April 2007
Issue: 1
Welcome to Center For Natural Medicine
Dear Casey,

Heartburn.  A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The medical term is gastroesophageal reflux (or GERD).  The acid burning occurs when stomach acid travels above the stomach where it belongs, into the esophagus.  The problem is not the acid, but the acid not staying in the stomach.  This can occur because the ring (sphincter) that is to keep the acid in the stomach is too weak or because the stomach has moved above the ring (this is called a hiatal hernia).

Thanksgiving dinner is a classic example of what not to do.  Eating a large meal puts extra pressure on the ring.  Laying down with a full stomach forces the stomach upward as well.

Tips to Avoid Acid Reflux



1.Eat smaller meals so there is less pressure on the sphincter. 

2.Stay upright for at least two hours after a meal.

3.Avoid mint, coffee, alcohol and chocolate because they cause the sphincter to relax.

4.Avoid high fat meals because they relax the sphincter.  Persistent reflux during the night generally occurs only if a high fat meal is eaten in the evening.

5. Maintain a healthy weight.

6. Elevate the head of your bed.


People who already have had acid reflux cause irritation of the delicate esophageal lining will need to take extra measures.  The esophagus can become "raw" like an open wound.  When this occurs certain foods will irritate or burn. 

1.Avoid chili, spices, citrus, tomato, coffee and even soft drinks until the lining is healed. 

2.During the healing phase reducing acid with medication can be helpful.  Use the lowest dose for as short as period as possible.

3.There are herbs that are used to soothe, protect and speed the healing process.  Slippery elm, Aloe, Marshmallow root, and Licorice are the most well studied and successful herbs.  Use deglycerrinated licorice (DGL). DGL will not elevate blood pressure.  The herbs are best taken 20 to 30 minutes before meals, but if you forget, "better late than never", so take them with the meal rather than not at all.

4. Try teas after dinner such as ginger, chamomile and licorice.  Sipping water can help flush the stomach acid back where it belongs.

Acid-Blocking Drugscactus

Antacids and potent medications that block acid secretion have their place in the treatment of heartburn.  They should be used short term during the healing phase.  Please remember stomach acid is necessary for good digestion.  Blocking stomach acid over time creates other health issues.

Recently a study at the University of Pennsylvania found a 44% higher risk of hip fractures in people who used acid blockers.  This makes sense since stomach acidity is known to increase mineral absorption.

Low stomach acidity can lead to bloating. (Review the newsletter on bloating by accessing newsletters on our web site.) During the healing phase, while blocking acid, people can use plant enzymes such as Similase or Gastritis complex to assist the digestion and reduce bloating.

Candida and harmful bacteria infections are more likely if the stomach is low in acid. Stomach acid is necessary to start our digestive process and to reduce unwanted bacteria troubles.

Cimetidine (Tagamet) and Pepsid are not without side effects.  They can alter estrogen metabolism in a negative way and can even mask gastric cancer.  Be sure and have a medical consultation if you are using these medicines regularily.

Tips to Avoid Acid Reflux
Acid Blocking Drugs
Hiatal Hernia
Hiatal Hernia


If you think you may have a hiatal hernia try this simple method to bring the stomach back down into its' proper place.  In the morning before breakfast drink 8 ounces of water.  Rise up so you are standing on your toes.  Hold onto the counter for balance then drop your weight to your heels. Repeat the rising and dropping to your feet ten times.  This will mechanically pull the stomach back down through the sphincter. This is also good to build stronger spine bone density.  Do not attempt if you have knee problems, balance problems or severe osteoporosis.

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Dr.Dana Keaton
Center For Natural Medicine
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