In this week’s Wednesdays With Will episode, Dr. Harden explains relationship between chiropractic care and digestive health.
In This Episode You’ll Learn
- Heartburn: Too much vs too little stomach acid
- Apple cider vinegar
Links and Resources
Download Your Free Copy of the Edgar Cayce Gallbladder Purge
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Transcript of This Episode
Will: To topic, chiropractic and digestive health is really the bigger question is what about digestive health. Because the way that digestive problems are normally handled is you take something to manage symptoms. So that if it’s constipation, you take a laxative. If it’s heart burn, you take an antacid. If it’s chronic heart burn, you take a proton-pump inhibitor that tells the brain to tell the stomach to stop releasing acid. If it’s GI pain, you get an abdominal CT scan which often reveals nothing because the truth is most digestive problems are functional disorders. And what I mean by that there is nothing anatomically wrong. It’s just that something is not functioning in a coordinated fashion.
So really to understand a digestive problem, you must contemplate the entire digestive process. And I think understanding how digestion works is a really good, first step in determining what one should do about it digestive problems.
So you start contemplating lunch and you begin to salivate. You put food in your mouth. And salivary enzymes begin to break it down. You swallow. It drops in to your stomach. Immediately, your brain actually has already begun telling your stomach to release acid. So the food in your stomach is subjected to a very acidic medium. And then the acid, in conjunction with somewhat mild movements of your stomach, churning of the food if you will, begins to liquefy the food in your stomach. When it’s adequately liquefied in an hour to two hours, it begins to empty in to the beginning portion of the small intestine called the duodenum. In to the duodenum, spills pancreatic enzymes and bile. Bile is coming from your gallbladder, pancreatic enzymes, of course, from you pancreas. So pancreatic enzymes break down carbohydrates, proteins and a little bit fats, as well, through enzymes that is chemicals that break things down. And your gallbladder releases bile.
If you have a cup water and you added olive oil to it, you would see the olive oil floats on top of the water. In order words, fats and water don’t mix. Which then begs the question, “Well, how is it then that you digest fats into a water-soluble body?” Right, we’re water soluble. We’re not “fat soluble.” And the answer is with bile. If you took that cup of water with oil on it and you squeeze several drops of bile into it, you would see that the fat would begin to essentially dissolve in to the water. It would start breaking it down and making fats water-soluble. That’s how you digest and absorb fat-soluble nutrients, fatty acids, etcetera, with bile.
So now the food is relatively broken down by the stomach. Then it’s broken down further by the pancreas and gallbladder. And now the small intestine begins to peristaltically move this wad of nutrition, if you will, down the small intestine through the 20-24 feet of small intestine, which is a much more complicated tube than it appears, right. It is covered by what we call villi — billions, no, trillions of small fingers that project into the small intestine to increase the surface area where by nutrients can be absorbed. In other words, it’s a richly vascularized tube with a huge surface area to absorb nutrients. In fact, if you look at those billions of fingers, you would think “Wow. There’s a lot of places where bacteria can grow in here.”
So to keep that from happening, these fingers or villi of the intestines are richly colonized by naturally occurring healthy bacteria, which are also found in abundance covering the large intestinal wall. And in the large intestine is where the food next moves. And that’s where you begin to excrete waste and to absorb water. And then of course, the material on the large intestine ultimately leaves the body.
So the question about chiropractic and digestive health is well it depends where in the course of digestion symptoms arrive. That is where do problems arise. If the problem is that when someone eats, they have dyspepsia or gastritis, meaning they get bloated, abdominal discomfort after eating; that is almost always a problem with what’s called hypochlorhydria. And what that means is not enough stomach acid. If you don’t make enough stomach acid – and by the way, this is extremely common – then what happens is the food in your stomach begins to ferment which generates gas, which generates pressure, which causes you to, let’s say, belch up a little bit of the contents of the stomach including the small amount of acid that you do produce in to the lower esophagus which causes heart burn.
So what most people with heart burn or indigestion typically automatically go to is Pepsid-AC or Nexium or Protonix or Omeprazole which is prescribed in extreme excess. Maybe they take Tums or Mylanta which eases the heart burn. But in every, in the case of every one of those, you’re actually treating it exactly the wrong way. If there’s not enough stomach acid and you alcoholize the stomach, you just increase fermentation of materials in the stomach and you reduce the stomach’s ability to properly break down and liquefy foods so that you can’t absorb nutrients properly in the small intestine.
