Functional Nutrition Blog

Focusing on gut health and Functional nutrition

4 Root Causes of Heart Burn and Acid Reflux

Feb 5, 2021 | Nutrition

I would say 8 out of 10 of my clients complain of heart burn or acid reflux.

The reason why is always a little different, but by the end of our work together, relief is found!

Top 4 Culprits for Heart burn that I see in my clients:

  1. Chronic acid blocking drug use
  2. Helicobacter Pylori Infection
  3. Inflammation (from food and downstream GI dysbiosis)
  4. Stress

Chronic Acid Blocking Drug Use:

I love sharing the fact,

symptoms of high stomach acid are very similar to (sometimes the same as) the symptoms of LOW stomach acid

The reaction I get from my clients is always a mix of new-found learning followed my immediate dread as they realize they have been chasing the wrong “diagnosis” for the last 5 years.

Acid blocking drugs like Omeprazole and other PPI medications help the feeling of heartburn by lowering stomach acid.  Makes sense.  Seems straight froward and simple.

However, what happens when that threshold is crossed and your stomach acid drops too LOW?  Those symptoms you started out with come back, you have your Rx increased, and the cycle continues.

Then, the medication stops working altogether, you’re right where you started, but now you understand even less.  Maybe in addition to this discomfort, you’re starting to experience other GI discomfort further downstream (this is usually due to lack of appropriate digestion)

Helicobacter Pylori Infection

More commonly known as H.Pylori, this bacterial infection lives in the lining of the gut.  Sounds scarier than it needs to!  For a lot of people, this little thing can hang out there with no problem and you’ll never even know it’s there.  For others, it can be a root cause of low stomach acid that gives you the incorrect diagnosis of heartburn or acid reflux.

H.Pylori can cause a suppression of stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria.  This is often something that can be reversed once that H.Pylori is killed off (antibiotics or herbal remedies work really well here).

H.Pylori’s affect on stomach acid can cause issues in the lower part of the gut as well.  Normally, any unwanted bacteria, fungi, or parasite that comes into the system through our food or water will be killed off in the very low pH the stomach acid provides.  When this defense mechanism is lowered, some of those unwanted organisms can make their way into the lower parts of the GI system and get nice and cozy rather than passing through with minimal damage.


No surprise here!  Inflammation can be from maldigestion, food sensitivities/allergies, bacterial infections, and stress!

In practice, I see that once the food triggers are IDENTIFIED (this can be tricky sometimes) and then REMOVED, inflammation has an opportunity to come down.  In addition to dealing with food triggers, intervening with bacterial infections, bacterial overgrowth, candida overgrowth, or any parasites that may have been identified is also very important.

If you are experiencing heartburn/acid reflux and you start to feel better from one intervention, you want to ask the question “why” so you can really dig deep and create longevity out of your changes.


Stress has the ability to suppress stomach acid.  I think that pretty much sums that up!

If you know that you have a really stressful period of time in your life, try this: 3-5 DEEP breaths, in and out through your nose, BEFORE you start to eat.  This helps reset the nervous system.  It will help your system switch gears so you can get into “digestion mode” instead of staying in “fight or flight mode”.

(Digestion gets turned off when you are in fight or flight mode – that’s not important when you’re running away from a tiger)

Here’s a post on Adaptogenic Herbs that may also be helpful.

There are lot of bandaids that you can use to help yourself feel better while you take more time to figure out the root cause of your heartburn or acid reflux symptoms:

  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Gut Healing Powders
  • Digestive Bitters (I like these ones from Urban Moonshine)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice) – people swear this works better than Tums!

Check out these products that I trust and use for myself and my clients!  You’ll know that you’re getting great quality and you’ll also get 20% off!

Acid Reflux Supplement Suggestions

(always check with a trusted provider when you are considering making changes to your supplement routine)

If you’re reading this before February 16, 17, 18, 2021 – you can also sign up for my FREE TRAINING on Heartburn and Acid Reflux:

“Cool the Burn” – Sign Up Here!

We’ll be learning all about these root causes and what to do with them to get you tons of relief!  Come join us, totally free!

Cheering for your health,


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