Acid Reflux and Rebellious Stomach:
Killing the Messenger for Profit
By Simon Yu, MD
Awareness of acid reflux and promotion of anti-acid medications have reached a new height for the
public. This has been stimulated by clever commercial advertisements in the media and through medical
educational promotions in major medical journals.
Acid reflux has been blamed for atypical chest pain, asthma, nocturnal coughing, indigestion, and heart
burn. Acid reflux medications have even been promoted for children with unexplainable stomach
cramps and pains.
So, what is acid reflux? Acid reflux is new terminology for a century old problem which people
described as having heart burn or a burning sensation spreading upward from the chest. Acupuncturists
have described the symptoms as a “rebellious stomach” in a poetic metaphor. GERD (gastro-esophageal
reflux disease) is another name for acid reflux.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid to digest foods. The slick TV commercials lead us to believe
that the stomach produces too much acid. By doing so it creates the symptoms of heart burn such as the
feeling of “a fire in the chest.” These commercials claim the solution is to use all kinds of anti-acids,
including H-2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPI), to “put out the fire.”
Most people will feel better by this cover-up. So they continue to indulge on their favorite foods while
pharmaceutical companies are making handsome profits. Everybody is happy or so it seems. But are
anti-acids truly good for your body?
Heartburn is like a messenger telling your body that something is wrong, yelling “the fire is out of
control!” Your body is asking for help to correct the unsuspected problems. The underlying problems
might be a complex, inter-related disturbance in your organ functions. Too much acid, though, is not
usually the cause.
Contrary to the conventional medical belief system, most people have insufficient hydrochloric acid.
This insufficiency, not an overabundance, is the culprit for