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Author: Eric Madrid, MD

All we have ever experienced symptoms of dyspepsia or discomfort in the stomach. Such phenomena can be associated with indigestion, high acidity in stomach, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called gastroesophageal reflux. They all cause a burning sensation in the stomach and possibly in the throat similar to the sensation of the burning acid. Indigestion can also be caused by gastritis — inflammation of the stomach. It is assumed that the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (h. Pylori) is a major risk factor for developing ulcers and even stomach cancer, which is common in many people suffering from gastritis.

The symptoms of dyspepsia:

  • stomach pain or fullness of the stomach;
  • bloating;
  • acidic feeling in throat;
  • sore throat;
  • chest pain;
  • acute or chronic cough;
  • the symptoms of asthma due to splashing of acid into the lungs.

Why there are these diseases?

Believe it or not, but about the causes of these diseases put forward conflicting theories. Some scholars argue that the stomach produces too much acid, and others believe that the opposite is the situation, that is, the generated acid is not enough. The excess acid is the most common explanation for these diseases. Therefore, the most popular tool used by most doctors when treating patients with problems of the stomach, are anti-acid medications.

On the other hand, some scientists believe that the culprit of the above problems is the lack of acid in the stomach, as it leads to relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (Les) — the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach. When the muscle relaxes, the NTC, a throw even a small amount of acid into the esophagus, creating a feeling of excessive acidity. Some experts are of the opinion that muscle PS is not compressed and does not protect the esophagus from acid reflux lack of acid.

Tobacco, fats, chocolate, sugar and some medications can relax the muscle of the NPC. Overeating can also lead to the rise of food from the stomach back into the esophagus up to the throat.

Foods that aggravate the symptoms of digestive disorders:

  • processed foods;
  • sweet foods;
  • simple carbohydrates;
  • chocolate;
  • alcohol;
  • products based on tomatoes;
  • coffee;
  • the products to which sensitive particular person usually are dairy products and grains.

Common drugs that increase acid reflux

These medications enhance symptoms of acid reflux by weakening the muscle of the NPC:

  • Albuterol: used for the treatment of asthma.
  • Spit (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): ibuprofen (motrin, Advil), naproxen (ALEV, naprosyn), diclofenac, indomethacin and celecoxib (celebrex). These drugs are useful for pain relief in the short term, but can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and stimulate acid reflux.
  • Nitroglycerin: used to treat patients with heart disease and symptoms of angina.
  • Medicines for blood pressure like beta-blockers (atenolol, metoprolol, carvedilol) and calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, amlodipine, nifedipine).

* Do not stop taking your medication unless you receive instructions otherwise from your doctor.

The lifestyle changes that can alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux

  • Avoid foods that increase acid reflux (different people this effect can produce a variety of products).
  • If you smoke, quit!
  • Sleep on your left side. Sleep on the right side can worsen the symptoms.
  • Raise the head of the bed by 15-20 cm.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Men should drink no more than two servings of alcohol a day and women no more than one.
  • Avoid and/or limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, motrin) or naproxen (ALEV), except when it is absolutely necessary. If you do take this drug, take it with food. If you need to relieve the pain, think about the use of acetaminophen (tylenol) as its active ingredient, acetaminophen will not upset your stomach and increase the risk of stomach ulcers. Many people also help of natural anti-inflammatories such as fish oil with omega-3 and turmeric, so you should think about using them.

Medications commonly used to treat acid reflux

Such drugs are proton pump inhibitors (PPIS), namely omeprazole (prilosec or prilosec OTC), esomeprazole (nexium), rabeprazol (Aciphex), lansoprazole (prevacid), dexlansoprazole (dexilant).

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIS) are often used to combat the discomfort due to acid reflux. Most people should take them for a short period of time.

Instances in which recommended the use of drugs to reduce the acidity

  • When symptomatic acid reflux can’t get rid of by changing diet, these drugs should be used within four to eight weeks (unless other indications).
  • For healing of gastric ulcers, these drugs should be taken six to twelve weeks. A bleeding ulcer can be life-threatening, so the benefits of taking these drugs outweigh the risks.
  • Patients with a precancerous condition in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus, you should also regularly take PPIS. This condition is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer of the esophagus in one to four percent of patients. Drugs PPIS will help to prevent the progression of cancer.
  • These drugs also must be taken if your doctor was diagnosed with a rare condition such as syndrome zollingerellison, which released the excess acid. People suffering from this disease, in most cases, you need to take medication throughout life.

Side effects drugs for decreasing acidity

Regular intake of proton pump inhibitors reduce the body’s ability to destroy the food protein. Proteins in the presence of gastric acid hydrolysis into amino acids, which is processed by our body to form other proteins and the brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

This class of medications reduces the absorption of vitamins such as vitamin B12, vitamin C and folic acid. PPIS also reduce the absorption of minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.

In 2011, the Commission on control over drugs and nutrients (FDA) has warned that people who regularly consume these drugs, the content of magnesium in the body may drop to a dangerous level. Low levels of magnesium can cause muscle spasms and heart palpitations. Magnesium is essential for our body and helps the enzyme to perform more than 350 chemical reactions. The reduced absorption of calcium and magnesium increases the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, we conducted in 2016, the study found an increased risk of acute renal failure in people taking these drugs, while other studies indicate that these drugs also increase the risk of dementia.

