By Michael Gerber, MD, HMD
Heart burn, gastritis, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), stomach pain, acid stomach, sour stomach, it goes by many names and is one of the most common afflictions suffered by modern man. Traditional treatment demonizes stomach acid which is one of our most important body substances. Without stomach acid we can’t digest and absorb proteins, minerals and vitamins which are critical for the building and repair of our tissues, bone, muscles and immune system, as well as providing the nutrients needed for our mental health and memory.
Love Your Acid
We are all learning about acid and base and pH. Remember pH (potential of hydrogen) runs from 0, very acid to 14, very alkaline. pH of 7 is neutral and the blood is maintained at a pH of 7.35. Stomach acid runs from 1 to 2 pH. The body works very hard to produce this much acid. I call it the queen of body chemistry. When we get symptoms of stomach acidity it has many causes. One is that the stomach lining has goblet cells which make mucous to coat the stomach. If the autonomic, automatic nervous system of the body becomes damaged or the hormonal system becomes stressed, particularly the adrenal gland, the stomach becomes abnormal, the goblet cells don’t make adequate mucous and the unpleasant symptoms begin to bother us. In extreme cases ulcers can develop which can bleed and leak stomach contents into the abdomen with very serious consequences.
It seems paradoxical that low stomach acid, hypochlorhydria, is extremely common especially as we age and gradually introducing stomach acid and pepsin, a hormone that stimulates stomach acid, can eliminate gastritis symptoms. Low thyroid also causes low stomach acid and poor absorption.
Commercial over the counter acid blockers can frequently contain aluminum which is a neural toxin and can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. We love our alkalinizing products that are what I call sexy German baking soda, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium bicarbonate rather than just sodium bicarbonate. Taken on top of a meal, however, they can kill your stomach acid and ruin absorption. Prescription acid blockers may be necessary for a short period of time in severely stressed individuals but were never designed to be taken chronically as they cause osteoporosis, thinning of the bones, because of interference with calcium absorption. Pneumonia, serious diarrhea, iron and B12 deficiency and other medical conditions can be consequences of long term use of acid blockers.
Slippery Elm, Herbs, Homeopathics
A great gift to stomach health is Slippery Elm powder. Given by capsule, 4 to 6 before meals and bed or 6 capsules opened into warm water, stirring out the lumps, will coat the stomach and esophagus and relieve distress within 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
Many herbs, demulcents and mints are immediately soothing to the stomach. Peppermint and Peppermint oil are antispasmodic and immediately soothing as is Chamomile. One combination of herbal tinctures from Nestmann in Germany has been extremely successful in normalizing the autonomic nervous system concerning digestion. It is made from Absinthium (wormwood), Centaury, Blessed thistle, Peppermint leaf, Anise fruit, Juniper fruit, Fennel fruit, Elecampane root, Sage leaf and Hyssop. With the Slippery elm and sexy baking soda it relieves most gastritis in minutes.
Homeopathy, which is difficult to comprehend at first, gives poisons which initially would cause stomach pain but when diluted thousands of times cause the opposite reaction. Nux Vomica, the vomit nut, is one common remedy for heart burn as is Arsenicum Album, white arsenic, which is also very valuable. There are hundreds of homeopathic remedies for gastritis depending on the symptoms and the nature of the person.
Neural Therapy for Tougher, Chronic Gastritis
Neural therapy from Germany has been around for over 100 years and treats a myriad of conditions using procaine, a safe local anesthetic. By injecting little bubbles in the skin over the stomach area with other anti-spasmodic homeopathics it helps to restore damaged nerves which have been chronically inflamed to normal function relieving stomach and esophageal pain in minutes.
- Homeopathic Medical Repertory by Robin Murphy, N.D. Hahnemann Academy of North America, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, 1998 R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company.
- Manual of Neural Therapy according to Huneke, Peter Dosch, MD, Karl F Haug Publisher, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany 1984.