Antacids are available in two different forms, natural and artificial. Different forms of natural antacids are bananas, aloe vera juice, and baking soda. Artificial antacids are sold over the counter or separately in drugstores under many brand names and are available in chewable, liquid, and tablet form.(Heath Faqs, 2013) Antacids relieve gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), which occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the chest. In order to properly digest food safely the acid breaks down and protects the stomach against bacterial growth. The stomach secretes gastric acid consisting mostly of hydrochloric acid (HCl) at a pH level of around 2. (Romero, 2009) Gastro esophageal reflux disease is most commonly found in three different forms: heartburn, indigestion, or an upset stomach, all a result of too much acid in the stomach. On average about 700 milliliters a day are secreted from the stomach. If a lot of the acid stays in the stomach a great amount of abdominal discomfort will be felt potentially causing severe pain. Most acid indigestion can originate from overeating, eating too quickly, eating high-fat foods, or in some cases, stressful situations. The stomach has a sphincter in the lower esophagus, blocking off acid from entering the stomach. Heartburn is often caused if this muscle breaks or opens abnormally, allowing acid to flow into the stomach. Heartburn can also occur when the stomachs base mucous lining deteriorates, allowing the acids to breakdown the proteins that make up the stomach wall. Most doctors refer this as “chemical cannibalism,” and if untreated can cause a gastric ulcer. (Romero, 2009) Treatment using antacids involves lowering the production of stomach acid or neutralizing the acid. Most antacid products contain one or more of four active ingredients: Al(OH)3, Mg(OH)2, NaHCO3, or CaCO3. These compounds react with acid and neutralize the reaction because of the alkaline properties. (Antacid, 2013) Normal digestion contains a pH 2-3 acid environment. Germs are ingested from food and water making stomach acid important to the digestive and immune system because of the protection the acid provides for the body by destroying and reducing the bacteria. When the stomach acid is consistently higher than pH 3.0, bacteria and disease while seep in. Healthy pH levels within the stomach properly digest and break up foods into amino acid components which the body absorbs the nutrients to use. The amount of vitamins and nutrients available for the body will depend on the types of food eaten. If the stomach pH gets higher than 3, the stomach secretes more acid to keep the pH below 3, which will cause the heartburn, but when acid reflux medication interferes with stomach acid by raising the pH above 3, the stomach no longer is functioning normally creating chemicals not usable by the body. When chemical combinations that are not usable by the body are produced, the chemicals create more difficulties for the rest of the digestive track. The body will be required to work harder when the food particles are now broken down. From this point in the digestive track fermentation occurs, causing flatulence and bloating, making some of the indigested food particles cross the membranes of the intestine, potentially causing the body to become allergic to many foods that would normally be digestable with a healthy stomach pH. Illnesses from chronic high pH levels are irritable bowel syndrome, gluten allergies, and Crohn’s disease.
A pH level of around 2-3 promotes a healthy intestinal flora. The intestinal flora refers