2-3 litres of digestive juice pour out of our stomach every day. Primarily, this is strong hydrochloric acid, which activates protein-splitting enzymes, breaks down food directly and expels harmful bacteria and allergens. If this acidic gastric juice erroneously flows towards the oesophagus, this is called heartburn - reflux in the technical language. Unpleasant consequences are burning pain and acid regurgitation. Everybody suffers from heartburn from time to time. The cause is too heavy food, too much sweets, often in combination with coffee, or one too many glasses of wine. However, if the burning sensation becomes chronic, dangerous inflammations can sometimes develop.
Daily 2-3 litres of digestive juice in the stomach are normal
Use acid blockers only for a short time!Acid blockers such as omeprazole or pantoprazole work quickly and are relatively reliable in their effect, but these acid blockers are not dangerous. Due to the reduced calcium balance, older patients in particular suffer from bone fractures more often than average. In addition, people produce significantly less stomach acid as they get older. The vitamin B12 supply is also inadequate when used for a long time, resulting in a plethora of complaints. A 50-year-old produces about half as much stomach acid as a 25-year-old and a 70-year-old just about a third of the amount. So seen, young people should be more likely to suffer from heartburn. The fact is that more people over the age of 50 suffer from reflux symptoms.
So what is the cause of this phenomenon? US physician Jonathan Wright says: "Reflux diseases are more often the result of a deficiency than an excess of stomach acid". At first glance, this sounds paradoxical, as heartburn is known to feel quite acidic and caustic. At second glance, however, it is logical. Because the sour feeling in the food and throat area does not automatically mean that there is too much acid in the stomach, but actually only that it is in the wrong place. The main culprit is the lower oesophageal closure (sphincter), which allows food to pass into the stomach when swallowing. As we get older, this closure may become less able to build up tension. Food allergies, alcohol and nicotine can also cause it to slacken. Or, as is now suspected, an acid level that is too low.
Paradox: Heartburn often caused by too little stomach acid
If the pH value in the stomach is too high - i.e. there is little acid - the small ring of muscle no longer receives appropriate signals. Medicinal herbs such as mugwort, chamomile, peppermint, liquorice or yarrow stimulate the production of digestive juices and have an anti-inflammatory effect. But be careful: bitter substances should not be used in cases of stomach and small intestinal ulcers or severe irritation of the stomach lining. Here, healing clay or linseed are good and helpful.