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stomach acid

  • Waking with a sweat?

    In three recent articles, we discussed how reproductive and adrenal hormones, as well as Candida overgrowth, can trigger night sweats. In the last of this four-part series, we will discuss the other common cause.

    If you have acid reflux, the stomach acid coming up into your food pipe while you sleep can cause you to wake with sweats. A large body of research is suggesting that longterm use of acid blockers (such as Prilosec and Nexium) can be very toxic. Zantac and Tagamet are much safer, but still interfere with digestion.

    Nighttime acid reflux is especially likely to be a problem if you have daytime indigestion as well. Although you may sometimes notice the heartburn when you wake up, other times you won't and you'll just wake up in a sweat after inhaling the stomach acid.

    My article on How to Get Off Prescription Antacids, Naturally, can be very helpful. You can also look up "heartburn" in the free Cures A-Z phone app.

    Don't try to stop acid blocker medications suddenly, as they are very addictive. The rebound acid hyper-secretion will cause indigestion from hell. Instead, follow the instructions in these articles.

    But your food pipe and GERD won't be able to properly heal until you take care of the nighttime reflux as well. Here's how!

    Getting Rid of Nighttime Acid Reflux

    Poor digestion is epidemic in this country. Daytime indigestion is largely caused because food processors learned that destroying the enzymes naturally found in food prolongs shelf life. This is because these enzymes cause the food to ripen. The problem? These enzymes are also critical for humans to digest the food properly. Without them, the food simply sits in the stomach and churns. After a while, your stomach hits the "return to sender" button, and you get acid reflux.

    But a key part of getting rid of daytime indigestion and night sweats is eliminating the nighttime acid reflux. Our stomach is built like a tank, to protect it from stomach acid. But our food pipe isn't, and the acid treats it just like another piece of meat, trying to digest it.

    Acid reflux (GERD) at night occurs because gravity is no longer holding the acid in the stomach when we lie down. If the valve that's supposed to do this isn't working, the acid flows into your food pipe (esophagus). This causes irritation that will markedly amplify daytime indigestion as well.

    How to tell if you have nighttime acid reflux causing your night sweats

    Start by taking an acid blocker medication an hour before bedtime for three to four nights. If this helps, you've identified the problem. Stop the acid blocker, as it is quite addictive and toxic when used long-term. Instead, follow the instructions below. If you need a nighttime medication for a while, use Tagamet or Zantac at bedtime instead.

    How Acid Reflux Works

    A Recipe to Get Rid of Nighttime Reflux

    After six weeks doing the below, you may find your daytime heartburn starts to settle down as well.

    • A–Bicarbonate of soda. Take 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (e.g., Arm and Hammer) in 4 oz of water at bedtime to neutralize the acid in your stomach (not for children under 16 years old). Though it's a bad idea to keep your stomach acid "turned off" during the day (you need it to digest food), you don't need stomach acid at bedtime while sleeping. I recommend one called Complete Gest. Animal-based enzymes do not help digestion. If you have high blood pressure, use potassium bicarbonate instead (not carbonate). This can be found on Amazon.com
    • B–Don't eat within two hours before bedtime and take two caps of a plant-based digestive enzyme such as Complete Gest an hour before sleep. This will ensure your stomach is empty when you sleep.
    • C–Sleep with your upper body elevated, so gravity keeps the acid in your stomach. Raise your upper body at least 6–8 inches when in bed (just raising your head with pillows won't work). One way to do this is to place a 6–8 inch brick or phone book under the legs by the head of the bed (i.e.–just the two legs by the end of the bed where your head is). Another wonderful solution is to use a sleep wedge pillow (you can find one online at www.hammacher.com
    • D–Melatonin. Take 5–6 mg of an immediate release melatonin at bedtime. Research shows that this decreases reflux.
    • E–Immediate Heartburn Relief chewable antacids.