People taking drugs to reduce the acidity, especially the IPP may need to gradually reduce their dose because abrupt discontinuation may lead to worsening acid reflux. Most people reduce the dose by taking the medication every other day for two to four weeks, until symptoms disappear. Do not stop taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

The main supplements that help to improve digestion
Betaine HCL

If we proceed from the assumption that a person experiencing problems with digestion due to inadequate acid production, may be useful the use of betaine HCL (hydrochloric acid) three times a day. Betaine HCL is also beneficial for patients with low level of acidity and therefore a reduced ability to digest proteins. This was concluded in the study, whose findings were published in Molecular Pharmaceutics. A study conducted in 2014 enabled us to obtain similar results. This drug should NOT be taken by people with gastric ulcer and Barrett’s esophagus. If supplementation causes discomfort, discontinue use.

In the framework held in 2017, the study, the patients with acid reflux have got a Supplement with betaine HCL and pepsin. The results showed that patients have decreased symptoms of reflux. In turn held in 2017, the study of diseases of the digestive tract confirmed that the intake of these drugs may be useful in the treatment of such diseases.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes: Pancreatin, bromelain and papain can also help the digestive process, and they can be taken in Supplement form before meals. Recommended dose: take as directed on the label.

Secondary supplements that help to improve digestion
DGS (DigitalPersona licorice)

Use of DGS is confirmed by several studies for the past several decades. A study in 1968 showed that this natural drug cures stomach ulcers and intestinal ulcers. In turn, the 1978 study, whose findings were published in the British Medical Journal (“British medical journal”), showed that the DGS can also be useful in the prevention of stomach ulcers.

Vitamin C

Studies show low levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C, in the stomachs of patients with gastric ulcer. Low level of vitamin C in the stomach is also a risk factor for cancer of the stomach. Supplementation can be useful to provide additional digestive support. The recommended dose is 500-2000 mg per day.

Turmeric

Turmeric also known as Curcuma longa, Indian saffron, is a root plant of the ginger family, which is often used for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and ability to improve digestive health. It is believed that the curcumin contained in turmeric chemical substance has many benefits for maintaining health. Even though many people used turmeric as a seasoning for food in the last 4,000 years, it also played an important role in naturopathy.

A 2001 study showed that turmeric can help to heal gastric and intestinal ulcers after four weeks of application. In turn, a study conducted in 2005, demonstrated that turmeric can reduce the excessive secretion of acid in the stomach by blocking H2 receptors. Similarly, there are prescription drugs to reduce the acidity, such as famotidine and ranitidine. Finally, according to the research 2016 turmeric can also help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. The recommended dose of turmeric — 500 mg two to three times a day.

Cayenne pepper

Red pepper contains the active ingredient capsaicin. Ironically, studies have shown the therapeutic usefulness of Cayenne pepper for digestion. For example, according to the results of the 2002 study red peppers may be better to eliminate the symptoms of indigestion are better than pill placebo. The recommended dose indicated on the label.

Probiotics

Probiotics are a category of supplements with healthy bacteria. The most commonly used strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. It is very important to restore the balance of bacteria and to ensure their harmonious interaction with the digestive system. Research 2016, confirmed that patients with dyspepsia there is an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. In turn, the study of 2017, the results of which were published in the British Medical Journal (“British medical journal”), has shown that restoring populations of beneficial bacteria in the stomach and intestines by using probiotics may be useful for patients with symptoms caused by indigestion. You can also consider the possibility of taking prebiotic supplements that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. The recommended dose is from 5 to 100 billion units a day.

Other supplements and nutritional products that have confirmed beneficial effects on the digestive process are essential fatty acids, chamomile, Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.

Herbs that help improve digestion

In his book Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You (“Why are you useful stomach acid”) Dr. Jonathan Wright gives a list of bitter herbs that have been proven to aid in digestion and stimulate the secretion of digestive juices necessary for healthy digestion. If a change of diet and the use of various additives of the above did not help to improve the condition, you can try taking these herbs:

  • dandelion;
  • ginger;
  • zheltokoren canadian;
  • milk Thistle;
  • bitter wormwood.

A healthy digestive system is very important for overall health

The breakdown of food begins in the mouth and continues in the stomach. After digestion in the stomach, the nutrients can be absorbed by our small intestine. Our diet, and microbiomes of gut bacteria greatly influence the efficiency of digestion. When changes in diet and lifestyle is not enough to improve digestion, frequently used medications that can be very useful. In addition, supplements and herbs can help to restore the balance of digestive system and provide optimum health. Eat healthy, think healthy and be healthy!

Links:

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  • Nakae H, Tsuda A, Matsuoka T, Mine T, Koga Y. the Gastric microbiota in functional dyspepsia patients treated with probiotic yogurt. BMJ Open Gastroenterology. 2016;3(1):e000109. doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2016-000109.
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  • The author of this article — doctor Eric Madrid, a member of the American Council on integrative and holistic medicine, certified American Board of family medicine and the American Council on integrative and holistic medicine. He is the author of “the purpose of the vitamin D, the healing energy of the sun.” Eric Madrid graduated from medical school at Ohio State University. He is a partner of Rancho Family Medical Group and is accepting patients in Menifee, California. More information about Dr. Madrid here.

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