Lowering acid is the not the solution for heartburn!
Excess stomach acid is not the problem. You need your stomach acid. It digests your food, helps you assimilate your nutrition, breaks down the building blocks of life into a form accessible to you.
Yes, you need your stomach acid, and you need it in your stomach!
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), reflux, heartburn — call it what you will, it does not equal a Prilosec deficiency, or an excess of stomach acid. These symptoms, as annoying and potentially dangerous over the long term as they are, are signs that there is a problem with the distribution of gastric juices in your digestive system.
It could be with a leaky valve, or another structural abnormally. Or, as I often see in clinic, it could be simply the result of a functional imbalance of some kind. It's like a car where all the parts are in fine working order, but the timing between them is off or a loose connection in one place is causing some kind of cattywhompus confusion in another part of the system.
You could take a drug that will reduce the acid in your stomach, but that is treating the symptom and does not get close to the true cause of the source of the complaint. Instead of paying attention to the message behind the symptom, you are shooting the messenger with a medication. Quieting the body's plea for help does not solve the problem. It simply allows the dysfunction to continue to operate in silence.
Ignore the rattle long enough, and the wheels just might fall off the bus — especially for those patients who have been scoped and tested by bio-medicine's fantastic array of imaging and diagnostics and still come away with the shrugged shoulders and puzzled looks that say, “We can't find anything wrong you.” The usual bio-medicine approach is to offer an anti-depressant or proton pump inhibitor, hoping for a roll of the pharmaceutical dice that might produce a beneficial effect.
For many people the problem usually is not structural; it's functional. And for this kind of problem, Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be startlingly effective.
The following common symptoms all are associated with functional issues of the upper digestive tract:
- feeling full after just a few bites of a meal
- feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- bowel irregularity
- a stuffy hard-to-describe feeling under the ribs or in the solar plexus
These messages from the body are often just the thing your acupuncturist needs to hear about, because these very issues have been discussed in the medical and clinical literature of China for the past 1800 years — and effectively treated as well!
So when you talk to your acupuncturist, tell them about your heartburn.