Digestion: What Doctors Don't Tell You
Essentials Of Life was officially established in 1994, but was actually founded
in the mid 70's, unintentionally, by my wife June, as a result of health
problems she had when we were living in Vermont. Despite one doctors'
suggestion that she examine alternatives before electing to have surgery, a
dairy product triggered an attack that left no choice but to have her gall
bladder removed. After the operation, we assumed that her digestive problems
would be history.
By the time we moved back to New Hampshire, in 1982, June's digestive problems
had resumed. Doctors, even a referred specialist in gastroenterology (digestive
system) didn't seem to have the answers. She was diagnosed with IBS (irritable
bowel syndrome), but even the recommended dietary changes made little
difference. All too often, stomach pain became a normal interruption to her
sleep pattern. She read all of the medical books and related articles she could
Frustrated and determined to get well, she began reading about natural
alternatives. A whole new world opened up when she discovered digestive
enzymes. Unlike harsh OTC drugs that interact with and deplete stomach acid,
digestive enzymes work in the pancreas to properly break the food down. Foods
were once rich with built-in enzymes but have become deficient. Less than two
weeks after taking enzymes with meals, stomach cramps previously occurring
within a half hour after eating, became a rarity instead of the norm. For under
$20.00, years of pain and thousands of dollars in medical costs were virtually
erased and Essentials Of Life was being born.
We know that digestive enzymes may not be the single remedy for every stomach
disorder. But, we do know that it isn't normal to be sick. Behind every symptom
there's a cause. June's dedication to learning about her illness ultimately led
to the quality of life she can finally enjoy. More than twenty five years
before Essentials Of Life was established, Dr. Jim Perry in Vermont unknowingly
planted a seed as he implied that there may be other options to surgery.
Over 7 billion dollars a year is spent on over-the-counter and prescription
digestive aids for symptoms including acid indigestion, digestive upsets, gas,
bloat, poor elimination, and more. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body
depends on the healthy digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food.
Unfortunately, cooking and processing methods destroy enzymes in our food that
are so necessary for proper digestion. Our bodies can't manufacture enough of
the right ones. As a result, our bodies attempt to compensate by withdrawing
enzymes needed for digestion from its own "bank". Over time, these heavy
withdrawals coupled with skimpy deposits lead to a bankrupt digestive system
and ultimately, a lifetime of improper digestion, poor nutrient absorption, and
less than ideal cell regeneration-degeneration. Tagamet, Pepcid, Tums, and
other antacids, designed to reduce stomach acid, are merely masking the
symptoms and may make a bad situation worse by disrupting the body's natural
When there is insufficient hydrochloric/gastric acid, whether naturally or from
taking antacids, nutrients cannot be absorbed. Antacids also reduce
hydrochloric acid so that food isn't broken down completely, resulting in
fermentation, allergic symptoms, and painful intestinal problems. Meat needs
large amounts of acid to be broken down. Without adequate stomach acid it rots
in the intestine, inviting bacteria that can cause painful gas, bloating, and
if chronic, colon infections and eventually cancer. In masking the symptoms in
the stomach, are we neglecting the real cause of the problems in the pancreas?
The pancreas is a digestive organ in the abdomen, located just below the
stomach. The primary job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes required for the
digestion and absorption of food.
Each day the pancreas secretes about 1.5 quarts of pancreatic juice into the
small intestine. The enzymes secreted by the pancreas break down food by
breaking the chemical bonds that hold food molecules together. Enzymes secreted
include lipases which digest fat, proteases which digest proteins, and amylases
which digest starch molecules.
Do You Need Your Gallblatter?
The gall bladder stores bile, and releases it in optimum quantities when it is
needed. Without your gall bladder, the liver will still produce bile, but the
bile will leak inside you because it will not have a proper place to go.The
spleen breaks down worn-out red blood cells into bile salts and other
substances. (Even worn out blood cells get used). Bile salts are normal in the
body when in normal amounts. The liver removes excess bile salts and wastes and
sends them to the gall bladder for storage. The liver is the body's principal
chemical plant. If a man built a plant to perform all the chemical functions
someone's liver could perform, the plant would cover 500 acres.While the
products are in the gall bladder, water is reabsorbed and so the waste products
get more and more concentrated and form bile.
