Stress and tension can affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and lead to various symptoms, including acid reflux, gastritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
When I was going through my ordeal with chronic pain and disability, I also suffered from a severe case of gastritis. I attributed it to my use of prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. My gastritis was so severe that if I looked at a glass of orange juice or thought of foods with tomatoes in them, like spaghetti sauce, my stomach would hurt. However, it appears that tension myositis syndrome (TMS) could have been the real cause of my gastritis because just a few days into my rapid recovery from back pain, sciatica, and other symptoms, my gastritis was completely healed.
After that for many years I did not have any GI-related symptoms until I read Dr. Carolyn Dean’s The Magnesium Miracle.
In her book, Dr. Dean argues that due to depletion of magnesium in the soil, most of our foods are depleted in magnesium. Magnesium is a cofactor and responsible for the function of 325 enzymes; is an absolute requirement for calcium to be incorporated into bone; keeps toxic chemicals out of the brain; dances with calcium to create nerve impulses and muscle impulses; keeps muscles relaxed, including the heart and blood vessels, and triggers dozens of health conditions if it is deficient. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are many, including the following:
1. Anxiety and Panic attacks- Magnesium (Mg) normally keeps adrenal stress hormones under control.
2. Bowel disease- Mg deficiency slows down the bowel causing constipation, which could lead to toxicity and malabsorption of nutrients, as well as colitis.
3. Depression-Serotonin, which elevates moods, is dependent on Mg. A Mg-deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.
4. Fatigue- Mg-deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are under-functioning. An early symptom of Mg deficiency is frequently fatigue.
5. Insomnia- Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient Mg.
6. Migraine- Serotonin balance is Mg-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.
7. Musculoskeletal conditions- Fibrositis, muscle pain and spasms, eye twitches, muscle cramps.
Of course, after reading about the importance of magnesium, I decided to take magnesium supplements. I began to drink a warm glass of Natural Calm magnesium powder in hot water twice a day and noticed feeling much calmer and more relaxed. However, I began to feel pain around my heart. So, I tried other brands of magnesium and the same thing happened. Eventually, I asked a relative who is a cardiologist and he told me that magnesium was causing the esophageal sphincter muscle to relax allowing stomach acid to leach into the esophagus and cause pain around my heart.
After his assurance that it was safe, I started taking magnesium again and tried to reach the recommended dose of 400 mg per day. I ignored the heart pain, but after a few days, I started to have a burning sensation in my esophagus and a lump in my throat. I was waking up in the morning with a sore throat due to acid making its way to my throat while I was sleep.
This was really great.
You may ask: what was great about it?
Well, because all those years that I was waking up with a sore throat thinking I was coming down with a cold, it was really a case of acid irritating my throat and not a cold virus.
Now I had to find a way to relieve the burning in my esophagus and the lump in my throat.
My doctor prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to reduce the stomach acid. Although reducing the acid might temporarily help, prolonged use hampers proper digestion, leads to malabsorption of nutrients, and according to a study published in the British Medical Journal PPIs can increase the risk of death.
Instead of taking the medication I made a baking soda solution to neutralize the acid and it helped. However, this was a temporary solution. After some research, I discovered the following four steps to eliminating acid reflux:
1. Aloe vera juice. We know how aloe vera can heal the skin. Well, it’s juice can heal the GI tract. The reviews on Amazon for aloe vera juice as a cure for acid reflux were quite impressive. Many of reviewers stated that it worked to relieve the symptoms where medications had failed. I began to drink 2-3 ounces of aloe vera juice 3-4 times a day. I noticed a huge improvement by the second dose. The brand I took was Lily of Desert. Lily of Desert also has a product called, “Aloe Herbal Stomach Formula” that I tried and was helpful too. It combines aloe vera gel with peppermint, chamomile, and other ingredients to soothe and heal the GI tract.
2. Lime juice. Amazingly enough, I discovered making your food more acidic will help better digestion and less chance of acid reflux. So, I squeezed fresh lime juice on my meals before I ate and I still do. Lime has the same pH as the stomach acid so improves and speeds up digestion. You can also try sprinkling apple cider vinegar on your food.
3. Raise your head. Per Dr. Oz, place a 6-inch block under your mattress to raise your upper body. I put two blocks few inches apart from each other under my mattress. This keeps the acid from flowing up and is more effective than placing more pillows under your head, although that cannot hurt.
4. Probiotics can also help the sphincter muscle function properly. You can either get your probiotics from fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and so on or take probiotic capsules. Besides eating sauerkraut, I took Prescript-Assist probiotics. It is made up of soil-based organisms and has good research behind it.
By following the above four steps I was free of acid reflux symptoms in about two weeks. If you are wondering what to do for a quick relief, start with aloe vera juice, and if your gastritis is due to stress and tension, seek ways to manage them.
These days I drink my Natural Calm twice a day and have no acid reflux.
Stay informed. Stay well.