How Your Diaphragm Causes and Corrects Heartburn / GERD

The cause of heartburn and GERD is a biomechanical imbalance, not a chemical one. If the acid from the stomach gets up into the esophagus, heartburn and GERD result. The symptoms are not from an excess of stomach acid, but from the acid in the wrong place, which is controlled by the diaphragm. A properly functioning diaphragm muscle keeps the acid in the stomach, where it belongs.

Yet the Western Medicine treatment for these problems is a chemical approach to medicate to reduce or neutralize the acid, the very acid that plays a vital role in health and normal digestion. Furthermore these medications were not intended for people to take for more than 3-6 months, and millions are suffering costly side-effects now and in the future by taking them for years, often indefinitely.

Because the diaphragm is a muscle, just like your biceps, it is modifiable and can be improved and developed, to keep the acid in your stomach and eliminate the need to medicate to suppress your acid production.

Here is a brief excerpt from my book, Your Inner Pharmacy, that explains how diaphragm problems develop and how your diaphragm can be improved….

Consider what frequently happens to the stomach over a lifetime. As we age, our shoulders and upper back can become increasingly hunched over. In mechanical terms, thoracic kyphosis increases, or we get more kyphotic. Try this: hunch over for a moment and try to take a deep breath. It’s difficult, because there is no room for your diaphragm to move when you are in that position. If you were constantly in that position, you’d never be able to take a deep breath and, of course, your brain would receive less oxygen. Furthermore, in that position your stomach is compressed up into your diaphragm, putting extra pressure on the esophageal sphincter and challenging its ability to keep the contents of your stomach out of your esophagus. Now, sit or stand up straight and take in a deep breath. Not only can you inhale more oxygen, but you might even feel your head clear immediately.

One reasons for the recent increase in diaphragm-related problems in younger people is that a sedentary lifestyle generally means more sitting, poor posture, and shallow breathing. Like any other muscle, the diaphragm must be used. I turn on the switch through treatment, and the patient puts in a fresh bulb by breathing properly and exercising. If we each do our part, the light goes on. For most people, a couple of visits are sufficient to correct a diaphragm imbalance. They may need to have it checked or fixed periodically to maintain the correction, especially if they don’t exercise, if they overeat and lie down too soon after eating, or if they are under a lot of stress. For some older people who are already quite hunched over, I may not be able to fully correct the problem, but usually I can maintain some significant amount of improvement through periodic treatments.

Stress can adversely affect the diaphragm in several ways. In stressful situations, you naturally tighten up. You breathe less deeply and sometimes feel tightness in your chest. I frequently remind people to breathe deeply during stressful times or even when working intensely in a stationary position. A more extreme example of diaphragm tightness is caused by a physical trauma. Most of us have had the wind knocked out of us from a fall or a physical injury, which is a good reminder of what a spastic diaphragm feels like.

Emotional traumas and stresses can have a similar tightening effect on the diaphragm. On a deeper level, chronic stress can really upset the diaphragm. The body’s sphincter muscles, such as the esophageal sphincter, are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nerves tighten the sphincters, while the parasympathetic nerves relax them. When you are exhausted from constant encounters with saber-toothed tigers, your sympathetic nervous system (which enables the fight-or-flee response) is depleted and may be unable to maintain the normal tone of the sphincters. This laxity of the sphincter then predisposes you to gastric reflux.

If you are chronically stressed, adjustments and corrections that selectively stimulate specific parts of the nervous system are useful, as is taking specific vitamins and nutrients that will provide the building blocks to rebuild exhausted parts and functions of the body. And of course, you must commit yourself to lifestyle changes that reduce the effects of the saber-toothed tiger on your body so your body can heal itself.

Fix your diaphragm and your heartburn/GERD will probably disappear.

Posted on April 13, 2011 .