Bile is needed for 3 things:
• It neutralizes the acid from the stomach (because bile is very alkaline)
• It breaks down fats so that they can be digested
• It is a natural laxative for the colon
Roughly 20 million Americans suffer from gallstones, and 750,000 of them have
their gallbladders removed each year. There are 800,000 hospitalizations and 2
billion dollars spent annually on gallbladder disease.
from Living Without A Gallbladder by Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP:
For most people the pain of a malfunctioning gallbladder eventually becomes
unbearable. After several trips to the emergency room the mention of surgery is
met with certain approval. Unfortunately this seemingly simple solution may or
may not end the pain and discomfort of gallbladder disease. The probable
after-effects of gallbladder surgery are never discussed with the patient which
leaves the patient with the impression that all will be back-to-normal after
surgery. But it doesn't take long to realize that all is "not well" and the
patient soon begins to feel very betrayed by their surgeon and doctor who did
not prepare them for "life without a gallbladder."
Contrary to medical opinion the gallbladder is of use to the body. The
gallbladder is a small sac underneath your liver that stores and secretes bile,
a digestive fluid that breaks down fats. Gallstones form when the chemical
compounds in bile become unbalanced -- no one's sure exactly why this happens,
but a diet high in fat often makes the problem worse. Since bile is actually
produced by the liver, it's possible to survive without a gallbladder, but
often not without unpleasant digestive tract complications.The gallbladder is
like a pump. Without it, the liver can't secrete enough bile to properly digest
a full meal. Many people experience symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, abdominal
pain, bloating, indigestion, constipation, increased allergies, liver
congestion, itchy skin and autoimmune diseases. Some patients suffer from
dumping syndrome, in which food is "dumped" too quickly into the intestines
from the stomach.
Suggestions for living without a gallbladder:
If your gallbladder is removed your Liver will still produce bile. It won't be
the amount that the gallbladder was able to store, but enough. Eat lower fat
foods and smaller portions at each meal.
• Diet is extremely important. Eat low-fat, high fiber, organic and healthy.
Eliminate refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated oils.
• Every four months a liver cleanse or flush should be performed. People without gallbladders may develop stones in
the liver which will lead to a sluggish liver. Remember that the liver is the
main filter of the body.
• Digestive Enzymes with Ox Bile- You will need to take enzymes for the rest of your life in order to digest the
good fats (Omega 3) which are essential for good health.
Ox Bile is a suitable supplement to the liver's production of bile. Bile is
naturally produced by the body and is used in the process of digestion.
Symptoms of constipation and a tan colored stool may indicate that the body's
production of bile is less than optimal. Ox Bile supports the pancreas, gall
bladder and liver in producing bile salts and helps digest fats. Binds with
cholesterol which is then flushed out of the body. Reduces bloating, gas,
nausea and pain after a high fat meal. Bile is essential in peristalsis - the
wavy action that moves food through the intestines.
• Reduce chemical overload on the liver (pre-packaged food, personal care
products, lawn products, perfumes, cosmetics, etc.)
• Drink only filtered water - Try to drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of
water every day.
• Reduce animal intake (meat and dairy) - When consuming animal products make
sure they are free-range, organic and hormone-free.
• Eliminate white sugar and white flour
• Exercise daily for 30 minutes. Walking is highly suggested.
• Get 30 minutes of sunshine on as much of your body as is legal, everyday, for
adequate Vitamin D production.
An Easy Way to Evaluate Stomach Acid
published in the Townsend Letter For Doctors by Judy Kitchen (4/06)
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. Dr. Mark-Charles Berquist, DC, ND ,gave
me this method to share with the readers of the TLDP. It is so easy and almost
instant, one can use the method during meal times to ensure the correct dose of
betaine HCl with pepsin at each meal. 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.1 If the spot is tender, you need to take pancreatic or
combined enzymes about a half-hour before, or at least two hours after,
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.