Acid Reflux: A Red Flag

A Precursor to Chronic Illness

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All disease begins in the gut. Hippocrates

The drug companies have accumulated enormous wealth from the sales of medications for acid reflux and related digestive complaints. Endless numbers of radio, television and magazine ads tell us how these preparations can magically “heal” these digestive discomforts. You may have even noticed advertisements for these medications at the top of your email page. When prescription drugs for acid reflux went over-the-counter, drug companies raked in four hundred million dollars in sales per year!


In the United States, sixty million people have acid reflux, or one in five people. Last year, hospitals recorded four hundred seventy thousand hospitalizations and almost two million emergency room visits from acid reflux. Acid reflux and related digestive disorders now constitute an epidemic, and no age group has been spared. In fact, 50 percent of infants suffer from acid reflux in the first months of life, and during the last few years, there has been a 56 percent increase in sales of medicine for acid reflux and digestive disorders in infants and children from birth to four years old! A statistic like this should sound the alarm to find the root cause of this health disaster.

Do not be fooled into thinking that because acid reflux is so common, it is a simple problem with an easy solution, or that when the symptoms are gone, a cure has been achieved. The medications for acid reflux have a poor track record. In 33 percent of the people taking them, they don’t work at all. Sixty percent of those taking these medications continue to have problems three times a week, and 75 percent are doubling up on over-the-counter drugs.

What people do not realize is that acid reflux is a sign of poor digestion and impending malnourishment. Today, as most treatments—even natural remedies for acid reflux—focus on symptomatic relief, we fail to realize that this approach is like placing a “band aid over a boil,” and that poor digestion may be a precursor of severe degenerative conditions. According to Hippocrates, “All disease begins in the gut.” An underlying principle in Chinese medicine is that good digestion is the key to good health. As a corollary, Dr. Weston A. Price noted that the principle cause of disease is malnourishment.

How would our society function if our overriding decisions were based on the American Indian spiritual principle—that we must choose our actions according to how they will affect the next seven generations? Then acid reflux and every other health issue we suffer would serve as a high alert for major change—like the canary test, used to check the safety of coal mines. If the canary didn’t survive, people were not allowed to go into the mine. Accordingly, we would understand that massive epidemics in human health are warning signals telling us that we need to change our approach.

Unfortunately our standard medical and natural treatments for acid reflux do not address the root of the problem—a depleted food supply, wrong food choices and heavy metal toxicity, none of which supports good digestion and the nutritional requirements for optimal human health.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux: More Than You May Realize

Although sixty million Americans suffer from acid reflux, many people are unaware that they even have it. In addition to the typical symptom of acid regurgitation, causing a burning in the esophagus and an unpleasant taste in the mouth, other symptoms include hoarseness, belching, chronic throat clearing and sore throat, persistent cough, difficulty swallowing, nausea, asthma and wheezing and persistent hiccups in adults. In infants and children, symptoms manifest as frequent ear infections, excessive crying, nausea with or without vomiting, excessive coughing, respiratory problems, refusing food, excessive belching and burping.

Problems with Standard Treatments

Acid reflux is a condition in which hydrochloric acid from the stomach recurrently escapes up to the esophagus through the cardiac sphincter—a ring-shaped muscle that opens to allow food to pass from the esophagus to the stomach. It is often accompanied by the presence of a hiatal hernia, whereby the cardiac sphincter has been weakened and the top of the stomach protrudes up through the sphincter opening. Left untreated, the acid can erode the esophageal lining and cause a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine. This condition is considered to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.

In the standard treatment of acid reflux, most doctors prescribe medicine to lower acid levels in the stomach, suggest eating small carefully selected meals and recommend sleeping in a propped–up bed.

Acid reflux medications are designed for short-term use, but many people stay on them for years. For people suffering from gastritis, a condition where the stomach lining is inflamed, acid-lowering medications may be appropriate as a part of the initial healing regimen, but for all people, long-term use may cause serious health ramifications.

Stomach acid is extremely important to good digestion. Under normal circumstances, stomach acid not only helps break down protein into usable components, it also destroys food-borne viruses, pathogenic bacteria and parasites. But with low acid, one of the body’s first lines of defense against harmful microorganisms becomes compromised.

By contrast, a good stomach acid is associated with high levels of beneficial flora in the intestinal tract. Good bacteria can thrive when parasites, yeasts and pathogens are kept out by hydrochloric acid.

In a healthy stomach environment, the stomach acid is very acidic—between a pH of .8 and 2.5. A 1982 study found that patients in intensive critical care units whose gastric pH rose above 4 experienced “rapid gastric colonization of organisms” and an increase in pathogenic bacteria and viruses in the oral cavity. So if the stomach is not sufficiently acid, your immune system will have to work much harder.

But there’s more to this story, because from the stomach, this partially broken down food, full of yeast and other opportunistic organisms, now moves into the small intestine—the next stop on the digestive journey.

