid...NO, Mother Nature makes even more acid, knowing that is the healthy and intelligent way to get the LES to close, thus avoiding heartburn... so why would a doctor do the exact opposite of God by prescribing antacids"?
With all this in mind, here's how, ~I~ think, too LITTLE stomach acid can cause heartburn. Let's assume we eat a big meal and have too little stomach acid, because of age, antacid abuse, carbonated drinks, et. al. Because of this condition, digestion is slow to take place, so the food backs up, plus the alkaline stomach, within minutes, causes gas to build up which also causes the sphincter to relax, allowing stomach contents to splash into the esophagus. This causes heartburn, even though we have low stomach acid ~ the little bit of acid that ~is~ there still burns... ...so we dutifully take our obligatory TUMS. Then, a few minutes later, we are sure we've done the correct thing, because the burning goes away. Of course, by then, there is NO acid left to digest your food or kill harmful bacteria. If you have a big meal with plenty of stomach acid, digestion is speeded along, and the high acid condition causes the LES to stay tightly closed ~ no heartburn... not to mention good digestion and critter protection.
It is a very simple process to determine if Betain HCL/pepsin, supplemental capsules will help you: First big meal take one 250 mg HCL/pepsin ( only take with moderate to large meals that contain protein). If the meal contains fat you should also take an additional enzyme complex that contains lipase, etc. If you are really suffering from too much acid, this additional stomach acid (HCL) will cause your stomach to feel warm, indicating you don't need additional HCL. If you don't get a warm stomach then the next day try one HCL capsule right before the meal, then take one halfway through the meal ~ if no adverse response, then the next day go to three capsules... continue until your stomach gets warm... and then back off one. If you have ulcers...don't try this until you fix the ulcer. Most ulcers can be fixed in 6 to 8 weeks with the proper diet and supplementation... taking antacids; however, every day will NEVER fix the problem, even though it gives you the illusion it is.
Another situation: After quitting antacids and building up to two or three HCL caps per meal your digestion improves dramatically... but you still get some occasional heartburn. This indicates that even at the proper high acid level, your LES is still sluggish and not closing properly. This could be, as I believe, because you've been operating in an alkaline condition for so long and have taken so many TUMS that your LES has *forgotten* how to properly close.
In this situation, if you do the following, the condition will hopefully correct itself.
1. Take supplements:
- a. Betain HCL/Pepsin
- b. Digestive enzymes ( some formulas contain HCL w. pepsin ). If you don't have a Gall Bladder - take a formula with Ox Bile.
- c. Probiotic (like acidophilus)- I think the superior way to get probiotics is 1 or 2 cups of Kefir daily.
- d. Quality multi-vitamin / mineral / trace minerals. Take something a notch or two above synthetic/inorganic Multi's like Centrum. I like Multi's where the majority of the minerals are Amino Acid Chelated, instead of the cheap inorganic crap like carbonate or oxide found in Theragram, Flintstones, et al. Get the trace mineral complex with 70+ elements, not just the handful that doctors say you need.
- e. Sublingual (under the tongue), methylcobolamine B-12 (1000mcg) - they also make a 5000mcg tablet, which I prefer.
- f. MSM ~ A natural form of sulfur that aids digestion and too many other things to mention (by the way, you are not allergic to "sulfur," only "sulfa" it is impossible to be allergic to sulfur. Be not fooled).
- g. 3 tablespoons fresh ground Flax Seed daily. You can take 1 or 2 teaspoons of Flax Oil but freshly ground is SO superior.
- h. 2 to 6 grams of Hi-Potency fish oil - NO fish ( too much lead & mercury )
3. Lose 10 pounds.
4. Avoid high fat meals ~ fat stays in your stomach the longest.
5. Eat four to six small meals a day. Whey Protein Isolate Smoothies are great for 2 or 3 of those small meals.
6. Make last meal of the day very small and at least three hours before bed.
7. Chew food extra well - this is where digestion begins.
8. Avoid sugar and refined flour.
9. Avoid Hydrogenated Or Partially-Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils / Trans Fat (margarine, etc).
10. Avoid polyunsaturated food oils including Canola (only use olive oil & unrefined, hexane free, Coconut oil).
11. Avoid tap water & bottled water - use a top grade carbon filter & store water in glass, not plastic. The chlorine in tap water attacks the good "Bugs" in your gut and the Fluoride/Aluminum contributes to Thyroid disease, Heart disease, MS, et al.
Worst situation: If you have a Hiatal Hernia (Stomach lining is keeping the LES from closing) try to do all of the previously suggested things... ...being particularly careful with the HCL/pepsin until you determine if it will make the burning worse. In rare situations, the hiatal hernia can correct itself, if you lose some weight and exercise moderately. But realistically, in order to have any real hope of these suggestions correcting the problem you probably need to start with the stomach lining not protruding up into the esophagus.
The way to accomplish this is to have a chiropractor trained to perform the Hiatal Hernia(HH) Procedure where the Doctor pulls the stomach lining down out of the esophagus. This is generally a temporary fix that might only stay fixed for a month, a week, or only a few days... but if you are very aggressive with all of the previous suggestions you might get things under control without too many returns to the chiropractor to have the procedure repeated. It's cheap - most chiropractors here in LA (Lower Alabama) charge $25.00. If you've had a bad HH for a long time, your first HH manipulation will provide you with a serious, profound, and instantaneous relief ...trust me, you'll think you've seen God!
That's the long and the short of it. "Excess acid" is an ~evil~ myth and the pharmaceuticals proffered to bring that condition under control are a dangerous and unhealthful fraud! These pharmaceuticals are needlessly expensive and unnecessary, only lead to subsequent facilitated diseases to *manage*... ...each with its own class of dangerous and unhealthful pharmaceuticals! The preceding, of course, only *manages* disease symptoms without *curing* the disease... ...once again... a refrain becoming increasingly more familiar...
Until next time, then. If you have any questions concerning this paper or info on the somewhat unusual chiropractic procedure for HH... then give me a call, or E-mail.
Phone - (334) 774-0395