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Posted on 09-15-2013

People for centuries have been using apple cider vinegar as a simple home remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.  Organic apple cider vinegar contains many healthy vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  

Understanding how apple cider vinegar affects our digestion and improves some cases of acid reflux is fairly simple.  As we age our cells our stomach cells are less proficient at producing hydrochloric acid.  The acid is what not only digests our food buts acts as a first line of defense for bacteria and parasites in our digestive tract.  Most of these foreign invaders cannot survive in strongly acidic environments. Our stomach acid levels vary in pH from 1.5- 5.0 depending on what we are digesting and the timing of the digestive process.  Within the stomach we also have proteases, a type of enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins.  A lower pH or more acidic environment activates these proteases therefore helping in the digestion of dietary proteins by cleaving them.  Therefore, the pH level dictates how efficient actual digestion will be.

There are a few theories on how the changing our stomach acidity with apple cider vinegar affects acid reflux.  As I mentioned before, as our cells age they are less likely to produce enough hydrochloric acid which yields the pH decrease needed to activate the proteases.  A second theory is that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a pH sensitive valve, will relax with food inside and open in a lower acidity environment thus allowing stomach acid to reflux back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.  The LES requires a pH of approximately 4.0- 5.0 (the same range as apple cider vinegar) to activate the closing of the valve.   Lastly, the vinegar may act as a buffer maintaining a higher pH which therefore results in less reflux from a dysfunctional stomach that may not be able to maintain its homeostatic range.

When experiencing reflux and prior to a meal mix 3 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar such as Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and add it to a full 8 oz. of water.  You may also add a tablespoon of raw honey to make it taste better as well as to experience the nutritional the benefits of the raw honey.  In addition to helping heartburn, apple cider vinegar can be used as a remedy for nighttime leg cramps, skin disorders and many other conditions.

Yours in health,

Dr. Jennifer Welch, DC, DABCI

Joseph said:

Thank You Dr. Welch for this information. I've been having Acid Reflux issue for awhile now. None of the over the counter stuff seems to be working. I tried your method last night. Since then I have not had any issue's, and I feel really good. I also like it, because it's natural. THANKS AGAIN! Joseph

2013-09-16 07:45:46

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