Without adequate stomach acid, when you eat foods that feed yeast and cause fermentation— sugar, starches, grains, processed foods, fruit juices and even too many fresh fruits—the yeast foams rapidly in the stomach, as when adding sugar to yeast in bread making.

Fermentation produces gases that force an upward pressure against the cardiac sphincter. Candida also will attach itself literally to the muscles of the cardiac sphincter and paralyze them. Under these conditions the cardiac sphincter will allow stomach acid into the esophagus. Thus, as a result of years of the constant pressure of this gas-forming yeast fermentation in the stomach, a hiatal hernia can develop.

In addition, if this partially broken down fermented food, full of yeast and other opportunistic microorganisms, now moves into the small intestine, digestion is further compromised.

Therefore, treating acid reflux with acid-blocking, antacid medications only masks and exacerbates the problems that lead to these issues.

DIGESTION GONE WRONG

Now the cascade of events leads to something more serious. Under normal circumstances, the stomach acid would have broken proteins into peptides before allowing them to enter the small intestine. But when insufficiently digested protein enters the small intestines, due to inadequate stomach acid, the pancreas in turn does not get the signal to release adequate pancreatic juices. In addition, if the small intestine lacks a healthy flora, production of enzymes called peptidases is also reduced. Normally, these enzymes are manufactured by the enterocytes on the microvilli—the small nutrient-absorbing hair-like projections lining the small intestine. Their function is to further break down proteins and carbohydrates into usable nutrients.

As yeast and other unhealthy flora coming from the stomach take over the small intestine, dysbiosis will develop. This causes the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract to become damaged, leading to “leaky gut syndrome.” Gut permeability allows poorly digested proteins and carbohydrates to “leak” through the intestinal tract.

To further complicate matters, the undigested casomorphine proteins from the casein in dairy foods and gluteomorphine proteins from gluten-containing foods—both of which resemble the chemical structure of opiates like heroin and morphine—will be absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged. Once in the bloodstream, they can interfere with brain and immune system function.

DRUNK ON CARBOHYDRATES

Undigested carbohydrates, poor digestion and candida overgrowth also result in the production of the chemicals ethanol and acetaldehyde, which have profound negative effects on brain chemistry. When candida produces ethanol in the small intestine, a person will seem drunk after a meal of carbohydrates, even though he has consumed no alcohol. In fact, eventually a person will actually crave the foods that produce alcohol in the small intestine. This is one reason why multitudes of children and adults have an insatiable appetite for high-carbohydrate junk food and why a multi-billion dollar processed-food industry continues to thrive.

We all know that alcohol is extremely toxic, especially to a developing fetus or a child. The following are some of the wide-ranging effects of a prolonged presence of alcohol from an overgrowth of candida in the body:

• Damage and inflammation to the gut lining and resulting malabsorption
• Nutrient deficiencies
• Stress to the immune system
• Liver damage
• Accumulation of toxins
• Unmetabolized neurotransmitters and hormones that can cause abnormal behavior
• Brain damage that can lead to lack of self control
• Impaired coordination, aggression
• Loss of memory and stupor; peripheral nerve damage
• Muscle tissue damage and weakness
• Metabolic alteration of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids
• Pancreatic degeneration

Thus, poor digestion can set up conditions in which it is difficult to think and enjoy life. As our diet causes mood problems and interferes with mental clarity, we become chemically dependent on the very foods that are making us sick.

Allergies “Out of the Blue ”?

Today allergies are commonplace—everybody has them, including children. For some people they are a minor annoyance, but for others, they can cause great suffering, even leading to anaphylactic shock and death. With a leaky gut, allergies can easily develop because a leaky gut allows undigested proteins into the blood stream. To your immune system, these proteins represent foreign objects. So every time you eat an offending food—even a food that is considered nutritious—an immune system response will occur.

In an allergic reaction, your body produces antibodies that attack the foreign intruder. These antibodies are meant to protect you from harm, but if your body becomes overzealous and is required to attack a food protein that you eat all the time, you will suffer constant inflammation. You may develop chronic pain—and this pain may travel—as the inflammatory chemicals circulate throughout your body. On Monday, your elbow is sore. On Tuesday, your back may kill you. On Wednesday, you have a horrible headache. On Thursday, you have all of the above.

You can visit the massage therapist, the chiropractor, or take anti-inflammatory medicine to mask your pain until the “cows come home,” but until you find the real answer to your digestive problems, you will forever be in pain. Natural remedies may not have as many side effects as pharmaceuticals, but they also fail to treat the root causes of acid reflux, allergies and chronic pain that are the outgrowth of poor digestion.

The High-Fiber Dictate : Part of the Problem

The USDA and the FDA have insisted on the food pyramid model in their dietary guidelines, not for good health but for profit. This diet stresses high-fiber foods, and everywhere—on the news, in magazines, in books, on talk shows—we hear about the “benefits” of whole grains and high-fiber vegetables. So-called experts present the benefits of fiber as an article of faith, with no questions asked—whole grains, raw vegetables and fruits—you need them at every meal, and fiber supplements for good measure.

