I don’t keep up with drug sales let alone the actions and side effects of all the latest drugs. But I would think antacids must be making pharmaceutical companies literally billions of dollars each year. (The January 8, 2001 issue of Business Week mentions that Priolsec is the top selling prescription drug in the world. It earns Astra Zeneca (the drug’s maker) 6 billion dollars per year.)
One of the reasons that antacids sell so well is that they stop the pain in 60-70% of the cases. (A recent online survey of over 4200 patients taking Priolosec.) If you’re troubled with chronic acid reflux and you can take a pill and all the pain just disappears, it seems like you’re doing the right thing, doesn’t it? Before you answer that let me explain the digestive process and then ask you that question again.
Digestion is literally a miracle. All the different types of foods and yet your body knows the exact enzymes and the correct amount to properly breakdown each food to its simplest component. Complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, proteins are broken down into their individual amino acids and fats and oils are reduced to their individual fatty acids. And then the process of properly absorbing these nutrients along with the vitamins, minerals and enzymes plus other things that were still learning about. If you eat different foods you get different kinds and amounts of enzymes to digest them.
As you chew your food you help break it down for your stomach as well as blend it with saliva which helps start the whole process. As the food enters the stomach it starts to churn and release digestive enzymes. Hydrocloric acid (HCl) is one of the most important enzymes that the stomach releases. The amount of HCl that leaves the stomach with the food entering the small intestines stimulate fluids from the liver and gallbladder as well as enzymes from the pancreas to complete the digestive process. It is essential that the right amount of HCl enters the small intestines to begin a wavelike motion called peristalsis that help move the food throughout the intestines. If the level of HCl is less than ideal then every other step in the digestive process is compromised.
It’s like when you have a row of dominos stacked together and push the first one over a chain reaction happens. Without HCl the rest of the digestive process is severely compromised. If you don’t produce the right amount of enzymes then you cannot breakdown your foods properly. If you don’t break your foods down properly you can not absorbe nutrients that your body requires. Studies of individuals who have used antacids over a long peiord of time find evidence of malnutrition. Doesn’t that make sense? What do antacids do? They severely reduced if not completely block the release of HCl. Remember the chain of dominos.
When you consistently reduced the amount of HCl that is released from your stomach that causes a series of changes in the lining of your stomach. A healthy stomach has a mucous lining that protects the stomach from its own acids. When the body senses that this coating has been reduced it automatically reduces the amount of HCl it secretes. As this happens the stomach will churn more to help break down the foods. After a series of processes, this increase of abnormal stomach contractions can force what little bit of HCl you produce up into the esophagus.
This can cause a burning or painful sensation from your stomach up into the back of your throat. This is called acid reflux. This condition is rarely due to the overproduction of HCl. If this problem is not corrected over a lifetime the chronic inflammation to the cells can lead to cancer. But be forewarned, the chronic suppression of HCl with antacids will lead to incompletely digested food irritating your intestines and increasing your chance for colon cancer. Usually the mechanism I described above is leading to the inappropriate release of HCl into the esophagus. It is true eliminating the amount of HCl you produce will relieve symptoms. It’s also true that these drugs will relieve you of the normal digestive process.
Now the main question is this- is the choice between symptom relieve with drugs or suffering pain with each meal? No! By properly correcting the dysfunction within the digestive system you can, not only restore proper function without drugs, you can also overcome your acid reflux.
There are several principles to good digestion. Completely chewing your food, not combining proteins with sweet fruits, don’t eat too quickly, eat foods that are consistent with your body and blood type, too much dairy with a meal could interfere with the digestive process and watch the junk food. Fiber helps move the food through your digestive system.
A lot of time patients with digestive problems also notice that they have discomfort between the shoulder blades. Neurologically this is very significant. The nerves between the fourth thoracic and eight thoracic are some of the most important controlling nerves to your digestive system. If you carry nerve pressure in your upper back then your digestive system is most likely compromised. Now remember, you can have nerve pressure without back symptoms, though alot of patients with acid reflux know what I’m talking about when I talk about discomfort between their shoulder blades.
B-vitamins are very important when it comes to digestion and because you can’t store B-vitamins. A good percentage of patients with digestive problems also have deficiencies in some of their B-vitamins. We also use targeted nutritional formulas to help restore the normal lining of the stomach along with diet and Chiropractic adjustments.
The care I just outlined for acid reflux is also extremely beneficial from most other digestive problems. Chiropractic care is the most effective treatment on the planet for digestive disorders. Most other approaches, even with gastroenterologists, focus primarily on symptom relieve and not correction.
Now let me ask you that question again and tell me if you might have a different answer. If you’re troubled with chronic acid reflux and you can take a pill and all the pain just disappears, it seems like you’re doing the right thing, doesn’t it? Are you?