    Keep a few at the bedside to take if needed. These are more effective and much healthier than regular calcium chewables.

    By taking the steps discussed in this four-part series, night sweats will usually be gone and you will be having a much more restful sleep!

    Disclaimer: Please be aware that medicine is complex and without actually being your attending physician we cannot give medical advice. Any information given is to be used as a teaching tool for you and your physician to work with therefore we cannot take any legal responsibility for its use. Please check with your personal physician before applying any recommendations.

  • A lot of you suffer with disturbing problems such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, bloating, nausea, reflux, esophagitis, stomach ulcers and fatigue related to anemia. These symptoms might be tied to H. pylori, the ulcer bug. Complications of untreated Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) lead to severe reflux, dysphagia, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer and gastric lymphoma.

    Without a pill to fix you, this leaves little hope for relief, even if you're restricting yourself to chicken soup and a glass of water! It's clear to me we need something other than conventional treatments and pharmaceuticals which have limited effectiveness and adverse reactions.

    H. pylori can easily survive stomach acid, in fact it thrives in it. People often look surprised when I tell them that H. pylori can infect you all over, and plays a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), Hashimoto's thyroiditis and iron deficiency anemia.

    Treating H. pylori is tough. Today, the standard of treatment is dubbed "triple therapy" and includes two antibiotics (usually amoxicillin and clarithromycin) along with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole). Unfortunately, there's a high rate of relapse. You can improve your odds of beating this infection if you take probiotics. More on that soon, but first, I want you to really wrap your head around this destructive pathogen.

    H. pylori causes mineral malabsorption and vitamin B12 deficiency which contributes to dementia, irritability, memory loss, arrhythmias and hypothyroidism. The mere presence of H. pylori activates your immune system causing it to stay on guard 24/7 and that pours a cytokine waterfall of inflammatory compounds all over your body. Then you become flooded with antibodies. The immune system activation appears to stir up bad superantigens and molecular mimicry which confuses your body. It will cause you to lose "tolerance of self" so you attack yourself. You develop an autoimmune disorder which can be different for everyone. Lupus for you, rheumatoid for her, Crohn's for him, and so forth. Infections combined with genetic SNPs are often the root cause of an autoimmune disorder.

    Recently, researchers evaluated 33 different trials that involved 4,459 participants with H. pylori. They wanted to know whether probiotics had any beneficial effect. They compiled statistics on 3 groups: People who took a dud pill (placebo), people who took antibiotics (triple therapy), and people who took probiotics with their antibiotics.

    Individuals who had took probiotics with the triple therapy had a much higher success rate in treating the H. pylori overgrowth and experienced fewer adverse events. In fact, it helped people who had already done the antibiotic course unsuccessfully! Four probiotic strains stood out: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacterium infantis. This is so awesome and it's simple! Taking a probiotic supplement with these strains (about 4 to 6 hours after your antibiotic) may ultimately beat this infection. I've posted a longer version of this article at my website if you'd like to learn more about soothing symptoms while treating the infection.

  • Improving health is often very simple: quit smoking, eat wholesome food, avoid toxic substances and get good sleep and regular exercise. We are given clues when we violate nature’s laws—they are called symptoms. Instead of simply hitting the snooze alarm on those walk-up calls, we should discover and care for the underlying cause.

    Heartburn (or acid reflux, GERD, etc.) is a case in point. It is typical to treat the condition with acid-blocking drugs. Patients initially feel relief from the drugs, but the approach is shortsighted because stomach acid itself is not the real problem. Nature demands we have stomach acid, so the real issue is that the stomach acid has gotten somewhere it doesn’t belong—e.g. into the esophagus or through the protective barrier in the stomach.

