60 million people in the US suffer from heartburn every month, and 15 million people suffer from it every day. A burning sensation that occurs after eating, antacids and proton pump inhibitors are the primary medical treatment for heartburn. While often effective at controlling the symptoms of reflux esophagitis by suppressing stomach acid, it is also possible that too little gastric acid is the root cause of this discomfort.
“Indigestion” is often used to describe general discomfort, but it can also mean heartburn. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid rises up into the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation to the soft tissue that’s there, and damaging it over time. The oesophageal sphincter, a circular muscle which can tighten to prevent movement of food upwards through the digestive tract, is there to prevent this from occurring, so why are the symptoms so common?
Is excess acid to blame? Antacids and proton pump inhibitors work to inhibit acid production, and are usually effective in addressing symptoms, so it’s assumed that excess acid must be the cause of heartburn. However, the opposite is also possible. Hydrochloric acid is a digestive secretion that breaks down food in the stomach. Too much hydrochloric acid is often believed to be the cause of heartburn. However, food remains in the stomach until it’s reduced to a semi-liquid consistency. When there are too little digestive enzymes, the body struggles more to breakdown foods properly, and this process often takes longer than necessary. Low hydrochloric acid can result in the fermentation of carbohydrates as they wait to be broken down, which increases hydrogen gas and pressure in the stomach. This places the oesophageal sphincter under pressure, allowing the upward movement of the contents of the stomach into the oesophagus.
Test Acidity Levels with this Simple Procedure:
Take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a meal
- If you notice a warm sensation in your stomach or any pain at all, your body is producing enough, and maybe too much acid.
If not, you may not be producing enough hydrochloric acid.
- At the next meal, you can increase the apple cider vinegar dose by 1 tablespoon. This can be done at each email until a warm sensation is produced, then decrease by 1 tablespoon for the right dose.
- Taking apple cider vinegar using this method should reduce heartburn.
Common contributors to heartburn include spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, alcohol, coffee, citrus fruits, chocolate and tomato-based foods. However, for some, every meal causes issues. Before reaching for the antacids, make sure the root cause of the symptoms is understood.
Sources for this article include:
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Murray and Pizzorno
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Balch and Balch