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The Root Cause of Heartburn

Updated: Mar 20

A person in fetal position on a bed, clutching a pillow, visually representing the distress of heartburn and the urgent need to understand its underlying causes.
When Discomfort Takes Over: Uncovering the Root Cause of Heartburn


Heartburn: a painful burning feeling in your heart and chest. Most of us are familiar with that discomfort. If you ever have had heartburn, then you know how unpleasant a feeling it is. I’ve even had clients come in thinking they may be experiencing a heart attack and it is simply heartburn. Often it is felt after eating, but for others it is experienced between meals.

Food, along with salivary enzymes, make their way down the esophagus into the stomach where they are mixed with hydrochloric acid. The acid breaks down the food into smaller particles to be absorbed in the small intestines. After the food passes into the stomach, a muscular sphincter or valve between the esophagus and the stomach should close. This prevents any acids from going back up into the esophagus, which is not designed to handle strong acids. When this valve isn’t closing properly, that acid moves back up the esophagus and burns the esophageal tissue.

Typically, heartburn is attributed to an overproduction of stomach acid. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a digestive disorder that causes acid overproduction, but it is rather rare and there are other causes of heartburn.

I have found most cases of heartburn to be tied to the following issues:

1. Insufficient amounts of stomach acid:

The valve between the esophagus and the stomach is PH dependent. If the acid levels are not high enough in the stomach the valve will not close properly and there will not be a strong barrier between the two, resulting in some amount of backflow.

2. Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) imbalance:

H. Pylori is a bacteria that can grow in the stomach and the intestines. When stomach acids are suppressed– as happens with repetitive use of antacids, for example–you reduce your body’s ability to kill H. Pylori. H. Pylori is able to convert urea into ammonia, which affects the PH of the stomach and changes the bacterial population of the stomach lining. This then leads to further digestive issues and sometimes ulcers. What we notice is that there is a correlation between people who experience heartburn and those who develop stomach ulcers, but the heartburn itself is not always the cause of the ulcer–sometimes it is the prevalence of other bacteria creating trickle down effects. This is one of the biggest arguments against chronic antacids usage.

3. Hiatal Hernia: 

This is where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and causes irritation. Symptoms of a hiatal hernia can include heart trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, feeling full right after eating, backward flow of swallowed food or liquids, chest or abdominal pain, and of course, heartburn. We are able to correct hiatal hernias in the clinic with precise Applied Kinesiology treatments and Chiropractic work.

4. Food Sensitivities: 

Food sensitivities can cause all sorts of symptoms. These could range from nausea to skin rash to itchy tongue to heavy mucus production to sneezing to headaches and more. These are different for everybody, and we find that some patients experience stomach and esophageal irritation from their trigger foods, which then causes heartburn. 


Here in the office, through Applied Kinesiology techniques, we assess as many ways of looking at the problem as possible. Often, the causes of irritating symptoms are related to harder-to-see pieces of the puzzle. By looking closer, we can rule out certain factors, determine the root cause, and the best ways to treat the issue with herbs, supplements, and Applied Kinesiology.

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