Resolving Acid Reflux Naturally

Stomach acid is your friend... and acid suppressing drugs are part of the problem!

Digestion begins as soon as food enters our mouth. As we chew our food into more digestible sizes we release salivary amylase to help us break down starches. The chewed food then travels down the esophagus to the stomach, and it is here that many people begin to have problems such as acid reflux and nausea. The most common cause of these problems might surprise you: low stomach acid! Low stomach acid is prevalent and can lead to many complications including acid reflux, smelly gas, constipation and hives. However, much of the US population is wreaking havoc on the stomache's ability to digest by taking acid suppressing drugs and over the counter antacids, instead of fixing the root of the problem.

What kind of complications can you expect from low stomach acid?

Poor stomach acid leads to acid reflux, sour stomach, difficulty digesting protein, nausea, burping, constipation and smelly gas! That's right, acid reflux is most often a symptom of a stomach that does not have enough acid, not the other way around. Taking antacids may temporarily stop the symptoms, but sets the stage for it to happen again, and again, and again. Also, with low stomach acid you can't absorb minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, as well as vitamin C, K and B complexes! It is not uncommon to have nutritional deficiency simply because you have low stomach acid. If that wasn't enough, low stomach acidity can lead to hives and lowered immunity!

How does that work?

Our stomach needs to be very acidic, between a PH of 1-2, to have optimal function. One of the major functions of stomach acid is to digest protein. If you don't have enough acid then protein will not digest properly, but putrefy and rot in your stomach, splashing up to burn your esophagus. The two sphincters of your stomach, which protect the esophagus and allow food to move on, are triggered by an acidic stomach and won't function properly on a stomach low in acid. This means that food will move slower though your stomach and there won't be an upper door to keep the rotting food from splashing up and causing heartburn. Then, the undigested proteins will continue to rot throughout your digestive track and act as the primary cause of smelly gas!

Why do we get low stomach acid?

Our stomach stops producing acid when under stress. When we are stressed out our body is in fight or flight (sympathetic dominance). In this state our body prioritizes bursts of energy over digestion. When our ancestors needed to run from wild animals, digestion was shut down and all energy devoted to running as fast as possible. Maybe we aren't fighting wild boars or saber toothed tigers on a daily basis, but we are constantly under stress from our work, difficult home life and excessive lifestyles. Our body needs to be in rest and digest (parasympathetic dominance) as often as possible, and save the fight or flight mode for real emergencies. Stress can be emotional stress, but also can be stress caused by poor diet or over working your body. The biggest dietary stress on our body is sugar. Sugar is the root of many modern diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimers, and fluctuations of blood sugar are very hard on our body. Also, stomach acid naturally becomes less and less as we age, and it is necessary to supplement in many elderly people.

So what can we do?

One thing we can do immediately is to eat appropriately sized meals. Our stomach, when functioning properly, produces enough acid to coat about a fist size of food (our own fist). Any meal that is larger than that creates the problem of not having enough acid to go around. Drinking water during meals can also dilute stomach acid, so a general rule is to not drink fluids with big meals. Instead, get your thirst quenched at least a half hour before meals, and at least an hour after.

In addition, reducing stress is key, and we should especially not be stressed when we are eating. Try acupuncture, meditation, belly breathing exercises, yoga, or a gentle walk to reduce stress.

Apple cider vinegar is a fantastic digestive aid and used to be the go to home remedy for acid reflux. You can take a tablespoon of slightly diluted apple cider vinegar 10 minutes before each meal for best results, or as needed when you are having symptoms such as acid reflux and nausea.

Ginger, which is regularly used in Chinese herbalism, has a wide range of digestive health benefits and is well known for its ability to reduce nausea and temporary stomach upset. Ginger promotes gastric acid secretion, which is why it is often used together with the consumption of seafood. Higher quality of stomach acid protects us from possible contamination of our food, and ginger has been used in many cultures to help prevent seafood poisoning. Ginger is also mucoprotective (promotes the health of the mucous membrane of the stomach lining), promotes normal bile flow (which is essential in digesting fats), and supports gastrointestinal motility (for those with a sluggish bowel).

When things are really bad, the best way to solve the problem is to add acid back into your body in the form of betaine hydrochloride (HCL) (we often suggest a product called Zypan by Standard Process which contains HCL and enzymes). By supplementing your stomach acid, you create a positive feedback reaction and your stomach starts producing more acid on its own. Supplementation with a good high quality betaine hydrochloride is the most effective way to correct low acidity.

Much of this used to be common knowledge. Your great-grandma may have told you to take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar when you had indigestion or to have a warm glass of ginger tea when you felt nauseous, and the main remedy for hives not too long ago was to supplement with hydrochloric acid (HCL). These days unfortunately, the most common treatment is to reduce the acidity to such a low amount that when it splashes up it won't burn. Unfortunately, as we have seen, this can lead to many more health complications and in no way solves the actual problem!


About the Author: Jamie Holland is a licensed acupuncturist and applied clinical nutritionist. He is the cofounder of Lakewood Community Acupuncture, the  first non-profit community acupuncture clinic in Colorado. He is committed to offering affordable holistic healthcare and is always striving to embody the healthy lifestyle he encourages in his patients by being active in meditation and community, healthy eating, organic gardening and enjoying the outdoors with his wife, Kate, and their dog, Luna. 

Ben Ramirez
Ben Ramirez
Great service and results!
Emily helped me combat some pretty deep depression and anxiety yesterday. I had come to my wits end and western med was no longer helping me. She recommended herbs that are significantly decreasing the debilitating mental health symptoms I was experiencing and her treatment of acupuncture/reiki helped calm my nervous system. I’m noticing this all in less than 24 hrs, wow! THANK YOU 🙏
Lindsay Hovland
Lindsay Hovland
I received a healing treatment from Crystal yesterday and the day before— acupuncture and cupping, along with ear seeds. She was so attentive and deeply caring for my personal needs and desires. I genuinely cannot wait to go back. Truly, it is honorable they are a non-profit organization for all the hard work and hours they put in. I will always go back. Thanks to the hardworking (shen) hands of Crystal.
Melissa Bell
Melissa Bell
Would recommend! Very professional, clean, empathetic, experienced. Seen Jamie a few times and he's wonderful. Acupuncture can help with almost anything along with their other services.
Tammy Osolinski
Tammy Osolinski
Brought in my 15 year old who was suffering from a sports related back injury. She has had two appointments (acupuncture and acupuncture with cupping) and has been experiencing good results. The healthcare team is extremely knowledgeable and comforting. They explain everything they are doing and ensure you are comfortable with every step. Would definitely recommend.
Jay Clement
Jay Clement
I've been to other acupuncturists before, and Emily @ Lakewood did a fantastic job - way better than the others I've been to. Very thorough on intake, learning what to focus, and overall creating a great space. Thanks so much!
Shawna Seldon McGregor
Shawna Seldon McGregor
Lakewood Community Acupuncture is amazing! I've received acupuncture, cupping and bodywork here. It was an outstanding experience. I felt amazing when I left and it addressed my chronic pain. I highly recommend LCP!
Coleen C
Coleen C
Amazing practitioners who are dedicated to serving the community with powerful healing! Each session is greeted with compassion and incredible care. I came to the office experiencing a lot of pain in my back and neck. The day after receiving Tuina bodywork and Acupuncture, my pain was gone. I am so very grateful. Thank you!!
I've been here a couple times and both were great.


7114 W Jefferson Ave, suite 112
Lakewood, CO 80235
(720) 242-9756


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