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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

Silent Reflux

By Dr. David Pollack

On a recent trip to Costco, I noticed that the first row of over-the-counter medications near checkout was filled with PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). These commonly used medications target heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, one of the most common health problems around.
Millions of people on a regular basis experience the acidic, burning pain in their stomach, chest or throat area which causes them to reach for PPIs. 

At the same time, while millions of people have obvious symptoms of GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), millions more do not have direct or noticeable symptoms. They suffer from what is referred to as silent reflux which causes indirect symptoms. What are these indirect symptoms and how can we alleviate this extremely important health issue? 

While the obvious symptoms and damage are easily understood, the secondary symptoms are even more insidious. Chronic digestive problems can affect the entire body through a process known as “leaky gut syndrome.” In my opinion, leaky gut is not a diagnosis, but rather a mechanism to help explain how a chronic digestive issue can cause chronic systemic inflammation.

Leaky gut syndrome inflammation is being produced every day, every time we eat—even if the food we’re eating is healthy. How can that be? When the digestive process is not functioning optimally, our food is not broken down to the small particle sizes required. This undigested food material can cross the gut barrier and pass into the blood stream becoming foreign matter to the body. Our body then launches an immune response to this poorly digested food. Since we eat multiple times a day, our body can remain in a chronic inflammatory state.

While not as obvious at first, there are many symptoms of silent reflux, including a chronic cough; a lump in the throat sensation; a hoarse or raspy voice; nasal congestion; postnasal drip; chronic sinus infections; neck, shoulder and upper back pain; headaches; allergies and more. But why do we even get reflux, silent or not? Reflux is one of many symptoms of weakness and damage to the upper digestive tract. Bloating, indigestion and distention are others. These upper digestive tract symptoms can be caused by any upper digestive tract organ and chronic or severe stress. So, while the site of reflux is the stomach and esophagus, the cause can often originate elsewhere. 

For many the problem is chronic gallbladder issues, such as biliary stasis which is a thickening of the bile from a dish soap consistency into a sludge or sand consistency. This sludge, one of the most common reasons for GERD, then becomes quite inflammatory and an irritant to the stomach lining. Interestingly, a common symptom of biliary stasis is an aversion to meat. Many of my vegan and vegetarian patients with this condition suddenly crave meat after repairing the issue. Dysfunction of the small intestines, pancreas, stomach, gall bladder, and even the diaphragm itself can also be a cause of reflux. Stress can be the cause of these functional issues as well.

To fix the problem, we must first identify the actual cause. Thankfully, there are easy, non-invasive ways to accomplish this—including performing a Functional Digestive Test.  This test includes palpating digestive organs throughout the abdomen before and after eating to discover—in real time—how inflamed an organ is by the simple task of digesting food. If an organ is functionally struggling, it will become more inflamed, and the area will tighten up after digesting the plant-based drink used for the test. This process allows patients to realize exactly where their digestive woes originate.

Once we have that information, the patient is given several plant-based enzyme and herb combinations to directly target and aid in the healing of those specific functional issues. The results are often fast. When the correct treatment is applied, the body heals quickly. Many people notice within just a few weeks that their issues are dramatically improving. For some, changes happen in mere days. These improvements generally go far beyond the digestive tract. Most people report increases in energy, weight, focus, memory, joint and muscle pain, sleep, stress and more. In fact, any of these issues could be considered an indirect symptom of GERD or silent reflux.

Dr. David L. Pollack is the founder of Pollack Wellness Institute, located at 66 Commack Rd., #204, Commack, NY. For appointments or information, call 631-462-0801, email [email protected] or visit PollackWellness.com.

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