Question: I have to take antacids for acid reflux. Is there something natural I can do?
Answer: Although antacids bring quick relief for acid reflux, their long-term use can make the problem worse and cause other health issues. It’s better to target the underlying causes of your acid reflux for lasting relief.
The most important thing to understand is that in many cases, acid reflux is caused by too little stomach acid, not too much. How can this be?
Too little stomach acid can cause acid reflux
Stomach acid is necessary to break down protein, absorb nutrients, and protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. But when stomach acid is too low, food is not properly digested. This is a problem because sufficient acidity is necessary to trigger the valve to the small intestine to open and allow food to continue its journey through the digestive tract. When stomach acid is too low, the valve does not open, food lingers too long in the stomach (causing discomfort), and eventually shoots back up into the esophagus. Although the contents are not acidic enough for the stomach, they are too acidic for the delicate tissue of the espophagus. This is what causes the burning sensations associated with acid reflux.
Underlying causes of acid reflux
Factors that cause too little stomach acid include an H. pylori bacterial infection (likewise low stomach acid increases the risk of H. pylori infection), a poor diet, stress, and antacid medications.
- Pylori overgrowth: An H. pylori infection, the most common chronic bacterial infection, occurs in the stomach and affects more than 50 percent of the world’s population. H. pylori promotes acid reflux by decreasing stomach acid. Fortunately, there are ways to combat H. pylori naturally.
Gluten: Gluten, the protein in wheat, could be a culprit in your acid reflux. Research shows chronic acid reflux affects 30 percent of celiac disease patients compared to less than 5 percent of those without the disease (celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by eating gluten). Additional research showed almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that causes heartburn.
Other gut symptoms usually present with acid reflux
Acid reflux is just one of many symptoms that alert you to a gut in trouble. Things that worsen gut health include undiagnosed food intolerances (meaning a food causes chronic inflammation), chronic stress, bacterial gut infections, and too much sugar. For instance, research has found significantly more people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) complain of acid reflux.
Although antacids may bring temporarily relief, they may worsen your acid reflux problem in the long run because they lower stomach acid, contributing to a vicious cycle of symptoms and compromised digestion.
Contact my office for natural ways to relieve your acid reflux.
Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
Direct any questions to: email@example.com