Acid Reflux: Major Mis-Diagnosis  

Those suffering with stomach and intestinal problems are led to believe that heartburn, indigestion, gas, and reflux are caused by overproduction of stomach acid. This is a common misconception and strongly supported by conventional medicine whose practitioners routinely prescribe stomach acid blocking medications at the slightest sign of stomach dysfunction without properly diagnosing the digestive problem by first monitoring the stomach's acid producing function, using scientific methods and neglecting to provide patients with common sense dietary recommendations.

The pharmaceutical firms with their considerable influence on the medical profession have, through advertising, incentives to doctors and various other forms of indoctrination, made it an almost reflex reaction on the part of most physicians, even many gastro-enterologists, to jump to the conclusion that a majority of gastric problems can be easily treated by the use of acid blocking medications. Because the American public over-consumes unhealthy food at an alarming rate, the routine use of acid blockers is highly profitable for pharmaceutical firms, provides instant relief for many sufferers, but can bring about long-term health problems for many misdiagnosed users.

Too Much Or Too Little Stomach Acid - Same Symptoms

Strangely enough, the symptoms of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCL) over-production and under production are virtually identical. It is therefore unwise to jump to conclusions regarding what's occurring in the stomach without actual testing. Since stomach acid decreases with age, it is illogical to think GERD symptoms are caused by acid overproduction. And since stomach acid plays such a critical role in overall health, lowering already low stomach acids with acid blockers has serious consequences. Based upon the testing of sample groups, it has been theorized that well over half of the U.S. population beyond the age of fifty years is under-producing hydrochloric acid on a constant basis, leading to a host of digestive and immune disturbances. Although the condition is not uncommon in younger persons as well. Todays demineralized, devitalized diet that so many are consuming greatly contributes to this problem.

Stomach acid or gastric acid, is comprised of three main components (pepsin, hydrochloric acid and mucous) and is a crucial step in the digestive process. Responsible for breaking down proteins, producing bile, stimulating the pancreas to produce digestive enzyme, and killing harmful bacteria, stomach acid is crucial for healthy digestion and assimilation of food. The acidic environment created by the gastric acid can help the small intestines absorb iron, calcium and other minerals and vitamins. Without optimal stomach acid, we are vulnerable to poor digestion and all of its manifestations, gas, bloating, eczema, allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, vitamin deficiencies and many chronic degenerative diseases.

For most people that suffer from GERD symptoms, the true underlying cause is actually LOW stomach acid production. When food enters a stomach without enough acid, it is unable to properly move through the digestive tract. Food that sits in the stomach can push its way back up through the Lower Esophageal Sphincter and cause heartburn and the feeling of fullness. Food is also unable to move efficiently down the GI tract, the pancreas does not produce the necessary digestive enzymes and food will start to ferment. The fermentation process causes gas, bloating, constipation, and over prolonged amounts of time, can lead to food allergies, IBS, diverticulitis, and other chronic diseases.

Testing For Optimal Stomach Acid

A test, the "Heidelberg Capsule Test" is available (unfortunately few physicians have the equipment in their offices to provide it) that is capable of scientifically determining the stomach's ability to produce adequate concentrations of acid (HCL). There is a simple and practical way to test whether or not one needs stomach acid supplementation (betaine HCl with pepsin) and even estimate how much one needs. As reported in the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine (4/06) An Easy Way to Evaluate Digestion by Judy Kitchen :

Place your hand just underneath your sternum (in the center of-your chest) in-between your ribs. Move your finger an inch down (to the center of your diaphragm) and about one inch to the left, next to the left edge of the rib cage. Press in deeply, and if you feel pain or tenderness, you need more stomach acid (or betaine HCl with pepsin). The more tender it feels, the greater the problem. Return to the point one inch below your sternum, and then again move your finger about an inch, this time to the right. Press in firmly. If the spot is tender, you need to take pancreatic or combined enzymes about a half-hour before, or at least two hours after, meals.

If the central point (one inch below your sternum) or pancreatic point are sensitive, but the HCl or stomach point is not, you probably should not be taking betaine HCl. You need to stop taking it and see if either of those points continue to be tender. Make sure that your diet is high in organic sodium and potassium, as in fresh vegetable juices (organically grown, if possible). If any of the reflex points are unmistakably tender, it would be wise to make an appointment with a physician who is skilled in natural medicine to have the tests and the guidance you need, For example, you may need to be tested for specific nutrient deficiencies, heavy metals, celiac disease, or infections such as H. Pylon. (Simply by taking a gram of mastic gum daily for two weeks, 99% of H. Pylon can been eliminated.) With positive changes, such as the avoidance of allergenic food, your tissue levels of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids can be restored. Enzyme systems, cells, tissues, and organs can then repair themselves, and you will in all likelihood no longer need betaine HCl. When none of the reflex points are even faintly tender, your digestion has been fully restored.

Do not rely on this test if you are not really sure that you are able to find or feel these reflex points. Some people have lost the ability to feel them. If you suspect that you have a digestive problem, without delay ask a nutritionally knowledgeable doctor to give you the Heidelberg capsule test (which shows the stomach's exact pH) or the Comprehensive Digestive and Stool Analysis (which shows how well food is being digested). Digestion is of foremost importance. No other therapy works when long-term low stomach acid has not been corrected. Remember not to take anti-inflammatory medicine when you take betaine HO. Cortieosteroids, aspirin, or non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin or Advil) irritate, and can even further damage, the gastrointestinal tract.

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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

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