Home » Articles » Newsletter Article » The Shocking Truth About Reflux And Antacids

The Shocking Truth About Reflux And Antacids

The Shocking Truth About Reflux And Antacids

Did you know that the vast majority of people who suffer reflux and heartburn actually don’t produce enough acid in their stomach, and antacids make the problem worse?

Too much stomach acid is a very rare condition. Too little stomach acid is called hypochlorhydria and it affects more than 50 percent of people over the age of 40.
Low stomach acid can produce a lot of the same symptoms as high stomach acid, helping to explain why antacids are so frequently used.

Long term use of antacids can do enormous harm to your health.

What are the symptoms of insufficient stomach acid?

Each of the symptoms below may give you clues that your stomach is not producing enough acid:

  • Abdominal bloating after meals
  • Feeling tired after meals
  • Reflux and heartburn
  • Weak nails
  • Ridges on the nails
  • Weak and thinning scalp hair
  • Red cheeks
  • Burping and passing gas
  • Bad breath
  • Eczema and acne

Antacid medication does provide relief from heartburn and reflux but it can worsen all the other symptoms. By lowering the amount of acid in your stomach, they can put you at risk of stomach and intestinal infections, raising your risk of food poisoning and gastroenteritis (stomach flu).

Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid as soon as some food enters it. The acid specifically helps to digest protein rich foods, by activating protein digesting enzymes called proteases. Therefore people with low stomach acid typically experience bloating and indigestion after eating foods like red meat, fish, eggs and poultry.

It is normal for the level of acid in your stomach to decline as you get older. Interestingly, many elderly people stop eating red meat because they say it gives them indigestion. It is wise to avoid eating foods you know upset your digestion, but there are ways to treat the cause of the problem and boost your stomach acid.

You also need sufficient stomach acid in order to absorb vitamins and minerals properly. Vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium in particular require high levels of stomach acid for their absorption. This explains why people with hypochlorhydria typically experience health problems such as fatigue, low mood, weak nails and scalp hair loss. These are symptoms of malabsorption.

The other main purpose of stomach acid is to provide a disinfectant action. A strong acid is a good way of killing harmful bugs that you may have accidentally swallowed while eating. People with low stomach acid are very prone to getting food poisoning or just feeling a bit off after eating out. They are also more prone to catching parasitic infections in their digestive tract.

Why are antacids given to people with low stomach acid?

The interesting thing is that in the vast majority of cases, people with heartburn and reflux do not make too much stomach acid; the acid is just in the wrong location, causing burning and irritation to the esophagus (food pipe) and throat. The esophagus transports food to your stomach after you’ve swallowed it. There is a valve at the end of the esophagus, controlling the entry of food to the stomach. This valve is known as the esophageal sphincter, cardiac sphincter or gastro-esophageal sphincter (all names for the same thing).

Once food has entered your stomach and your stomach has secreted some acid, the sphincter tightens, helping to prevent food and acid from traveling in the wrong direction, back up the esophagus. The stomach contents need to be at a sufficiently low pH (meaning very acidic) in order to keep that valve closed tightly. If there is not enough acid in the stomach (as occurs in people with hypochlorhydria), the valve becomes more loose and allows acid and stomach contents to travel upwards and cause the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. If there is too much bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines, they release gases which travel upwards and compromise the integrity of the eophageal sphincter.

Giving the patient an antacid does control those symptoms, by severely blocking acid production, but it is not addressing the source of the problem.

What causes low stomach acid?

Low stomach acid is an incredibly common problem and there are several factors responsible:

  • Stress, anxiety and tension are your digestive system’s worst enemies. If you eat while in an emotional state, you will not be making enough stomach acid or digestive enzymes.
  • Food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. The irony is that low stomach acid makes you more likely to develop a food allergy, and having a food allergy can inhibit normal acid production. It is very important to identify and remove problematic foods. Gluten and dairy products are a common culprit but there could be others. Our book The Ultimate Detox contains a gluten and dairy free eating plan.
  • Mineral deficiencies. Zinc and sodium are required for hydrochloric acid production. Zinc deficiencies are very common, especially among vegetarians. Sodium deficiency is not common; it can occur in athletes or people who have experienced diarrhea or vomiting.
  • High sugar diets.
  • Inflammation of the lining of the stomach, known as gastritis can inhibit acid secretion.
  • Food allergy, autoimmune disease and infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori can all result in gastritis.

What to do about hypochlorhydria

The most important initial strategy is to take a hydrochloric acid supplement. This is known as betaine hydrochloride and is available in capsule form combined with digestive enzymes, known as Super Digestive Enzymes. People who don’t make enough stomach acid generally don’t produce enough digestive enzymes either. Taking a supplement will help you absorb more goodness from the food you eat, and in this way help to correct the symptoms of hypochlorhydria listed above. This supplement is particularly good for strengthening the hair and nails.

Other recommendations

  • Make sure you obtain plenty of zinc in your diet. Zinc is found predominantly in seafood, eggs, poultry and red meat. Nuts and seeds contain some zinc, but the phytic acid in these foods impairs its absorption.
  • Increase your consumption of bitter foods. When your taste buds register a bitter taste, signals travel along your vagus nerve that stimulate your stomach to secrete acid. It’s a good idea to nibble on something bitter tasting at the beginning of a meal, to trigger acid production. Examples of bitter foods include radicchio lettuce, endive, chicory and bitter melon.
  • Include natural acids in your diet. These include vinegar, lemon and lime juice. It is a good idea to put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a quarter of a mug of warm water and sip it before a meal.
  • Glutamine is healing and soothing to the entire lining of the digestive system. It offers wonderful symptomatic relief for burning and irritation.
  • Give your digestive system a rest. Sometimes acid production is inhibited by rushed eating and over eating. Try having a day every so often where you only consume raw vegetable juice. The nutrients in raw juices are extremely easy to absorb because the tough cell walls of the vegetables have been broken down. Cabbage is particularly soothing to an inflamed stomach. Try making  juice from a combination of raw cabbage, celery, carrot, parsley and pear. There are more recipe ideas in my book Raw Juices Can Save Your Life. If you are a diabetic please do not undertake a juice fast.

