This is not meant as medical advice. I felt it was important I throw that out there. Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with some very uncomfortable symptoms: heartburn (which started after eating chocolate one day, and I was so sad thinking I could never eat that heavenly creation again), bloating, indigestion… and when I say indigestion, I mean I’ve been feeling like my food is not being digested. I had an apple, I felt it sitting in my upper stomach. There were days I didn’t even want to eat, so I drank green juice. I still felt full, and pressure all the way to my chest and throat. Since the symptoms didn’t subside, I made an appointment to see my naturopath, who explained to me that when there isn’t enough stomach acid being produced the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t get the signal to close.
The LES is a bundle of muscles at the low end of the esophagus, where it meets the stomach. Stomach acid signals the LES to close, that way preventing acid and other contents in the stomach from traveling backwards up the esophagus. When the proton pumps in the stomach are not producing enough acid, this bundle of muscles doesn’t get the message to close. My naturopath gave me a tincture (a liquid herbal concoction) to stimulate production of acid, especially at every meal. She also prescribed a test for H. pylori, a bacteria that could be the culprit. I have yet to get tested for this pesky bacteria because of my busy schedule (although, there really is no excuse!).
I didn’t get better. In fact, the symptoms got worse. Nausea and headaches every time I ate. Then nausea and headaches, even when I had yet to eat! I gave in and went to Urgent Care thinking, “Ok, FINE, I’ll see what a so-called real doctor says” (since most people don’t consider my naturopath a REAL DOCTOR, even though she is). Funny enough, I was told the opposite of what my naturopath had told me at Urgent Care: an overproduction of acid was the problem according to the physician’s assistant who saw me. According to her, the proton pumps in my stomach responsible for acid production were going nuts! Of course, my first thought was, “Wouldn’t an overproduction of acid actually mean my food would be digested?” Her response, “Not necessarily.” She wanted to put me on Prilosec for 30 days. THIRTY DAYS! And possibly longer. The Prilosec would neutralize the acid, while also telling the proton pumps to chill (like my medical jargon? ha!). So this physician’s assistant gave me some white, and disgusting drink with the disclaimer, “This is gross, but if it works we’ll know that’s what the issue is..” (referring to acid reflux caused by overactive proton pumps). FINE. I guess I’ll take it. Immediately my tongue and throat started going numb. Then it dawned on me, this isn’t fixing the problem, this is NUMBING ME so I don’t feel the symptoms! Yea, no thanks. I don’t need to cover up symptoms, I’d like to get to the root of the problem. Not to mention, it didn’t work anyway.
So, as I’ve done many a time before, I left the doctor’s office, in this case Urgent Care, with the determination to do my own research and tackle whatever the heck is going on with me naturally… or as naturally as possible.
While researching I came across so much information about how horrible acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors (medications that tell the acid producing pumps in your tummy to quit it) actually are. In fact, these medications actually CAUSE the very same symptoms they are intended to rid you of, once you stop using them; so, are you supposed to take these for LIFE?! Ummmmm no thanks (just taking a moment to remind you this isn’t medical advice, and also don’t get off your medications without consulting your doctor). Not to mention, all the research I’ve come across actually backs up my naturopath’s diagnosis, and refutes what I was told at Urgent Care.
I guess I just needed to be reminded why I have a naturopath, who works with me to find natural ways of healing. I also really like her, her name is Jennifer Abercrombie and I’ve linked her page all throughout this post.
As I write this I am still feeling symptoms: heartburn being the main one. From all of my research I’m starting to self-diagnose, but will follow up with my naturopath and will make sure to take that recommended H. pylori test. I’ll keep you updated.
Long story short, do your research. Take the reins of your own health.