Astra Zeneca makes the drug Priolsec. According to Business Week, January 8, 2001, this is [was] the top selling prescription drug in the world, earning the drug maker an easy $6 Billion per year!
Priolsec is obviously dispensed in large quantities for what seems to be a global digestive issue. The reality of this issue is recognized with descriptive terms like Acid Reflux; Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD); Gastric Reflux; Reflux Esophagitis; and just plain old Indigestion or Heart Burn to name a few.
All such issues point to symptoms of mucosa damage that is produced by the abnormal reflux of stomach acid, duodenal bile, enzymes and stomach contents traveling back into the esophagus. At this point they impact the sensitive mucous tissue of the esophagus causing the burning and inflammation manifesting in the typical symptom of ‘heartburn’!
Those that suffer from this intermittent and often chronic distress can easily attest to the great discomfort while many, at the same time, are completely unaware of the far reaching consequences. There is, without question, a severe downside to acid related stomach issues.
So common are these health problems, that it actually affects one out of two adults. GERD, or peptic ulcer disease, is often associated with the or caused by having too much acid in your stomach.
If you have ever suffered from the inflamed stomach lining with its associated burning pain of gastritis, you might quickly succumb to the standard rhetoric of employing anti-acid pills to reduce the amount of stomach acid.
One might ask, Is this approach a serious mistake? Or, Is this approach best for me and my future health? Many suffering people are quick to apply this simple application of ‘anti-acid’ formulation because it give them relief!
Unfortunately, while many people do have symptom relief, they never address the root cause of their acid reflux issue. Taking a pill or two to relieve the symptoms while ignoring the cause only allows the many unseen health challenges to continue.
One point should be very clear. Unresolved gastric distress can lead to a host of other chronic conditions – like peptic ulcers, poor sleep patterns and other very negative issues.
First and most important it is critical to understand that the stereo-typical acid reflux IS NOT a disease caused by too much stomach acid being produced! Second, there are generally two types of recognizable, and correctable, reflux symptoms that most people suffer from.
The first is associated with the angle in which the esophagus enters the stomach. This juncture creates a valve that is designed to prevent stomach contents from moving back into the esophagus. If compromised, the physical positioning of the stomach can be displaced and the motility of the stomach challenged. When this exists, the stomach acid moves out of your stomach and comes up into the esophagus resulting in a very horrible taste and undeniable discomfort. This is very often a result of a hiatal hernia and is easily correctable without surgery.
The second recognizable symptom is the on-and-off burning and bloating sensation following a meal that sometimes continues for many hours. This is generally an indication of low stomach acid and enzymes that are required to properly digest your meal.
Clients with Natural Health Quest begin with a Stress Analysis and learn first hand as to what food combinations to avoid and which enzymes and food supplementation will specifically help them avoid and resolve this problem.
There are many factors which have been linked with GERD and/or can contribute to these issues. Obesity with its increased body mass effects all body functions especially the heart and digestion; gallstones which can impede the flow of bile into the duodenum thereby affecting the ability of the body to neutralize gastric acid; and even obstructive sleep apnea.
Regardless of the symptoms, this gastritis condition called GERD, indigestion, etc., is always ear-marked by a imbalance in the stomach bacteria which sets the foundation for all future problems.
The food passes out of your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach. There is a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that closes and prevents the chewed and swallowed food along with the stomach acid from moving back up into the esophagus.
However, if there is any incompetence of the LES, or a transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation, or even a hiatal hernia – reflux of some description might result. Also, there is the potential for acid reflux that manifests itself in the respiratory and laryngeal area. Called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) or extraesophageal reflux disease (EERD). Because of its very characteristics, it is referred to as silent reflux and it is very unlikely to produce the symptoms of heartburn, and thus will not be addressed in detail at this point.
The recognizable burning sensation radiating from the stomach and in the area of the mid-chest and throat that many experience is due to a combination of factors. The stomach is a series of muscles that contract and relax once food enters. This convulsing actions mixes the stomach acid with the food to continue the digestive process. However, if the LES is relaxed or held open because of a hiatal hernia, this acid splashes onto the esophagus where the tissues are not protected from the stomach acid pH. If you are lying down, this acid can also creep upwards all the way to the throat where it may be regurgitated.
The standard corrective response is to use drugs or surgery. The drug approach will certainly disrupt the delicate pH balance of your gastrointestinal tract which challenges future absorption of vital nutrients. There is no conceivable way to maintain a healthy internal system if you continuously neutralize your stomach acid! Once this balance has been compromised, you become susceptible to conditions like chronic infections, osteoporosis, neurological disorders, and even cancer.
