Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘indigestion’

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 »

Personal news and answers about chiropractic for infants.

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, August 7, 2008

He’s finally here! That’s right folks… we are the proud new grandparents of our first grandchild! Born last night, Preston Scott came into the world at 8 lbs. 10 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. He’s got a full head of hair and some powerful lungs. We want to thank you for all of your prayers and blessings you’ve bestowed upon our family.

He’ll get his first chiropractic examination later this afternoon. Due to a long and difficult labor, and in relation to the violent nature of the birthing process, there is a good possibility that he’ll have some biomechanical insult that we can correct before it develops into something worse.

I often get questions about children and infants, and whether chiropractic care is safe and/or effective for them. The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, it is probably more safe for them than it is for adults. As youngsters, they don’t have the years of scar tissue and damage from injury and neglect. They’ve not developed abnormal eating habits or unhealthy diets that leave their bodies malnourished and toxic. They still have a great deal of flexibility due to the health and tensile strength of their ligaments. They haven’t developed degenerative spurs or arthritis like so many of my older patients.

In short, there are relatively few complications that can make a chiropractic case difficult. Chiropractors undergo specialized pediatric education and are actually legally licensed to deliver babies in most states. In addition to our education about the health and idiosyncracies of a pediatric case, we also undergo extensive training in specialized adjusting techniques designed specifically for babies, infants, toddlers, and children. I can assure you that it is just as safe… and just as important… to have your baby examined by and treated, if necessary, by your chiropractic doctor.

Although the primary reason for treating babies is to optimize biomechanical function of the neuromusculoskeletal system (nerves, muscles, bones, and joints), a wide variety of conditions have been documented to respond to chiropractic care. One of the most common is otitis media… otherwise known as a middle ear infection. The underlying reason this condition responds so well to chiropractic care is unknown, but I think it has to do with an optimally functioning nervous system which allows the immune system to work more effectively. Other conditions that have shown positve response to chiropractic care include: asthma, allergies, colic, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, insomnia, and failure to thrive.

If you, or a member of your family, have a new baby in the family, I encourage you to take them to your local chiropractor for an examination. If you’re in the Kansas City area, we’d be happy to take a look at your new bundle of joy and verify that he or she is starting life on the right foot.

Thanks again,


Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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