THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON MOMMYPOTAMUS.
The sky is blue, racecar spelled backwards is still racecar, and in most cases heartburn is caused by low stomach acid, not high. Yes, seriously. After testing thousands of heartburn patients at his Tahoma Clinic, Jonathan Wright, M.D., concluded that excess stomach acid is not the problem in over 90% of cases. (source)
Last week I covered what he (and many others) say is the most common cause of heartburn, plus how acid blocking drugs can:
- Decrease our ability to resist infections
- Cause nutritional deficiencies
- And even increase our risk of certain diseases.
Fortunately, according to Dr. Wright, “In cases of mild to moderate heartburn, ‘acid indigestion,’ bloating, and gas, actual testing for stomach acid production at Tahoma Clinic shows that hypochlorhydria (too little acid production) occurs in over 90 percent of thousands tested since 1976. In these cases, a “natural strategy” is almost always successful.” (source)
As always, I want to remind you that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice or a diagnosis. I’m just a former heartburn sufferer passing along information from experts that I’ve found helpful. Okay, let’s jump in!
How To Get Rid Of Heartburn Naturally
# 1: REMOVE DIETARY TRIGGERS
You probably already know a few foods that trigger heartburn for you – coffee, citrus, alcohol, onions, spicy foods. etc. Some foods, like carbonated drinks, may increase intra-abdominal pressure and push on the LES, which as we discussed in my previous post is the valve that protects the esophagus from stomach acid.
However, some triggers may not be quite as obvious. In this article, Chris Kresser LAc. explains why carbohydrates and fiber may contribute to some cases of heartburn, then discusses the potential benefits of temporarily reducing carbohydrate and fiber intake.
Other foods don’t weaken the LES, but are thought to directly irritate the esophagus. In general, it is recommended that known irritants be avoided for at least awhile. Some people say forever, but I personally reintroduced many of my “triggers” with no problem after I started feeling better.
Also, according to Dr. Wright, certain drugs – aspirin and ibuprofen, for example – are considered esophageal irritants, while others may weaken the LES.
#2: INCREASE STOMACH ACID LEVELS
If “this sounds like throwing gasoline on smoldering embers, that’s right, it does sound like it, but in fact it’s not,” says Dr. Wright. (Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You)
He adds that, “Not only does this strategy work to eliminate heartburn and GERD, it often goes a long way toward restoring and nutrient deficiencies and repairing the gastric bacterial barrier, not to mention the intestinal barrier.” (Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You)
Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
One of the easiest ways to increase stomach acid levels is to drink a little apple cider vinegar or lemon juice right before a meal. Both are traditional folk remedies for indigestion, most likely due to their acid content and the presence of enzymes that support digestion. (Pasteurized apple cider vinegar does not contain live enzymes, but raw apple cider vinegar does.)