No questions asked? The reality is that people trying to follow the government dictates— with “healthy” raw salads every day, raw vegetables for snacks, all-bran cereals and whole grain breads with added fiber—often develop a wide array of digestive problems like flatulence, hernias, hemorrhoidal disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Insoluble fiber is exceedingly difficult to digest without a healthy gut flora. Historically, people consumed far less fiber in favor of more nutrient dense, easy-to-digest foods such as high quality dairy from grass-fed animals—raw milk, cream, cheese and butter—high quality meats and fish, bone broth soups and cooked vegetables with butter. Your grandmothers and great-grandmothers did not serve salads and fresh fruit every day—it simply wasn’t available. Before refrigeration and motorized transportation, salads were a luxury, consumed only occasionally. Fresh fruit was only eaten in season—and often served stewed rather than raw.

In the stomach, your food cannot pass into the small intestine unless it is small enough to pass through the small valve called the pyloric valve. If you already have compromised digestion and low stomach acid, eating lots of hardto- digest fiber, whether from whole grains or fresh fruits and vegetables, will churn around and around fermenting, waiting to become small enough to enter the small intestine. During this time, gases are produced that will press against your cardiac sphincter and over time, may lead to a hiatal hernia.

One other point: high-fiber foods tend to be low-nutrient foods. So eating a high-fiber diet is, in effect, eating a low-nutrient, hard-to-digest diet. When this dietary pattern is followed year after year, malnourishment is sure to follow. A raw salad, for instance, does not have the same nutrient density as raw milk—a glass of raw milk contains the nutrients of about fifty pounds of fresh grass. Since we are not cows with four stomachs especially made for breaking down cellulose, let’s let cows do most of the high-fiber eating.

Too Much Water

If you are drinking lots of water throughout the day, your stomach acid will become diluted, leading to acid reflux and all the other problems herein described. In addition, too much water may cause mineral depletion and imbalances, which can further contribute to digestive disorders, as well as kidney disease, degenerative bone disease, muscular disorders and even cardiac arrest from electrical dysfunction.

Paradoxically, over-consumption of water may also cause constipation. When too much water is added to a high-fiber diet, the fibrous foods swell and ferment in the intestinal tract, leading to gas, bloating and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms. This expanded mass may be too large to pass easily.

Traditional peoples did not drink large quantities of water. Instead, they stayed hydrated with raw milk, fermented beverages and bone broth soups, which have incredible nutrient qualities and do not upset the body’s homeostasis. They also consumed plenty of traditional fats like butter, cream, lard and coconut oil. Fats render much more water during metabolism than proteins or carbohydrates. So as people succumb to drinking large quantities of water, not only will they lower the acid levels in the stomach, their digestion and nutrient absorption will be compromised. Over time this also contributes to malnourishment.

NOT ENOUGH SALT

In addition to a lowfat, high-fiber diet, government officials and health professionals tell us to avoid salt. Of course, salty junk foods should be avoided—but not because they contain a lot of salt. In spite of claims that salt raises blood pressure, there has never been clear evidence that reducing salt intake helps prevent hypertension. Decades of research have produced conflicting, ambiguous results. And salt is important for many functions in the body, including cell metabolism.

When it comes to good digestion, salt is critical to the production of hydrochloric acid—the chloride portion of sodium chloride serves as chloride for hydrochloric acid. We have very few other sources of chloride in our diets—celery and coconut are some of the best, but certainly not adequate to satisfy human needs. Without salt, we cannot produce enough hydrochloric acid for protein breakdown and good digestion overall.

The Path to Permanent Healing

Treatment of acid reflux must move well beyond the realm of symptom relief if true healing is to occur. Focusing on nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foods over time will do the triple duty of relieving symptoms, improving digestion and correcting malnourishment. We must also remove possible blocks to healing such as mercury overload.

To heal, it is important to focus on nutrient-dense foods and eliminate all grains, starches, sugars and any foods that feed the candida cycle. Replacing these foods with a diet of nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foods will satisfy your hunger as your body will finally obtain foods that fulfill nutrient requirements.

PROBIOTICS AND ENZYMES

Although hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplementation is often prescribed as a remedy for low levels of stomach acid, HCl taken as a supplement may irritate the stomach lining and cause gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Ultimately, proper HCl production is necessary for good digestion, but a safer approach to improving stomach acid production is to eliminate candida from the body, consume adequate salt, and eat cultured foods and beverages.

Cultured foods and beverages will support the development of a healthy intestinal flora, and help break the candida cycle; these lactofermented foods will also supply enzymes to support digestion. Often, however, those suffering from acid reflux and related digestive problems find that they need additional help, especially at first. There are many fine probiotic and enzyme supplements that you can take to get you started in your healing journey.

Hiatal Hernia Recommendations

Many people who have acid reflux are also dealing with a hiatal hernia. Therefore, it is extremely important to determine whether you have this kind of hernia so that you may further understand your acid reflux. A knowledgeable chiropractic physician who does energetic testing can often test for this problem and help provide relief by doing an adjustment to the hernia. To do this, an experienced practitioner will push the hernia down so that the top of the stomach is no longer protruding through the esophageal sphincter. This adjustment may be necessary on a regular basis until the esophageal sphincter strengthens and heals.

