Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘heartburn’

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


Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A New Way of Thinking about Acid Reflux

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

heartburn-meme[1]Heartburn? Reflux? “Acid indigestion?” GERD? … at the first sign of symptoms, most of us immediately dive for the antacids. The common wisdom leads us to neutralize the acid that is causing the pain. In fact, if you search the net, almost all articles about heartburn, indigestion, or reflux conditions end up recommending antacids as the primary treatment method. I’ll admit, the use of antacids often temporarily relieves the symptoms associated with these conditions. Stronger heartburn medications, such as Prilosec, Zantac, Tagamet, or Prevacid, work by inhibiting the actual production of acid by the acid-producing cells in your stomach.

However, as with most medications, you are still only treating the SYMPTOM! Heartburn is merely a sign of stomach or esophageal irritation. Shouldn’t our first question be, “Why are normal acid processes causing irritation?” Let’s face it, there are acids in the stomach. In fact, it’s supposed to be an acidic environment. So here is the shocker… the “new way” of thinking about heartburn and indigestion…

What if your heartburn or acid indigestion is because your stomach is not acidic enough?!

Wha…??? Now how does that make any sense?! Well, if you remember from high school chemistry, acidity or alkalinity is based on the “pH” scale. On a scale of zero to 14, lower numbers mean more acidic and higher numbers mean more alkaline with the median 7 being neutral. Pepsin, one of the most important enzymes in the stomach, is most active at a pH level between 2 and 3, and is nearly inactive above a pH of 5. Pepsin is essential in breaking down proteins and collagen. In our American diet, the pH level of the stomach is often raised to levels above the optimum 2-3. Parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid at a pH of about 0.8 that is normally mixed with stomach contents to arrive at the optimal pH range. However, due to the intake of alkaline and processed foods, and because we eat so much, our pH is often much higher. Antacids can easily raise that level to 6 or higher! Now… they may relieve the pain because there’s low acidity, but it also means the acid and enzymes designed to break down your food can’t work.

What happens to undigested food? Well, some of it is passed on prematurely into the intestines which causes irritation because it’s not broken down enough to allow for absorption of the nutrients your body needs. Some of it remains in the stomach longer than designed so it can be broken down more completely. As your stomach senses undigested food it continues to produce more and more acid and enzymes in an attempt to facilitate digestion. However, as mentioned above, because the acidity is not low enough, the process is slow and begins to build up more and more irritating fluids. As the undigested food begins to rot, the bacteria that would have been handled in the intestinal tract begins to give off gas… hence, you start burping. Noxious gas and stomach acids then get kicked up into the esophagus which is not designed to withstand these acids (this is why it burns when your puke).

Eventually, if you don’t vomit, the crud in your stomach makes its way into the intestines where the out-of-control bacteria now creates flatulence, bloating, and an irritable bowel. Throughout this process your body is giving you signs and symptoms that something is wrong. What are these signs and symptoms? Heartburn, indigestion, bloating, stomachache, flatulence, diarrhea/constipation, etc. And what’s the most common solution for these symptoms? Antacids which, although it may temporarily relieve the pain, perpetuates the problem by raising the level of pH even more!

The best solution I have found for this condition (myself and tons of my patients swear by it) is a product known as Zypan. This is an all-natural, whole food supplement from Standard Process that is only available through physicians. It contains pancreatin, pepsin, betaine hydrochloride, and ammonium chloride. In addition to providing essential digestive enzymes, this product also acidifies the digestive tract so that they can function optimally.

There are other factors that can be involved, such as ulcers or mycobacterial infection, so work with your natural physician to determine the proper course of action. But… stop concentrating on symptoms and start getting to the cause!

Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alternatives to “8 Drugs Your Doctor Wouldn’t Take”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some time ago, I read this article in Men’s Health magazine. It’s a well written article, but with a very small amount of research, it could have been so much more. Perhaps I was wanting too much from a brief article, and it was meant as more of an attention grabber than an informative discussion of alternatives. With that in mind, here is some of the info I would have liked to see regarding the eight drugs (and the conditions they are meant to treat) referenced:

Advair – an asthma medication that can increase the severity of an asthma attack. The author’s suggestion was to just take corticosteroids instead. How about this… find out what’s leading to the asthma and fix that!? Mild asthma, for which Advair is intended to treat, is most often associated with a trigger that leads to an abnormal reaction in the respiratory tract. First, avoid the trigger… be it pet dander, food sensitivities, chemical irritants, cigarette smoke, etc. Then, determine why your body responds differently from the guy next to you when you’re both breathing the same air, or performing the same activities. Once the dysfunction is identified, correct that. Although it’s been given little emphasis in the research literature, most natural health providers can relate multiple instances of asthma resolution following homeostasis-based techniques. Asthma is basically an overactive immunologic response to an irritant… in other words, your body is over-reacting to something it perceives as a threat. Bring the body’s functions back into balance (homeostasis), and it won’t over-react.

