Tag Archives: Enzymes

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #4: HEARTBURN (ACID REFLUX)

I have been having Heartburn for more than 40 years. The cause of Heartburn is leakage of acid from the stomach, where tissues have evolved to tolerate the highly acidic conditions, into the esophagus, where they haven’t.

The young body has an efficient, functional gate, or sphincter, keeping the food, once swallowed into the stomach, from coming back up. As you eat, you chew your food well to aid digestion. Your taste buds, sensing chemicals in the delicious food, activate saliva.

The salivary enzymes start the digestion of the carbohydrates in the food. If you eat slowly enough, you may be able to appreciate the digestion of tasteless starch, like in bread, into sweet sugar, right in your mouth.

You then swallow the food, which slips past another gate, called the epiglottis, diverting the bolus of food past your windpipe. This gate sometimes does not shut tight, and you choke on the food or drink. The food is then conducted into the highly acidic environment of the stomach.

The stomach evolved to be an acidic, “fiery pit”, inhospitable to any bacteria that came in with the food, thus protecting the stomach from infection. In the old days, there were a lot of bacteria, and the acidity of the stomach was useful, and evolutionarily conserved.

These days, the “fiery pit” tends to be a problem. As you get older, the gate that keeps food in the stomach gets more floppy and relaxed, and allows food to come back up into the esophagus, and sometimes, most often at night when you would rather be sleeping, all the way up to your throat, and is inhaled into your windpipe and lungs in what is called “gastroesophageal reflux”, or GERD.

Even if the food, and acid, doesn’t make it all the way up, and stops at the esophagus, which has not evolved to tolerate acid, you will have “heart burn”. Of course it is not the heart that is burning, but the esophagus, which runs right past the back of the heart as it goes all the way from the throat to the stomach.

When I first developed Heartburn, all that was available was the flavored chalk, Calcium Carbonate, sold as Tums. It works right away, and is a source of Calcium, but can cause trouble, like kidney stones, if you take too much. The relief didn’t last long enough for me, and I had to take more in the middle of the night.

My next medicine was Xantac, a medication that blocks histamine from stimulating acid production in the stomach. The H2 blockers have recently been recalled because of NDMA contamination. I sometimes used H2 blockers like Xantac when my patients would get a bad allergic reaction. In such cases BOTH an H1 blocker like Benadryl, and an H2 blocker are called for.

Zantac was not strong enough for me, and I soon graduated to Prilosec,which directly blocks the secretion of acid in the stomach.

Prilosec was then very expensive, but now is available as the inexpensive GENERIC Medication, Omeprazole. It seems that no medication is without side effects.

Omeprazole, by reducing stomach acid, makes stomach and GI infections more likely, and interferes with the absorption of B12, and Calcium.

If you have had a lot of heartburn over a long period of time, you should check with a Gastroenterologist, who may scope you to rule out Barritt’s esophagus, which can lead to Cancer.

It is interesting that the antacid Tums in excess can cause too MUCH Calcium in the body, and can cause kidney stones and other kidney problems like MAS, and Omeprazole, by interfering with absorption can cause too LITTLE absorption of Calcium, leading to OSTEOPOROSIS.

The best rule is to take as low a dose of ANY medication as possible, preferably none, to understand the possible side effects, and compensate for them if you can.

–Dr. C

DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: “WHY PATIENTS TAKE ELIQUIS”

Eliquis nicely illustrates my contention in the Overview of Metabolism, that the body is a vast collection of pathways, or “supply chains”. Eliquis blocks a critical enzyme in the pathway leading to coagulation, or clotting” as the product.

Why in the world you want to block clotting? The staunching of blood flow, clotting, has saved countless hordes of early, Paleolithic humans, and continued useful through the bloody Roman and Medieval times, right through the violent 20th Century.

Recently, however, wars are becoming somewhat less popular, and eating excessively more popular, leading to a strange situation. Our evolutionarily-preserved CLOTTING mechanism is now leading to MORE problems than it is solving.

Obesity and type 2 Diabetes are leading to the production of so much fat, that it has to be stored in our arterial walls, clogging the blood flow to our Hearts and Brain, among other areas. This, and the somewhat surprising trend towards longer lives has led to an increase in a variety of age-related illnesses.

