Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
Acid reflux goes by many names and has many accompanying symptoms. Most common of which is heartburn, that burning sensation in your esophagus that can be so painful that it requires you to sleep sitting upright, or for some, they are unable to sleep at all.
The anatomical cause for acid reflux is quite simple: at the entrance to your stomach is a ring of muscle called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (or the "LES"). The LES acts as a valve that opens to let food pass into the stomach, and then closes.
However, if the LES does not close all the way, then acid produced by the stomach to aid digestion can move up through the open valve and into the esophagas. There are a variety of reasons why this may occur occasionally, and the pain quickly dissipates and your life is not disrupted.
For others, this burning sensation (heartburn) persists more than twice a week and that person may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (also known as "GERD").
The Traditional Medicine Approach
For most, you decide to finally visit a physician when your heartburn is so bad that it affects your daily life. You may avoid eating altogether and may be unable to sleep, which leads to a host of other chronic conditions.
Your primary care physician is likely to refer you to a specialist, and that specialist is happy to prescribe medications such as powerful antacids or proton pump inhibitors. While these treatments are very common and considered to be safe, functional health researchers are uncovering negative side effects of these seemingly harmless drugs (many of which are over-the-counter medication).
Side effects that can include cardiovascular risks, reduced nutrient absorption, harm to the kidneys, reduced cognitive function, and a rebound effect of more acid being produced as your body tries to compensate for the actions of the medication.
The bottom line is that your body needs to produce stomach acid for optimal digestive health.
How Is Functional Medicine Different
Rather than treat the symptom, which is the pain caused by acid entering the esophagus, Functional Medicine focuses on identifying the root cause of the problem. Acid reflux is actually one of the most common conditions treated by the doctors at the Institute for Functional Health.
By understanding how your body reacts to certain foods, and understanding how your other body systems are impacted by your digestive health, functional medicine has been proven as one of the most effective natural treatments.
Successful treatment is in sight. Aside from your ability to now eat and sleep pain free, the most exciting news is that your body will not be changing its cellular structure and altering its production of various hormones to try to overcome the harsh medications. Let's fix your esophagus pain without harming your stomach and kidneys and heart and brain.