A word of caution

Antacids do have a role to play in managing severe heartburn or reflux. If allowed to continue, these conditions can cause inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, and that is a risk factor for esophageal cancer. Sometimes antacids are necessary, but in general they are very over prescribed and only mask symptoms; they do not address the underlying digestive disorder. Please consult with your doctor before discontinuing any medication.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.


  1. I have celiac disease and hairloss are they related? What supplements do you recomend? I do use your thyroid cream for my low thyroid has helped the hair but new hair comes in then falls out.

    • Hi Teri,

      Celiac disease causes malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies, and that can cause hair loss.
      Glutamine should help to make your gut lining healthier, thus allowing you to absorb more nutrients. Iron or B12 deficiency can cause hair loss. Hair, Skin & Nails Food capsules should improve the quality of your hair and reduce tendency to fall out.

      Kind regards,
      Margaret Jasinska- Naturopath for Liverdoctor.com

  2. I’ve been diagnosed with Barrettes syndrome,Gerd,osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. My doctor prescribed omeprazole to take before dinner. I take super digestive enzymes and livatone. I’ve had a ct scan and ultrasound on my abdomen and everything looks good so my doctor doesn’t know why I get severe pain in my upper stomach through my back. Don’t want to take the antacid for long period. Open to suggestions. Thanks Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      A gluten, dairy and sugar free diet should help.
      Glutamine is wonderful for providing symptomatic relief and also healing and protecting the gastrointestinal lining. You may benefit from taking one teaspoon after each meal.

      Kind regards,
      Margaret Jasinska- Naturopath for Liverdoctor.com

  3. I have been taking antacids for years and really want to get off them but the reflux persists with a vengeance. I’m also not good at taking capsules. What tincutures or liquid supplements can help with this problem please?

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Tracey,

      We recommend you read this article for further info: https://www.liverdoctor.com/acid-reflux-how-can-we-treat-it/
      You may benefit from taking
      Magnesium Powder – In a dose of ½ teaspoon twice daily in water or vegetable juices to strengthen the muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach.
      Glutamine – Is an amino acid that can reduce inflammation in the lining of the stomach and good results can be achieved by taking one teaspoon of pure glutamine powder twice daily in coconut, dairy or almond milk.
      Probiotics – Adding healthy bacteria can help to balance out the digestive tract and stop the proliferation of bad bacteria that can lead to indigestion, leaky gut and poor nutrient absorption. Probiotic foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and kombucha.
      These can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutrition Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  4. I have been on omeprazole twice a day for 9 years
    No red base food , no coffee, no chocolate and careful with spicy food .
    I just recently had serious back surgery and have been experiencing acid reflux constantly
    I’ve been diagnosed with GERDS 9 years ago
    Now I’m experiencing swollen ankles
    Recently blood work shows my liver enzymes are high , non alcohol fatty liver when I had two epidermals in 2017
    My cholesterol is high but refuse to take any of the statins they aggravate my stomache
    I had h pylori but not any more
    I’m tired of looking like I’m pregnant and with back surgery it’s extremely hard to deal with in the middle of the night with reflux
    I don’t know what to do any more
    Help me

    • Hi Teresa,
      A gluten, dairy and sugar free diet that is low FODMAP should help significantly to give you relief.
      Glutamine is soothing to the entire digestive tract. If you have a teaspoon in a little water after dinner this should reduce reflux in the night.
      It’s very likely you don’t produce enough digestive enzymes. Taking a supplement should improve digestive comfort.
      Margaret Jasinska,
      Naturopath for Liverdoctor.com

    • Try fresh garlic.
      Try turmeric.
      They help me.
      Sometimes sparkling mineral water also helps.

  5. I have had primary progressive MS for 6yrs, which has left me with limited walking. This & the fact I have been taking omeprazole twice a day for quite a number of years has left me approx 3 stones over weight. I really do not eat excessively by any means, but am finding it impossible to lose any weight at all. I am aware that excessive weight, lack of exercise, is contributory. or can be, to diabetes. Please advise.

    • Hi PR,

      MS is an autoimmune disease, and as such, you should follow a gluten free diet. We have an excellent book called ‘Healing Autoimmune Disease’ that can enlighten you.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take SELENOMUNE one capsule daily, and NAC 2 capsules twice daily and MAGNESIUM ULTRA POTENT POWDER 1 tsp daily.
      You also need to take Betaine HCL capsules in middle of your meals, otherwise you are not digesting your food.
      Please get blood test to check your levels of vitamin B 12, as Omeprazole can cause B 12 deficiency which will worsen MS.
      You can follow the eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book titled FATTY LIVER – You Can Reverse It.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook Selenium The Great Protector.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook The Vital Principles of Liver Cleansing.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook the Liver Diet Guide.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook Pain Relief A Holistic Approach.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook The Secrets To Lasting Weight Loss.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook Hepatitis and Aids.


Download Your Free Ebook

Simply click on the button below to download your free ebook 如何拥有一个健康的肝脏?.