Understanding pH and the stomach

(Health Secrets) Part one of this article discussed the importance of balancing the yin and yang elements in the body, and the need for restraint in the face of fads such as the current mania to alkalinize.  We focused on the digestive tract, beginning with the wonders that can be achieved simply by chewing ones food properly rather than bolting it down.  In part two we move on to pH and the stomach, which must be acidic, with a pH of about 2.

It is at the stomach that health really begins. Certainly as addressed in the last article, the subject of chewing is very important, but one possible side-effect of the stomach failing is that so also do the teeth and this makes chewing itself a problem. In this article, we shall discuss the cascade of health or disease that begins at the stomach, and of course discuss the healing process.

Several preparations for digestion occur in the stomach. In addition to this, the stomach is also a place where some nutrients are absorbed exclusively. When the stomach does not work right, the body at first responds by stimulating secretions all at once, which causes acid reflux. If this does not turn things right, the stomach starts to fail and becomes susceptible to infection and disease.

The stomach seems to be sensitive to a variety of stressors in life and diet. Eating processed sugar seems to directly deplete the stomach and weaken its ability to secrete digestive juices, to mix and to maintain its integrity. Breads, chocolate, peanuts, soy and a seemingly innumerable army of synthetic substances and chemical isolates are very irritating to the stomach and can send abnormal signals to it to secrete or not secrete, move and mix or fail to do so. Meals that are too complex may simply overload the stomach, as with overeating or eating at inappropriate times.

To understand the stomach, let’s start with the age-old analogy of a washing machine for washing clothes. This analogy is not mine and predates me by a lot, but it is a very good analogy, teaching a list of true principles.

When I first started washing clothes on my own (I grew up having my mother do all of that stuff), I was lazy and in a hurry and I just put everything together in the washer. I was paying for the load at a Laundromat, so I also overloaded the machine to get everything in there. I had no idea how much soap to use, so I just poured it in, thinking extra would be good since I was overloading the machine. I finally got the poor machine going and about 25 minutes or so in (when it was on a rinse cycle) I noticed that I had overlooked a very filthy article of clothing. I quickly tossed it in, thinking it would get clean enough with the rinse cycles.

Well, you can imagine the mess! Being a bachelor and working road construction at the time, I did not worry too much about it, but my whites were no longer white and even some other light colors were grayed from the process. There were bits of oil and asphalt on everything, probably from that last article of clothing I threw in on the rinse cycle. Several stains I thought would come out did not. It is hard to say whether this was because I did not even know pre-treating wash existed or if it was simply from overloading the machine. For my work clothes this was no big deal, but my dress clothes were tainted. I noticed that one of my nice shirts had soap scum where the soap had not been rinsed out and was visible. Several articles of clothing had a strong soap smell and irritated my skin! Fortunately, I was making pretty good money for a kid and I was able and willing to go buy new clothes. They were not as inexpensive, however, as washing them right in the first place would have been!

So, what do we learn from my experience? Since several things are important and pertain to eating, we will compare pre-treating wash to chewing well. We will compare laundry soap to digestive secretions, and the variety of clothing types to the complexity of the meal and variety of foods. We will compare the complete cycle of the wash to…well, the complete cycle of digestion.

Here is an itemized list of what we can learn from washing machines and what we must learn if we hope to have any chance at lifelong health and healing today:

  1. Pre-treat your food by chewing it well.
  2. Do not overfill. The excess soap (burst of acid) that seems to be required may not turn out to be pleasant.
  3. Extra soap (digestive secretions) does not compensate for something very difficult to wash (digest).
  4. Put only like things together and not too many of them.
  5. Fewer items get cleaner (better digested) than many items.
  6. Wait to add more until you have moved things out into the dryer (large intestine)

This list is hard to overemphasize. It does strike at the foundation of many peoples’ diets, however. Pizza for example, cannot be worked into this program anywhere without breaking a rule unless the pizza crust is sprouted grain, there is no cheese and only vegetable toppings are used. Many things we call food are simply too difficult to digest and should be either minimized and eaten by itself or avoided altogether. This is true of most processed food, modern commercial dairy, really hard seeds (until sprouted) and most animal products.