So for a very commonly “overdiagnosed” condition of the gastro-esophageal reflux disease or heart burn, instead of giving something that shuts off acid, it is extremely wise and almost always instantly beneficial to take a digestive enzyme every time you eat. That is a capsule or a pill that contains enzymes to help break down the food. And it usually will include a little bit of something called hydrochloric acid, basically stomach acid. And ironically, for someone who’s diagnosed with too much stomach acid, that almost always helps and almost always alleviate heart burn because now you don’t have the building up of pressure or gas in the system due to fermentation. So the food stays where it belongs, in the stomach, which is made to handle acid. If you do that in conjunction with something, I might have even mentioned this on a previous discussion that we’ve had. And that is something called deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL.
So DGL’s has been around for 60 plus years. If you molecularly modify licorice or deglycyrrhizinated, it’s been demonstrated that that as a supplement as a natural remedy makes you produce proper amounts of mucous on the lining of the stomach and esophagus and probably the upper portion of the small intestine as well. And it almost always alleviates gastro-esophageal reflux and heart burn. And it does it right away. The first dose should take it. You’ll usually have alleviation of heart burn. But there’s no side effects. There’s no alcoholizing effect. It does not negatively affect digestion.
So if we take someone off Omeprazole, let’s say, have them take digestive enzyme every time they eat and then chew on a deglycyrrizhinated, a chewable supplement of DGL, they almost always see improvement in their reflux.
For early digestive problems like those which are super common, enzymes, DGL almost always do the trick. But sometimes it’s excessive gassiness. It’s GI pain an hour after you eat. Or maybe it’s abdominal pain after you eat fatty foods in particular, pizza, bake potatoes with butter and sour cream, steak or burgers. If that’s true, that almost certainly indicates a something called cholestasis, which means your gallbladder and or bile duct are restricted enough that you’re not releasing bile. So when you eat fatty foods, your gallbladder is contracting but it’s not able to eliminate bile by way of the bile duct in the small intestines so you have pain.
Well it turns out 500 thousand gallbladders a year in the US on average are removed. That’s absolutely ridiculous. They’re, essentially, all removed due to gall stones. And a gall stone is not a stone. It’s not like a pebble. It’s not made of calcium. It’s basically a ball of cholesterol. So the gallbladder’s job is to store bile which is made in the liver and it’s reserved for when you eat. And in particular, when you eat fatty foods so that the gallbladder can contract, squeeze bile into the small intestine and make fats water-soluble. But often bile sits in the gallbladder long enough that it begins to agglutinate. That is to say cholesterol begins to accumulate in the little ball, if you will, called the gall stone. And often when a gallbladder is removed, there would be a hundred gall stone in the gallbladder ranging in size from a BB to is much as the size of a diner, a nickel in diameter. And if that’s true, then when your gallbladder squeezes, it can’t move bile down the bile duct.
In truth, there are things you can do to promote purging of the gallbladder and gall stones without having your gallbladder removed because I mean it’s critical to be able to digest fats. One, fatty acids are essential for your wellbeing but also vitamin A, vitamin E, D vitamins are water-soluble… Sorry, are not water-soluble and need bile to absorb them.
So I don’t know if you can Google this, but I often prescribed something called the Edgar Cayce Gallbladder Purge which is a one week process in which many patients will report that they eliminated visibly a dozen or 50 or more gall stones. And when this happens, it’s also very common that we see a dramatic drop in cholesterol levels which actually makes sense because the liver produces cholesterol which it does. And if bile consists primarily of cholesterol, which it does, then daily releasing bile as part of the digestive process and then eliminating most of that through defecation; we would say, “Well, that’s a pretty logical way to regulate cholesterol. Make it but eliminate it.” And if someone has congestion within biliary system or the gallbladder, then you’re not eliminating it. And cholesterol levels may elevate as a result. So it’s really common after doing a gallbladder purge to see a drop in cholesterol.
I did a gall purge on someone whose cholesterol dropped literally overnight, 90 points. More importantly to her immediate concern, she saw alleviation of all abdominal pain and was able to eat whatever she wanted for the first time in years. Whereas, that was a really dramatic case, almost everyone who does a gallbladder purge, if they’re 30 or over, one, they see dozens or several dozens of gall stones in the toilet the day of the final purge and they almost always feel digestively better.
A digestive enzyme that I had recommended for an upper GI problem often contains Ox Bile in it. And if you have biliary stasis or gallbladder problems, often just that will make you feel better which could be telling about the possibility that you do have blockage within the bile system.
So now the food has moved from the stomach in to the small intestine. It’s been subjected to pancreatic enzymes and bile. So next, it moves through the small intestine where absorption occurs. And if you had an inadequate supply of naturally occurring bacteria within the small or large intestine, then you are susceptible to other non-naturally occurring bacteria to colonize the wall of the intestine. And if that’s true, you would be prone to irregular bowel function. That is probably a susceptibility to diarrhea, at least, intermittently. And that you would tend to be really gassy. And if that’s true, the used of Probiotics, that is naturally occurring bacteria that should be on the intestinal wall, taken supplementally can help restore proper colonies of bacteria. So there’s Lacto Bacilli and Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. There’s multiple strains. And that can almost immediately reduce lower abdominal pain, excessive gassiness, and often will, in 24 hours, alleviate diarrhea.
In fact, the reason that if you take antibiotics, you are prone to getting diarrhea is because you are killing off the natural intestinal flora, the bacteria that line the intestines. And then I think the last “chiropractic consideration” for digestive health would be the alleviation of any irritation at the spinal level to nerves that innervate the intestines, stomach, etcetera. For example, if you are shifted out of an alignment or subluxated at T4 or T5, right between the shoulder blades, it’s very common that that patient will complain of heart burn. And it’s also very common that when we adjust the mid back, people with heart burn will immediately experience alleviation of heart burn. It’s usually to a new patient’s surprise that that happens but it’s not uncommon that a patient will upon return say “I don’t know if this possible but I notice my heart burn’s gone ever since you did that adjustment. Is that possible?” And the answer is “Of course, it’s possible.” Every organ, every system in the body functions by way of nervous system control. And we know that is impeded by a spinal alignment abnormality.
So long story short, assessing a patient’s digestive problems in consideration of the phases of digestion is step one. Assuring that the spine and therefore nervous system is fully functional is step two. And then it could point to some obvious things like hydration is critical for normal digestive function, right. Keeping the stomach, small and large intestines awash with hydration is a very important part of maintaining normal bowel function, ensuring adequate absorption. It’s good for the integrity of the cell membranes of the entire GI tract having a diet that does not consist of McDonalds for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner, the avoidance of excessive toxins, exposure to excessively genetically modified foods, getting adequate intake of fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables. And when you do choose grains, choose really high fiber grains, wheat bread versus white bread. Better yet, gluten-free fibrous bread.
So I think that’s a pretty thorough overview of GI system as it relates to chiropractic.
Edgar Cayce Gallbladder Purge
Glenn: Yeah, Will. Thanks for bringing up the Edgar Cayce Gallbladder Purge. Again you discuss it… You mention it when you were talking about cholesterol in general. And I wanna remind the listeners that I’m gonna have it available on the Show Note’s page if you go to livefitpodcast.com. And just type in a search for the episode number that you’re currently listening to, you’ll be able to find that. But as you’re talking, I wrote down some questions.
Will: Okay. Great.
Glenn: The first one that I want to ask is if a person lose their gallbladder — it’s been removed because of stones or what any other reason – are they limited to the amount of fats they can eat?
Will: You would think that the answer to that is yes. But when a gallbladder is removed, bear in mind the following, the liver makes bile. It sends it by way of tubules up to the gallbladder. And then there’s another tubules from the gallbladder to the small intestine. When a gallbladder is removed, the ends of those tubes are joined so that now you no longer have a storage tank that can contract to squeeze bile out in to the small intestine when you eat. So basically, you have a more constant low grade leakage of bile from the liver in to the small intestine, provided scar tissue has not gotten in the way of the movement of that fluid. So most people can eat fats and fat-soluble nutrients after a gallbladder is removed. However, they may have more of a limit than they used to. That is to say they might be able to eat some fats but not a lot before they have GI discomforts, cramping, diarrhea. So if that’s true, that patient could take a supplemental bile. That is a tablet that contains what’s called Ox Bile. And every time they eat pizza or a burger and fries, they could take 1 or 2 of those and they’d probably do absolutely fine with it.