Special Advice for Infants Suffering from Acid Reflux

Infants who suffer from acid reflux are in terrible discomfort. They often have colic and do not sleep well. The first step is to work with a holistic practitioner who is familiar with the Weston A. Price Foundation principles. If the mother is nursing, she will need to work on healing her gut with a diet rich in nutrient-dense, probiotic foods to pass their benefits on to the baby. Following the aforementioned program for healing will be a good first step. If the baby is still not thriving, it may be possible to look at the several options for homemade formula that the Weston A. Price Foundation offers, as these are rich in probiotics and may help to heal the acid reflux. Mom should address any problems with mercury toxicity before conception or after weaning—not during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Conclusion

Healing from acid reflux requires an in-depth understanding of all the facets of digestive health. Permanent healing requires a long-term commitment to dietary change, along with alleviation of heavy-metal toxicity. But to be healthy—radiantly healthy—makes the whole journey worthwhile. The diet is rich and satisfying, and does not require privation; and safe removal of amalgams is more feasible than ever before. The benefits accrue not only to yourself but also to your family and to future offspring.

Modern man stands on a precipice. Continued physical degeneration is inevitable if we continue to eat industrial foods; but we have more knowledge and resources today than at any time in recent history to help us adopt a diet that ensures good health, generation after generation.

diet for acid reflux


SIDEBARS

ACID REFLUX AND ASTHMA

Interestingly, 41.1 percent of non-smokers who have a chronic cough and 60 percent of those who have asthma also have acid reflux.5 Asthma in children and adults is increasing at exponential rates. In 1995, almost fourteen million people were diagnosed with asthma while today that number has jumped to over thirty-four million!6 How does acid reflux lead to asthma? First, acid reflux may cause people to breathe tiny drops of hydrochloric acid into their lungs, which can irritate the delicate pulmonary lining and cause spasms in the airways, triggering an asthma attack. Second, frequent episodes of acid reflux may cause digestive acid to damage the esophageal lining and expose some of the nerves that are connected to the lungs. Irritation of the nerve endings may initiate a constriction of airways, thereby causing an asthma attack. Additionally, the acid can cause inflammation of the throat and larynx.

Surprisingly, asthma medications that dilate the bronchial tubes can trigger acid reflux symptoms, as they may cause the cardiac sphincter to relax, allowing acid to escape up through the esophagus. Regrettably, the conventional treatments for asthma merely address the symptom of narrowed breathing passages. While this is a necessary step, such treatment does not address the underlying causes.

Seven million people suffer from ear infections every year. Acid reflux may cause persistent ear infections as refluxed liquid enters the upper throat and inflames the adenoids causing them to swell. The swollen adenoids can block the passages from the sinuses and eustachian tubes, and fluid can build in the sinuses and middle ear.

PROGRAM FOR RECOVERY FROM ACID REFLUX

STEP ONE: The first step to recovery is eating foods that are easy to digest, end the candida cycle, heal the digestive tract, and offer superior nutrition. Start with bone broth soups exclusively for the first week. Make soups with homemade broth containing a variety of vegetables and a little chopped meat or liver.

STEP TWO: The second step to recovery is inoculating the gut with foods that will build a healthy intestinal flora. This is the time to add full-fat cow or goat milk kefir or yogurt—kefir has beneficial yeasts that literally “eat” candida, and contains other probiotic bacteria that will colonize in your intestinal tract. Ideally, you should make your own kefir or yogurt out of whole raw milk, but if you cannot find raw milk, you can purchase a high-quality, organic plain whole milk yogurt such as Traderspoint, Brown Cow, Seven Stars or Stoneyfield. If dairy is not tolerated, try other fermented foods and beverages such as homemade sauerkraut or pickles, coconut kefir, beet kvass, lacto-fermented sodas and kombucha.

STEP THREE: The third step to recovery is to consume a diet consisting solely of nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foods that continue to heal the intestinal tract and support a healthy flora. Your diet should include:

• High quality fats—for nutrient absorption and healing the gut lining—including raw butter, coconut oil, palm oil, and lard, goose fat, duck fat and tallow from pastured animals. Take cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.
• High quality animal foods including liver and other organ meats, eggs (especially the yolks) from pastured hens, wild caught seafood including fish eggs and shellfish and dairy foods like raw whole milk and cheese.
• Bone broths in soups, stews and sauces.
• Cultured vegetables and beverages—sauerkraut, pickled beets, beet kvass, kombucha.
• Vegetables—limit vegetables, at first, to those you consume in bone broth soups or sauté or steam—always add butter or coconut oil.

