Highway Health: Indigestion Relief
July 1, 2012
I get a great deal of questions about heartburn, acid indigestion and acid reflux. I’ve asked my good friend Lori Allen, R.Ph., who is a compounding pharmacist and proprietor of Mixtures Pharmacy here in Phoenix Arizona, to give us a little insight on those problems and some of her recommendations for relief.
(Mick) Lori, it seems so many people deal with acid indigestion is it relatively harmless?
(Lori) Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s harmless. Any pain or discomfort in your body is a sign that something is out of balance. A burning sensation in your stomach or at the base of your throat is telling you that something is wrong. It could mean anything from a simple acid imbalance to ulcers, acid reflux or cancer.
(Mick) What are some of the things that can cause this discomfort?
(Lori) An occasional bout with heartburn can be caused by medications. Blood pressure pills and sedatives are a few of the medicines that can cause increased acid production. There are certain foods and beverages that seem to be “triggers” for heartburn. Caffeinated and carbonated drinks like coffee or soda’s seem to contribute. Spicy foods, chocolate, citrus and tomatoes or tomato sauce can also trigger heartburn.
(Mick) So it’s Saturday night and I’ve got to have that piece of pizza that never agrees with me, and of course I get heartburn. There are so many remedies and medications out there for relief of that burning sensation what should I do?
(Lori) The first thing I would say to you is not to eat the pizza. Stay away from the things that “trigger” that burning sensation. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t mind taking a chance on the foods or drinks – particularly things you like.
And like most people, you will be wrong. You will get that heartburn. It will become uncomfortable and you will start searching for something to get some relief.
You might want to start with things that neutralize the acid and have healing effects.
For example, digestive enzymes like papaya tablets or combination enzymes that help your body break down the fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Another very effective product is DGL. DGL is a combination of deglycyrrhizinated licorice and herbs that stimulate the body’s natural defenses to increase mucous production. Mucous is a major component of the stomach’s natural lining. Of course, there are the standard Antacids, Maalox or Mylanta, Tums and many other products that neutralize stomach acid.
(Mick) I noticed you didn’t mention products like Pepcid, Tagamet or Prilosec.
(Lori) There is quite a difference between medicines that neutralize stomach acid like the products I mentioned in your last question and medications that hinder or just about stop acid production altogether.
Stomach acid is a critical component in the body’s defense mechanism. Stomach acid provides an inhospitable environment for bacteria and viruses that enter with food and other things. This acid is also required to keep the sphincter muscle, located at the top of the stomach, closed. The more acidic the environment of the stomach is, the tighter the muscle.
When you take medications like H2 blockers, that reduce acid production, or Proton-pump inhibitors, that almost stop acid production and lower the acid level in the stomach the sphincter muscle doesn’t close as tightly and this may lead to less symptomatic “leakage” of the stomach contents.
There is research that correlates esophageal cancers with acid lowering medications as there can still be esophageal erosion with these medications.
(Mick) This sure lends more credence to my preaching about knowing exactly what the medication is, what is it for and what are the medications pro’s and con’s before you take it.
(Lori) Absolutely! Prescription and over the counter medications can be very beneficial in certain situations but you should never take a medication until you know all of its benefits and ramifications. Be a partner with your doctor and pharmacist when it comes to your health care and medication needs.
Pharmacist Lori Allen, R.PH., a compounding specialist, and all of us at Fitness Road are here to help you be the best you can be. Just call 888-348-7623, get on the web site, fitnessroad.com, or visit our Wellness Center in Tempe, Arizona