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Most of us with autoimmune disease are told at some point or another that we have GERD a/k/a acid reflux. During my journey I had an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) that told me he thought I had “silent” reflux. I had never heard of such thing and as per usual, dove into research mode to learn more.
If you head down the research road on this subject things can get very scary,very quickly.
Horrible, horrible shit.
Of course, this doctor did his fair share of putting the fear of God into me to try and get me to take medicine. Let me say this first and foremost: fear mongering makes me in-freaking-sane. The way that big pharma and traditional medicine doctors have handled the whole acid reflux, heartburn and GERD is (in my opinion) CRIMINAL. This particular ENT doctor was one in a long list of uninformed traditional medicine docs I’ve visited. At this particular time the biggest symptoms I was trying to remedy were chronic post nasal drip, tightness in my throat, and a nagging feeling that something was logged in my throat.
I still hadn’t had my Hashimoto diagnosis.
After his dog and pony show, a look up my nose and down my throat with a scope, he tells me he doesn’t see anything obvious, he thinks I have silent reflux. Really? I’m thinking, WTF is that?
“Tell Me More, Please.” I Ask
What he claims happens is that you basically have acid reflux but you don’t feel it happening. He said that I was actually having reflux and my body was producing phlegm to coat the sensitive areas of my throat for protection…from the acid reflux. That was his explanation of my post nasal drip. I’m NOT joking.
By now I am basically hysterical thinking I have had this problem for years and I am going to end up with esophageal cancer so I start immediately taking a PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors), and using a wedge shaped pillow to raise my shoulders when sleeping (another fear tactic) because I’m told that acid flows upwards at night when you are sleeping and does damage to your esophagus.
Let me say this. Yes, there are some people who are going to have a legitimate problem with what we’ll cumulatively call acid reflux. The condition where the body produces low levels of stomach acid is called hypochlorhydria and it’s real. Symptoms include:
- Burping not long after you start/finish eating (this was HUGE for me! I burped for YEARS)
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Gas after eating. Sometimes up to two hours after eating.
The entire class of PPI inhibitor drugs (Prilosec, Nexium, Zantac, Previcid, Malox, to name a few) is the LARGEST SELLING CLASS OF DRUGS in the United States today. With $9.5 BILLION in sales in 2012, big pharma is not letting go of this cash cow (and the fear they instill in you so you’ll take it) any time soon.
PPI inhibitors basically block the production of gastric acid in the stomach so that it doesn’t “back up” into the esophagus.
Here is where it is especially troublesome for women. The United States FDA advises that no more than three, 14-day treatment courses should be used in one year. Why? Increased potential for bone fractures. I quote here directly from Wikipedia (best and briefest explanation I could find)
“Gastric acid is important for breakdown of food and release of micronutrients, and some studies have shown possibilities for interference with absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin B12. With regard to iron and vitamin B12 the data are weak and several confounding factors have been identified. Reduction in calcium absorption has been especially concerning, which led the FDA to include a warning on PPI drug labels in 2010. Interference with magnesium absorption is accepted as a class effect and people who have low levels of magnesium as a result of PPI therapy are switched to H2-receptor antagonist drugs. High dose or long-term use of PPIs carries a possible increased risk of bone fractures.
Can you say osteoporosis?
The first sentence in the above quoted paragraph is KEY. It says, “GASTRIC ACID IS IMPORTANT FOR BREAKDOWN OF FOOD AND RELEASE OF MICRONUTRIENTS…”
If you are abusing these drugs (taking daily or long-term), in addition to what the FDA warning noted above, it is inhibiting your ability to get the nutrition your body needs to function. End game = a whole other host of problems that big pharma with tell you they have a solution (pill) for. Oh, I don’t know, things like Osteoporosis (thanks, but no thanks, Sally Fields), diabetes and obesity.
The vast majority of us autoimmune folks have digestion issues. But they don’t stem from the stomach down, but rather the imbalanced gut up.
