Overacidity, heartburn and gastric pain and what to do to erase discomfort

Symptoms of heartburn and gastric bloating may not be due to overacidity

Today I will discuss more about over acidity and heartburn medications that may help, or may result in poor digestion of certain food groups. I also have a caution on consuming antacid as the fallback plan in your diet.

In a study done at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, researchers assessed 178 patients with a long-term history of heartburn.

Many of these patients reported using antacids for more than ten years. The study confirmed that almost all of them were sensitive to acid.

However, over half also suffered from underlying conditions such as hiatal hernia (a condition in which stomach acid refluxes or backs up into the esophagus), and 40 percent suffered from an inflammatory condition called erosive esophagitis. Of greatest concern was serious underlying medical conditions like peptic ulcer diseases, esophageal spasm and esophageal cancer.  

Sometimes people with symptoms of heartburn and gastric distress are actually producing too little hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Physicians practicing complementary medicine may find that patients who have weak pancreatic function (producing insufficient digestive enzymes and alkaline digestive juices) also produce insufficient amounts of stomach acid. 

These people tend to have poor digestive function at all levels of the digestive tract. They may suffer from food allergies as well as food intolerances. These individuals could actually benefit from hydrochloric acid supplementation to assist in the digestion of protein in the stomach.

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Problems with both low acid producers in the stomach and low alkaline producers from the pancreas

Unfortunately, however, because of their poor buffering capability, they may be unable to tolerate the supplemental hydrochloric acid lower down in the digestive tract which needs an alkaline environment. In such individuals, hydrochloric acid capsules or drops may actually cause digestive burning and discomfort.

Some physicians find the use of Swedish bitters, artichoke bitters, and ginger tea to be effective substitutes for hydrochloric acid supplementation for patients who are both low acid producers in the stomach and low alkaline producers from the pancreas. (These individuals may also have reduced secretion of bile—which is also an alkalinizing substance needed to emulsify fats.) In addition, the amino acid glycine may also enhance gastric acid secretion (take 500 mg per day apart from meals).

Individuals with chronic, long-term symptoms of heartburn should have their symptoms evaluated by a physician to rule out a more serious condition.

Doctors usually recommend countering digestive overacidity with antacids or drugs that decrease the production of hydrochloric acid. Popular brands of antacids include Maalox, Mylanta, and Turns. These antacids tend to contain various types of alkaline mineral substances such as magnesium oxide or hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide, magnesium trisilicate, and calcium carbonate.

Alka-Seltzer is another short-term remedy for indigestion used by millions of people. This product is simply sodium bicarbonate combined with citric acid. When water is added to this mixture, an effervescent gas is released, turning the Alka-Seltzer powder into a bubbling drink.

Check to make sure you do not eat any of these harmful foods.

Both calcium citrate and sodium citrate are also useful as buffering agents for counteracting digestive over acidity.

A study published in the South African Medical Journal found that in thirty healthy volunteers, a sodium citrate preparation raised the pH level of the stomach significantly. The researchers measured gastric acid output after a single 12 g dose and found that the stomach pH rose to 3.0. (The stomach normally has a pH of 1.5 to 2.5.) Similar results were achieved after three to six days of continuous therapy, using 4 g and 12 g dosages.

You can also get all the information in my book: Acid Alkaline Balance: The Missing Link to Health if you find it more convenient to just have it all in one place.

Ways to find relief from symptoms of overacidity

In addition, calcium citrate has been shown to be an effective antacid for patients with kidney disease who can no longer regulate their pH effectively.

This makes it difficult for the body to effectively digest foods such as meat, milk, wheat, and nuts and beans (all of which contain hard-to-digest protein), and to efficiently extract the minerals that these foods contain.

The alternative to the above remedies is to take a medication that suppresses acid production completely.

Many foods and caffeine stimulate receptors within the stomach to secrete stomach acid, and a class of drugs has been developed to block this action. Many are sold without prescription, such as Zantac, Pepcid, Axid, and Tagamet. All these treatments are meant to reduce the annoying symptoms of over acidity such as gas, bloating, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.

Although taking antacids can be very effective in relieving digestive symptoms, the timing of their use is very important. If antacids are taken with meals, or right after eating, they can interfere with the digestion of food. Antacids neutralize the hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach, which in turn inactivates the enzymes that are essential for the breakdown of protein.

Before we end this discussion I have a warning about using Antacids too liberally. 

A Word of Caution about Antacids

In rare cases, the use of antacids  can also lead to systemic alkalosis, raising pH throughout the body. Symptoms of alkalosis include tingling in the lips or extremities, tense muscles, anxiety, or an unusually strong surge  of anxiety after taking an alkalinizing agent.

If you experience these symptoms, stop taking the antacid, and restart later at a much smaller dose taken at greater intervals. If symptoms are severe, you may want to consult with your physician as to the advisability of using antacids.

I will write with more specific information on how to best use these various products to counteract over acidity.

You can also get all the information in my book: Acid Alkaline Balance: The Missing Link to Health.  If you find it more convenient to just have it all in one book, you can get it here.

Wishing you a wonderful and discomfort-free day!

Dr Susan

Cancer proof your body. It is possible when your body is alkaline!

PS: Look out for my new eating program and cookbook The Divine High Alkaline Cookbook with recipes and pictures for a more low acid diet in major e-retailers.

About the Author

Best selling author and national speaker Dr. Susan has sold over 2 million books on health & wellness. She has appeared on numerous national and regional radio and television shows and has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. She has Served on the clinical faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine and taught in their Division of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Richards became an ordained Christian minister in 2009 and, within a year, she began doing hospital ministry in the ICU's, critical care and rehabilitation units in the San Francisco area community three times a week. Her ministry is based on the supernatural healing power of God and Jesus Christ and she has seen many miraculous healings of seriously ill patients. The ministry receives over 20,000 prayer requests for healing each week which are answered by their faithful and devoted prayer team. She is currently developing the first Medical and Health Ministry Training Program of Supernatural Healing in the United States. Her medical ministry is at medschoolhealing.com