DR. VANESSA FRITZ Hi. I’m Dr.Vanessa Fritz. I’m a naturopathic doctor and licensed accupuncturist and I would like to talk a little bit about the subject of heartburn and the medications that are out there to treat heartburn. Heartburn is a sensation that a lot of people in this country experience. I see a lot of patients that suffer from heartburn on a regular basis. What’s really interesting about heartburn is people think that it’s too much stomach acid because of the feeling, that burning feeling of it going up your.
Esophagus. Sometimes heartburn is due to too much stomach acid, or really, it’s mostly that the acid is getting up to where it shouldn’t be going. The dangerous part about heartburn, apart from the fact that it feels terrible, is that when there is acid in the esophagus it can change that lining. The cells that line the esophagus aren’t meant to tolerate acid the way the stomach lining is, so over time, after repeated insult of the acid on these cells lining the esophagus there can be some changes that happen and we call that Barret’s esophagus and that is a precursor to.
Having esphageal cancer, so it is important to keep acid away from the esophagus, but there are more ways to do that than just taking an antacids type of medication. One of the reasons people experience a symptom is that they might have a little bit of a structural abnomality called a hiatal hernia or an esophageal hernia, or a little bit of the stomach is protruding above the diaphragm, so that sphincter, or door if you will, that closes between the esophagus and the stomach can’t close all the way. It’s not that the person has too much acid. It’s that the acid can.
Acid Reflux, GERD, Heartburn Drugs, Nutrition Wellness, Austin Natural Medicine
Escape through that door which normally it shouldn’t, and goes up into the esophagus. Sometimes, a very easy fix for this is not an antacid, not something like a Tums or Pepsid or a proton pump inhibitor. Sometimes what we can do is give the person digestive enzymes, because when we start the process of digestion, it really begins with our eyes. As we prepare food, start thinking about the food, start seeing how it’s cooking, that gets literally your digestive juices flowing. That prepares the stomach to receive the food. A lot of times when we eat on the run, we don’t have that.
Process that begins before we’re actually. We eat while we’re driving, watching tv or doing three other things at once and the stomach just isn’t prepared for that. The symptoms of having too little acid in our stomachs are very similar to those of heartburn which we think of as too much stomach acid. A lot of my patients get a quick symptom relief buy just taking a digestive enzyme with their food. Ideally, it would be better to take the time to prepare your food, to sit down and even.
Have people who say grace or people who sit down, it doesn’t have to be a religious thing, who just sit down and be thankful for the meal that you’re about to have and really just concentrate on that meal. That’s how we’re really meant to eat. We’re not meant to be eating and doing, and multitasking. A little bit of apple cider vinegar before meals is also helpful. I usually prescribe it ten or fifteen minutes. Again, the vinegar stimulates that process of the digestive juices with that hydrochloric acid. The hydrochloric acid then stimulates.
The pancreas to release it’s other digestive enzymes that break down proteins and fats and carbohydrates and so on and so forth. Just by preparing the stomach a little bit that way, if you’re in a rush and you’re not going home for lunch like most of us don’t do anymore. Doing a little bit of that can be enough to take away heartburn symptoms. There’s a very easy test that can be done. It’s actually, there are a lot of easy ways to test for too much or too little stomach acid.
That your body is producing, but the things that I am recommending aren’t really harmful to you, so you can try them to see if they work. That’s sort of a trial and error test that you can do. I really prefer people try this before going on medications, especially those proton pump inhibitors that work by inhibiting the body’s production of the stomach acid because we need stomach acid. My mother actually has this problem, and her gastroenterologist told her we’re not cavemen anymore. We’re not eating raw food and raw meats so we don’t need digestive enzymes anymore, which is completely.
False. We need these foods to digest our food. Now if you’re eating Wonder Bread all day long, that gets broken down easily and I guess in that case, if you’re eating a terrible, highly refined processed diet he’s right. You don’t need a lot of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to break that food down. However, for my patients I recommend a whole foods based, plant based diet, we do need to not only break down the food but to absorb it. Our minerals need hydrochloric acid to get absorbed.
