A guest post from functional medicine doctor and SPS Thrive partner, Dr. Brett Baxter.

Many people struggle with acid reflux, but few people understand why. Acid reducers, like Pepcid-AC, Axid and Zantac are very commonly prescribed to patient with dyspepsia, AKA “acid reflux.” Symptoms include: burning in throat, fullness after meals, bloating, gas, etc.

I’ve found that many patients I talk to also don’t realize that acid reducers were intended for short term duration – less than two weeks. Chronic suppression of stomach acid due to long-term use of the reducers leaves you susceptible to infections, increased food sensitivities or intolerances, and nutritional deficiencies.

Functional medicine uses a combination of history and lab testing to identify what is really causing your acid reflux. And the really good news is that it is possible to have a healthier gut without the use of antacids!

Here are the three of the most common reasons we see that drive acid reflux.

  1. Bacterial overgrowth in the stomach or intestines – H. pylori or other bacterial overgrowths are often a cause of acid reflux and can be tested for in the stool or by using a breath test. Once the culprit is identified, we can eliminate the bacteria and the symptoms will dissipate. Typical symptoms of bacterial overgrowth include: stomach pain, burning, or aching 1-4 hours after eating, excessive belching, bloating, gas immediately following a meal, offensive breath, difficult bowel movements, sense of fullness during and after meals, difficulty digesting proteins and meats and undigested food found in stools
  2. Food sensitivities– Without a blood test, food sensitives are difficult to identify due to patients eating a wide variety of foods and the potential food reactions can occur anytime within three days of consumption. At our office we can run a food sensitive panel (blood test) and identify what foods are really causing the patient problems.  With one quick and easy blood sample, specialized labs can test your blood against 96-186 different food antigens and really provide a black and white picture of what is truly causing you issues. Some of the most common foods correlated with dyspepsia are grains, histamine producing vegetables, dairy, and eggs.
  3. Low levels of Hydrochloric acid (HCl) – hydrochloric acid is essential for protection against pathogenic microbes and the breakdown of food within the stomach. We see great improvement, almost immediately, when we increase a patient’s HCl who had the following symptoms prior to treatment:  excessive belching, burping, or bloating, gas immediately following a meal, offensive breath, difficult bowel movements, sense of fullness during and after meals, difficulty digesting proteins and meats and undigested food found in stools.

Acid reflux is more than just a nuisance. It can be a painful, even life-altering problem. But, it doesn’t have to stay that way. If you’re experiencing it, talk to a functional medicine doctor. Find out if one of these three reasons could be the problem you’re dealing with. From there, you can find a path to a long-term solution so you can be free from it!

Going Deeper

If you’d like to work with Dr. Baxter, he offers a free initial consultation and can be reached at: (785) 537-2211 or by email at: drbaxter@nicholschiropractic.com.

Baxter