The surgical procedure to correct a hiatal hernia is called the Nissen Fundoplication. The upper part of the stomach is surgically wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter. This laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair process is designed to strengthen the sphincter and thereby prevent acid reflux.
What most people call “heart burn” is the primary symptom of acid reflux and many find it most troublesome at night or in connection to eating a heavy meal, bending over, lifting a weighted object, or even lying down.
Other symptoms of this correctable situation include the obvious bad breath, hoarseness, tightness in the throat, asthma, wheezing, and even dental problems.
One item that is also related to the acid reflux is an organism that was once identified as campylobacter, but today this organism is known as helicobacter pylori. The presence of this is related to chronic low-level inflammation of our stomach lining. This inflammation is very possibly a major factor in generating the many symptoms of acid reflux or the often referred to indigestion.
A review of existing studies back in 1999 concluded that 40% of GERD patients had H. pylori infection. The eradication of H. pylori can lead to the much needed acid secretion and improved or even symptom free digestion.
Pharmaceuticals such as rabeprazole, omeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, and lansoprazole are proton pump inhibitors that are very effective in reducing gastric acid secretion. These specific drugs are most effective at stopping the acid secretion at the source, very specifically the proton pump.
Gastric H2 receptor blockers like cimetidine, famotidine and ranitidine can reduce gastric acid secretion. Though these are technically antihistamines and they do claim to relieve about 50% of all GERD complaints.
To date, there are approximately 20,000 different articles and research documents providing ample evidence that the suppression of stomach acid does not treat the problem but only ameliorates some of the symptoms some of the time.
The most obvious issue observed by the suppression of the stomach acid – is that you actually eliminate your body’s ability to properly digest your food. This in turn will diminishes your primary defense mechanism for food borne infections; increases your risk of a variety of food poisoning; and, decreases your body’s ability to kill the helicobacter bacteria or any number of other opportunistic ingested bacteria. Hence you perpetuate the inflammation and reflux problem by stomach acid suppression or elimination.
In an effort to distance themselves from all the heartburn, some have also resorted to the use of antibiotics. These antibiotics are consumed to eradicate the helicobacter organism. Fortunately there are more effective strategies to resolve this helicobacter issue. However, before we review the natural options to resolve this digestive complaint, lets first understand How it Works.
In 2002, studies conducted at the University of Michigan by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute gives us direct evidence that reducing stomach acid is the wrong thing to do!
The studies concluded that treatment with prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like Prilosec and Prevacid, or H2 blocker agents like Tagament, Zantac, or Pepcid actually block or inhibit stomach acid production. Since heliocater (H. pylori) pylori cannot be killed by hydrochloric acid, the University scientists discovered that antibiotics were the best way to kill the H. pylori bacteria that was at the root of the gastritis and stomach inflammation. However, they also discovered that when they blocked acid production, their test subjects (mice) acquired more opportunistic bacteria and developed more inflammatory changes in their stomach linings. Regardless of the type of bacteria causing the problem, chronic gastritis can lead to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.
These research findings help us to have a clear indication of the mechanics involved in this distasteful process. First, there needs to be a disruptive influence. For example, we could consume antibiotics, processed foods, or any number of bacteria contaminated foods and water which would increase the number of unfriendly microbes in our stomach. The presence of the unfriendly bacterial colonization triggers an inflammation response within the stomach.
If you cause an inflammation in the stomach lining, your body initiates a cascade response. Your body reacts with an increased production of peptides called cytokines. These cytokines in turn stimulate the production of the hormone gastrin. Gastrin then triggers parietal cells in the stomach lining to produce more hydrochloric acid to help in killing the invading microbes. However, as previously mention, the H. pylori is unaffected.
Ultimately, a lower stomach acid allows for the presence of unfriendly bacteria. There are many species of bacteria that often co-exist with helicobacter and trigger the inflammatory changes. It has been noted that 75% of people with diagnosed gastritis test positive for the H. pylori bacteria.
Again, the seriousness of this condition can not be understated. As clearly reported in the Gastroenterology and The American Journal of Physiology, January 2002, chronic gastritis can lead to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. Worth mentioning again – 1) labs results indicated that the inhibition of gastric acid by products like Prilosec were followed by inflammatory changes in the stomach; 2) observable gastrin-deficiency was caused by inflammation and triggered by an overgrowth of a variety of bacterial species; 3) it is an abnormally low level of stomach acidity that is the crucial factor to initiate all dysfunctional events.
The findings of one on-line survey, specifically of people utilizing the drugs Priolosec or Prevacid, noted some interesting results. In about 40% of the respondents, the “daily heartburn” continued even after taking their drug. Further, as many as 60% reported these same “burning” symptoms three or more times each week. Additionally, as many as 25% of those responding indicated their replacement of the prescription medications with over-the-counter (OTC) products like Pepcid. Finally, a clear 75% responding were simultaneously taking nonprescription medications like Maalox and Tums.