By our digestion. B12 vitamin is one that needs hydrochloric acid in conjunction with other things in order to be absorbed. You can be eating the best diet in the world, but if you’re not absorbing it because you’re taking a proton pump inhibitor, well guess what. That can lead to anemia. It can lead to either iron deficiency anemia or B12 deficiency anemia, and we’re seeing now that people that are on proton pump inhibitors for long term are having higher risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures, because again, we need calcium. We need all these other minerals for our bone health.
And for the rest of our health, too, so it’s pretty important to not be on these drugs for a long period of time. There is a subset of the population that does need to have their acid supressed because of whatever structural abnormality they might have, if they’re already at risk for getting esophageal cancer, you have to out weigh, you have to weigh the benefits versus the risks. Obviously, I don’t want anyone to end up with esophageal cancer. It can be tricky. I have a lot of patients where weighing these benefits and risks.
And weighing which is stronger is kind of difficult, but there are so many things we can do in addition to the vinegar and in addition to the digestive enzyme. Again, it depends on the patient to help quell their symptoms of heartburn without having to go on a proton pump inhibitor. Now I talk a lot in my other tutorials about food allergies and food intolerances, but before we even look into that, some of it is just a little bit of common sense. A lot of times we say when we eat really spicy foods this happens. Well, guess what.
Your body cannot tolerate spicy foods. Don’t eat it. Or don’t eat it in such high quantities or don’t eat it so spicy. A lot of foods that are so hard to digest because they are so spicy like pizza and hot dogs and chili dogs, again, of course these are foods that aren’t the most healthy foods so what you need to do is not eat them or you eat a little bit. Eat a real serving size, not a big old chili dog that could feed a family of four.
So, some of it is about changing the obvious things in your diet. I’m not talking about never enjoying and splurging on a few things every now and then, but we really need to think about the foods we ingest because the things we do on a daily basis, like our diet and like our lifestyle, are so important so much more important than any recommendation I could give you as a naturopath. So, looking at your food choices, first of all, and if you’re making healthy food choices, sometimes there are just foods that trigger.
Acid reflux, so going on an elimination diet and then challenging that with different foods can help you determine if one of those foods is causing acid reflux. Foods that are very commonly trigger foods for people are any sorts of foods with gluten in them, wheat flour, any grain product that’s not millet, corn or rice will have a little bit of gluten in it. Taking that out of your diet for four to six weeks and then eating it again after not having it in your diet to see if it reproduces symptoms.
That’s pretty much the gold standard for any food allergy testing. Soy is another common one. Eggs are common. Dairy is very common. For some people it’s a combination. Sometimes it’s a combination of gluten and sugar, so somebody might be able to do a bowl of pasta but not do so well when eating a cake or a cookie. It can take a while to phase out what are the foods that are triggering the acid reflux. Not only foods that we consider unhealthy like pizza and chili dogs, but even healthy foods, foods that.
We think are healthy are creating these reactions in your body. Proton pump inhibitors, when they were designed, if you look at the inserts in the drugs such as Nexium, it’s meant to be taken for eight weeks only, again, just to reduce the inflammation that the body’s producing to help the esophagus heal because that is very important. But most people just end up being on these drugs long term because the second they get off of them, if they haven’t made any lifestyle changes and they haven’t made any investigations into the food that is triggering those symptoms, they’re just going.
To get the symptoms right back again. So I think going on an eight week, if your doctor recommends Nexium I think it’s great to go on an eight week course of it if you absolutely have to, if all the other things have failed, go on it, bring down the inflammation, help the body heal, but then you have to really investigate the cause of your symptoms and not just rely on a pill to take away the symptoms. As a naturopath, it’s sort of one of the most important things that I do, or that I try to do for my patients, and.
On a last note, just something about the way Tums is marketed that I can’t stand, they say Tums with Calcium so you get your source of calcium while you take a Tums. Well, that’s really paradoxical because you need the stomach acid to absorb the calcium, so you’re just putting that calcium down the toilet when you take that Tums. Please don’t take Tums just for calcium. Thank you very much for listening. My website is ww.AustinNaturalFamilyMedicine. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and if you liked this.