Gastronintestinal Reflux (Heartburn) - How to cure this all too common malady.
Another chronic health epidemic in America- land of the rich, that used to be free. Heartburn (aka GERD) affects over 60 million Americans, most all of whom are adults. Heartburn affects three times as many men as women. About 40% of adults experience heartburn at least once or twice a month. You may know the feeling- regurgitating your food, that sour, acid taste in your throat, burning feeling in your throat, and even trouble swallowing. The cause is stomach acid escaping up into the esophagus (food tube). The acid will quickly damage the sensitive esophagus- which is not meant to come in contact with stomach acid at all. People with GERD have 43 times the chance of getting esophageal cancer! 4,300% more chance of cancer! There is a valve separating the esophagus from the stomach, but it weakens as we age. This condition is caused by eating the wrong foods over a long period of time, and eating far too much food. This is why we rarely see children with the problem. There are two specific things that are, by far, the biggest cause of heartburn- COFFEE and ALCOHOL. Take coffee and alcohol out of your life, and you'll probably cure your heartburn almost immediately. Most anyone who has had too much to drink, or picked up a coffee habit, knows the feeling of heartburn. This can be a chronic and very disturbing condition when it happens every day. These two factors are the major cause, more than any other factor- COFFEE AND ALCOHOL. Hot, spicy foods, such as pepper sauce, black pepper, curries, and Thai food also aggravate this condition. Still another cause is our meat based diet. We eat 42% fat calories, nearly all from saturated animal fats. Fats are much harder to digest than proteins or carbohydrates, and strain the stomach. A low fat diet will go a long way in helping you. Yet another consideration is acidic food, especially all citrus fruit and tomatoes. No more tomato, orange, or grapefruit juice in the morning, and no more red sauces on your pasta. (Read the Nomato Sauce article.)Take citrus and tomatoes out of your life.
Chronic heartburn can lead to a condition called "Barrett's esophagus", where the lining of the food tube deteriorates. Heartburn is also a harbinger of outright esophageal cancer, and this type of malignancy has increased dramatically here in America.
If you are naive and uneducated about this, you’ll probably see a doctor for a Magical Drug, rather than changing your diet and lifestyle. He has some real "solutions" for you. Everyone knows this is caused by diet and lifestyle, yet they run to the doctor for a Magical Drug. There are a variety of expensive, toxic drugs that cover up the symptoms, while harming your body. Why cover up a symptom, when you can deal with the cause? Well, obviously because this is easier, less trouble, and you can still stuff cheeseburgers in your face at the fast food emporium. You can buy antacids such as the well advertised Pepcid® and Tagamet®, and now "proton pump inhibitors" such as Prilosec® and Prevacid®!!! Thank God for technology! The truth is that the doctors can-not do anything for you, other than give you dangerous drugs to mask your symptoms.
Do not take aluminum containing antacids like Maalox®. For TEMPORARY, occasional relief just take plain old baking soda. Put a teaspoonful in a glass of water and drink it (doesn't taste too bad, and works almost instantly). Or buy the sodium bicarbonate tablets in the drug store. Remember that all antacids neutralize stomach acid, so you can no longer properly digest your food. This is not an answer to your problem at all, but merely a suggestion for TEMPORARY relief, until you change your diet and eat better foods and your esophagus heals.
Now, if those Magical Drugs don't cover up the problem well enough, we've got full blown surgery. Why eat better when you can get your stomach ripped open and carved up while under full anesthesia? Some doctors claim they can do this with laparoscopic surgery. Here a small incision is made, and a tiny camera is used. Why get life threatening surgery to tighten up your esophageal valve, when you can change your daily diet and lifestyle? Isn't choosing better and healthier foods the obvious way to solve this problem, rather than getting butchered? Admittedly, surgery may well be necessary for hiatal hernia. This is when part of the stomach moves up into the chest to cause chronic heartburn. If this becomes necessary, try to find a doctor who has a good track record, and is very experienced in laparoscopic procedures. One more thing you can do is use aloe vera (200:1 extracts) and slippery elm capsules. Both are "demulcent" and coat the stomach. They are exogenous and only to be used temporarily. The problem is both have a laxative effect after like 2 or 3 months. You can also take FOS, acidophilus, and glutamine twice a day for a year, and then drop down to once a day. You can take ellagic acid two tablets a day for 6 months (Planta Med. v57, 1991). You can take six capsules of Heavy Metal Magnet for six months as well. This is sodium alginate from seaweed. You can also dissolve one or two caplets of Heavy Metal Magnet in water and drink it for instant relief (Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. v 14, 2000). Taking alginate and baking soda together works synergistically. All this advice also applies to gastic ulcers, which affect over 5 million Americans.
Eat only macrobiotic food. Eat two meals a day. Don't eat out much. Take your lunch to work. Don't cheat. Fast every week. Read the article Good Health Begins with Good Digestion.