Looking at commercials, you would think that we are suffering from an epidemic of excess stomach acid. This is not the case. What is actually occurring is poor digestion, in large part because the enzymes needed to digest your food have been removed from the food during food processing. This is done because these enzymes help ripen food, and destroying them increases the shelf life. For example, an ear of corn may have a shelf life of five days where cornflakes have a shelf life of five millennia. Unfortunately, the latter are very hard to digest, even though they may look good.
Destruction of enzymes in food is now the case with most of the food we eat. When the food is hard to digest, it results in acid reflux and any acid in the stomach hurts. Prescription antacids decrease the pain but further worsen digestion and health. If you think about it, your body makes stomach acid for a reason. It is okay to turn it off short term, but doing so long term can become problematic. In addition, antacids actually become addictive, resulting in a massive increase in stomach acid when you stop taking them.
This article will show you how to get off of acid blockers naturally and comfortably.
Eliminating Chronic Acid Reflux and Indigestion
If you still think your problem is too much acid, keep this in mind. The older people get the more likely they are to use antacids. This is interesting as stomach acid production decreases dramatically as people get older.
We seem to forget that having stomach acid is both necessary and normal. In fact, the body has gone to great lengths to be able to produce stomach acid without digesting the stomach itself. Your body needs to have proper nutrition, however, to make the mucous lining that protects the stomach. Instead of giving your body what it needs to heal, we sometimes make the mistake of turning off our stomach acid to solve the problem.
Most indigestion symptoms occur when stomach acid refluxes (squirts) back up into the esophagus. Your esophagus is not made to resist stomach acid and even a little bit will cause it to burn. Because of this we give medications that turn off stomach acid. Remove the stomach acid and the burning stops — and we get deluded into thinking the problem was too much stomach acid.
Unfortunately, using antacid medications for an extended period causes 2 problems. First, without stomach acid your body can't optimally digest food and you become nutritionally deficient. Poor nutrition makes it even harder for your stomach to make the mucous lining it needs to protect itself and can set you up for even more reflux. Second, in your body's attempt to make stomach acid (when you take antacid meds), it makes huge amounts of a hormone called Gastrin that stimulates stomach acid. Because of this, as soon as you stop your antacids, the stomach makes massive amounts of acid, which it cannot protect against. In essence, you become addicted to the antacids. It is no surprise that Prilosec, Nexium, Zantac and other antacids are some of the biggest money making pharmaceuticals!
A wonderfully effective way to resolve reflux and indigestion is the following.
- Improve your digestion by taking the proper enzymes, and drink sips of warm drinks instead of cold drinks while eating (cold temperatures inhibit digestive enzyme function). Long-term use of digestive enzymes can also dramatically improve your overall health and wellbeing!
- Avoid coffee, aspirin products, colas, and alcohol until your stomach heals and then use them in limited amounts.
- Take measures to heal your stomach lining. Using DGL licorice can be powerfully effective in resolving your symptoms. Mastic gum taken daily for a couple of months is also highly effective. Both of these can be used separately or together. As they help to heal the stomach instead of just masking symptoms, they may take 3-4 weeks to work in severe cases. You can continue use your antacids during that time if you want.
- In many patients, stomach infections (H. Pylori) can be a cause of long-term indigestion. Most doctors treat this with Prilosec combined with 2-3 antibiotics used simultaneously. A natural alternative is to add Limonene instead of antacids (every other day for 20 days) after your indigestion has settled down somewhat.
After you've been on this treatment regimen for 1-2 months and are feeling better, ask your doctor if you can stop your prescription antacids and switch to Tagamet (or stay on the DGL licorice and mastic gum). This will decrease your stomach acid instead of totally turning it off. By doing this, you're body can slowly ease back to normal production of acid. Decrease the dose of Tagamet or DGL licorice until you are able to come off of it. After a couple of months, most people can stop the licorice/mastic gum, though it can be used as long as you want. If symptoms recur down the line, simply use the licorice for a few days. If needed, you can repeat the course whenever you like. Meanwhile, you'll have broken your addiction to antacids and allowed your body to have the stomach acid it needs for proper digestion!
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.