Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

How does Chiropractic help heartburn, GERD, indigestion, etc?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

“How can you expect me to believe that popping my back will help my stomach?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from patients… or skeptics. “They can make your back feel better, but that’s about all they’re good for.” Sound familiar? Well, hogwash! This is short-sighted and shows a glaring weakness in Western Medicine. The ultimate weakness and flaw in modern medicine is, of course, that it is primarily symptom based.

Think about it… Stomach hurt? Take Prilosec… Headache? Take a Tylenol… High blood sugar? Take Metformin… High cholesterol? Take Lipitor… Tingling in your feet? Take Neurontin… Almost every common treatment option is directed toward waiting for a symptom to start, then take something to help you ignore the symptom. The factor being overlooked is the original cause that led to the symptom.

Our body works on a primarily “cause-and-effect” relationship. Symptoms are merely one system of our body telling another system of our body what is going on, and the expression of how those systems react to the information available. When you put your hand too close to a fire, heat and pain are the symptoms that tell your muscular system to pull it back. When you have an infection, a fever is designed to raise the body temperature to a point which helps your body kill off the bug.

When you eat any food, your stomach produces a specific amount of acid and enzymes in order to properly digest exactly what you’ve eaten. When this is working properly, your symptom is that you feel good. However, symptoms such as heartburn and/or indigestion are warning signs that something within this chain of events is not working as it should.

When you take antacids for heartburn, Tylenol for fever, Lipitor for high cholesterol, etc., you are not treating the cause of your ailments. Frankly, you are only unplugging the “Check Engine” light that warns you of underlying dysfunction. When the “High Temp” light goes on in your vehicle, do you ignore it and keep going? Or do you first check the oil and coolant levels and determine why the car is overheating?

We’ve discussed other causes of heartburn and indigestion in the past, and have suggested alternatives to antacids and symptom controllers. The question for this post is, “What does chiropractic have to do with it?” For simplicity’s sake, I’ll mention the two most common ways that chiropractic alone can treat cases of G.I. dysfunction.

First, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is often caused by hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernia is when a portion of the stomach slides up through the diaphragm leading to back flow of stomach acids into the esophagus. Through gentle soft tissue manipulation, chiropractic is often very successful at pulling the stomach back down to its normal position below the diaphragm. This allows the diaphragm and lower esophageal sphincter to remain closed, preventing the back flow of acid into the esophagus. No more acid in the esophagus… No more reflux!

Second, the cause-and-effect relationships we discussed above, are absolutely dependent on communication between the different organ systems throughout the body. This communication is almost entirely run by the nervous system. In the most basic of description, your stomach sends information to the brain through the spine. Your brain sends information back to the stomach through the vagus nerve (which is one of the few nerves in the body that doesn’t travel through the spine). If these nerve signals are interfered with, then the messages being sent to and fro get confused. The end result is too much acid, not enough acid, undigested food, and ultimately the symptoms we commonly associate with heartburn and/or indigestion. Chiropractic works to remove the interference of these nerve signals so that the body can communicate and function as it was designed.

Is this a “cure-all?” Of course not! GI dysfunction is a complex issue with a multitude of causes… and unfortunately, most causes are self-inflicted. When you choose a doctor, pick one that will help you address the cause as well as symptoms. Treatment in these cases should always involve discussions regarding proper diet and lifestyle choices. Don’t settle for “Eat more fiber and get some exercise.” Ask for more detail: “Which foods will help my body heal? Which foods should I avoid? Do I need to supplement my diet with vitamins, enzymes, probiotics? How can I avoid drugs and surgery? How can I make my body function better, in addition to feeling better?

– Dr. Gray

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One Response to “How does Chiropractic help heartburn, GERD, indigestion, etc?”

  1. photopha said

    Reblogged this on healthsal.

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