Even though Astra Zeneca is still making billions per year, the problem does not seem to be resolved or even retreating. This #1 drug, like others of its type, seem to have a marginal ability to remove some of the symptoms some of the time – but the cause of the digestive complaints seem to evade this pharmaceutical approach. In fact, all research points to these drugs actually perpetuating the issue!
Many people have been using the conventional proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec or Prevacid. Because of their marginal effectiveness, people utilizing these inhibitors often become dependent upon them to the point of continuous usage. These are very unsafe drugs that even the pharmaceutical industry advocate using for only a very short time.
For those contemplating their reduced usage of such drugs, caution is recommended. There are possible serious repercussions for anyone attempting to wean themselves off of these proton pump inhibitors. One such complication is the potential of a severe rebound effect with the potential of creating a more complicated situation than when you initiated this pharmaceutical usage.
Some gradually decrease their dose to the lowest application of the proton pump inhibitor. Then they substitute with H2 blockers, OTC products like Tagamet or Zantac. From this point they continue to reduce their use of these.
Simultaneously, many people will implement a variety of lifestyle and nutritional changes that help to enhance their future outlook for a symptom-free condition.
A critical first step is to improve the body’s natural production of stomach acid. Most often this can be initiated by increasing unprocessed salt – like the Himalayan salt or even adding a quality hydrochloric acid (HCL) supplementation in an effort to help in the digestion of your food and also assist in the killing of helicobacter.. This salt will provide the body with many necessary trace minerals and with critical amounts of chloride that is required to make hydrochloric acid.
Another step is to remove all foods that trigger allergies. The elimination of additional irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine containing products. Not to be overlooked is the reduction of the abundant supply of processed foods and the many different types of sugars that only serve to exacerbate the reflux symptoms.
Alkalizing your body is always beneficial. Increasing the consumption of vegetables and including fermented foods is always a safe diet change. To further enhance your body’s ability to naturally eliminate helicobacter, include the consumption of the good forms of flora bacteria. It is critical to understand that there are upper, lower and transitory bacteria. Unfortunately, most commercial products only present a single form of the many necessary bacteria.
Drinking more clean water and optimizing your vitamin D levels is essential to improve your immune systems ability to fight any underlying infections. While water is essential to flush out the body of unwanted elements, vitamin D helps optimize the body’s production of hundreds of antimicrobial peptides that assist in the eradication of infections.
Laboratory tests can be used to determine if your vitamin D levels are the optimum 60 ng/ml. To be sure you have adequate levels there are some options to consider.
The first, best, and safest approach to improving vitamin D levels is to enjoy appropriate amounts of sun exposure or the utilization of a safe tanning bed. Another is to consider supplementing with a quality vitamin D3 product. It is important that you monitor vitamin D levels because excess can be toxic.
The introduction of fresh garlic and oregano oil is essential to the optimization of bowel flora and the killing of pathogenic organisms such as H. pylori. Garlic pills and garlic that has been neutralized to remove the active ingredient ‘allicin’ or its associated ‘report’ is virtually worthless! Save your money and your digestive system, use fresh pressed garlic gloves, a quality oregano oil, and a good combination flora bacteria in your probiotic to help achieve your internal balance.
As highlighted in Gut, September 2001;49:364-371, addressing the specifics of what is called reflux esophagitis, the suggested approach is to employ an antioxidant extract of the wormwood herb Artemisia asiatica. Keep in mind that this is still a symptom suppression approach, and not a correction of the cause.
Inflammation of the esophagus [reflux esophagitis] is caused by the harmful and most uncomfortable regurgitation of the stomach contents – acid reflux. This very issue is so commonplace that as many as 10% of Americans report the symptom of ‘heartburn’ every day!
Test results concluded that the inclusion of vegetables and antioxidants not only decreased the severity of the reflux, improved esophageal healing, but also added protection against ulceration and inflammation. Keep in mind that the research evidence illustrates that test subjects receiving acid suppression had a higher incidence of developing ulcers.
Smoking should be eliminated as it reduces the lower esophageal sphincter competence. And, finally, a complimentary and very necessary approach to improving your immune system is to implement an exercise program.
You must not ignore the necessary changes to your diet and the way you internalize stress before the real inroads with indigestion can be realized.
Natural Health Quest offers a complete Comprehensive Health & Stress Evaluation to help interested people find the underlying cause of their health challenges and the recommendations as to how to positively make these improvements.
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