Here is a specific instruction list:

  1. Chew well
  2. Wait 30 minutes after eating fruit, 2 hours after eating raw vegetables, 3 hours after anything cooked, 5 hours after any animal products, before eating absolutely anything again.
  3. Keep proteins, fruit and starches away from each other.
  4. Sprout legumes and grains (at least germinate the seed) or leave them alone. Never eat large quantities of them unless there is hard physical labor to perform all day.
  5. Keep animal flesh to a minimum and eat it only at midday. It is recommended that it be taken no more often than 2 times per week, less is better. No shellfish, no bottom-feeding fish, no pork and no chicken.
  6. Keep protein to midday.
  7. Keep the evening meal light, simple and early. Eat by 6:30 pm or go lighter and simpler the later you go.

Food in the stomach is marked for lack of a better word, as food and not an invader if there is adequate mixing of it with the stomach secretions. It is also sterilized from any significant overgrowth of any flora.

Food is also warmed in the mouth and in the stomach. Most, if not all of the symptoms that persist through, or are generated by, the switch to raw food come from food not being warm and life-giving. This is absolutely not because it is not cooked, but rather because it is not warmed in the stomach and the mouth through proper chewing and through support of the stomach during the transition to raw food.

It seems appropriate in this discussion to also point out what steps might be taken to heal the stomach in the event that it is very weak or has been damaged from breads, sugars and processed food, and inhibited from dairy use. There are basically three considerations for healing the stomach:

  1. Improve secretions using herbs that are called carminative. These are used before meals or sipped during meals and are herbs like cayenne pepper, cardamom, fennel seed, ginger, cinnamon, caraway, dandelion, and Oregon grape root. Raw apple cider vinegar and a number of other vinegars are also carminative. Carminatives cleanse the stomach.
  2. Nourish the stomach with chlorophyll (or green juices) and comfrey leaf tea/fresh comfrey juice. The stomach also requires plenty of trace minerals, for which we use kelp and alfalfa together in pretty big doses. Sometimes it is 1 to 1 ratio for people who seem low in iodine or in other people we might use 1 to 3 or 4 ratio. We give up to 2 tablespoons per day!
  3. Stimulate healing of the stomach with comfrey, licorice (not the candy), aloe vera and/or cabbage juice.

In addition, follow all the rules of eating, such as avoiding electro-magnetic radiation during meals, chewing well and relaxing all pertain to the stomach and the upper small intestine.

In most cases I find that without a specific protocol to restore normal pH of the stomach (and in the next article the small intestine) that people simply do not recover. For this purpose, in addition to healing stomach anatomy and function, we do specific routines for the pH of the stomach. The acidity of the stomach can be healed using a raw apple cider vinegar and honey drink. My version of this old remedy is

  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ cup of raw apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup of raw honey

Dissolve and sip often throughout the day every day for many weeks or even months.

Not uncommonly, the stomach is so bad that additional help is needed. For this, a Standard Process product named, Zypan is used, 2-4 tablets with each meal. If the three steps above are used concurrently with either the vinegar drink or Zypan, the duration during which Zypan is needed will be limited. I keep it around my own house, however, because sometimes I am under more stress or there is more environmental stress (like when I travel) and additional help is needed to maintain normal function during those times.

In many cases, the Zypan or the apple cider vinegar drink have proven to be a miracle in the healing process. People with really bad stomach function have so many problems with inflammation and arthritis and teeth and gums and vision. They do not get better on a raw food diet either. The stomach must be repaired and new habits established to keep the stomach well throughout life.

Finally, I would like to mention that there is a connection between the adrenal health and the stomach health. There is also a connection between adrenal health and controlling inflammation, which means controlling pH of both the gut and the blood. When I put a person on my healing protocol, which includes a specific, detailed diet and healing program, I always watch carefully for signs of exhaustion. If I see that, I will assess their health further, but usually I end up putting them on Dr. Christopher’s Adrenal Formula as follows: when they feel tired at the wrong time of day, they take 2 capsules as soon as they notice it. This is done each time they feel abnormally tired. This may be once or 5 or more times per day. This works well to support the adrenals when they are most hungry for support.

In this article we have continued our discussion of gut pH and the need to understand the stomach. I find this subject to be supremely important in the effort to restore health.  In the next article in this series, we will discuss the health of the small intestine and the subject of food reactions and food sensitivities.

Thanks for reading,

Kal Sellers DC, MH

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