Thursday, October 05, 2006


Conventional medicine knows that stress is the number one cause of heartburn and GERD (Gastroesophogeal reflux disease). This has been known in Oriental medicine for centuries. In Oriental medicine, the stomach meridian is affected by worry and anxiety. Chronic worry increases the level of acid in the stomach, thereby creating the excess acid irritation. So the first cause to look at and change is to reduce your stress, or better yet, improve the way you handle the stress you are experiencing. If you are unable to change your lifestyle, then seek out exercise and other stress reducing activities. When your body is able to relax, the parasympathetic nervous system can take over and restore your stomach acid to healthy levels.

Conventional Treatment
Antacids are the common treatment for GERD and heartburn. They raise the acid pH of the stomach to or towards alkaline thereby relieving any acid caused symptoms.

Naturopathic approach
The stomach should be very acidic at rest or a pH of 1-2. With a meal the pH should only rise to a pH of approximately 3. When heartburn is occurring, Naturopaths believe the pH is about 4-6, which means there is not enough acid in the stomach to perform digestion properly. By giving antacids, the pH most likely rises above 7 becoming alkaline. When the stomach is alkaline, it is unable to digest protein or absorb vitamins and minerals from food. Instead of antacids, Naturopaths will give herbal bitters or homeopathic remedies to correct the imbalance.

Betaine HCl is the best remedy for low stomach acid. We tend to lose the ability to produce stomach acid as we age. Taking Betaine HCl is the quickest way to increase the amount of acid in your stomach and increase your ability to digest protein and absorb vitamins and minerals. If you have a burning sensation when taking it, it’s possible you may not need it. Come in for a visit to know for sure or to see if you may have other stomach difficulties.

Herbal remedies
The first and best remedy for low stomach acid and heartburn is drinking tea or taking an herbal extract of ginger with meals. This herb balances the production of acid in the stomach and allows the stomach to heal itself, which improves peristalsis-the action of the stomach and intestines to move food along. Another herb that not only is a bitter herb, but is also a nerve tonic is hops. Hops not only helps you digest your food, but help you digest life since it helps to calm your nerves.
Other bitter herbs that are well known are gentian, dill, chamomile, and cayenne. If pain for burning results from taking bitter herbs, consult your doctor and/or a Naturopath.

The most common homeopathic remedy for ailments from overeating or eating food that disagreed with you is Nux vomica. If it’s the right remedy for you, it will work. You can find these supplements in the office, or your local health food store.


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