    Acid-blocking drugs do serve a valid purpose while a patient has a serious ulceration, relieving pain until tissues heal. It is a Band-Aid. But if we don’t find out why the acid got in the wrong place, the ulceration will ultimately reappear. Furthermore, the drugs have only been approved safe for limited use—two to four weeks. When people take them for longer, they may experience serious side effects such as hip fracture, dementia, depression, high blood pressure, liver disease, erectile dysfunction, and much more. The effects are no surprise because stomach acid protects the body from invaders and assures proper digestion of needed minerals and nutrients.

    One fundamental cause of heartburn is hiatal hernia—a structural malfunction wherein the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm, trapping stomach juice in the esophagus which is not acid-resistant. You can prevent this condition by avoiding: smoking, obesity, improper weightlifting, frequent constipation, constrictive clothing, and chronic coughing. Non-surgical manipulation by a chiropractor or massage therapist can resolve the malfunction. (An acid-suppressing drug obviously cannot.)

    A muscular valve (sphincter) normally keeps the stomach contents from going back uphill. If the valve is weakened, acid may get into the esophagus and cause irritation. Poor diet, inadequate digestion, food sensitivities, reduced nerve supply from misaligned spinal vertebrae, insufficient vitamin D, poor balance of friendly bacteria, and resulting yeast overgrowth are some potential reasons for sphincter failure.

    A very common cause of heartburn is, in fact, low stomach acid. Without adequate acid, stomach contents don’t proceed to the next step of digestion. The stomach juice, therefore, continues to accumulate, increasing the odds that some weak acidic juice will get into the esophagus. Taking bitters before a meal and assuring that we have a good balance of beneficial bacteria to ward off the acid-suppressing bug H. pylori will boost stomach acid.

    Improve Digestion With Lifestyle Approaches

    Other lifestyle approaches improve digestion and are FREE: reduce stress and eat when you are calm; slow down; chew thoroughly; eat smaller meals; avoid sugar; eat more raw food (the enzymes are still active); wait two hours after eating before exercising; and find alternatives to anti-inflammatory painkillers which damage the digestive lining.

  • Who knew?

    It actually takes the right acid to create systemic alkalinity—the key to health, longevity and weight loss.

    Yes, you heard that right. I'm talking about hydrochloric acid (HCl) here, the only acid your body actually produces on its own that is not a byproduct of metabolic waste. It may sound counter-intuitive, but although HCl is an acid, it's the key to the proper alkaline/ acid balance — which is seriously deficient in anyone beyond the age of 35. A lack of zinc, iodine, salt, B vitamins, potassium and/or too much stress are common culprits of inadequate HCl production.

    But, acid into alkaline—how could that be?

    The right amount of HCl in the stomach triggers the pancreas to produce large amounts of alkalinizing bicarbonates that signal pancreatic enzymes, which can only activate in an alkaline medium. It is also absolutely necessary for the production of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which helps the gallbladder to release bile for fat emulsification. Without sufficient HCl, bile production can be hampered from doing its job because if there is not enough bile produced, fat cannot be emulsified. It's as simple as that.

    If you have a roll of fat at your waist line, your liver has stopped processing fat and begun storing it. Only when you bring your liver back to full function—with the aid of HCl—will you lose this fat.

    And what will you gain?

    • Increased absorption of muscle building protein that increases metabolic rate by 25 percent.
    • Complete assimilation of calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, B12 and folic acid, as well as 15 minerals and eight essential acids.
    • Relief of asthma (especially in children) and edema along with mucus congestion.
    • Better oxidation of painful lactic acid in tissues.
    • Increased kidney and liver function.
    • Elimination of boils, abscess, rosacea and rashes—which are unresponsive to other therapies.
    • Heartburn relief.

    Don't leave home without HCl. It is the most effective antibacterial agent that I know of. Outside your body, it could literally burn a hole in a tablecloth or eat right through an iron nail. Within your stomach, it acts as a natural antibiotic—your first line of defense against toxic invaders, especially bacteria you are likely to encounter when traveling. It helps to neutralize pathogenic organisms, along with yeast and Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcers. It's even been used to neutralize the venom of snake bites to prevent infection! This information may seem new to you, but decades ago Dr. Hugh Tuckey and his family spent 30 years conducting independent research on HCl—research which has tragically been forgotten. They discovered that a lack of HCl was the underlying cause of many digestive and immune-system ailments, along with bad breath and dark circles under the eyes.