Mercury Toxicity from Amalgam Fillings —A Part of the Candida Overgrowth Puzzle

Mercury has a long history of use as a poison. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greeks used it as a murder weapon by pouring it into the victim’s ear, thereby paralyzing the brain and causing almost instant death. Yet only recently has information about the catastrophic health problems caused by mercury in amalgam dental fillings entered the public consciousness. What most people do not realize is that the mercury in amalgams is mixed with other metals— copper, silver, tin and zinc—which actually increase the toxicity of mercury through galvanization—an electrical current produced from two or more dissimilar metals. Galvanization increases the rate of mercury corrosion ten to twenty fold!13

Mercury is extremely toxic, even in very small amounts, and has been linked to many neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Heavy metals like mercury migrate to the fatty tissues of the brain and the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. Mercury alters the cell membrane structure of developing brain neurons, leading to rapid degeneration. You can see this happening in the link to the following study: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU8nSn5Ezd8&feature=related.

Mercury is a “cytotoxin.” It is poisonous to all living cells because it binds with sulfhydryl molecules. These molecules are found in most proteins, the building blocks for all tissues. As a result, mercury can interfere with virtually any process or organ in the body.

Dental office staff receive instructions about the vigilant handling of amalgam material; it is classified by OSHA as “hazardous.” In 1992, the World Health Organization declared that mercury is so poisonous, no amount of mercury absorption is safe! Yet, dentists have no qualms about putting mercury in people’s mouths, where it produces constant mercury vapor for up to fifty years!

Alfred Zamm, MD, FACP provides an excellent description of mercury’s poisonous mechanism: “Mercury poisoning is impaired oxidation. It’s like having an invisible cord around your neck that’s strangling you, but you can’t feel the cord is there. [The strangulation] is biochemical, but the principle is the same: mercury reduces the amount of oxygen you get. The body keeps adjusting, but with every adjustment it gets sicker and sicker.”14

Impaired oxidation leads to a host of health problems: autoimmunity, inability to deal with infections, bizarre illnesses that don’t make sense otherwise. These environmental illnesses are due to a lack of energy packages required for the detoxification process. Therefore mercury toxicity deprives the body of oxygen, and any process in the body requiring oxygen will be less efficient in the presence of mercury.

Mercury toxicity deprives the body of oxygen, the body in turn initiates candida overgrowth as a protective

mechanism. Therefore, even with a superb nutrient-dense, anti-candida dietary protocol, if a person has a mouth full of mercury amalgams, they may not recover from acid reflux!

According to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, “Mercury suffocates the intracellular respiratory mechanism and can cause cell death. So, the immune system makes a deal: it cultivates fungi [candida] and bacteria that can bind large amounts of toxic metals. The gain: the cells can breathe. The cost: the system has to provide nutrition for the microorganisms and has to deal with their metabolic products.”15

According to The Mercury in Your Mouth—The Truth about “Silver” Dental Fillings, published by the Quick Silver Association, indigestion and weak stomach acid are associated with mercury toxicity.16 The gastrointestinal tract will absorb the highest levels of mercury because the fillings are constantly in contact with saliva. When the immune system is compromised by mercury, fungus multiplies rapidly.

Safe removal of dental amalgams is a very complicated process requiring an extremely specific protocol. It should be carried out by a biological dentist who should thoroughly assess the health of the patient before removal. It is also critical that detoxification remedies follow the removal. Some excellent remedies are Gemmotherapy Plant Stem Cells (www.plantstemcells.net), Organic Sulfur (organicsulfur@sisna.com) and Original Quinton Marine Plasma (www.originalquintonplasma.com). For even more information on proper removal of amalgams, see Radical Medicine by Dr. Louisa Williams (www.radicalmedicine.com.)

To find a biological dentist who can safely remove amalgam fillings, consult with the following organizations:

The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (www.iabdm.org) The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (www.iaomt.org) The Holistic Dental Association (www.holisticdental.org) Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (www.amalgam.org)

My Story —A Common Saga

My story represents a textbook case of deteriorating digestive health, one that is shared by millions of people today. Ironically, for much of my life, I strictly followed the modern dictates of healthy eating—a lowfat, high-fiber diet, with lots of high quality whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, some lean meat, eggs and lowfat dairy, a little sugar and vegetable oils. Yet with this “perfect” diet, I developed chronic pain beginning in my early twenties, acid reflux in my early forties and shortly thereafter, a life-threatening digestive disorder that nearly ended my musical career.

I am the clarinetist and executive director of the Orion Ensemble, which has toured around the world and made several recordings. In 1999, at age forty-two, I began to experience acid reflux symptoms—a very distracting problem for a woodwind player. I felt a constant pressure in my throat with the sensation of wanting to burp. Of course, when I did burp, the horrible taste of acid would enter into my esophagus and throat. This was very frightening, and I quickly sought answers to this problem. My first solution was to stop eating wheat, which did help temporarily. I then discovered the blood-type diet and began religiously following the protocol for Type O. I ate more meat, salads, vegetables and fruit, and my only grains were two rye crackers a day and rice cookies. I did feel better, but my digestive disorder continued to develop.

