Heartburn

BEAT THE HEARTBURN BLUES!!!

Heartburn is also know as gastric reflux disease.

According to a recent article in the October 10th, 2005 edition of the Wall Street Journal; 100 million Americans suffer from heartburn every month.

Heartburn, many people have it and most ignore it. Symptoms of heartburn are numerous and include burning, chest pain, nagging cough, hoarseness, and a sour taste in the back of the throat. Symptoms arise when digestive juices from the stomach reach the esophageal tissue. Esophageal tissue is not made of the same durable tissue as the lining of the stomach and is subject to inflammation by stomach acids.

Left untreated Heartburn can progress to esophageal cancer of which survival rates are poor. Modern day convenience diets and lifestyles are contributors to heartburn: Pre-disposing factors include: Stress, weight gain and obesity, fast fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and certain medications (anti-inflammatories, blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications.)

Current treatment revolves around using acid-suppressing drugs, to decrease stomach acid production. Common acid suppressing drugs include the proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Protonix, and Prevacid. Proton pump inhibitors are the second most popular drug type, and accounted for 93 million prescriptions last year.

Some concern is now showing up in the research that long term use of ant-acids changes the environment in the digestive tract enough to allow changes at the cellular level that promote cancer cell growth. In addition, just shutting off acid production in the stomach may not prevent acid damage in the esophagus even though symptoms may be reduced or eliminated.

Furthermore, more concern exists around changing the composition of the stomach acid from acid to alkaline. Either end of the spectrum is not good; something that is too alkaline can be just as caustic as something too acidic, so instead of acid flushing the walls of the esophagus we now have alkaline liquid flushing the walls.

A Three-Fold Approach

By suppressing stomach acid the underlying problem is not being addressed. In order to properly resolve the symptoms and restore digestive health, a three-fold approach must be used.

  • First the causative agents must be identified and eliminated
  • Second, the mucosa must be repaired and soothed
  • Third, the stomach secretions and digestive health must be restored to their original state.

When all three are addressed heartburn symptoms will go away, and digestive health will be restored.