Solutions for Heartburn and Hiatal Hernia (GERD)



We have many patients with complaints of heartburn or reflux, called GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease).  There are 3 things that can be done to solve this problem. Some people need just 1 of them, some need all 3. But first, let me explain what the issue is. It might be different than what you think.  Most people think indigestion and heartburn are due to too much acid in their stomach, and that it escapes the stomach up into the esophagus and causes burning and indigestion (reflux). However, that is rarely the case.

So, what is really going on?  The stomach is naturally very acidic, producing hydrochloric acid, pepsin (an enzyme) and mucous.  When food enters your stomach, hydrochloric acid activates the enzyme pepsin, which is essential to begin the process of digesting protein.  Hydrochloric acid also kills any bugs that should not be there.  The mucous protects the lining of the stomach from damage from the hydrochloric acid. After some mechanical churning and the action of the enzymes and acid, the contents then dump into your small bowel to proceed with digestion. This occurs only when the contents are acidic enough.  If the proper acidity is not reached, the body will not send the contents on to the small bowel.  Your body, in its wisdom, will try to get rid of this mass of unhealthy, undigestible food.  The quickest way out is up, hence the reflux.  So, many people don’t have too much acid, they have too little.



1.)  GERD can often be helped with chiropractic adjustments. The nerve supply to the stomach comes from T6 in the mid-back.  If this segment is subluxated, the tone to the stomach is impaired and the stomach doesn’t make the right amount of acid and enzymes.  Specific adjustments to that area can release the nerve flow and allow the body to work as it should.  This is the first thing we check.

2.)  Some people actually have what is called a Hiatal Hernia, which can be helped with specific soft tissue manipulation. There are 2 valves in the stomach, one at the top, separating the esophagus from the stomach, and the bottom valve which separates the stomach from the small bowel.  The top valve can herniate or bulge upward, through the diaphragm, into the esophagus, which keeps it from closing properly.  This is called a Hiatal Hernia and is common, and can be mild, or severe.  This Hiatal Hernia can get worse with weight gain, and lying down too soon after eating large meals, especially heavy animal protein meals.  This valve can be manipulated down into the correct place so that it closes properly.  The manual correction for this is quite simple.  It usually involves several manipulations for correction on the milder cases and periodic adjustments for the more severe.

3.)  If there has been long-term persistent reflux, you might need to take hydrochloric acid and/or digestive enzymes to help your digestion.  First, we need to determine if your stomach is healthy enough for hydrochloric acid.  To check for this, you can perform the “Apple Cider Vinegar Test”. Drink a glass of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar after several meals.  If this does not cause burning or pain, you can start taking hydrochloric acid with your meals.  We use “Zypan” by Standard Process here. If you have pain with the vinegar water, stop drinking it and talk to me about how to heal your inflamed gut before you use hydrochloric acid.

Many patients have resolved their GERD with 1 or more of the above solutions.  It just makes sense!  What doesn’t make sense is to take antacids or drugs like Prilosec or Zantac long-term.  They impair your absorption of nutrients, especially minerals, and can lead to osteoporosis.  New research has also linked Prilosec with increased dementia.  Yikes! Nobody wants that.  Stay natural if you can.  Your stomach, bones, and body will thank you!


Who do you know that could benefit from chiropractic care? Mention this blog for your complimentary consultation and exam ($75 value!) to see if chiropractic can help you!* Call us today at (512) 346-3536 or request an appointment here.

*Offer not valid for Medicare beneficiaries or Personal Injury Cases. Office hours by appointment only.

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