To all people suffering from heartburn: You likely don't suffer from too much acid, but from too little acid! Think this is nuts? Well consider this fact. Young people have the highest levels of stomach acid. The elderly have the least amount of acid. Yet the incidence of heartburn increases with age!
What most people consider excess stomach acid is really just the body's clumsy attempt to makeup for low levels of stomach acid. When food arrives in the stomach, and the body does not have the correct levels of HCL or enzymes, it senses alarm and quickly transfers the lower amount of acid it does have, right to the top of the stomach. This is what causes heartburn. Taking an acid suppressant only makes this situation worse in the long run. But don't stop these meds cold turkey, as I explain a little further down.
In the long run, it would be far better to supplement with digestive enzymes and hydro-chloric acid prior to eating, so that your stomach has enough fire power to digest what you consume, without desperately trying to push up what little acid exists to the top of the stomach. One can also take a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar prior to a meal. Of course, you want to also find the root cause of your poor digestion (in this case, low levels of stomach acid) and resolve it asap. But just to remind you, it is extremely important to WEAN off your antacids, rather than going cold turkey.
Why? Because studies indicate that these drugs cause "rebound acid secretion" once you go off of them. In fact, one study found that 40 per cent of volunteers with no previous heartburn, acid reflux or other dyspepsia symptoms, developed these symptoms in the weeks after going off of the drugs. Nevertheless, you want to GRADUALLY reduce and eventually eliminate the ant acids.
It is always important to let your physician know that you desire to go off or reduce medication. Even ones who do not respect your wishes need to be told. Give them a chance to help you wean off the meds. And you may also need to see if you have a large hiatal hernia requiring surgical repair.
If you can not find a doctor willing to help you wean off of your ant acids, follow this strategy: Gradually decrease your dose. Once you get down to the lowest dose of the proton pump inhibitor, start substituting with an over-the-counter H2 blocker like Tagamet, Cimetidine, Zantac, or Raniditine. You can then gradually wean off the H2 blocker over the next several weeks.
There are excellent Chinese botanical formulas which can also help soak up acid that is concentrated at the top of the stomach, and help heal the inflammation in the digestive system. In addition, acupuncture and customized Chinese botanicals can get to the root of the problem, by regulating and tonifying your weak or stressed digestive system, addressing the cause of low stomach acid and other factors inhibiting proper digestion.
But how can you tell if you really have low levels of acid? Stay tuned for part two of this post on heartburn and the root causes of too little stomach acid.
In the meanwhile, if you suffer from heartburn, or any other sign of poor digestion, see me for a free Freedom from Poor Digestion consultation. During this appointment, I uncover the root causes of the problem, using both Western and Eastern diagnostic methods. I identify the hidden obstacles that are sabotaging your ability to digest your food with ease. Then, I create a customized plan to get you feeling well now! You will leave excited knowing that you have a roadmap for better health. Click on https://mindbodywellnessatl.janeapp.com/#/staff_member/8 to make your free appointment, or contact us at (678) 631-7965.