Stomach Acid – Slippery Elm or Slippery Slope?

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Stomach Acid – Slippery Elm or Slippery Slope?

Are you popping pills like Tums, Rolaids or stronger options like Nexium, Priolsec or anything that ends with an “prazole?” It’s time to stop, drop and roll. Stomach acid is a good thing, and by blocking it, you are creating more problems. Despite the ads we see on TV, the science is clear…God created us with hydrocholoric acid for a reason, and blocking it creates a domino effect of problems. We need acid to have a healthy gut, and we need a healthy gut for complete health and wellness. That belching and bloating of “acid reflux” is the putrification of food in the gut that is not being digested with an appropriate amount of acid, causing the gasses to be forced back up through the esophagus. And, after age 20, your hydrocholoric acid starts steadily dropping. So, even if you don’t have issues now, this is a good time to learn how to prevent issues down the road.

It is the Proton Pump in our body that creates the acid, and when there isn’t enough, symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, bloating and belching. The offending medications that are being used to put on bandaid on the problem are called Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPI’s. It is a 10 million dollar a year industry, and the 2nd most used drug after statins for high cholesterol.

The ramifications of low stomach acid due to improper diet, lifestyle and the use of PPI’s include:

Low B vitamins and malabsorption of all vitamins and minerals
Higher risk of heart attack
Anemia
Dementia
Medications that aren’t optimized
Hormone imbalance, mood issues, anxiety, depression
Food rotting in the gut and GERD
High risk of pneumonia
High risk of the C-Diff bacteria
High toxic load
Asthma
Allergies
Skin disorders
Rheumatoid arthritis
Insomnia
Osteoporosis

For a more exhaustive list, you can read “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” by by Jonathan Wright, MD and Lane Lenard, PhD M.

What causes digestive issues?

These factors have been known to contribute to reduced acid:

  • Drinking too much water while eating
    Too much gluten (the protein in wheat)
    Emotional stress while eating
    Eating while driving
    Not chewing thoroughly
    Meals that are too large

Practical Solutions

If you are on PPI’s, start here, and make sure you find a functional medicine doctor to guide you through steps 3 and 4.

1. Start with an autoimmune diet.  ie:  No grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, or nightshades for 4 weeks or until you plateau and feel good for a while. Then you can start adding in things one at a time to see how your body reacts. Eat smaller quantities in a quiet environment and chew well.

2. Take digestive enzymes without hydrochloric acid before meals.

Work with a functional medicine doctor before adding hydrochloric acid. Your gut lining may be too thin and need to heal before supplementing with it, or you may have an ulcer that needs healing first.

To prevent wasting money, adaptogenic herbs like Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, and Aloe Vera should be used after ascertaining whether there is an infection, getting it taken care of, and then adding them in. They are terrific in helping to heal your gut lining, and I recommend them for everyone.

3. Test for the underlying causes. If your underlying issue is never addressed, your other lifestyle changes won’t have the highest impact. This starts with stool testing for bacterial overgrowth, yeast, and parasites. Some bacteria doesn’t show up in the stool, so this may lead to an organic acids test also.

4. Adrenal and Thyroid testing. Weak adrenals are often associated with low stomach acid and PPI use. They are tested through saliva. If your adrenals are focusing on healing your gut, your thyroid gets a lot of pressure put on it. The thyroid panel consists of 5 or more tests and is through a blood test.

If you have not been on a PPI, and are having the symptoms of stomach acid issues, such as bloating, burping, heartburn and indigestion, try this remedy first before going down the slippery slope of popping pills. I would also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a small glass of water, and consume before meals with protein. In addition, raw Manuka honey has also been known to help. Just a teaspoon or 2 a day in a cup of tea, or even just taken with a spoon like medicine helps many people.

This is just another example of how God created us to thrive. We are meant to have hydrocholoric acid in order to break down food and release nutrients into our body. We need to stop blocking it.

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