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Acid reflux

Address acid reflux to prevent Barrett's esophagus

Friday, February 18, 2011 by: Lindsay Chimileski
Tags: acid reflux, solutions, health news

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(NewsTarget) For some reason many people accept acid reflux as a part of daily life. Few stop to consider just why they are getting the heart burn in the first place. By doing this, they are ignoring the body's innate healing ability. The body tells you that something is wrong by producing symptoms, and simply turning off the alarm will not put out the fire. Gastrointestinal Acid Reflux (GERD) is caused by hydrochloric acid leaking from the stomach into the esophagus. GERD can be due to an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter, hiatal hernia and some food triggers such as spicy foods, coffee, tea, and alcohol. By looking at the physiology of GERD one can see how it is essential to address the acid reflux in order to prevent dangerous adaptive changes called Barrett's Esophagus.

Antacids and proton pump inhibitors inhibit acid production but in our society they actually have a paradoxical effect. These medications are indicated for short term use only but they end up being prescribed for years and even decades. Without acid, the stomach is unable to properly digest proteins and thus unable to properly absorb nutrients from food. Eventually this can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Also, due to the decreased acid, food sits in the stomach longer than normal. This means food is still being digested when going to bed. Upon reclining, the acid is able to leak up and again causes symptoms, triggering the desire to take even more antacids. Unfortunately, once the Barrett's esophagus changes have been made, the antacids become difficult to avoid.

The esophagus is a muscular tubular structure lined by epithelial tissue. The normal environment is maintained at a pH of 7. When the stomach acid, pH 1.5, leaks up, it causes extensive damage. The stomach and intestines can handle acid because they are lined with mucus but the esophagus is not. That burning sensation in the chest is just that, acid burning the tissue. The body is generally able to repair this damage and restore the esophageal tissue to normal, but prolonged exposure will change this response. The tissue is continually being repaired, only to be destroyed. The body adapts and tries to provide a more suitable tissue that will be able to survive the new conditions. This process is called metaplasia. In the case of Barrett's esophagus, the normal epithelial cells are replaced by cells similar to those lining the intestinal tract.

Although Barrett's esophagus is a not cancer, it is still of great concern. In general, metaplastic changes can have a few outcomes. If the exposure to the irritant is removed, they can reverse. If the environment does not improve, they can progress into something worse. It is never good to have cells replicating faster than they should. The next stage, Dysplasia, is when the cells lose proliferative control. This is followed by neoplasia when they are able to break through natural tissue barriers and become malignant.

The cancer associated with Barrett's esophagus is Esophageal Adenocarcinoma. Although this risk of developing the cancer itself is on the low side, Esophageal Adenocarcinoma usually doesn't present until it is in later stages and is less responsive to treatment. In other words, there is a low risk of Barrett's developing into cancer but if it does, it is usually found too late for successful allopathic treatment.

So pay attention to your body and listen to its alarms; treat the cause of the environment change, not the symptoms it produces. Only by treating the cause can you prevent the subsequent dangerous changes.

Always consult your doctor before initiating or changing your treatment plan.


(2004). DGL for acid reflux. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition. 258 (18).

(2008). Barrett's Esophagus. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. From http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pub...

Skowron, J. (2010). Clinical Physical Diagnosis. University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Mattie, M. (2010). Pathology. University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.

About the author

Lindsay Chimileski: I am a graduate medical student currently pursuing dual degrees in Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture, expecting to graduate in 2013. I have a passion for health education, patient empowerment and the restoration of balance, both on the individual and communal level. I believe all can learn how to live happily, in harmony with nature and in ways that support the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Please note: I am not a doctor and not giving any medical advice, just spreading the word of natural living, and the pressing health revolution.

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