When Stomach Acid Becomes a Problem
The common medical approach to treating acid reflux is prescribing medications that either neutralize stomach acid (like Tums) or completely stop its production (like Zantac). The problem with this approach is that it can lead to long term adverse health effects. This is why medical doctors only prescribe medications like Zantac for a limited time, but as soon as you stop taking the drug, the reflux comes right back.
Treating reflux this way is like dancing around the problem instead of tackling it head-on. It makes much more sense to treat reflux by restoring the natural physiological mechanisms that prevent acid from splashing back up in the first place. One of these mechanisms is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This is a structure located at the junction of your esophagus (the tube that food travels through after you swallow) and stomach. Its job is to open to let food into the stomach and then close. It remains closed most of the time, but in people with GERD (acid reflux), the LES will open when it shouldn’t. This is called transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation (TLESR) and it can be debilitating!
This is where osteopathy comes in. The opening of the LES is controlled by fibres of the vagus nerve along with other neurotransmitters and hormones. An osteopathic treatment can restore the proper transmission of signals through your vagus nerve, which in turn allows your LES to function properly. If you suspect that your reflux is being caused by a malfunction in your LES, osteopathy might just be exactly what you need.