    So, should you take an HCl supplement?

    Yes and no.

    No—if you already have any sign of acid reflux such as an inflamed esophagus or even an irritated stomach lining. Both of these need to be healed first and foremost with either slippery elm, zinc carnosine, or L-glutamine powder.

    If any of the above is true, you might consider taking two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of water 20 minutes before meals. This may naturally help to acidify your stomach without the need for supplementation.

    Other individuals are welcome to take the HCl challenge! Before the next meal you eat, take a hydrochloric acid supplement that contains at least 500 to 550 milligrams of betaine hydrochloride and about 150 milligrams of pepsin.

    The brand I recommend is UNI KEY's HCL+2. After you've taken your first HCl tablet, notice how you feel. If you're producing enough stomach acid, taking this supplement will cause you to feel a bit of pain or warmth in your stomach. You can relax—your stomach acid is sufficient to digest the food you're eating.

    If you don't notice any symptoms or any worsening of the symptoms you already have, increase your dose to two HCl tablets at your next meal. If you're still symptom-free, or if the symptoms you've already experienced haven't gotten any worse, continue upping your dose one tablet at a time. As soon as you feel a burning sensation or warmth, you know you've gone too far. Drop back to the previous dosage and continue taking the supplement as needed. You can work up to eight pills a day.

    After four months, you might experiment with reducing your HCl dosage. If you get good results, continue to reduce your intake of HCl until you are no longer taking it. If your symptoms return, go back to your previous dosage.

    Sometimes, the use of a good digestive bitter is indicated. Bitter is better—especially when it comes to digestive health. Eating bitter foods like arugula, endive, radicchio, and horseradish can help promote more effective gastric secretions. Even dandelion root tea qualifies in this regard.

    So, regardless of how you decide to treat your stomach, there are plenty of natural whole food options to put your digestion back on track for good!

  • In addition to trying out an elimination diet, you should also be taking a more up-close and personal evaluation of your stomach acid—meaning, your hydrochloric acid production, or lack there-of. Dr. Jonathan Wright, who is an expert on hydrochloric acid, has found that 90 percent of his patients suffer from too little hydrochloric acid or HCl. (In fact, I was one of them. My diagnosis of hypochlorhydria was officially diagnosed at his Tahoma Clinic in Washington State via the Heidelberg test in which hydrochloric acid secretion is monitored via a special capsule that is swallowed which sends back pH signals over an hour.)

    Low hydrochloric acid levels are dramatically linked to a dysfunctional gallbladder through a cascade of biochemical events. Ideally, food should pass from your stomach into your small intestine, accompanied by a steady flow of bile. If you are not secreting enough hydrochloric acid due to a lack of hydrochloric acid producing nutrients (think sodium, iodine and zinc) OR if you are under stress, the opening to the small intestine, known as the pylorus becomes spastic.

    A spastic pylorus keeps the bile from entering the small intestine, so that it backs up into the liver and gallbladder. Meanwhile your poor pancreas, which regulates the release of insulin (more about this later), also suffers from the lack of HCl and bile. The result is not only poor regulation of blood sugar— that can lead to weight gain—but also problems with digestion and appetite.

    The gallbladder seems to be especially reactive to emotions and tension. This may be due to its association with appropriate stomach acid production, which can be hampered by stress. Stress can stop hydrochloric acid production in its tracks. So, needless to say, managing stress is a key defense. Make sure you give yourself enough time to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly—as your mother would surely say!

