Hypochlorhydria is one of the most common causes of heartburn. Unfortunately, the collective medical community is not educated on the variable causes of heartburn, and therefore automatically dispense antacids, proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers to every heartburn sufferer. All of these meds reduce stomach acid, and are only useful in treating Hyperchlorhydria (too much stomach acid.) The illusion that the heartburn is “cured” is exemplified by the disappearance of the burning.
Why is Stomach Acid Important?
Hypochlorhydria goes mainly undiagnosed, yet the presence of Hypochlorhydria is also often ignored. Many medical professionals maintain that stomach acid is an unimportant digestive element, because it does not play a big roll in actual breaking of down food. The argument remains that stomach acid has the “minimal” roles of stimulating pepsinogen production (for breaking down proteins) in the pancreas, and creating an antibacterial, antifungal and yeast hostile environment. What this flawed logic fails to acknowledge, is the number of health issues associated with the malnourishment, bacterial growth and yeast growth that result from a stomach environment that allows microbes, fugus and yeasts to pass into the intestines, where they can multiply. Similarly, it is vital for proteins to be broken down and absorbed for proper organ function and skin health. Stomach acid plays a key role in overall body health – however, it is equally important to acknowledge that chewing your food thoroughly is essential for nutrient release and absorption. The stomach does not break down your partially chewed food for you!
Hypochlorhydria, Stomach Acid, and the Esophagus
Heartburn associated with Hypochlorhydria is actually an esophageal issue caused by low stomach acid. The esophagus (the tube that carries the food from the throat to the stomach) ends at the stomach in a tight band of muscle called the LES (lower esophageal sphincter.) When Hypochlorhydria is present, the LES becomes relaxed, allowing what little acid is in the stomach, to back splash up into the esophagus, causing it to burn. A damaged LES then becomes sensitive to acidic foods and the condition is aggravated. Acid reducers do not repair the relaxed LES; they remove the already low levels of acid, which further relaxes the LES. Yes, the heartburn is gone, but it is gone because there is no more acid to splash up into the LES. This spiraling process gives the illusion that the heartburn is “cured,” yet Achlorhydria (no stomach acid) develops, and the body continues to suffer internally.
If you are taking heartburn medications or are a GERD or heartburn sufferer and are experiencing food allergies, skin conditions, or immunity disorders, please contact a Naturopathic practitioner, and get tested for Hypochlorhydria. It’s not too late!
*Please know that I am not a medical doctor or a health practitioner. I cannot diagnose your stomach problems nor can I guarantee a cure. I am here to share my knowledge, which applications have worked for me and to offer suggestions of where you may go physically, emotionally and spiritually for healing and self-empowerment. If you choose to explore alternative medicine, do not independently stop taking your prescribed medications. Always consult with your current doctor as well as your new practitioner when changing your medical program. Find a Naturopath near you.