This will make you mad! / What causes acid reflux?
Posted Sep 14 2008 8:00pm
" Lucrative Drug, Danger Signals and the F.D.A." by the New York Times, made me MAD! It will probably make you mad as well. The article is about how Propulsid, a drug for acid reflux made by Johnson & Johnson and is thankfully off the US markets now, was pushed without any evidence of its effectiveness and despite causing many fatalities because of its enormous commercial success.
You see, I get angry when corporations like J & J ignore the fact that their drugs are KILLING people so that they can keep their BILLION dollar "products" on the market! I was the CEO of a public company for several years ( SalesLogix ) and I fully understand the pressure by Wall Street to make your numbers.
But this cannot be the primary focus when your company is responsible for the health, even the life or death, of so many! Tragically, earnings per share seems to be Big Pharma's only concern in the light of Propulsid, Vioxx, Bextra, and now Concerta!
When J & J execs were confronted with the data from researchers that showed the dangers of the drug, they ignored it and covered it up! Because of their neglect, as many as 300 people -- mostly babies and young children -- were killed and over 16,000 were injured. Where is the media outrage?
The other reason this article made me mad is that "acid blockers" like Propulsid are commonly mis-prescribed. Many people's "acid indigestion" and "heartburn" is caused by a LACK of acid -- not an overproduction of it.
"How can that be?" you ask...
It seems counterintuitive, but the more acidic your stomach, the better you digest. The better you digest, the less heartburn you have. Allow me to explain.
The hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach is designed to work best when its ph is around 2 (neutral is 7.0). However, there are many conditions which can cause the stomach to secrete little or no HCl. Pepsin, one of the main enzymes that digests the proteins we eat, simply will not function when the ph is greater than 3. So when the pepsin isn't able to do its job, you end up with a digestive tract full of poorly-digested food.
On top of this, the food we eat always has a certain amount of bacteria and fungus present. HCl kills it. But again, when the stomach is not acidic enough, the bacteria and fungus are in an ideal environment to "ferment" instead of being wiped out. It's warm, it's dark...perfect!
These bacteria and fungi produce gas and this puts pressure on the valve leading back into the esophagus. The esophagus is EXTREMELY sensitive to even mild acid. So even if the ph of the food that "refluxes" is only 5 or 6, you will feel pain!
And what is mainstream medicine's answer to acid reflux? "Less acid!"
This will stop the burn (symptom), but does not truly fix the problem!
But don't stop there!! Try to find out why the stomach is not producing enough HCl so you can fix the problem and not just the symptom. It could be a nutrient deficiency -- most commonly zinc and/or the amino acid glycine. It also could be an infection -- most often h. pylori which is a bacterium that can cause the stomach to stop producing HCl. ( Read more about "Stomach Acid Imbalance", or "hypochlorhydria" on Jigsaw Health. )
Figuring out your body's problem and fixing it is much better than just fixing a symptom. I can't help but question the wisdom of using any drug that's given to STOP the body from doing what it was designed to do. Though it doesn't always feel like it, our bodies WANT to be well...we just have to give them a decent chance.