Avandia – a diabetes medication that increases one’s risk of heart failure or heart attack. I was impressed with the author here. He actually did mention the use of niacin, a natural B vitamin. Although diabetes is a difficult condition to treat, the best treatment is not to get it in the first place! Follow a healthy lifestyle from the start, and you’ll likely never have to worry about this disease of malnutrition. Too many sugars, processed foods, additives, preservatives, and worthless calories and the pancreas eventually runs out of gas. Eat right, exercise, and feed the body the nutrients it needs and it will take care of you.

Celebrex – a pain reliever linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage… and could double or triple your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. “You may die, but at least your back will feel better.” There are volumes of research on alternatives for pain relief. Obviously, chiropractic works wonders in cases involving structural causes. Acupuncture has proven very effective with pain control. Natural enzymes have been known to aid in the control of the inflammatory process. Studies have shown Omega-3 Fatty Acids to be as effective, if not more, than traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). Given that there are so many alternatives when it comes to pain relief, why would anyone continue to choose a medication so dangerous?

Ketek – if you have to have an antibiotic, don’t pick this one which has a much higher incidence of severe liver damage. Choose instead to boost your immune system and help your body fight the infection off naturally. Simple way to think of it is, Don’t feed the infection. Avoid foods or liquids that bacteria thrive on; sugars, carbohydrates, etc. Eat foods high in antioxidants and water content. Cruciferous veggies (asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) are an excellent choice if you’ve been exposed to infectious organisms. Slam your system with whole food source Vitamin C (ascorbic acid is not “Vitamin C”) and get your rest. Garlic is the best and most powerful herb known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antihelminic, anticancerous, and overall just darned good for you.

Prilosec and Nexium – antacids that ruin your digestion, raise your risk of pneumonia, and have a suspected link to heart attacks. Easiest way to control heartburn? Lose weight! Excess belly fat, and overstretching related to overeating, lead to weakness of the sphincter that prevents acid from getting into the esophagus. Abnormal amounts of acid in the stomach can also contribute to reflux. Make sure there is uninterrupted nerve communication between the stomach and brain. This is often affected by chiropractic adjustment at the T6/7 level. Avoid digestive irritants such as NSAIDs, sugars, animal fats, alcohol, and smoking. Probably most important in this era… supplement your diet with natural digestive enzymes.

Visine – “gets the red out.” Unfortunately, continued use can actually lead to even more redness due to the perpetuation of the dilation-contraction cycle. Artificial tears are a safer option for wetting the eyes without chemically affecting the vasculature.

Pseudoephedrine – constricts blood vessels, then raises the blood pressure and heart rate… can you say “stroke” boys and girls? It’s a decongestant for God’s sake. Are you really willing to risk a stroke to get rid of a stuffy nose? Use a neti pot… acupuncture… cayenne pepper… gargle salt water… eat garlic and/or horseradish… use menthol/camphor… there are so many natural ways to loosen up a stuffy nose, it’s ridiculous to settle for these dangerous medications simply because the TV ad made it look good.

These are just the eight meds this author chose to report on. The list of medications most doctors won’t consider taking is long and distinguished. The main problem I see is the constant reliance on this pill or that pill to “fix” whatever condition one has, when instead, the emphasis should be on, “What aspect of my lifestyle is allowing this condition to get started?” I would venture to guess that a very high percentage of the diseases that are prevalent in society, are completely avoidable if only we would alter our lifestyle choices. Go back to the quote on the “About This Blog” page:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

Now ask yourself, are we moving closer to or further away from this mentality?

Dr. Gray

Gray Chiropractic is a full-service natural health care office in Independence, east of Kansas City. For further information check our website www.graychiropractic.com.

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: