Acidity - Nip it in the bud!!
1. What is Acidity1,2,3
Acidity is generally understood to be a condition of excessive acid in the stomach causing discomfort. Glands in the stomach naturally produce gastric acids to break down food and digest it while protecting against pathogens such as bacteria. A typical adult human stomach secretes about 1.5 litres of gastric acid daily. The mucous layer lining the stomach secretes bicarbonates which neutralize the corrosive effect of this acid. This lining is designed to withstand a high acidic environment. Problem arises in this self-regulating mechanism when there is an excessive secretion of gastric acids due to triggers such as acidic foods, alcohol, dehydration, and stress, all potentially damaging the stomach lining.
2. Symptoms of acidity3,4,9
A burning sensation in the stomach or throat or in and around the lower chest area after eating a meal is one of the most common symptoms of acidity. Other symptoms include hiccups that won’t stop, a sour taste in the mouth, sour belching, heaviness, headache, heat in the body, and regurgitation (liquid food moving up to the throat). Sometimes indigestion, dyspepsia or gastritis or any combination of these may indicate an underlying acid condition in the body.
Some symptoms of acidity are constant fatigue, easily running out of breath, frequent sighing, muscle pain or cramping after short walks and sensation of not getting enough air. Oxygen level in tissue is so low in very acidic people that they have difficulty holding their breath for over 20 seconds.
3. Causes of acidity3,5,8
Food related causes are: excessively hot, spicy or fried food; frequent intake of fats, sweets, adulterated and fermented food, carbonated drinks and processed foods; excessive amounts of chocolate, garlic, onion, tea or coffee; large or heavy meals or snacking close to bed time; non-vegetarian food and alcohol consumption.
Among other causes, stress is number one. Extreme exertion can result in physical stress whereas mental/emotional stress can be caused by conditions like hurry, worry, fear, anger etc. Incidence of acidity tends to be much higher in highly emotional and nervous individuals. We might well view acidity as a by-product of our stressful highly mobile, fast-food life style. Other factors are too much exposure to sun and heat, aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs, inadequate intake of water allowing dehydration of cells and excessive smoking.
4. Acidity differs from gastric discomfort6
Some may describe their gastric discomfort as acidity. Wind is passed through the rectum and/or through the mouth, with burping in children and belching in adults. There could be a simple gas expulsion soon after a meal due to air swallowed while eating. If it smells or leaves a sour taste in the mouth then it is due to indigestion or incomplete evacuation of stools. Certain things causing gas may also lead to acidity.
5. What is acid reflux4,5,7
Normally the food moves down from the mouth through the oesophagus into the stomach. A ring of muscle called the gastroesophageal sphincter located where the oesophagus meets the stomach, acts as a valve which opens to let food into the stomach and immediately closes to prevent regurgitation. But when this valve becomes weak or damaged, it may not close properly allowing the stomach's contents to return to the oesophagus. This is called acid reflux, a very common problem.
Its hallmark symptom is heartburn, a burning sensation behind the breastbone that sometimes travels up the throat and is internally felt around the chest area. It has nothing to do with the heart, despite the name, though sometimes the pain may be as severe as a heart attack. Recurrent acid reflux (more than twice a week) may result in peptic ulcer or in gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD. Recurring throat infection among children could also spring from over-acidity.
Acid reflux could result from hiatal hernia where abdominal organs, typically the stomach, slip through the diaphragm into the middle compartment of the chest. This gives rise to symptoms such as acidic taste in the back of the mouth or heartburn, trouble swallowing and/or chest pain.
6. Ramifications of acidity4,7,10,11
Acidity leads to dyspepsia/indigestion which implies discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, normally soon after a meal. Though this is not regarded as a disease per se but it is a group of symptoms like bloating, nausea, burping, vomiting and belching. When the stomach acids break down the protective mucosa layer, it causes irritation, inflammation etc, triggering symptoms of indigestion, sometimes even gastritis in which these symptoms tend to be present for most of the day. Heartburn is also one of the symptoms of dyspepsia.
7. Domino effects of acidity8
Studies at the University of Bari in Italy demonstrate that a hallmark of all tumours, regardless of their origin and background, is their acidic environment which is conducive to cancer cells. According to a publication titled the “Hidden Truth of Cancer” by Dr Keiichi Morishita, when the blood starts to become acidic, the body will begin to deposit acidic substances, usually toxins, into cells to allow the blood to remain slightly alkaline. These deposits cause the cells to become even more acidic and toxic, which results in decrease in their oxygen levels, leading to destruction of respiratory enzymes and DNA damage. With acidity some cells die while others may survive becoming abnormal cells which grow indefinitely and without order. Reports from World Health Organization indicate that frequent acid reflux can be carcinogenic and if uncorrected, can lead to cancer of the oesophagus.
In addition, an acidic environment is ripe for pathogens such as bacteria, virus and fungus to thrive. It is also a fertile ground for heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. If acidity is not kept in check it may lead to hyperacidity and ulcer formation in the digestive tract by eroding the lining of the stomach or even intestine. Thus, acidity could act as a launch pad for several life-style diseases including cancer.
8. Know your acidity level1,9,12
To understand acidity level, it is vital to know about pH in the body. pH stands for “potential for hydrogen” and indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions. Acidity is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH less than 7 indicates acidity, zero being the most acidic. A pH greater than 7 indicates alkalinity, 14 being the most alkaline. 7 is neutral. To survive, our bodies must maintain a pH very close to 7.4, which is just on the alkaline side of neutral. If our body’s pH varies too much from this ideal, it becomes difficult for various enzymes to function properly. Human blood stays in a very narrow pH range of 7.35 to 7.45.
Although pH levels will fluctuate in the body depending on meals, exercise, stress, hormones, sleep, and a variety of other factors, pH of healthy saliva should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Anything lower would indicate that our body is too acidic. Unlike the stomach (which has a pH of 1-3), the oesophagus with a pH of 7 is not designed to withstand a high acidic environment. One may experience symptoms like a burning sensation in the chest when this pH drops below 4.
Exhibiting any symptom of acidity, one would do well to check their pH and take professional advice. pH strips are available over-the-counter in pharmacies. Changes in life style and diet are essential and usually correct the pH imbalance.
9. Steps to prevent acidity3,5,23,24
Drink enough water which is central to acid-base neutrality and enzyme function. Water in its pure state is considered to be neutral with a pH of 7. Water flowing through the mucous layer preserves and protects it as an effective buffer against the acid in the stomach as mucous is 98% water and 2% scaffolding that holds the water in place.
Diet should be appropriately conducive to health and overall wellbeing and it should consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, sprouts etc. Cooked food should be fresh with minimum spices. Food should be taken at appropriate times, in a prayerful and peaceful mood. It should be well chewed and not eaten in haste. All grains except buckwheat and millet are acidic, unless soaked and eaten raw. Table salt (acidic) should be replaced with high quality Himalayan or other unprocessed crystal salt rich in minerals (alkaline) or sea salt (neutral).
Daily Exercise and good sleep are essential. Do walking /yoga to tone up the digestive system and get regular and sufficient sleep. Refrain from suppressing natural urges, particularly vomiting and passing gas or stools.
10. Home remedies for acidity3,13-22
Long term use of antacids or other prescription medicines for acidity are known to have unpleasant side effects. So it is worth trying simple home/natural remedies not only for immediate relief but for possible cure also. No one can state authoritatively as to what would work best for an individual, so use reasonable caution in choosing remedies. Below is a list of some common spices and herbs and other easily available food items etc. For full details of how to take these remedies and their benefits, refer to the link numbers provided above.
Carom seeds (ajwain) with a pinch of black salt (not suitable for patients of constipation or ulcer); fennel seeds (saunf); cumin seeds (jeera) - especially effective when combined with carom seeds and ginger; cardamom; clove – bite and keep in mouth for immediate relief; pinch of turmeric in warm water.
Tea made from dried chamomile flowers or fresh mint or chew basil (tulsi) leaves.
- Fruits, vegetables and juices
Banana - ripe/overripe; apple; pineapple; watermelon; papaya; grapes; juice of carrots and cabbage; cucumber or its juice; fresh ginger; aloe vera juice; tender coconut water and its pulp.
- Other remedies
Drink made from soaked almonds; butter milk with coriander juice or plain fresh yogurt; amla (Indian gooseberry) powder or chew on amla; sandalwood powder boiled in water; raw organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed with water; baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) mixed with waterand some lime or lemon juice and drunk before fizzing stops when pain unbearable (not suitable for patients with high BP or those on sodium-restricted-diet); sugar free chewing gum.
11. Vibrionics remedies for acidity and related issues25-27
Whether you are using the Sai Ram Healing Vibration Potentiser or the 108CC box, there are a number of options available depending upon the symptoms of the patient. These are adequately described in the respective books – ‘Vibrionics 2016’ and ‘108 Common Combos’.
References and Links for Acidity (1-12) and Remedies (13-27):
- A Treatise on Home Remedies, Dr S Suresh Babu, Pustak Mahal Publication, India 2005
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5j-Zvjqnr0 Natural method to cure acidity - Baba Ramdev
- Water for Health, for Healing, for Life -- You are Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! by F. BatmanghelidjMD Warner Books 2003
- Sairam Healing Vibrations,108 Common Combos - 2011
- Soham Series of Natural Healing volume 3, Swami Narayani and Swami Ananda.
- Vibrionics 2016, A Practical Guide for the Users of Sai Ram healing Vibration Potentiser