In the last blog I introduced a term called hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid. It causes pains similar to that of heartburn so just on symptoms alone it is hard to tell whether the cause is too much or too little stomach acid production.
Too little stomach acid can be caused by low swings in blood sugar symptoms of this might include diet that are mostly bread, pastas and sweets, or skipping meals 1-2 times per day, deficiencies in B vitamins which often occur in highly stressed individuals or people with poor or the standard American diet. Other reasons for too little stomach acid could come from gastro intestinal inflammations, food allergies, or food intolerances, or infections in the stomach from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori Infections).
It is interesting to me to note that all of these problems can be caused or exacerbated by stress. Since the country is filled with so many highly stressed people there might be a fair number of people who think that they have heartburn from the underproduction of stomach acid than from the overproduction of it. The treatment plan that I use for many of these patients has 2 parts. The first part is to treat the digestive issue which requires supplementation with digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid during meal times to reduce the symptoms and aide in digestion. A whole foods based diet is the foundation of this digestive plan as well. The second part of the plan entails treating the underlying cause of the problem. For example, if someone has hypochlorhydria because of the stress in their lives we work to create new behaviors to handle the stress or use homeopathy, herbs or nutrition to allow the body to manage the stress better. If someone has H.Pylori we have to treat that infection to restore the digestive tract to health then treat to maintain good health after going forward.
When we don’t feel good it is important to listen to our bodies and write down the symptoms. It is also important to go to a professional to get the right diagnosis and treatment plan. If you have heartburn think about the possibility of low stomach acid and find a naturopathic doctor to help you treat it.