Sunday, May 24, 2015

Heartburn - a low or high acidity problem

Heartburn is such a common complaint in our culture, probably caused by our eating habits.  Eating on the go, not chewing our food properly, eating in an unrelaxed environment and primarily, eating the wrong foods (high fat, high sugar and low fiber foods).  The feeling of acid in the upper chest, burping and general upper gastrointestinal symptoms can be very uncomfortable at times and antacid medication is often prescribed.  Sometimes it truly is situation where there is too much acid in the stomach and it is being pushed up into the esophagus.  However, with my patients, more often than not, it’s actually a low acid problem and prescribing digestive enzymes with hydrochloric acid can alleviate and even eliminate the symptoms. 

The lower esophageal sphincter usually remains shut and it blocks food and acid from being regurgitated back up from the stomach to the esophagus.  When you eat, acid is produced and the sphincter closes.  If you take an antacid, the stomach then has no acid, thus the sphincter remains open and whatever little bit of acid your body still produces, shoots up into your esophagus and causes heartburn.  Basically, if you take hydrochloric acid, then your body learns to keep the sphincter closed, thereby keeping the acid in the stomach and not in the esophagus. 

There are tests available to determine if your stomach acid is high, low or normal.