Acid Reflux––Not Enough Acid?

By Dr. Brian Helland

It occurred to me while working with a patient that too often we don’t connect the dots enough for our patients.

I was adjusting a T6 subluxation on a patient (a subluxation is a misalignment of a vertebra with a resulting nerve irritation creating pain or some other dysfunction of the body) and asked her if she had been experiencing any kind of stomach issues. The T6 nerve is one of the main nerves that controls stomach function and the T6 vertebra is a common vertebra that we see associated with acid reflux. She paused a moment, and then informed me that more times than not, she has to take Tums in the morning because her stomach is bothering her.

Immediately two things came to my mind, osteoporosis and not ENOUGH acid. Let me explain. First, calcium needs a strong acid environment in order to be absorbed into the gut, and protein absorption is also greatly diminished if the stomach does not have enough acid. Tums and other antacids neutralize acid thus preventing any beneficial amount of calcium from being absorbed and preventing certain enzymes from being activated that break down proteins. Knowing this, it seems kind of ironic that they package calcium with Tums, doesn’t it?

Calcium and proteins are very important in bone health, so being on an antacid for a long time, might not be the best choice for someone concerned with osteoporosis. One of the classes we had to take during chiropractic college was called Gastro Intestinal class. It was all about how the digestive system worked, and one piece of information from this class still sticks with me in the clinic to this day.

This information is that 80-90% of acid reflux cases are a result of too little acid, not too much. I know this sounds a little counter intuitive, but it makes sense when you break down the physiology of it. When the stomach doesn’t produce enough acid, the food you eat in essence “rots” in your gut. This results in an unnatural acid being produced in the stomach. The stomach is designed to handle a very strong natural acid, but it can’t handle putrid acids. The stomach can’t wait to get rid of this unnatural acid, and the quickest way out, is up!

Our clinic has two ways of treating patients with acid reflux. First, we check their spines for subluxations in the areas associated with the stomach, and if we find nerve irritation, we give them a specific adjustment. You see, the body is designed to function correctly; it’s not intended to have acid reflux. Removing nerve irritation with a specific chiropractic adjustment, allows the brain to communicate better with the tissues of the body, and allow the body to better maintain a state of health. Chiropractors don’t diagnose or treat disease, we remove interference from the communication lines of the body. Bottom line, the body heals itself.

The second approach that we use in our office to help people with acid reflux is to put them on an acid and enzyme supplement. This restores the proper acid balance in the stomach and aids the stomach in protein, fat, and carbohydrate absorption. The statistics from my college course are pretty accurate in our clinical findings. 80-90% of our patients with acid reflux notice a marked improvement in their symptoms. Some even get off their medication. (Always consult with your physician before changing your medications).

Used together, these two approaches allow the stomach to heal and start producing the acid and enzymes that it was designed to produce. If the stomach is healthier, it means that you are healthier. If you have acid reflux, give us a call and see how we can help. Our office is a no appointment necessary, low stress, high energy clinic. We don’t lock patients into treatment plans they don’t want to be on and we have no contracts like some other clinics do. Bottom line, you are never obligated to receive care beyond that which you need and choose. We just want our patients to have a long life that is full of happiness and quality.