    Sometimes, HCl supplements containing betaine hydrochloride with pepsin, or apple cider vinegar mixed in water during meals is the solution. Other times, adding more salt, iodine and/or zinc to the diet can do the trick because these nutrients are the precursors to make your own hydrochloric acid. Regardless of which nutritional strategies you try, stress will always need to be managed.

    Then, there's the matter of aging. Most of us, by the time we hit 40, start to experience plummeting HCl levels—often up to 50 percent. Unless you have esophageal corrosion or irritation, or a hiatal hernia, I would highly recommend a trial of HCl. Besides prompting the gallbladder to secrete fat-emulsifying and toxin-removing bile from your body, it also helps to digest proteins more efficiently, as well as calcium, magnesium and iron.

    A most remarkable substance, it acts as a natural antibiotic, your first line of defense against toxic invaders, and sets the stage for the proper pH in your gut. Without this, the beneficial bacteria that comprise your microbiome may become over populated with nasty pathogens rather than friendly flora. Taking probiotics without stomach acid can often result in more bloating by adding additional bacteria that will trigger gas in your stomach and small intestine.

    Bile: The Forgotten Key
    As you must surmise by now, you will not be deriving the extraordinary benefits that Smart Fats can bestow without enough bile.

    You will be missing out on the most potent energy source available to the body because gram for gram, fat yields more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates or protein. Since fat makes up the membrane of every cell in your body, your ability to process fat will affect every part of you! By maintaining strong cell membranes, fats help protect against allergens, bacteria and viruses.

    Without proper fat absorption, many things can happen in a cascade of unwelcomed side effects. You will be deficient in utilizing B vitamins for digestion, nerve health, energy and mental wellbeing. You will be unable to regulate calcium levels in the bloodstream and transport it to the tissues for strong bones and cramp-free muscles. You won't be able to carry and store fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K for healthy skin, reproduction and blood clotting. You will be unable to conserve protein to rebuild vital tissues, maintain a normal body temperature, insulate and cushion your vital organs, nerves, and muscles against shock, heat and cold, or seal in moisture for healthier skin, hair and nails.

    And that's STILL not all that happens without proper fat utilization.

    As the years go by, you can start to experience chronic dry and itchy skin, digestive upsets, a higher likelihood of constipation and irritability, nervousness and even anxiety. Convinced? I certainly hope so. These Smart Fats we all so desperately need can boost every aspect of health—especially your brain to encourage clear and calm thinking and focus. The brain is made of 60 percent fat. If your body is NOT receiving, digesting or assimilating high quality Smart Fats, your cells will be woefully lacking the raw materials they need for high quality brain function.

    Your Body's SOS Signals
    What are some of the screaming signs that your body is not properly digesting fats?

    • Queasiness after a fatty meal (impaired bile flow)
    • Light colored or floating stools (lack of bile output)
    • Nausea (not enough bile)
    • Dry skin and hair (lack of essential fatty acids)
    • Constipation (inadequate bile for lubrication)
    • Constant feeling of fullness
    • Inability to lose weight
    • Pain under the right rib cage (reflective pain from gallbladder)
    • Hemorrhoids (congested liver)
    • Varicose veins (pressure from constipation due to thickened bile)
    • Pain between the shoulder blades (reflective pain from gallbladder)
    • Bloating or gas
    • Headache over the eyes (gallbladder meridian passes over this region)
    • Bitter taste in mouth, after meals (sign of bile regurgitation)
    • History of prescription or recreational drug use (need for more liver and gallbladder support)
    • Sensitivities to chemicals
    • Easily intoxicated (need for more liver and gallbladder support)
    • Fibromyalgia (sign of liver and gallbladder overload)
    • Hypothyroidism (sign of deficient bile to stimulate active thyroid hormone in fat cells)

    Also, keep in mind that if you have been following a low-fat or non-fat diet for a while, your gallbladder has been on vacation. It will need some time to adjust to actually working again the way Mother Nature intended when adding back the Smart Fats. Simply put, the gallbladder is an organ that requires you use it or else you will lose it (quite literally in this case). Sadly, over the last several decades so many of us have been brainwashed to trade in our “bad” saturated butter for processed margarine or polyunsaturated vegetable oils. The truth is that low-fat diets or diets filled with these hydrogenated or transfats do not stimulate the gallbladder to release bile properly as only the Smart Fats can.