When I reached 80 years of age I developed Atrial Fibrillation, a condition leading to a tendency to form clots in my quivering atria, the upper chambers of my heart. To decrease the likelihood of clots getting into my blood stream, lodging in my brain and causing STROKE, my cardiologist started me on Eliquis, an anti-coagulant/blood thinner.

Drugs have three names. The proprietary name, Eliquis in this case, is given by the patenting company to be memorable; q,z,and x are popular letters. The second is the FDA drug name, Apixaban. The drug name often gives the doctor a clue as to its type: xaban refers to inhibiting (banning) of factor 10a (Xa). The third name is a chemical name of interest to biochemists and drug researchers.

When I started the Eliquis, at first unknown to me, I started to bleed internally, leading to a drop in my hemoglobin down to 8.6. I will go into this story when I start going through “how to read your laboratory report”.

I found that reducing my Eliquis from 5mg. to 3.75 mg. allowed me stabilize my hemoglobin by taking extra iron, which I will discuss later.

The doseage selected when the drug company markets a drug is fairly arbitrary, and usually involves round numbers. Interestingly, there is a 2.5mg. Eliquis, which is given if you meet 2 out of 3 criteria. I meet only one and am only 5 pounds shy of the second, in case you think (like my cardiologist does) that I’m taking a risk.

I believe that, whenever you are given a medication, you should be educated about the medicine, and the problem it is intended to benefit. Today’s physician often does not have the time to do this. The internet, including this website, offers a corrective.

I am trying my best to be helpful to you as a Patient Advocate. You and I both must have a doctor to rely upon. But to get the most out of our care, WE MUST BE INFORMED.

–Dr. C

DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: “OVERVIEW OF METABOLISM”

“Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest”.

Albert Szent-Gyorgy

Overview of Metabolism – Seeing an Essence of Nanosystems in the Hum of a Vibrant City; the Skyscraper as Catalyst, and Thought as Electron

What did it take to bring the world to its’ knees? SARS-CoV2? We will never know, because we instituted DISTANCING to control the virus because the projected number of deaths were unacceptable.

The distancing and isolation did hold the number of deaths, still large, below projection. However, it DEVASTATED our Economy.

OUR WORLD is a  massive, cooperative, interdependent system, with hubs, factories, supply chains and a myriad of products. It is a COMPLEX SYSTEM.

I would like to use the world as an analogy, and compare it to another Complex System, the HUMAN BODY.

Our bodies are essentially a large pile of chemicals (mostly proteins) in a sack, our skin. These chemicals are constantly interacting with each other. If they grow to larger, more complex chemicals in a process we call anabolism, we take in more chemicals and energy by eating, and get bigger. If our chemicals get less numerous and complex in a process we call catabolism, we lose weight and get smaller.

Some of the proteins in our bodies are ENZYMES, and bring other proteins CLOSER TOGETHER, so that they can LINK TOGETHER  become more complex and PRODUCE things. Enzymes are a sine qua non of life. Without enzymes, life would slow so much as to be impossible. 

Let’s go back to our Society, Before Covid. 

Vast numbers of people are cooperating in close proximity, working together with machines, often supplied by other people far away, making things. This process takes place most efficiently in CITIES, where people are in closest proximity, doing things together.

Enter Covid. This interdependent process stops. What things that are produced are made to fight Covid. It is just like one of our cells infected by Covid: we have been HIJACKED  by the virus!

Lets’ GO BACK TO OUR CELLS. Our METABOLISM is like our teeming, cooperative CITIES, with SUPPLY CHAINS, factories and products. Our PROTEINS NEED PROXIMITY to function.

Some Proteins are at a critical HUB, and comprise a RATE-LIMITING step in the production line.

Many Vitamins and nutrients are COENZYMES, and act to ACCELERATE critical supply lines.

If the Hubs are OUT OF BALANCE and OVERACTIVE, many MEDICATIONS act to BLOCK THE ACTION of an enzyme to bring the system closer to balance.

Thus coordination, cooperation and careful monitoring to PREVENT A PROBLEM is superior to letting it break down and correcting the imbalance.

I hope that this Overview will be helpful. I will go through my MEDICINE CABINET to discuss a few of the 20,000 or so Medications approved by the FDA. I will also VIEW THE TEST RESULTS from my LABORATORY TESTS. NORMAL results show a SYSTEM IN BALANCE. Abnormal results show inefficiencies in the metabolism (supply chains, hubs), which need correction to restore balance.   

— Dr. C