Interviewer: Reading some of the information that you've had out there, you said you need more stomach acid as we age. Why is that?
Dr. Wright: Well, many of us do. Not everyone. Some of it's just a matter of getting older. After all, can you run as fast as you could when you were 16?
Interviewer: Likely not.
Dr. Wright: Do I possibly need reading glasses when I'm 50? Do I have more gray hair? I think so. Well, things don't usually work better and better when they're older. And stomachs get older too. And what a stomach is really good at when we're young . . . why, we can digest the whole contents of the whole refrigerator without a burp. And no heartburn when we're 16 years of age.
But that's a 16-year-old stomach. Why would we expect that a stomach, as it gets older and older, would make more and more acid, and, therefore, give us a disease called acid reflux, and we have to shut it all off. That's counterintuitive. Men don't make more testosterone as they get older. Women don't make more estrogen.
So, some of it is simply getting older. The stomach doesn't make as much acid as it should. And when it doesn't, that smaller amount of acid that remains is able to reflux up through the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
Why can't the larger amount reflux through? Because that's what it takes to shut off the valve. It's a pH sensitive valve. Just like it's been proven, the lower stomach valve, the one that opens to let things to go into the intestine, the acidity has to drop to a certain level before it wants to open.
Well, okay, it has to get to that certain level, too, up here before this one wants to close. So if we're not making enough acid to close the blinking valve, then the small amount of acid that's left goes right on through.
And, yeah, it hurts, and it can cause bad damage if we don't get that stopped. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who've said, "I've read the book that you and Dr. Leonard wrote, and it said, 'Try taking some cider vinegar with meals, and see if the heartburn is less.'" And if it is, "Then I went down to the health food store, got some of those capsules that contain hydrochloride (which are just simply a form of hydrochloric acid in a natural powder that releases when it gets wet). And after I took those, I didn't get heartburn anymore."
I'm not going to tell you that works for everybody, but it works for so many people. And the whole concept of blocking the acid is just simply stopping a symptom, but it's not getting at the cause. And the cause in many cases is just simply that: too little stomach acid as we get older.
There's a second big reason, though, that everybody should get checked for. There a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. You've probably have heard of the thing. That one has finally been nailed down as actually causing stomach cancer. But before it ever does that, it eats away at the lining of the stomach, and eats away, and eats away. And the lining of the stomach is the part of the organ that makes hydrochloric acid. It's eaten away. It just can't make acid as much anymore as it used to. And so, if we can catch that in the middle of the process and wipe out that Helicobacter, which can be done entirely with natural means. One does not need to take a really illness-producing, triple antibiotic cocktail to do that. But if one can knock out that Helicobacter, then, some people, their stomach function will come back, no question.
Oh, and by the way, sometimes there's an emotional issue. Some people, they get really depressed, and their stomach sort of shuts off. Too many nerve impulses down the vagus nerve, I think. And the depression goes away, their stomach comes back.
There's many other causes, too. The major one is just not enough stomach acid, but there are many other ones, which happen to include drinking too much alcohol. Yeah, that will do it to us. That erodes away the stomach. Many people, unfortunately, permanently damage their stomach function by drinking too much alcohol. That will do it to us.
And then some people, it's allergies. They eat the wrong food, and the allergic reaction is that valve opens and up comes the acid again. So they just quit eating that stuff they're allergic to, and they don't get reflux anymore.
But here's the thing that stomach acid reflux problems are never due to: They're never, ever due to a lack of a patent medicine that shuts off your stomach acid. Never, never ever. If you look for the cause . . . and sorry to mention the book, but the book is "Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You," by Dr. Lane Lenard and myself. If you look for the cause -- and you'll find them all listed in that book. Well, the first one to look for is do I have too little. But then there are all these other things too look for, too, that are allowing the problem to happen.
Now, just another word to discourage folks from taking those acid blockers. Long-term use of those has now been associated with all kinds of problems: Osteoporosis. It has been associated with cognitive malfunction. It's been associated with, particularly -- there's a racial component to that, too -- but those particular folks, they get more cognitive problems as they use those over time.
There's been more pneumonia linked with it. If we shut off the acid, we shut off the digestion. And if we shut off the digestion, then we go into a state of chronic, low-grade malnutrition. And how are we going to stay healthy? So, enough said.