Getting to the Root of Acid Reflux

Many Americans suffer from acid reflux and frequently use acid suppressing medications to manage their symptoms. Acid reflux is caused by gastrointestinal dysfunction and poor diet. When we eat unhealthy foods such as sugar, breads, dairy, greasy or processed foods, and eat heavy, rich meals our stomachs can have difficulty with digestion.
Taking a pill to ease symptoms in the short term or using a preventative daily acid suppressing medication may seem like a good idea, but it actually causes many long term problems. It also does not address the root cause of the acid reflux. Surprisingly, acid reflux is often caused by LOW stomach acid!
Excess acid is often not the problem, but rather minimal acid back up into the esophagus due to poor digestion, overeating or sphincter dysfunction. Continuing to eat unhealthy foods and taking acid blocking medication for years or decades is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Since the medications are working to further reduce possibly already low stomach acid, they make the whole situation much worse and can lead to serious chronic conditions.
Let’s take a closer look at low stomach acid, what causes it and why it is a problem.

What are the causes of low stomach acid?
– Natural decline after age 50
– Long term use of acid suppressing medications: Pepcid AC, Pantoprazole, Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Mylanta, Tums
– Hypothyroidism
– Over use of antibiotics or NSAIDs
– H.pylori infection
– Poor diet causing chronic inflammation
– Stress

What are the consequences of low stomach acid?
– Protein and fiber can not be broken down into vital nutrients
– When foods are not properly digested, they fester in the stomach, back up into the esophagus and damage the lining
– Decreased absorption of vitamins and minerals especially B vitamins, Zinc, calcium, iron
– When proteins are not broken down, they can slip through a leaky gut lining, causing systemic inflammation and lead to autoimmune disorders
– Stomach acid kills bacteria, low acid increases bacterial overgrowth and risk of dangerous infections
– Increased risk of stomach cancer

What are the symptoms of low stomach acid?
– Acid reflux
– Indigestion, bloating, gas
– Skin issues: acne, eczema, rosacea
– Weak nails and brittle hair or hair loss
– Chronic GI infections
– Osteoporosis
– Anemia

What supplements can help with digestion?
– Betaine HCl w/Pepsin
– Digestive enzymes
– Probiotics
– B vitamins
– Vitamin D
– Essential fatty acids/omega 3s

What other ways can I aid digestion?
– Reduce dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol, soda, and smoking
– Eat smaller meals
– Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly
– Don’t lay down soon after eating
– Don’t eat on the go while running around
– Reduce stress
– Cut out icy drinks and reduce raw foods
– See an acupuncturist and herbalist

Acupuncture can help relieve stress and enhance digestion. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine combined has been shown in research to significantly reduce esophageal acid reflux, relieve GERD symptoms and improve quality of life. The same research has also shown that when taking 40mg/day of pantoprazole, patients experienced worsened symptoms. Click here to read that research study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23297557

This blog is intended for educational purposes only. Please see a trained professional before making any medication or supplement changes. It is never a good idea to abruptly quit medications or to do so without proper supervision.

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

With summer around the corner, I get asked almost daily, “Can acupuncture be used for weight loss?” The answer is yes, but it may not be in the way you think; it’s a bit complex. The needles themselves don’t make the pounds melt away and there are no “weight loss points”. The way acupuncture aids weight loss is by harmonizing any underlying imbalances in the body and by promoting the best environment for weight loss to be possible. The benefit of weight loss would come secondary to a balanced body. The following are some of the variety of ways acupuncture indirectly promotes weight loss.
– Acupuncture regulates hormones such as insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones which may be negatively affecting metabolism, fat storage, and cravings.
– Acupuncture calms the mind and relaxes the body which improves mood, desire and motivation to exercise and diet. Relieving stress also lowers cortisol which when raised leads to excess abdominal fat.
– Acupuncture relieves back, neck, hip, and knee pain that may be interfering with exercise.
– Acupuncture promotes digestion which helps reduce bloating and constipation.
– Acupuncture can also boost energy which has many obvious benefits.
If you feel you are working hard to lose weight and not getting any results, acupuncture would certainly be a beneficial addition to your program. But if you aren’t eating healthy or exercising, don’t expect a miracle, the results will be minimal.
Eating healthy is the most important factor in weight loss. Keep your diet plan simple and not too restrictive. Cook at home more and cut back on packaged/processed foods. Focus on increasing fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It has been a long disproved myth that eating fat makes you fat. Modern research promotes eating mono and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado, salmon, tuna, olives, and flaxseed to lose weight.
In TCM terms, acupuncturists say avoid “damp” inducing foods such as raw, cold foods like salads, smoothies, fruit, dairy, and icy drinks. Eat more foods that are warm and gentle on your digestive system such as steamed veggies, white rice, soups and stews. Too much damp in the body leads to fatigue, sluggish digestion, and weight gain.
To boost your weight loss plan consider adding one or two of the following supplements.
– Omega 3s increase metabolism and reduce belly fat.
– Vitamin D has a role in telling cells to burn fat.
– Green tea, an antioxidant, reduces appetite and boosts metabolism.
– Fiber supplements, probiotics, and digestive enzymes all promote healthy digestion.
Don’t over do it on supplements, use as directed. More does not equal better. If you are taking medications, talk to your acupuncturist before starting supplements.
As with any acupuncture treatment plan, it’s important to commit to frequent and recurring treatments for better and faster results.