Digestion: What to Do (A Self Help Guide)

Here are some recommendations to reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Drinking eight ounces of water about 30 minutes prior to a meal supplies fluid to form sufficient amounts of gastric juices. Once you begin the meal drink no more than a cup of additional fluid. If you can, it is best not to drink at all. By drinking liquids, even water, you are reducing the acidity of the stomach, so it needs to work harder. My grandmother never drank with her meals and now I understand why!

Another home remedy is to drink organic raw apple cider vinegar prior to eating. The vinegar does not actually digest anything; it just aids the stomach in becoming acidic so that pepsin will be released.

To further heal the body it is recommended to wean off acid stopping medications (with doctor’s permission and assistance). Begin to eat healthy foods and in smaller meals. Do not lie down within four hours of a meal. Lying on your left side can help relieve heartburn and aid digestion. It keeps the stomach below the esophagus.

How do you know if you are making sufficient HCl or pancreatic enzymes? You can perform a self check using a couple of easily accessible reflex points.

The HCl reflex point: To check for low stomach acid or hypochloridria follow this procedure. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Begin with the second and third fingers of your right hand at your Xiphoid process (the point at the bottom of your rib cage). Move your fingers down approximately 1” below the Xiphoid process and then move the fingers to the left edge of the rib cage. Come in at about a 45° angle with the finger tips. The point is on the edge of the rib cage. You will want to poke around an area about the size of a quarter as the placement of the point can vary somewhat. If the point is tender this indicates a need for HCl until the tenderness goes away. Sometimes people are confused whether it is really tender or just the poking. The best was to tell is to poke your rib cage nearby with the same pressure. You should be able to determine the difference between a poke and a tender spot.

The Enzyme reflex point: To check the pancreatic enzyme output follow the procedure above except use the left hand and slide the two fingers to the edge of the rib cage on your right side. The Enzyme point is directly across from the HCl point.

Pancreas Point: There are two other ways to check the pancreas. The first involves applying slight pressure to see if it is tender. The pancreas is deep in the abdomen. To find it place your hands just below the left side of the bottom of the rib cage. If you press in at 45° angle with both hands you will be on the head of the pancreas. Note whether or not it is tender. The second way to check the pancreas is from a reflex point on your right thumb pad muscle. Find this location and squeeze and palpate. Again, if there is tenderness, there is stress in the pancreas.

Gall bladder – acute: This test is called Murphy’s Sign and is for acute gall bladder problems. There are two parts to the test. First take a deep breath in and out and put your fingers under the right rib cage. Next, take another breath in. This pushes the gall bladder and liver against the fingers. Notice if there is tenderness. This can be done at both the upper and lower quadrants of the liver.

Gall bladder – chronic: This point is found on the right hand. Where the thumb and forefinger come together (fleshy point, not muscle) use a pinching, rolling motion to look for tenderness and nodulation. Use the index finger for support with the thumb on top. Then, pinch and roll. The tenderness will go away before the nodulation. The nodule is a physical response. Sometimes pain is subjective and pain goes away first. The nodule goes away slower over time.

You can also do a self test for yeast. First thing in the morning pour a glass of water and spit into it before put anything in your mouth. Check the water every 15 minutes. If you see things floating down, the spit grows legs or it gets cloudy, the saliva is carrying fungal overgrowth. If saliva is still floating after one hour, you are likely okay.

A few other notes of interest:

Lower bowel gas is never good. It is a sign something is not digesting. In general, an earthy smell comes from the large intestines, while foul smells come from liver or gall bladder issues.

If you have burning sensations in your stomach that eating relieves there is the potential for an ulcer that should be checked.

In order to eat meat you must have HCl. Often, when people lose the taste for meat that is the body being smart since they are unable to adequately digest it and their body encourages them to avoid it.

If you suffer discomfort after eating here are some reference points. If it hurts at the bottom of breast bone this may be the esophagus. Pain in the left rib cage is associated with the stomach. If the left shoulder hurts after eating you likely ate too much. Your stomach is so full that it is pressing against your diaphragm. This refers to the left shoulder. If your right shoulder blade hurts it is likely your liver or gall bladder is inflamed. When the pain is in between the shoulder blades it is the stomach.

If you feel it all through the abdomen both front and back check the pancreas. If the pain is above the belly button it is originating from the stomach. If it is around the bell button it is from the small intestines. And, if below the belly button it is coming from the large intestines.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He has offices in Thiensville and Glendale, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

2 thoughts on “Digestion: What to Do (A Self Help Guide)

  1. Awesome information Bernie. It is great getting people more aware of their bodies through self-evaluation checks as you have outlined here. Thank you for sharing.

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