Glenn: Could that be used as a weight loss technique to not have the bile? Because if you’re eating a high fat meal and you don’t have enough bile to emulsify that fat, then that fat will pass through the intestines, correct, and it won’t be absorbed?
Will: In theory, that is true. However, if what you have is completely non-emulsified fats in the GI tract, you are prone to chronic diarrhea. So you have an oily mass within the stomach which is ultimately a lubricant. So now everything moves more readily through the GI tract. So whereas that might be true, it would be an extremely unhealthy way to attempt to lose weight.
Glenn: It would be losing a lot of nutrients as well as those excess calories.
Will: Precisely. Absolutely.
Glenn: Another question I have for you is… And this is relating to stomach acid. I’ve heard and I’ve done myself, very often in the morning, in fact pretty much every morning over the last year, I have a lemon juice and water first thing in the morning. First thing I wake up, I have lemon juice and water. And I think the year before that, I was having Apple Cider Vinegar and water. What do you think of that?
Will: I think both are good for you. And yet you have to bear in mind that stomach acid is way more acidic than either one of those, lemon juice, citric acid or the Apple Cider Vinegar. And therefore, I think both of those are good as a low grade astringent kind of a cleanser of the GI tract. And Apple Cider Vinegar, we can probably talk for an hour about all the potential health benefits of that.
Glenn: So maybe we have a future show?
Will: There you go. But I would not go so far as to say that both of those are making up for any hypochlorhydria.
Glenn: Got you. Got you. And my last question is I know some clients of mine who occasionally get stomach upset. And they find that taking something like Pepsid for about a week takes care of it. Then they can stop taking it. And they’re good for maybe a month or two until they start getting this what they think is acid indigestion periodically. And so is there something to that or maybe they’re going the wrong direction with it?
Will: Well, not for a minute will I state that Pepsid-AC, Nexium, Omeprazole or any of those don’t work to alleviate symptoms. But remember hypochlorhydria will cause what little acid you do have to come up into the esophagus which can’t handle any acid. So if taking Pepsid-AC works and you are hypochlorhydric, I would submit to you that by sparing the esophagus of even the small amount of acid that is there for a week, promotes enough healing, reduce erosion of the esophageal lining that when you go off the Pepsid-AC, it can handle the resubmitting of acid to it for a certain period of time. And therefore if you did use something like Pepsid-AC intermittently, you’re still averting the root cause, right. So it will eliminate your symptoms but since it’s not addressing the root cause of those symptoms in the first place, in one respect, we might say it’s doing more harm than good because it’s preventing you from really giving attention to the underlying problem.
Glenn: How does a person know what the root cause is?
Will: Well, one idea would be, in keeping with your Apple Cider Vinegar idea, do a challenge test. So if you eat and 20 minutes later you get hurt burn, then right at the beginning of a meal, take a couple teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in a little bit of water and then eat. If you feel worse, we would say “Mmm… You probably do have too much stomach acid.” If you feel better, in other words, if you put acid in to your stomach and you feel better after you eat, that confirms you definitely don’t have too much stomach acid or you would have been worse by putting something acidic in to your stomach.
Glenn: Got it. That makes sense.
Will: So let me throw in one more thing. An even more direct way would be to see if your heart burn is alleviated by taking digestive enzymes Rhizinate. I’m sorry. Rhizinate is proprietary name of the deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL that l like. I prefer Rhizinate over other DGL’s but (inaudible 28:15) because neither one of those are in any way bad for you. They’re both perfectly good for you. They both honor your natural digestive processes; in other words, don’t interfere with those processes. And if you feel better, that would be a strong indicator that in fact you are hypochlorohydric that is you don’t have enough stomach acid. That’s why the enzymes would help. Make sense?
Glenn: Yeah, that does. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.
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