What is GERD?

Alan Gaby, MD had a great saying that describes the progression of poor health in America. He said it was a sequence, “Big Mac, Zantac, Prozac”. In other words, you eat junk, you develop digestive problems (reflux) and eventually, through the lack of necessary cofactors and nutrients,  the nervous system is affected, creating depression.

GERD is an acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease. And, according to Dr. Gaby’s model, your patient with reflux may have some issues with diet and lifestyle. Obesity has been linked to GERD,  the recent rise in the obesity epidemic may have led to an increase in GERD hospitalizations. In fact, a recent Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief shows that the obesity epidemic has had a profound effect on hospitalizations. Between 1996 and 2004, the number of hospitalizations with obesity diagnoses increased by 112% while all other hospitalizations increased by only 13%.

All patients do not have the same symptoms, but they may have some or even all of the following:

  • Heartburn (the most common symptom; a rising, burning sensation in the chest
  • Sour or bitter taste from regurgitation of stomach contents
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Belching
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Waterbrash (sudden excess flow of saliva)
  • Hoarseness
  • Bad Breath

Americans spend around $10 billion per year treating GERD. Up to 60% of the population at some time during the year, and 20% to 30% weekly, experience symptoms of GERD. More serious complications may emerge, such as the precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma.

There are natural products that can help:

  • Gastrazyme: Source of vitamin U and other nutrients known to oppose inflammation and assist with healing in the gastro-intestinal tract. Use with ulcers, hiatal hernia, acid-reflux, excess HCl production, heartburn, sour stomach and as a source of chlorophyll.
  • Bio-HPF: A broad-spectrum herbal-based formula designed to ameliorate gastric inflammation and erosion caused by H-pylori bacteria. Recent (1999) clinical studies have shown the product to be effective (reducing the antigen) in over 80% of the cases where H-pylori has been identified (serum, breath and/or stool testing).

For most patients, the dietary changes and simple supplementation are enough to relieve heartburn.

CAN IT BE YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION?

Gastric reflux can be caused by certain medications. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden examined the possible connection between the reflux-producing drugs and the incidence of cancer. They compared 618 subjects, with three different kinds of esophageal cancer to 820 subjects who did not have cancer. The researchers tracked the prescription drug-use of the subjects. In particular, they looked at five classes of drugs known to cause reflux.

People who took one of the drugs were more likely to have esophageal adenocarcinoma. If they took the drug for less than five years, the increase was not statistically significant. If, however, they took the drug for five years or more, the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma more than doubled. Only 6.6% of those who did not take any of the medications for more than five years developed esophageal adenocarcinoma. The instance of the disease in the group taking the medications for five years or more was 17.5%. The increase occurred only in esophageal adenocarcinoma and not in other types of esophageal cancer.

OBVIOUSLY, RELIEF IS MORE THAN JUST A PILL:

Diet is perhaps the best way to get this symptom under control.

  • You need to eat slowly and chew food completely.
  • Don’t drink with meals.
  • Eat plenty of fresh produce.
  • Don’t eat between dinner and bedtime.
  • Avoid refined sugar
  • Avoid white, refined grain
  • Avoid deep-fried foods and hydrogenated oil.
  • Fresh cabbage juice helps soothe irritated esophageal tissue

Supplements can also help. There are nutrients known to oppose inflammation and assist with healing in the gastro-intestinal tract.  Examples

  • include Gastrazyme and Bio-HPF from Biotics Research

These simple steps help give relief to most people with gastric reflux. Occasionally other issues make the problem more persistent. Call for a consultation and we will help you design a program that works for you.

SEEMS COUNTERINTUITIVE, BUT SOMETIMES HCl IS NEEDED.

Patients with acid reflux often are not producing enough stomach acid. Many times, however, giving HCl helps the pylorus to relax, facilitates stomach emptying and keeps the contents out of the esophagus. Consider learning a good hands-on technique for hiatal hernia.

Patients who need HCl often have symptoms: Nails break easily; Gas or bloating immediately after a meal; Distaste for meat; Vitamin supplements make the patient nauseous; Coated tongue (there are other causes of this); Itchy anus (there are other causes of this).

There are a number of health issues that have been linked to underproduction of hydrochloric acid.

Hypochlorhydra linked to:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Depression (Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids—HCl is necessary to break protein down into amino acids.)
  • Arthritis (Protein is completely broken down, so the body steals from the joints to fill its need.)
  • A variety of digestive problems, including irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea and Candidiasis

It is a good idea to start with a very low dose to help prevent aggravating the symptoms. Biotics makes two supplements that have a low dose of HCl. They are Hydro-ZymeTM and HCL- PlusTM.  Please contact us for more information.

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