October 12, 2011

Gluten, Acid Reflux, and Esophageal Disease

 

Do you suffer with heartburn?  Has your doctor put you on medications like Nexium or Aciphex to control your reflux disease?  Remember that the drug does not correct the origin of the problem.  It only masks the symptoms.  Research suggests that people who suffer from acid reflux – AKA gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) benefit greatly from a gluten free diet…

Celiac disease (CD) may often be associated with various motor disorders affecting the different segments of the digestive tract, including the esophagus. Although it has not been universally reported, some available evidences indicate that pediatric and adult celiac patients could manifest a higher frequency of esophagitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease-related symptoms compared to nonceliac patients. In addition, several published studies have consistently shown the efficacy of a gluten-free diet in rapidly controlling esophageal symptoms and in preventing their recurrence. Since the participation of gluten in the esophageal symptoms of CD seems clear, its intimate mechanisms have yet to be elucidated, and several hypothesis have been proposed, including the specific immune alterations characterizing CD, the reduction in nutrient absorption determining the arrival of intact gluten to distal gastrointestinal segments, and various dysregulations in the function of gastrointestinal hormones and peptides. Recent studies have suggested the existence of a possible relationship between CD and eosinophilic esophagitis, which should be more deeply investigated.

Source:

Dis Esophagus. 2011 Sep;24(7):470-5.

What the Gluten Free Warrior Says:

Medicating esophageal reflux without addressing it’s origin is a bad idea.  The medicines mask the actual problem and create a laundry list of side effects in the process.  Food is the most common trigger for this problem and allergies and intolerances should be ruled out as a primary part of a doctors work up.

Vitamins, Minerals, & Nutrients are Depleted by Medication

Medications that reduce acid production by the stomach have terrible nutritional side effects.  Recent studies have linked these medicines to bone loss.  The diagram below illustrates some of the more common nutritional consequences of using anti-acid medications to control the symptoms of heartburn:

Too Much Acid Is Not Always the Cause of Reflux Disease

Often times doctors make the assumption that the symptoms of heart burn are caused by too much acid.  Unfortunately, this leads to improper treatment and a failure to recognize the true origin of the condition.  One of the side effects of gluten is that it can damage the cells in the stomach responsible for producing acid.  This in turn leads to a reduced capacity to digest food properly.  Undigested food can cause irritation to the stomach lining and lead to similar symptoms.

Infection Can Be A Cause of GERD and Stomach Ulcers

Bacterial infection is a known cause for reflux disease.  Most notably, H. pylori.  Scientists discovered this bacteria as a cause for duodenal and stomach ulcers in 1982.  Many doctors fail to test for the presence of this type of infection in patients presenting with gastric symptoms.

I have helped thousands of patients go on a gluten free diet.  In my clinical experience heart burn and reflux commonly go away after changing to a TRUE gluten free diet.  In my experience, the inflammation visible with an upper GI scope often resolves with the diet change.  The medications become unnecessary because the disease goes away.

What to Do if You Suffer With Chronic GERD

  • Find a functional medicine doctor.  Traditional doctors don’t typically look beyond giving you a pill.
  • Have your doctor genetically test you for gluten sensitivity.
  • Have your doctor test you for intestinal infections (H. pylori and others)
  • Have your doctor test your vitamin and mineral status (sometimes nutritional deficiencies can cause reflux) and supplement accordingly.
  • Have your doctor test you for other food allergies.
  • Once you have been adequately tested, check your medications for ingredients that you might be allergic to.
  • Help a Warrior Out – Pass this article on to your doctor or any friends who might benefit.

Helpful Supplements to Aid in Healing

All the best,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

 

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3 Responses to “Gluten, Acid Reflux, and Esophageal Disease”

  • Debbie T says:

    Before knowing what made me sick I was constantly taking antacids of some type, if not Tums then Maalox. After going gluten-free no more upset stomach !!!

  • Great website you have here but I was wondering if
    you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics
    discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

  • Cindy says:

    I have been gluten free for over a year – and totally grain free for about 6 months. My reflux has gotten worse not better. I was hoping gluten free would help but it hasn’t.

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