So riddle me this: I’ve been dealing with some really horrific reflux/dyspepsia for quite a while. PPI’s don’t help. Antacids don’t help. I’ve been shown to have a delayed stomach emptying to the point where it’s been diagnosed as being gastroparesis. The other day I had an EGD scope done, the doctor found some antrum gastritis (they see that EVERY SINGLE TIME I get a scope done) but have never found any evidence of H. Pylori.
The esophagus showed no inflammation whatsoever which seems kind of odd considering the severity of the reflux/heartburn I’m experiencing. My mother (and my grandmother) has been diagnosed with pernicious anemia. It’s caused by an autoimmine atrophic gastritis, where your immune system attacks the lining of your stomach trying to destroy the parietal cells (which among other things, are responsible for acid production). That would explain a lot but the doctors tested me for antibodies for this condition and turned up zilch.
However, all the symptoms seem to point to the main cause of my problems being from hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria, an actual shortage or absence of stomach acid, which itself can cause GERD-like symptoms, because your stomach isn’t able to digest the food you’re putting in it and so it just sits there. So I’m going to have to convince my doc to test my stomach pH and pray to my deities that we finally find out what’s going on here.
Even so though, I’ve been trying to track down info on how low stomach acid is treated, and all I can find is a supplement called Betaine HCL, it’s not approved by the FDA to treat anything (like you can trust the FDA.. pfft), but I’m reading that “Promoters still claim that some health conditions are due to inadequate stomach acid, but this claim has not been proven. Even if it were true, betaine hydrochloride wouldn’t help. It only delivers hydrochloric acid but does not itself alter stomach acidity. - WebMD"
This blows my mind: “promoters still claim that some health conditions are due to inadequate stomach acid". No, some conditions ARE due to inadequate stomach acid, one would be foolish to think that hypochlorhydria wouldn’t have repercussions on digestion. It seems like they’re intent on pushing the idea that hypochlorhydria is as real as the easter bunny. But it’s a natural outcome of the autoimmune system attacking the parietal cells in the lining of the stomach: “90% of all patients with achlorhydria have detectable antibodies against the H+/K+ ATP-ase proton pump. The diagnosis is made if the gastric pH remains high (>4.0) despite maximum pentagastrin stimulation. High gastrin levels are often detected."
So it’s recognized (except by the denialists at WebMD) that achlorhydria is a thing. But we don’t mention any possible treatment? Wikipedia used to have information on Betaine HCL, but no longer. Now it says: “Treatment focuses on addressing the underlying cause of symptoms. With Helicobacter pylori induced achlorhydria, antibiotic treatment is usually prescribed, though it may not always reverse the condition completely.[" That’s great, but what if H. Pylori tests consistently come back negative?
The idea that there can be a condition that is recognized (by those who don’t choose to ignore research), and yet we sit on our butts and don’t talk about possible treatments is ludicrous. Again from WebMD: “Betaine hydrochloride used to be included in over-the-counter (OTC) products as a 'stomach acidifier and digestive aid.' But a federal law that went into effect in 1993 banned betaine hydrochloride from use in OTC products because there wasn’t enough evidence to classify it “generally recognized as safe and effective.” Betaine hydrochloride is now available only as a dietary supplement whose purity and strength can vary."
Yet this creates a self sustaining problem, that the one treatment that people with the condition have to rely on is not regulated in its strength and is therefore unreliable. This is a direct result of it not being sufficiently regulated!! If pharmaceutical companies thought there would be profit to be had, they could easily create mechanisms to produce the substance at reliable dosages. However Big Pharma makes much more profit by selling a one sided myth on digestion. They’ve put all their bets on too much stomach acid so they can cell antacids and PPI meds. They would make less selling both. That may sound counter-intuitive but it’s not.
The prevailing narrative is that stomach acid is bad, to accept that it can be helpful too would muddy up this narrative and confuse people. In general people react more viscerally to extremes than they do the notion of balance. So you sell them an extreme, and you will make more sales. You try and sell them the idea of balance, and they won’t react as viscerally to your sales pitch because most people are by their nature, lazy when it comes to moderation and balance.
Long story short (too late I know), I am sick as hell, and feel completely alone in my illness (even if I'm not). Because the medical establishment has been corrupted by business (big or otherwise). And I feel like I have no one to turn to. I just feel like I’d rather die than continue this misery. But I can’t, because somebody has to fight this system of corruption that is making people sicker.