Digestive Enzymes: A natural and very effective treatment for GERD and digestive distress

“Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food”

Everyday 70,000,000 people suffer from some form of digestive issue (heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, IBS, indigestion constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.).  To relieve their symptoms people turn to Tums®, Rolaids®, Zantac®, Tagamet®, or the more dangerous, PPIs [Proton Pump Inihibitors] (Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Protonics®, etc.).  People over the age of 50 who take these drugs [proton pump inhibitors] for more than one year have a 44% increased risk of breaking a hip.  PPIs inhibit the body from producing stomach acid.   However, stomach acid is needed to absorb calcium, which is needed for healthy bones.  The inability to absorb calcium may be the cause of the increased risk for osteoporosis. And forget what you heard about Tums being a good source of calcium. The calcium in Tums is calcium carbonate. It is not absorbable and it is used in a buffer reaction to dilute and neutralize stomach acid….you know the stomach acid that is NEEDED for digestion and the absorption of calcium     Mice treated with prescription drugs called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, like Prilosec and Prevacid, which block acid production, acquired more bacteria and developed more inflammatory changes in their stomach linings than untreated mice. And, pathogenic bacteria thrives in an alkaline environment; therefore, medications taken to reduce stomach acid could actually increase the risk of developing pneumonia.  The incidence rate of pneumonia in those who took acid-suppressive drugs was 2.45 out of every 100 people a year. This was compared to 0.6 among those who didn’t take acid-suppressive drugs.3 If you inhibit gastric acid production, you interfere with the stomach’s natural defense mechanism.  Reduced gastric acidity does appear to make the mammalian stomach more vulnerable to bacterial invasion, gastritis and osteoporosis.  Therefore, physicians may want to re-evaluate the long-term use of acid-reducing medications in their patients.

But wait! Did you hear the latest research about GERD and “Acid Reflux”?

For decades, researchers and doctors believed stomach acid traveled north to cause chemical burns in the esophagus, but the new finding suggests the damage in GERD patients actually occurs through an inflammatory response prompted by the secretion of proteins called cytokines.

In the study, scientists found that when treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) stopped, most patients developed changes in the esophagus that led to inflammation — not chemical burns you’d expect to immediately see from high stomach acid.  So, stomach acid isn’t even the cause of these problems, inflammation is!

I know, I know…GERD, if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems like Barrett’s esophagus, an increased risk of esophageal cancer, worsening asthma, ulcers in the esophagus and scarring. Still, there are ways to curb acid reflux symptoms without resorting to drugs even though authors of the latest study say patients should still use acid-suppressing medications for the near future, until new drugs focus on inflammation instead of holding back acid. It’s important to note that standard treatment with proton pump inhibitors doesn’t come without risks. Even Mayo Clinic researchers found that chronic use of PPIs disrupt a person’s microbiome, increasing the risk of serious infections like Clostridium difficile.

A 2013 study published in the journal Circulation found PPIs could actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease over time, including a weakened heart and high blood pressure. That’s because PPIs seem to constrict blood vessels.

Pharmacist and author Suzy Cohen, RPh, warns that PPIs increase the pH in your stomach, blocking some of your body’s natural ability to absorb key nutrients. Magnesium and B vitamins are often a target of “drug mugging” GERD drugs. (5)   Where does the inflammation come from and Why are there so many digestive problems????


1. We do not digest our food properly for many different reasons.

2. We eat too fast and don’t chew our food carefully (chew each bite 20-25   times).  We rush away from the table right after a meal.

3.  We eat too many inflammatory foods.

4. We eat too late or before bed.

5. We overcook our food, thus destroying the natural enzymes.

6. We drink too much liquid with our meals, washing the food into the stomach before the saliva can start to break it down (the saliva contains large amounts of digestive enzymes).

7.  We consume too much sugar that feeds “bad” bacteria and yeast and starves healthy bacteria.  We have a love affair with antibiotics! Antibiotics destroy healthy bacteria that help digest our food. Even after the round of antibiotics is done, so is the damage that taking them caused.