In the fall of 2001, I became chronically ill for two years, suffering from a severe inflammatory condition in my spine, which caused debilitating pain in my arms, shoulders, hands and fingers, making it difficult to play my instrument and do normal activities like shopping, light lifting and housework. This condition was diagnosed as a symptom of celiac disease—an intolerance to gluten grains (wheat, oats, rye and barley). But surprisingly, the only gluten-containing food that I was eating at that time was two rye crackers a day! Still, with celiac disease, it only takes a microgram of gluten to cause an inflammatory reaction.

With that knowledge, I went the whole nine yards by following a strict grain-free, gluten-free and sugar-free diet of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit and olive oil. My pain remarkably disappeared, but I became absolutely terrified when five months later, I developed chronic diarrhea—a signal of malabsorption—and my embouchure (the facial muscles I use to produce my sound) began to shake uncontrollably. “Where is a bathroom?” and “I have to go now!” were my constant concerns as I literally dashed to a bathroom at least fifteen times a day. With malabsorption, I could be eating the most nutritious foods in the world and they would just go right through my body!

Not only did I think I would lose my ability to play my instrument, I began to think I would not survive. I felt my life leaving me, yet, how could I possibly eat a healthier diet—what was I supposed to eat? My healthy gluten-free, lowfat, high-fiber diet was literally killing me! Luckily, I discovered the work of Dr. Weston Price and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Through following the WAPF nutritional principles, I permanently reversed my digestive illness, including acid reflux, and after twenty-five years of chronic pain, I have been pain-free since 2003. I now have excellent stamina. Through adding ample traditional fats, vitamin A and D from fermented cod liver oil, butter oil, bone-broth soups, cultured traditional foods like raw milk kefir, beet kvass and sauerkraut, plus a wealth of nutrient-dense foods—liver, pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught salmon seafood, foods I had been missing my entire life—I have healed and built a high level of health.

Looking back, I realize that I was actually born with compromised digestion, for at birth I had severe colic. My mother told me that I hardly slept for the first six months of my life—that I would scream in agony from the gas pressure in my belly and intestinal tract. As my mother nursed me, she worked with the doctors to try to find out which items in her diet were bothering me. She began to eliminate various foods, taking them out one by one until she was only eating wheat—the doctors in the 1950s could not imagine wheat causing any problems, for how could someone have a reaction to bread of all things! With my mother’s all-wheat diet, my stools turned green, and I remained in agony. So my exhausted mother stopped nursing me and eventually, I “outgrew” the colic. Colic is a sign of poor gut flora.

By studying the work of Dr. Price, I recognized other symptoms of malnourishment . By age sixteen, I had a mouthful of cavities. I also remember often feeling my bones and muscles ache, which meant that there were not enough nutrients to support my growing body. My dear mother, who was concerned for the health of her children, heard the fiber story over and over, and actually put bran in our bran cereal—because “You gotta have that fiber to be healthy!” As an adolescent and young adult, I felt the effects of food addictions and mood swings. I had a clear affinity to eating anything that had wheat in it. Needless to say, throughout my youth, all this fiber contributed to ongoing flatulence. We all giggle at people who are “passing gas,” but when you experience this problem all the time, it means that something is very wrong with your digestion.

Thus, when I developed acid reflux at age forty-two, it was merely a sign of long-term poor digestion and serious malnourishment. The signs were there all along, but like most people, I believed in the modern health dictates and religiously followed them, even though I had inflammation and digestive problems. The thought that I was not eating a healthy diet had never occurred to me until I became extremely ill.

THE MERCURY IN MY MOUTH

As part of my journey, I had all of my mercury amalgams removed about twenty years ago by a leading biological dentist. Had I not had those amalgams replaced with composite fillings, I am certain that I would not have recovered from my life-threatening illness. Let me tell you why!

Although I had all my amalgams removed, up until early this year, I had one crown on the bottom right side of my mouth over my first molar. This crown was porcelain with metal at the bottom, and it enclosed a mercury amalgam-filled tooth. When you mix metals, you get what is called “dental galvanism,” in which two or more dissimilar metals cause the flow of an electric current. Dental galvanism causes an amplification of heavy metal toxicity in the body. In fact, to protect the vital organs, the body will try to displace the toxic metals through neural pathways to less important parts of the body, like the breasts and the reproductive organs, thereby protecting the brain, liver, kidneys and heart.

This is what was happening to me with only one toxic piece of dental work in my mouth. Last summer I noticed a lump in my right breast, which I was able to massage away through the self-breast massage technique. I also was experiencing sinus drainage behind my right eye and eyebrow area this last summer and thought it was an allergy—only on the right side?—Not making sense is it! My right eyelid has had a recurring twitch for years. My right tonsil often was sore. My right ear was sometimes sore. I had shingles on the right side of my face years ago—excruciatingly painful. Was this my body’s way of detoxifing this one piece of bad dentistry in the right side of my mouth? Since the removal of my last amalgam, my sinus problem, muscle twitching and ear pain are all completely gone. The breast lump has not returned either. So if you think that your mercury amalgams are not causing you harm, or your mixed metal crown with a mercury amalgam underneath is just fine, or your root canals are not causing any symptoms in your body that you know of—-think again!


