Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The prevalence of GERD in the general population is estimated to be as high as 35%.

GERD is commonly believed to result from excess acid production in the stomach. However, most of the medical literature on GERD indicates otherwise.

A key cause of GERD is failure of the valve mechanism between the esophagus and the stomach, allowing the acidic stomach content to reflux into the esophagus – creating the symptoms referred to as “heartburn” or “acid reflux. But what causes this failure in the first place?

We still don’t know what causes the failure of the valve mechanism but gastric acid can easily damage the fragile tissue of the esophagus and wear away the lining.

Recent research points to delayed emptying of the stomach as a possible cause.  A heavy or fat-rich meal can slow stomach emptying and allow stomach pressure to overwhelm the function of this valve.  

Other research suggests that incomplete digestion of protein and carbohydrate leads to increased production of gas by intestinal bacteria. This build-up of gas in the intestinal tract leads to intra-abdominal pressure, which may impede the valve mechanism.

Functional medicine management of GERD

In addition to assessment for GERD-related symptoms, nutritional deficiencies are also assessed. Referral to a specialist is recommended in cases of chronic, persistent GERD or severe burning sensations in chest.
Functional Medicine focuses on the causes rather than symptoms. Why is there an acid reflux issue and can we work towards permanently correcting it? The answer is yes – a resolution of the dysfunction with no side effects is often possible.
Nutritional Intervention usually involves:
Betaine HCl

Supplementation of hydrochloric acid in the form of betaine HCl is usually recommended to restore normal acidity in the stomach.

Zinc carnosine Zinc carnosine has been shown to help regenerate the damaged stomach lining, stimulate mucus secretion, reduce inflammation and promote gastric healing.

Digestive Enzymes Digestive enzymes are often used to support proper digestion of nutrients in order to minimize incomplete digestion and malabsorption, which promotes increased gas production leading to acid reflux.

Nutritional supplementation of deficient nutrients Nutritional deficiencies are common in people with GERD. Supplementation with those nutrients that are found to be deficient is often recommended.

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