    Get a Smart Start
    It's time to wipe the slate clean because over the next several months you will be introduced to the various Smart Fats and learn how they function and help you to reprogram your fat cells to slim, once again! If you're going to be adding more Smart Fats to your diet—one to two tablespoons of coconut oil, a couple of pats of butter, a tablespoon of cream—then by all means, do make sure you're digesting them properly.

    Smart Tips: Liver & Gallbladder Tune-Up
    In the meantime, try some of my personal liver and gallbladder tune-up tricks to set the stage for the most efficient Smart Fat utilization that will help you lose weight by also balancing your metabolism, stress, appetite and sex hormones.

    1. Remember, bile is beautiful! For those of you without a gallbladder, with gallstones, or who are exhibiting signs of poor fat metabolism, a bile extract (known as bile salts) would be my choice to provide the missing bile to help emulsify fats. There are several bile supplements available on the market today. An ox bile supplement is considered a daily “must” for those of you who have had your gallbladder removed. You may also have to supplement with other gallbladder support as well. One product does not work for every body, so see what works for you and slowly but surely build up tolerance.
    2. Beets can't be beat. Beets thin out and move bile. Beets are chock full of betaine, which is a supercharged bile rebuilder. These can be roasted, steamed or taken as beetroot powder. Beets can also be grated raw in salads or juiced in a combo along with carrot, celery and cucumber juice. Beetroot concentrate can also be taken in a tablet form.
    3. Add some artichokes. Artichokes are a wonderful bile-producing food and also support overall liver function. 4. Bitter is better. Encourage your liver's bile production, aid digestion and build vitality by eating nutrient-rich bitter herbs and greens with your meals. Experiment by adding dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio and endive to your salad.
    4. Load up on lecithin. Lecithin, from non-GMO soy or sunflower seeds, is one of the primary emulsifying or detergent-like agents in bile. It breaks down fats and makes them easy to digest. It also keeps cholesterol moving through the bloodstream and prevents blockage.
    5. Opt for orthophosphoric acid. This liquid substance is a natural remedy to help dissolve gallstones and remove blockages, providing relief from discomfort.
    6. Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. This daily Fat Flush ritual helps thin bile to get it moving. It is also a great way to gently cleanse your liver and detoxify your system.
    7. Enjoy apple cider vinegar. A miracle in a bottle that cures all sorts of woes, apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which aids in digestion and thins out bile.
    8. Consider HCl supplementation. Start at moderate doses as low as 250 mg per capsule and work your way up according to tolerance. HCl is best combined with pepsin, another stomach digestive aid and sometimes is formulated with ox bile for more complete digestion.
    9. Look for lipase. For most efficient absorption and assimilation of Smart Fats, you might consider adding lipase. This is a digestive enzyme secreted by the pancreas, which breaks down fats and oils into small particles. In my testing, lipase is one of the most highly deficient enzymes for just about everybody.
    10. Try taurine. This is a very important amino acid commonly deficient in those with allergies and multiple environmental sensitivities. It is required by the liver for the removal of toxic chemicals, drugs and metabolites from the body. It is a key component of bile acids made in the liver. It is commonly deficient in vegetarians because it derived from organ meats and other animal proteins.
    11. Get clear about choline. While typically used for cognitive improvement and muscular endurance, this vitamin is key for regenerating the part of your liver that makes bile. Choline functions as a powerful emulsifying agent making fats easier to digest. And, it is a most outstanding nutrient to remedy a fatty liver.

    Next month we will discuss how Smart Fats reset your metabolism.

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