Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is at epidemic levels today. Not only do many adults suffer from it, but children and even infants frequently do as well in ever increasing numbers.
According to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons:
The term gastroesophageal reflux describes the movement (or reflux) of stomach contents back up into the esophagus, the muscular tube that extends from the neck to the abdomen and connects the back of the throat to the stomach. Because the stomach manufactures acid as an aid to digestion, this phenomenon is often referred to as acid reflux. Most people experience acid reflux from time to time as heartburn, a burning sensation below the breast bone that occurs after eating or at night. When the frequency of acid reflux is much greater than normal, or complications develop as a result of acid reflux, the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Now that we know what reflux or GERD actually is, let’s examine what causes this chronic and sometimes debilitating condition and how to resolve it without dependence on drugs.
Contrary to conventional thought, it is not too much stomach acid that is causing the discomfort. In fact, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, the nexus of the problem is too little stomach acid which causes the food that is consumed to sit and putrefy in the stomach instead of being immediately and properly broken down by hydrochloric acid produced by the digestive glands.
This putrification process generates a secondary acidic environment. This is the acid that people experience as reflux, but the truth of the matter is that if the stomach produced adequate acid to begin with to digest food properly, acid reflux would never occur in the first place!
The uncomfortable result of this secondary acid in the stomach is that the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) gets paralyzed, allowing both acid and partially digested food to flow back up into the esophagus. Hence the acid in the back of the throat and the related discomfort.
While the putrefication of the food in the stomach from a lack of hydrochloric acid itself generates an acidic environment, it’s not the kind we need for digesting food optimally in order for us to be nourished by it. Toxins are generated and the surrounding tissue is affected and ultimately damaged – especially the sphincter which opens and closes to allow passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach.
Of course this cannot be a good thing on a long-term basis and it’s only natural that complications would develop over time, the worst being esophageal cancer.
Besides the typical burning in the throat sensation, acid reflux sufferers also typically experience slow digestion which makes metabolism very inefficient. A healthy digestive system uses about 30% of the body’s energy on a daily basis. As a result, any major reduction in its capacity will tire you out quickly.
Sleepy after meals anyone?
So what’s to be done? According to lectures by Dr. Campbell-McBride, it is actually ridiculously simple.
Help the stomach produce more natural acid to prevent the problematic, secondary acid from occurring!
Whatever you do, don’t suppress the stomach’s efforts by shutting down what little beneficial acid it is producing with TUMS, a purple pill, or any other medication – over the counter or otherwise.
Reflux medications are a monster cash cow for the drug companies, but it’s at the expense of the long-term health of the consumer, even if there is some short-term relief because there is less secondary, putrified acid to be refluxed up the esophagus. The toxins are still being produced and the damage is still being done to your sphincter.
Reflux Remedy: Cabbage to Encourage Normal Stomach Function
Your natural production of stomach acid can be stimulated and enhanced easily, safely and cost-effectively with cabbage.
Yes – cabbage!
Cabbage is a reflux remedy as it naturally stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid (HCL) to permit digestion to proceed normally without a secondary wave of acid from paralyzing the sphincter and causing putrifying stomach contents to erupt back into the throat.
You can juice it and drink some before eating or make yourself some good old coleslaw (you know, the kind grandma used to make – or at least someone in your ancestry if you go back far enough). Or, here it comes, just eat some traditionally fermented sauerkraut. Not the canned or jarred stuff on the shelf at the supermarket.
It’s as simple as that. Sauerkraut, especially, is treasured traditional tucker in various parts of Europe. And now I understand why.
So, in order to have a comfortable digestive experience all day long, start in the morning by eating a quarter cup or so of sauerkraut five minutes before your meal. Dr. Natasha’s orders! Just be sure that first meal is a good one, such as eggs fried in butter with some cooked veggies on the side and maybe a little homemade broth for good measure.
If you’re eating processed cereals with skim milk, pop-tarts or doughnuts for breakfast, forget about the cabbage as nothing will help. Just take your purple pills.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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