REFERENCES

Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems, Bill Gotleib, William Gotleib Publishing, 2000.

Doctor’s Guide to Gastrointestinal Health: Preventing and Treating Acid Reflux, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diverticulitis, Celiac Disease, Colon … Pancreatitis, Cirrhosis, Hernias and More, Paul Miskovitz, MD and Marian Betancourt, John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, Prevention Magazine Editors, Bantam Books, 1991.

Fiber Menace: The Truth About the Leading Role of Fiber in Diet Failure, Constipation, Hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease and Colon Cancer, Konstantin Monastyrsky, Ageless Press, 2005.

Gut Solutions-Natural Solutions to Your Digestive Problems, Brenda Watson, MD and Leonard Smith, Renew Your Life Press, 2004.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome Natural Treatment for Autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMEDSCI(Neurology). MMEDSCI(Nutrition) Medinform Publishing, 2004.

Healthy Digestion the Natural Way: Preventing and Healing Heartburn, Constipation, Gas, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel and Gallbladder Diseases, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and More, D. Lindsey Berkson, John Wiley & Sons, 2000.

Heartburn and Reflux for Dummies, Carol Ann Rinzler and Ken DeVault, MD, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.

It’s All in Your Head, The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness, Dr. Hal A. Huggins, Avery, 1993.

MedicineNet – Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctors.

The Mercury in Your Mouth, The Truth About Silver Dental Fillings, Quicksilver Associates, 1998.

No More Digestive Problems, Cynthia Yoshida, MD, Bantam Books, 2004.

Radical Medicine, Dr. Louisa Williams, International Medical Arts Publishing, 2007-08

 

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2010.

Kathryne Pirtle is the clarinetist and executive director of the Orion Ensemble, which gives three concert series in Metropolitan Chicago, presents a live internationally broadcast series on Chicago's WFMT-FM Fine Arts Radio Network and tours throughout North America. She is principal clarinetist of the Lake Forest Symphony and frequently performs with the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival, The Ravinia Festival Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Pirtle has co-authored a book with Sally Fallon and Dr. John D. Turner called Performance without Pain, which was published in 2006 by New Trends that focuses on the modern dietary influences in common inflammatory and degenerative conditions in musicians, athletes, dancers and the general public, and the solutions found in a diet of nutrient-dense foods.

13 Responses to Acid Reflux: A Red Flag

  1. don says:

    Sugar, caffeine, medications

    Very comprehensive article. My first step was completely eliminating refined sugar, white flour,caffeine and poisonous pharmacueticals which have virtually no clinical relevance. I do have a sip of apple cider vinegar in water or eat the flesh of a lemon now and then. I know that it’s masking the problem but these natural remedies have allowed me to stop taking over the counter antacids for the first time since 1990. I am nearly 2 years medication free.

  2. whisperingsage says:

    vinegar

    Don; That acid may be keeping your liver clean. I did a gallstone flush for several months with several vitamins I found in an Atkins book from the 70’s. It included vit E, B6, inositol PABA, rutin, lecithin, and many other things, but it flushed my gallstones out. The first two days I had emerald green filling the toilet. I believe those were the smallest and easiest ones. Over several months I got the medium sized ones out and when they were stuck was when they hurt. I found coffee was a gall bladder stimulant and I could get them to come out in an instant 70% of the time. Lastly, the large ones, those did hurt and would take hours to come out . Tiring of this, I did a modification of the classic liver flush, vinegar without the oil. Since olive oil is green, I didn’t want to point to any green floaties and wonder if it was really olive oil. So i took a quart of vinegar over 3 days and that cleared my liver of any remaining stones. Now, unfortunately, I still had a lingering ulcer, I think caused by my cortisol from Cushing’s, and I am dealing with that. But ultimately the GERD for me had been caused by fatty liver problems which got the vinegar cure. It also cured the diarrhea I had for 8 years.

  3. blt says:

    Vinegar question

    That’s interesting, using vinegar for a liver flush. I might have to try it! A few questions came to mind…

    Did you use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar?
    How did you use it? Was it diluted with water or “as is?” How often did you take it, and how much each time? I’m assuming it was taken orally, or were these enemas?
    How did it clear your liver, did it dissolve the stones or just provide the extra push to get them out?

    Any input would be appreciated!

  4. Sheri says:

    acid reflux during pregnancy

    During both of my pregnancies, the acid reflux began around 4 months and worsened as baby grew. I have heard this is due to the combination of hormone changes which relax the esophogeal sphincter and the upward pressure of the baby. Both times it got so bad that I resorted to prilosec otc to get me though the pregnancy. Both times, as soon as the baby was born, the acid reflux was gone. Now we are thinking of having a 3rd and I’d like to know if you have any additional advice specific to a pregnant women’s needs. I hated using the drugs, but didn’t know of any alternative at the time. Thanks.

