Should I take Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn?

 In General Health

Ever thought about taking apple cider vinegar for heartburn but didn’t know if it was worth it? I’m touching on the digestive benefits of this powerhouse vinegar to boost energy and reduce heartburn.

GERD & Heartburn
The stomach is a hollow organ that produces high amounts of hydrochloric acid in response to food stuffs entering from the esophagus. In an attempt for self-preservation, the stomach is lined with a thick mucous coat to protect itself against this harsh acidic environment. The acidic nature of the stomach is critical for proper digestion. When food enters the stomach, this is the body’s first defence against the pathogens we ingest. The pH of the stomach is so very acidic so that no bacteria, virus , fungus, or parasite should survive. The low pH also initiates enzymes to breakdown proteins and fats into smaller units. The stomach is also in charge of the physical acts of digestion with mixing and churning food stuffs into liquid balls called ‘chyme’ which are slowly released into the small intestine.

In people suffering from heartburn, many assume that the stomach is ‘too acidic’ and take acid reducing medications to reduce the burning and pain associated with heart burn. However, many are actually suffering from too little stomach acid. When food moves from the esophagus to the stomach it has to move through a small ‘door’ called the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. When food drops into the stomach, the acidic liquid will splash back up telling this ‘door’ to close as the stomach is about to start working. Do you see the problem? If we take acid lowering drugs, that feedback to the LES to close is lost and it continues to stay open. An open LES means the acidic contents of the stomach are going to splash back up causing burring and pain in the chest and throat and a bitter mouth taste. In addition, low stomach acid can allow pathogens and bugs to survive such as H.Pylori causing more pain, and burning in the stomach and chest. So how do you know if your stomach acid is too low? Try the Burp Test.

Burp Test
Drink 1 tsp of baking soda in 4oz of room temperature water in the morning on an empty stomach. Use a timer and see how long it takes you to burp.

  • If you burp within 6 minutes you have too much hydrochloric acid
  • A burp within 6-10 minutes is considered normal
  • If you do not burp after 10 minutes of waiting, you are likely suffering from low acid or medically called hypochlorhydria.

Once the test is over, eat a snack !

Low Stomach Acid? You may need Apple Cider Vinegar
So what do you do if you determine your stomach acid is too low? Apple cider vinegar and digestive bitters are a great start. We’ll use a car analogy to understand how these interventions work and let’s be honest, all good health explanations have at least one car reference. In the winter, we usually warm and start our cars before driving on the highway. This gets rid of the frost and allows the car to heat up so it can drive at it’s best. Apple cider vinegar and digestive bitters work similarly, they are the ‘warm up’. When you taste apple cider vinegar or digestive bitters, your mouth starts to salivate which is a signal to the brain that food is coming. If you take apple cider vinegar 15 minutes before food, your brain and body have time to do the prep work. The stomach starts to produce acid and the pancreas and small intestine mobilize enzymes. So now when you have your meal 15 minutes later, your digestive capacity is at it’s max!

How To Take Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn
Aim for 1/2-1tbps of apple cider vinegar 15 mins before meals to enhance digestion. You can add this to a small amount of water if you choose. The Apple Cider Vinegar will help strengthen the LES tone and reduce the reflux and burning into the esophagus.

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