Today we dive into how your aspirin (or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen) may be leading to other health conditions, including heartburn, by damaging your gut. We will highlight some alternative ways to reduce inflammation in the body using natural products and how you can repair the damage done to the gut.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
The Root Cause of Heartburn
Heartburn plagues nearly a third of Americans weekly 1. The root cause is often attributed to something you ate or drank, and indeed in some cases, it can be 2. Certain foods that are highly acid, fat, or spice can trigger acid reflux, but this is not the whole story.
Although foods may trigger acid reflux, the reality is that ultimately it is a weakness in the gastrointestinal tract that cannot handle the introduction of certain foods. If the entire population experienced heartburn due to consuming spice, then we may conclude that spice causes heartburn. But since only a percentage of the population does, then, like epigenetics, there is something about your particular lifestyle and body that, when met with spice (or any other trigger), generates heartburn 3.
One of the significant root causes of why some people can handle reflux triggers while others do not is gut health. One common cause of gut dysbiosis and subsequent heartburn is the use of certain medications 4.
NSAIDs and Gut Health
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly linked to gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn, reflux, and abdominal pain 4. The long-term use of these drugs can result in stomach bleeding and ulcers, which can be the trigger of reflux when you do consume “trigger” foods.
NSAIDs that can impact your gastrointestinal tract include ibuprofen (like Advil or Motrin) and aspirin, including acetaminophen (like Tylenol). Although many people consume these NSAIDs to quell inflammation, and indeed they may work to suppress symptoms in the short term, there are many alternative holistic options to reduce inflammation without the side effects.
Addressing Inflammation Holistically
Addressing the root cause of your low-level underlying chronic inflammatory behavior is paramount in genuinely living a healthy life. There are, however, also natural anti-inflammatory agents to help bridge the gaps during times of higher stress on the body.
Many foods are naturally supportive of inflammation, but perhaps, more importantly, are avoiding the bad stuff. If there is only one pro-inflammatory food to avoid, it would be industrial vegetable and seed oils 5. The highly processed sneaky culprits of inflammation include canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil.
Foods that quell inflammation are vast. Although antioxidant-rich foods (like berries, green tea, and dark chocolate) help, it’s more about living an overall balanced diet loaded with macronutrients and micronutrient dense, healthy fat and protein.
Skip the NSAIDs and reach for natural anti-inflammatory agents like 6-8
- Curcumin (the bioactive compound in turmeric)
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Physical, chemical, and emotional stress are the biggest culprits to chronic inflammation 9. It’s vital to differentiate between acute and chronic stress-- because acute mindful stress can benefit health. Things like sauna, exercise, and fasting are stressful but in acute (isolated) instances, building resilience.
The more significant issue is addressing the low levels of underlying chronic stress. This may include relationship stress, working in a toxic job environment, and exposure to toxins in body care or household products. Unfortunately, no amount of curcumin can quell the inflammation of stress that has no end in sight.
Healing Your Gut from Past NSAID Use
Many, if not all of us, have previously used NSAIDs. Many people use them chronically to address post-workout pain, painful premenstrual symptoms, or headaches. Unfortunately, this may have taken a real toll on your gut health. Luckily, some supplements can help undo the damage and heal your gut lining.
The aforementioned natural support and addressing stressors will also help. However, mindful supplementation can speed up the process and introduce healing substances and bacteria to restore balance.
Ion* Gut Health
ION*Gut Health increases the body’s production of beneficial enzymes through redox signaling (cellular communication). Those beneficial enzymes strengthen the tight junctions (the seals between cells) in our gut lining – the barrier protecting us from toxic substances like glyphosate and gluten while allowing the entry of beneficial nutrients.
It’s a critical barrier to keep strong so that a vibrant microbiome can flourish. Good health depends entirely on gut health because more than digestion happens in the gut. It’s also where proper immune system function begins, and most of our neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are created 10.
MegaSporeBiotic is a probiotic blend of 5 Bacillus spores that have been clinically shown to maintain healthy gut barrier function and overall immunity. The bi-phasic life cycle of the Bacillus spores allows them to remain dormant in harsh environments until they reach more favorable environments like the human gastrointestinal tract.
Once inside the large intestine, these dormant spores can change into their active, vegetative forms and begin colonizing in the gut. This unique probiotic blend aims to recondition the gut instead of reseeding with probiotic strains that cannot survive digestion or colonize the gut.
Although many people take NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, the reality is that side effects could leave you with a wide range of other health problems, including heartburn. Instead of using NSAIDs, there are various alternatives for natural anti-inflammatory agents like curcumin. Healing your gut to prevent heartburn can be supported by taking Ion Gut Health and MegaSporeBiotic.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Revelation Health. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Revelation Health and associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Revelation Health encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
1 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Acid Reflux Affects Nearly a Third of U.S. Adults Weekly.” Acid Reflux Affects Nearly a Third of U.S. Adults Weekly, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/acid-reflux-affects-nearly-a-third-of-us-adults-weekly/.
2 “Heartburn and Acid Reflux: What You Need to Know.” Cedars, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/what-causes-heartburn-and-acid-reflux.html.
3 “What Is Epigenetics?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Aug. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/disease/epigenetics.htm.
4 Wheeler, Regina Boyle, et al. “Is Medication Causing Your Heartburn?” EverydayHealth.com, https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/is-medication-causing-your-heartburn.aspx.
5 Says:, Anicow, et al. “How Industrial Seed Oils Are Making Us Sick.” Chris Kresser, 23 Sept. 2019, https://chriskresser.com/how-industrial-seed-oils-are-making-us-sick/.
6 Akhtar, Nahid, and Tariq M. Haqqi. “Current Nutraceuticals in the Management of Osteoarthritis: A Review.” Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, vol. 4, no. 3, 2012, pp. 181–207., https://doi.org/10.1177/1759720x11436238.
7 Grzanna, Reinhard et al. “Ginger--an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 8,2 (2005): 125-32. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.125
8 Lee, Seung Ho et al. “Inhibitory effect of 2'-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in RAW 264.7 cells.” Biochemical pharmacology vol. 69,5 (2005): 791-9. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2004.11.013
9 Liu, Yun-Zi et al. “Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases.” Frontiers in human neuroscience vol. 11 316. 20 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316
10 “How Ion* Works - Tight Junctions, Terrahydrite®.” ION* Intelligence of Nature, https://intelligenceofnature.com/pages/science-how-it-works.