According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 25 million Americans are suffering from heartburn each year. With such a large number of the population afflicted with this painful and potentially dangerous health problem, chances are that you are represented in this statistic. Over the past decade pharmaceutical companies have lead us to believe that the cause of this heartburn epidemic is an overproduction of stomach acid and doctors are writing millions of “acid blocker” prescriptions each year aimed at easing the symptoms of acid reflux. Ironically however, low stomach acid levels, not excessive levels, may very well be causing your heartburn. And furthermore, the very act of “blocking” your stomach acid production can have disastrous consequences for your health down the road.
Acid reflux is often incorrectly thought of as a stomach acid disease, but actually it is the result of a malfunctioning muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a flap that separates the base of the esophagus from the top of the stomach and opens only to allow food and liquids to pass down or vomit or gas to pass up. When the LES is functioning properly it will remain closed at all other times, sealing off the esophagus from the harmful acids in the stomach. When the LES is malfunctioning however, the corrosive stomach acids are able to make their way into the esophagus where they burn Continue reading