When you block the production of acid in the stomach here’s what happens. Your improperly digested food leaves the stomach and the GI tract keeps pushing it along in your system. When it gets to your intestines and it hasn’t arrived broken down properly due to the PPI inhibitor drug stopping the production of gastric juices, first and foremost you don’t get the nutritional benefit of the foods you have consumed. It just sits there because it has arrived in a form that it’s not supposed to be in. Add to this another horrible problem with most people who consume the standard American diet (SAD) – dysbiosis. This is an imbalance of the bacteria (good and bad) that we need in our intestines (a/k/a gut) for the body to absorb nutrients and eliminate (a/k/a poo) after processing. Leaky gut, a common thread with autoimmunity, plays into our dysbiosis.
What happens next is really gross (deep breath…) when it gets to the intestines and it desperately tries to work with what it has been given and can’t do the job it’s supposed to, the food basically putrefies (rots) while it is sitting there. Got some nasty smelling farts? Well this could be part of THAT problem.
BREAK THE FREAKING CYCLE
Get to the root cause of the problem and stop placating the symptoms.
Do you want to know how most of us can solve our acid reflux issues?
Are you sitting down? No, seriously, because most of you are NOT going to believe this one.
You solve this problem by adding more acid to the equation.
Acid OR digestive aids (namely digestive enzymes, HCL–hydrochloric acid). Here’s my FAVORITE combo of HCL & digestive enzymes.
For all of you out there taking these pills regularly, the news is grim. Already suffering from poor nutrition (eating the standard American diet), what little nutrition you could be eeking out of your food will pretty much be non-existent. If you food isn’t properly breaking down you aren’t getting the nutrients from it. Period.
The food and chemicals in the SAD, have ruined your body’s ability to do the job it was designed to do. Roll in a little stress, alcohol consumption and the aging body’s slower metabolism and thus lower production of gastric juices and viola’, you have the perfect storm for an impending disaster.
Here is what worked for me and it was a complete game changer and super easy to do.
With every meal I take digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCL). One of each.
The burping I had been experiencing most of my life…stopped. STOPPED.
Because I am on the autoimmune protocol (AIP), I have been working for a year to clean up and heal my gut with food and supplements. buy adding more acid into the mix, not blocking it, the results I’ve been getting have been amazing.
I also know some people who have had great success with taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) before a meal. This also helps to aid in digestion and is the most natural solution to the problem. Dilute 1 tablespoon in a few ounces of water before meals. It helps to stimulate the body’s natural ability produce what is needed to digest foods. If you try this and it has not worked for you, you might want to go to the enzyme/HCL combo.
There are a million articles out there about what a wonder “drug” apple cider vinegar is. I don’t know that it is the cure all many claim, but I do know that a lot of people have success with it on multiple levels and it is a cheap, non-chemical natural treatment worth adding without worrying about side effects. It is VERY important that you buy ORGANIC UNFILTERED apple cider vinegar with the mother (beneficial properties) still in it.
One way I have easily integrated ACV into my diet is in my huge daily dinner salads.
My salad dressing consists of 4 items.
- Cold pressed extra virgin organic olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar (unfiltered/organic)
- Ripe avocado
- Salt & Pepper
Being told I had silent reflux was just another example of how traditional medicine failed me. I didn’t have an excess acid problem, I had a LOW acid problem. HUGE difference. This particular doctor told me to take the PPI inhibitors for three months (12 weeks) yet the FDA advises that no one should exceed 6 weeks total in one year. UUUGGGHHH.
I continued on the path of traditional medicine for years because my health insurance providers would not pay for the doctors and treatments I wanted. Hence, I kept meeting time and time again with drug pushers, not healers. I finally broke the cycle and started paying for my own doctors and when I did, my health started to improve greatly. There seems to be a trend now in MDs who are holistically based. I urge you to find one you that will work with you to HEAL your problems, not placate your symptoms with drug based “remedies”.
I think this is a really important issues we all need to be looking at. Nutrition is key to healing. Even if you think you are eating the right foods, if you aren’t properly digesting them, they aren’t doing you any freaking good.You aren't what you eat, you are what you absorb. Click To Tweet
I hope this helps. and as always, help me to reach more people who need help by sharing this content with anyone you think might benefit from the info.
Thanks ever so much.