I suffered with GERD / acid reflux for more than 15 years.
Over that time, I have tried countless mediation and antacids in hopes to eliminate the symptoms.
Nothing worked, until I stumbled upon a quiet corner of the internet that had the answer.
Once you find it, you see there are indeed thousands out there that have the answers!
That said, the mainstream advice in this space drowns out all competition to taking prescription meds.
The really sad truth, is the long term effects of these medicines are devastating.
In a future post, I will cover a recent article by the BMJ covering increased mortality in long term acid reflux medicine patients.
Needless to say, you need to get off of these medications ASAP, as I have.
This is your lucky day, as I will teach you how.
And yes, probiotics are a key part of the healing process!
To explain the role of probiotics, I need to start with the root causes of Acid Reflux.
In Jonathan Wright’s book, “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You” he explains that 90% of acid reflux sufferers have the same underlying root cause.
Low Stomach Acid
Most people believe that the cause of acid reflux is high acidity; it makes logical sense, but it is wrong.
The truth is low acidity occurs for a number of reasons:
- taking acid / H2 blocking medicines
- taking antacids
- naturally as you age
- due to surgery
- high sugar diet
- imbalances in gut bacteria
- number of factors.
- alcohol consumption
Reading this list, you can see why an estimated 15 to 30 percent of Americans have GERD (acid reflux that occurs at least twice per week).
Sadly, the path to recovery is not as simple as discontinuing the items in the above list.
You need to help your stomach get back in balance, with regards to stomach acidity, good / bad bacteria, and digestive enzymes.
The reason is, your body sends a chemical and/or pressure signal to your Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) when digesting food.
The LES is designed to close the connection between your stomach and your esophagus (throat).
However, in a low acid environment your body is incapable of producing the necessary pressure.
As a result, food is able to escape into the throat when you lie down, bend over, or if you have indigestion due to low acidity.
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Digestive enzymes will re-introduce healthy agents that help you break down and metabolize food.
This will be key in restoring vitamin deficiency.
Most common for long term PPI (proton pump inhibitor / acid reflux medicine) users is B12, Magnesium, and Calcium deficiency.
Given the acid blocking effects of Calcium supplements I do not recommend taking it in conjunction with the below recommendations.
I have recommendations below, for the vitamin B12 and Magnesium supplements.
Apple cider vinegar is a supplement you can take with meals to promote healthy acidity and introduce healthy probiotics.
HCl will help promote acid production and restore your stomachs pH to normal levels.
This may take some time, depending on the length of time you have been taking acid / H2 blockers.
How to take Betain HCl
HCl is tremendously beneficial to digestive health when taken properly:
- Those with ulcers should not use HCL.
- Individuals taking medicines such as steroids or anti-inflammatories should not use HCL as the combination can damage the GI lining
- HCL should primarily be taken with meals containing proteins as not as much stomach acid is needed for digesting vegetables and fruits.
- It is important to figure out the correct dose of HCL so that your sphincters close and you are able to stop taking your reflux medications:
To find your ideal dose:
- Eat a protein rich meal; vegetarians can try protein rich sources such as beans, soy, nuts etc...
- Start with one 650mg pill (lower dose for vegetarians) in the middle of your meal
- Observe reactions in your body, specifically in your stomach; you are looking for heaviness or warmth
- If you dont observe this, try increasing the dose of HCl with your next meal
- Keep increasing until you notice the heaviness or warmth as mentioned above
- When this happens you will know your ideal dosage is 1 pill less
- Some never experience the warmth, so if your typical reflux symptoms are managed, you are likely at the right dose
- You may find that low to no HCl is for meals that are low in protein (easier to digest)
- Over time, as your acidity recovers you will find that you need less and less HCl
- The warmth will be your signal to reduce your dose
- Note that some do not experience the warmth and will just experiment with lower doses periodically to see if can be reduced
- When you are down to a single pill per meal, and you get that warmth you have fully recovered from your reflux
- At this point, you can discontinue the supplements!
If you have taken PPIs or H2 blockers for longer than the recommended time, you very likely have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Most common side effects are neurological (feeling cold, tingling in the extremities or lips, change in mood (apathy, depression, flat emotions))
For a full list and explanation of the damage caused by acid blockers see this Pharmacy Times article on B12 deficiency.
Lastly, magnesium deficiency is another side effect of long term acid reflux medications.
The below supplements can help ensure your body has sufficient supply available to metabolize.
This is important during your recovery as your digestive potency is not yet recovered to its full capacity.
For a list of magnesium deficiency symptoms see this Health via Modern Nutrition article on Magnesium deficiency.
Give these supplements a try.
I sincerely hope they will have the same transformative effect for you, as they did me.
If you found this article, helpful then please help us get the word out about these alternative but powerful remedies.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of the stomach and digestive function you can get that here.
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If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
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