Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. The esophagus is about 8 inches long and connects the throat (pharynx), to the stomach. The esophagus contains two sphincters (valves). The upper esophageal sphincter are under conscious control. The lower esophageal sphincter is controlled by the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.
Reflux occurs, when gastric juices from the stomach are forced back into the oesophagus and up into the throat. This usually happens when a peristaltic squeeze occurs. Everyone, at some point in time, will experience occasional gastric reflux. If reflux symptoms occur two or three times a week, or if it interferes with your daily life, it needs to corrected.
There are several reason for reflux including.
- Diet and Lifestyle (fast foods, foods with high fat contents)
- Eating before going to sleep
- Scar tissue on the lower sphincter (prevents compete closing)
- Ulcers on the sphincter
- Lack of Gastrin
- Birth defect
- Pregnancy (excessive stomach pressure)
- Excessively large bolus of food (damages sphincter)
Gastric fluids, with, or without, the presences of Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is very bitter to the taste. When this very bitter fluid entering the throat, many people assume they are over producing acid. In many instances the opposite is true, they are not producing enough strong enough acid. The symptoms associated with reflux, are identical in people that are over producing acid (Hyperchlorhydria), and people that are not producing enough acid (Hypochlorhydria). Hypochlorhydria and Hyperchlorhydria, will cause reflux, abdominal pain, belching, bloating, gas, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation,etc.
It is virtually impossible, for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of reflux, without a pH diagnostic test, because the symptoms associated with Hypochlorhydria and Hyperchlorhydria are identical. Many doctors assume that the patient is producing too much acid, when in fact, the opposite is true. This misdiagnosis, usually results in the patient being prescribed a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI), or acid reducing medication. When a person that is not producing enough acid, is place on a PPI, he/she will develop Achlorhydria. Achlorhydria is the complete absence of hydrochloric acid in the gastric juices.
People with low stomach acid that are placed on PPIs, will not digest their food properly, or receive the full benefit from the nutrients, supplements, and medication, they consume. Hydrochloric acid breaks down the nutrients consume into a thick semi-fluid mass called chyme. Proteins are broken down by the Peptic enzymes into peptones. Peptones are the building blocks for the Amino acids. Amino acids are necessary for sustaining life.
Pepsin is most active in the conversion of proteins into micro-minerals, when the pH of the hydrochloric acid, in the stomach, is at 1.0 to 1.3. pH. When the strength of the acid decreases, the Peptic enzymes become less active, in the conversion of proteins. At pH 5.0, the Peptic enzymes are completely inactive, in the conversion process. Low stomach acid, will allow raw unsterilized and unconverted nutrients to dump into the small bowel. When this occurs, there is reduced absorption of the necessary vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients, necessary to support the immune system, and keep the body health. This condition also allows bacteria and other pathogens to enter the small bowel.
If a person is actually over producing acid, the correct natural medication, should be one that mimics the normal physiologic buffering that occurs in the digestive process. The normal physiologic buffering that occurs in the digestive process is a 2 to 1 ratio of Sodium Bicarbonate to Potassium Bicarbonate. A Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI), should only be used on a short term basis, to allow healing of damaged tissue.
Long term use of PPIs, have been connected to bone fracture and other serious conditions.