  5. Julie says:

    Sheri’s question about acid reflux during pregancy.

    Sheri, I too suffered from acid reflux during pregnancy. To put the fire out, I relied on buttermilk (I enjoy the tangy taste) and plain yogurt.

  6. Whitney says:

    Hi! I’m 6 months pregnant, and was having terrible heartburn, too, often leading to nausea. Having dealt with lots of gut issues in recent history, I had a feeling my reflux was not quite normal and ended up re-reading the section on digestive enzymes in Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (very interesting short chapter). I decided my stomach acid was low (drinking vinegar in water was helping) so I’ve been cautiously taking a Betaine HCl supplement and feeling MUCH better (Now Brand is allegedly non-GMO). Short-term solution, of course, and I’m working for the long-term one, but definitely better than Prilosec!! Not sure how often low-ish stomach acid contributes to reflux in pregnancy. I think mine was low beforehand, but not to the point of regularly causing heartburn.

  7. Shauna says:

    “A glass of raw milk contains the nutrients of about fifty pounds of fresh grass”? This seems a far-fetched claim. Can you provide a reference for this statement? I personally feel better when I eat lots of salads and high-fiber vegetables, and I feel absolutely horrible after consuming any type of dairy, including kefir, 24-hour fermented yogurt, and grass-fed raw milk. I made great efforts in the past to follow WAPF principles, but the recommendation to emphasize fats and high-protein only makes me feel more ill the longer I follow it. I feel heavy and lethargic when I eat a lot of meat or fat, no matter the source. Could it be that there is not one correct diet for everyone?

  8. JP Edwards says:

    Accidentally helped reflux with salt

    About 2 years ago, after about 3 years of medication for GERD/reflux, I realized I had many symptoms of sodium deficiency, so I started using salt very intentionally. I immediately noticed the improvement in sodium symptoms, but it wasn’t until about a month later that I realized I had not been remembering to take my rx for reflux, because I wasn’t being reminded by the symptoms any more.
    I assumed it was connected to the increase of salt somehow. I would notice acid symptoms creep in sometimes and more salt always helped. It wasn’t until about 2 months ago that I learned about the chloride from salt & proper stomach acid ph. I am so glad to see this addressed and hope the next changes I am implementing, (natural fats from pastured animals) will take me to the next level of health!

  9. henry says:

    Hiatal Hernia

    Hi. How do i locate a chiropractic physician who does energetic testing in BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA. My daughter has this hernia problem. I will be glad if you can help locate this type of specialized chiropractor in my area. Thanks, Henry

    • shahid jamal says:

      try terry franks office which is in washington. he is one of goodhaarts principal reseachers and is reverred by the mayo clinic intensive care physicians. he will sort it quickly and easily and is not too far from you. enjoy your beautiful british colombia.

      there are parties who swear immediate relief by taking baking soda in a drink. i personally highly recommend a liver and gallbladder flush with as much raw veggie juice with lemons and grapefuits as possible.

  10. Pamela Jean says:

    I enjoyed reading this document and comments. I awakened, appropriately 2 hours after falling asleep,12:30 a.m. with the terrible irritation of acid reflux, regurgitation symptoms. I did eventually chew tums to help me pass this pain and sour taste (similar to beef liver). The tums and reading helped me to feel better. It seems I need to consider more knowledge of flora, apple cider vinegar, and possibly yogurt. I hope there are some honest, straightforward, and knowledgeable individuals who can assist me in finding a solution to this condition. I’ve been up long enough, and am going to save this article for future use. Thanks. If Ms Kathryne Pirtle is
    available for me to talk with her, I would like to have the opportunity. I will try to locate her with the internet’s help.

  11. wale says:

    I don’t know how to start this but I always feel this burning sensation in my tummy not long after eating (especially eating a lot of food) and I always feel drunk and sleepy immediately after ending my meals. I know I habe behcet’s disease with mouth but it becomes worse when I have the mouth ulcer flares. I don’t understand , but taking prednisolone about an hour before meals prevents this feeling of being high on alcohol. I am always weak and fatigued. I don’t know how to go about it but the foods you described are not here in Africa ,how can I improvise or get alternatives

  12. Lindsay Price says:

    HI all, I have been doing a lot of research re managing reflux/haital hernia and I have to say I am confused. Some recommend low fat diet as this can irritate the LOS (or LES in US) and this is recommending raw milk/butter etc. I do understand Weston Price and have already tried to incorporate probiotics etc but I’m not sure which way to go to try and manage this awful condition which has only recently manifested with acid reflux for me and on endoscopy some irritation to the oesuphagus – but on reflection I have had digestive signals for a long time but just not listened to my body. I have lost quite a few pounds as have nausea also. Can anyone give me some feedback if followed bone broth for a week etc? Also I am based in UK and have been trying to find a chiropractor who also works with kinestheology and no luck so far – if there is anyone based in Uk out there that can help I would be very appreciative.
    Very helpful website and appreciate the support from contributors.
    Regards, Lindsay

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