Heartburn causes and cures

If you have heartburn both you and your doctor may be under the impression that you have too much stomach acid. Yet that’s only an impression, but what are the actual heartburn causes?

It is likely that neither you nor your doctor actually tested the pH (acidity) of your stomach. If you think such test was performed ask for a copy of the test. Read carefully. You will be surprised to know that test for stomach acidity is likely not included.

Heartburn causes seldom include too much acid

Heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD is seldom caused by too much stomach acid, yet it is very frequently “cured” by acid lowering medication like Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Tagamet, Zantac, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, etc. How come?

If you were prescribed any of the above you may have traded your heartburn for poor health. Although acid-lowering medications may feel like miracle potions soothing your stomach, that comfort is never long-lasting. What`s worse that short-lasting heartburn relief may not be the best road to good health.

The anatomy of heartburn causes

The top of the stomach has a sphincter that closes and opens. When functioning properly it prevents things backing up from the stomach into the esophagus or the mouth. When the sphincter is closed shut no acid can escape to the esophagus and there is no acid reflux. When the sphincter is open stomach acid spills over and cause heartburn.

Do you know what causes the sphincter to close? A sufficient amount of stomach acid. That’s right. Your stomach must have a sufficient amount of acid or the sphincter will not close.

If you know a thing or two about pH scale you may be very surprised now. The pH (acidity) required for stomach sphincter to close is 3 (very acidic). What happens if pH is higher than that? The sphincter stays open and you get heartburn.

That should make you think, because the only PROPER way to cure heartburn from low acid is to add adequate acid to the stomach. This is the only way that can make a previously open sphincter close.

Lowering acid is not the way to go

If heartburn causes seldom include too much acid why then does your doctor routinely prescribe acid-LOWERING medication? The answer is also simple. The prescribed medication stops acid production and therefore stops heartburn before it happens. This method certainly solves the heartburn, but never addressed to cause of the problem.

Think of it this way, when there is fire there is smoke. The cause of the smoke is not unknown. It is caused by fire. It is foolish to think you can save a forest by putting down the smoke and leaving the fire going. The right way to save the forest is to put down the fire. With fire gone, the smoke will be gone as well.

Heartburn is like the smoke and low stomach acid is like the fire. Antacids work by putting down the “smoke” or removing heartburn without addressing heartburn causes. Without addressing the causes the symptoms will return.

Why you need stomach acid

  1. To digest food: You need stomach acid to digest your food and extract nutrients. Studies find a strong link between use of antacids and nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, calcium as well as many other nutrients.
  2. To keep healthy: Fatigue, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cardiac arrhythmias, cognitive decline, increased susceptibility to infections among many others, are well documented effects of long term prescription medication for acid reflux.
  3. To have strong immune system: Sufficient stomach acid is necessary to “sterilize” food. Lack of stomach acid has a profound effect on gut flora. Harmful yeast (frequently overgrowth of Candida) and bacteria, when present in large amounts in digestive tract cause a cascade of far-reaching consequences from indigestion to inflammatory bowel diseases, allergies, asthma, skin conditions, infections including pneumonia, decreased immunity, diabetes, obesity, mental problems, including anxiety, mental decline, ADHD, hyperactivity, and even depression.

If major heartburn causes include insufficient stomach acid then it is foolish to lower stomach acid even lower. This temporary fix will only keep your heartburn going and cause a cascading effect of poor health in the future.

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References you may want to read:

  1. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=204783
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15135846
  3. http://www.tga.gov.au/hp/msu-2011-03.htm#risk
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21318590
  5. http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts/digestive_health/safety-concerns-PPIs_6156-1.html
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156250/

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