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Posted November 22, 2012: by Bill Sardi
A revealing report published in the Wall Street Journal indicates heartburn is on the upswing in America with 44% of Americans reporting the problem at least once a month and 7% report daily symptoms.
The rising number of cases of heartburn (a 46% increase in visits to doctors’ offices for gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD since 2004) parallels the rise in obesity in the adult population. More than 100 million prescriptions are written for heartburn drugs annually at a cost of nearly $14 billion.
These antacids result in nutrient malabsorption (most lettered vitamins and essential minerals require stomach acid for absorption) and compromise the immune system as stomach acid is the last line of defense against germs that are consumed in foods. (Yep, we don’t eat sterile foods, there is a low bacteria and fungal count in most foods unless heated.)
The use acid blockers (such as proton pump inhibitors or histamine-2 blockers) results in an increase in Clostridium difficile infections, particularly among nursing home populations where they can be deadly.
But the real rub of the Wall Street Journal article is that these acid-blocking drugs have largely been mis-prescribed under the false assumption that all of the symptoms of heartburn are caused by excess stomach acid rising into the esophagus and throat.
Researchers now say actually 50% to 70% of heartburn patients don’t have GERD, they have NERD – non-erosive reflux disease that is not caused by acid by rather may be suffering from a reflux of bile, which is secreted by the liver and stored and squirted into the digestive tract by the gallbladder to facilitate digestion of fats and oils.
This means many of the cases of Barrett’s esophagitis may have been mis-treated. Barrett’s esophagitis leads to throat cancer.
Before the pharmaceutical companies begin to shift research and development programs to cook up another billion-dollar blockbuster class of anti-NERD drugs to, sufferers might want to know what they can reach for today to quell their nasty heartburn symptoms. According to the report, only about 2 in every 10 patients with NERD experience relief taking acid blockers.
Something as simple and inexpensive as lecithin may be helpful in preventing bile injury to the digestive tract .
But how modern medicine forgets simple cures for the latest designer drug! It was Clement A. Hiebert MD whose report of a cure for gastro-esophageal reflux (heartburn) was published in volume 24 of the August, 1977 issue of Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Hiebert began screening all patients who had hiatal hernia or heartburn symptoms for vitamin C deficiency. Dr. Hiebert presumed if they were vitamin C-deficient their capillaries would be weak.
He conducted a capillary fragility test, which is performed by wrapping a blood pressure cuff around the upper arm and pumping the pressure up between the systolic (highest) and diastolic (lowest) number for 10 minutes. This is done to apply pressure to the connectors or capillaries in the circulatory system. If the capillaries are weak they will burst and produce small cherry-red dots on the skin called petechiae.
Dr. Hiebert then used a pen is to draw a 2.5-centimeter circle on the skin area under cuff pressure and the number of petechiae were counted. If more than 12 were counted the patient’s capillaries were deemed to be weak. Twenty-two of 200 patients screened had weak capillaries that accompanied their heartburn symptoms. The provision of supplemental vitamin C reversed capillary fragility and “resulted in improvement, if not outright elimination of symptoms” said Dr. Hiebert.
Indeed, a modern study of over 200 patients with heartburn symptoms found that patients with the highest intake of vitamin C were far less likely to develop heartburn symptoms.
It is also known that patients with poor salivary flow (dry mouth) have difficulty clearing stomach acid from their esophagus and may experience symptoms of heartburn. The provision of supplemental vitamin C proved to improve flow of saliva and decreased heartburn symptoms.
Of further interest is that a common drug used to treat heartburn (Prilosec- omeprazole) is toxic to the mucus lining in the digestive tract, but this toxicity is countered by vitamin C.
Doctors in India search for inexpensive remedies since their population is generally low income. They write that apple pectin may increase bile flow and thus keep it from regurgitating into the esophagus and throat. Apple pectin is available as a dietary supplement.
Taurine, an amino acid that is required to produce bile, can be acquired as a dietary supplement as it has been shown to improve bile flow (thin the bile).
One of the interesting side reactions to improving bile flow using taurine is that it will likely serve to reduce circulating levels of cholesterol in a non-toxic manner as compared to liver-toxic statin drugs. Supplemental taurine helps to degrade cholesterol and eliminate it in the bile flow. A human study shows that high blood serum levels of taurine are associated with lower cholesterol levels in humans.
And lest we forget Emil Ginter, the longest living vitamin C scientist, who demonstrated in 1982 that vitamin C supplementation (500-1000 mg) and apple pectin significantly reduces circulating cholesterol levels by improving of bile flow. – © 2012 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc. Not for posting on other websites.
Added note: In recent reports this journalist has found evidence that vitamin C deficiency is linked with gluten intolerance, aspirin-induced asthma, and schizophrenia, but none of these maladies are commonly treated with vitamin C.
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