8.  We drink too much alcohol.

9.  Ant-acids over time cause malabsorption.  This in and of itself creates mineral deficiency and causes inflammation!

9.  Add a few of these together and you have your recipe for GERD and a lifetime of heart burn…or worse.   Why natural products?    Whenever we start with a natural molecule, we are building on substances which nature has refined over thousands of years.  These substances can be digested and metabolized by our enzymes, liver and kidneys without any serious side effects.  When we ingest synthetic substances our organ systems do not have the proper digestive enzymes to completely metabolize them, thus leading to many of the side effects we suffer from.

How To Reduce Digestive Issues Without Lowering Stomach Acid   Our body naturally produces digestive enzymes; however, it cannot naturally produce enough digestive enzymes to keep up with the typical Western diet, which is full of enzyme depleted cooked and processed foods.  This results in digestive related health problems, which can frequently be remedied by the addition of digestive enzymes. There is a long history of health claims concerning living microorganisms in food, particularly lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus). In a Persian version of the Old Testament Genesis 18:8, “and he (Abraham) took curd and milk,” Abraham may have owed his longevity to the consumption of sour milk. In 76 BC the Roman historian, Plinius, recommended the administration of fermented milk products for the treatment of gastroenteritis.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that a lack of healthy bacteria can be one of the causes which lead to digestive issues such as: acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, IBS, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, etc.  The scientific literature4, 5, 6, 7  has documented that many of these problems can be reversed with the use of probiotics. The natural herb stevia grows in the rain forests of South America.   The people of South America use it extensively as a tea-type beverage and as a sweetener for foods and drinks.  In case reports, stevia seems to alleviate heartburn.

A New Paradigm

Using the findings that probiotics, digestive enzymes and stevia have a beneficial effect on digestion, are natural products and have no side effects, the  Physician Digestive (HPD) Trial was started.  The formula used in the HPD Trial is: non-dairy probiotics: (L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. plantarium, L. rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum), plant based digestive enzymes (Amylase, Bromelain, Lactase, Lipase, Papain, Hemicellulase) and the natural sweetener: Stevia in a chewable form).  Preliminary findings show that, in approximately 90% of the 1,000 patients treated, this formula eliminated dyspepsia without the need for acid reducing pharmaceuticals.


Dr. Hoch uses a variety of professional, high-quality herbs, homeopathic remedies, and nutritional supplements to help her patients reset their hormones, decrease inflammation, improve joint motion, reduce pain, correct digestive issues, and encourage weight loss.  We currently have a number of great products available through  Fullscript, our online store.   Fullscript is where you can get high-quality, physician-recommended brands of natural products.  

How to create an account and navigate within Fullscript.

ENDNOTES 1.    Journal American Medical Association 2006;296: 2947-2953, “Long-term Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy and Risk of Hip Fracture” Yu-Xiao Yang; James D. Lewis; Solomon Epstein; David C. Metz. 2.    Journal Physiology Gastrointestinal Liver Physiology 282: G175-G183, 2002. Vol. 282, Issue 1, G175-G183, January 2002, “Hypergastrinemia in response to gastric inflammation suppresses somatostatin” Yana Zavros, Gabriele Rieder, Amy Ferguson, Linda C. Samuelson, and Juanita L. Merchant. 3.    Journal American Medical Association 2004;292:1955-1960. “Risk of CommunityAcquired Pneumonia and Use of Gastric Acid–Suppressive Drugs” Robert J. F. Laheij, PhD; Miriam C. J. M. Sturkenboom, PhD; Robert-Jan Hassing, MSc; Jeanne Dieleman, PhD; Bruno H. C. Stricker, MD, PhD; Jan B. M. J. Jansen, MD, PhD. 4.    Macfarlane GT, Macfarlane S. “Human Colonic Microbiata: Ecology, Physiology and Metabolic Potential of Intestinal Bacteria.” Scand J Gastroenterol, 1997; 32 (suppl 222) 3-9. 5.    Naidu AS, et al. “Probiotic spectra of Lactic acid bacteria.” Critical review in Food Science and Nutrition, 1990; 38 (1): 13-126. 6.    Johansson ML, et al. “Administration of different Lactobacillus strains in fermented oatmeal soup: in vivo colonization of human intestinal mucosa and effect on the indigenous flora.” Appl Environ Microbiol, 1993; 59(1): 15 -20. 7.    Bassotti G, et al. “Colonic motility in man: features in normal subjects and in patients with chronic idiopathic constipation.” Am J Gastroenterol, 1999; 1760 -1770.


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