Acid Reflux Symptoms (GERD) Explained – with Lindsey Parsons


Do you feel like you’re experiencing acid reflux symptoms? GERD – commonly known as acid reflux is a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipe lining. In this clip with Lindsey Parsons, we address the difference between GERD and LPR, why h. pylori might be causing your acid reflux, and much more! This is taken from the Gut Health Reset podcast episode which also covers h. pylori symptoms, getting rid of h. pylori infections, functional gut health, and more. 

Transcription: 

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: What is GERD? 

Lindsey Parsons: It stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease or, and people of course call it, acid reflux. And then there’s another version of it called LPR, which is laryngopharyngeal reflux. Both of them are conditions in which you either have too much or too little stomach acid, but typically allopathic doctors will diagnose it as too much stomach acid. Either way, you have acid coming back up to your esophagus and causing either that feeling of warmth or an acid feeling and an actual heartburn feeling. Or it could present like the LPR is more of silent reflux, which is what I used to have, which presented more with a constant cough for me. Some people can then also have sinus implications and I used to wake up and have dark phlegm because clearly, things were coming up my throat during the night.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I think that’s a really good point. If somebody just has sinus issues, they’ve done the traditional allergy approach, food elimination, et cetera. And it’s kinda like, well, what is it? Could it be GERD? 

Lindsey Parsons: It could actually be associated with a little bit of reflux coming back up here, creating some sinus issues. I think that’s surprising to most people. I think that’s an awesome point that you made. People don’t really seem to know about as much. It’s pretty neat.  

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: You talked about it being too little or too much stomach acid, and the debate wears on. Let’s break that down a little bit. Is it too little? Is it too much? Or is it kind of a mix of both?

Lindsey Parsons: It can go both ways. I think a lot of GERD, behind it, is H pylori or Helicobacter pylori, which is a bacteria that can cause ulcers and can cause stomach cancer if you have the virulence factors. There’s a test like the GI map, which is a stool test that will actually show the virulence factors. And you may have H pylori, but none of those factors, which means that your H pylori is more benign. But that being said, I have yet to find a client who had H pylori who wasn’t suffering some symptoms. Of course, I don’t have clients who aren’t suffering from symptoms and who didn’t benefit from education around how to eradicate it. 

 Lindsey Parsons: When you have H pylori, one of the first things that happens is you actually end up having less stomach acid and that’s called hypochlorhydria. At the beginning, it will reduce your stomach acid, but then over time, it can increase your stomach acid. You may have some combo of both, and the symptoms may be similar because when you’re pH isn’t correct in your stomach, that can open up the lower esophageal sphincter and acid can get up. It can kind of go both ways.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Basically we get the H pylori infection and this infection actually creates a lowering of the stomach acid. And I think that’s a really important point that you bring up about that because, if we continue to give digestive enzymes on top of an H pylori infection, that’s not being treated. Do you have any concerns with that?

Lindsey Parsons: Digestive enzymes themselves I would be less concerned, I’d be more concerned about whether you’re throwing bad TNHL on top of it, especially if it’s gone long enough. But you would feel the reflux in the burning if you took the acid in that case. I know there are concerns with taking digestive enzymes or too much if you don’t need them. But I also know that there’s a use of digestive enzymes outside of eating to help heal things in the body. And in particular, I know there’s good research around using them to reverse some of the damage done in Hashimoto’s to the thyroid gland, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. At least using proteolytic enzymes. Now there’s a variety of enzymes. Are you aware of the dangers of taking enzymes?

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I would assume that the only concern if you have an H pylori infection, would be that you could drive an ulcer if the H pylori infection was pretty aggressive. And like you said, an increase in burning in the system, on the other side of things, what’s really important to note is the H pylori infection makes you more alkaline in the stomach, which is a concern because the pH of the stomach; we want it to be very acidic so that our other good friends like parasites and opportunistic bacteria, don’t take up residence in your GI system so that you can actually protect yourself. When I treat, I don’t generally give betaine (digestive enzymes) when someone has an active H pylori infection. I would choose to kill the h-pylori infection first and then I move on, but I love the GI map. That’s what I’m used to. I love it. Absolutely the best test.

Lindsey Parsons: It is a good test. Then the other issue is when you have that low stomach acid, you’re not digesting protein. And if that goes on for a very long time, that can cause all sorts of problems because proteins are needed for pretty much every single thing your body does.

Having low protein can obviously start to have downstream effects in all sorts of different ways in different people. Mastic gum is what I use. I teach my clients about the protocol that Dr. Daniel Kaylash uses around mastic gum. And also use some things like DGL and marshmallow and aloe to soothe the gastrointestinal track at the same time.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: In my experience H-pylori infections can be nasty and tough to get rid of. How long does it really take you to get rid of the H pylori infection?

Lindsey Parsons: I will do it for two months. And the other thing that I also do now, under the mentorship of Dr. Grace Lou, I also learned that H pylori can hide in candida, the biofilms created by candida. And sometimes you think you’ve gotten it, but you haven’t. Now I always add something for candida and people typically will have done an organic acids test as well, or they’ll have demonstrated symptoms of candida overgrowth.

There are several different companies to do them. The two that I’m most familiar with are the great Plains Organic Acid Test and the Organics one done by Genova. I’m not sure how many markers are on the Genova one. There are almost 70 markers on the great Plains one, and that’s the one I use the most. Basically, it has sections that talk about whether you have fungal overgrowth, bacteria overgrowth, Clostridium bacteria overgrowth.

Then it looks at your metabolism of carbohydrates, of fatty acids, your Krebs cycle, and its functioning, and then of amino acids. And then it also has sections that look at your neurotransmitters, whether your dopamine and serotonin levels and your epinephrine and norepinephrine or adrenaline and noradrenaline levels are good.

It also has markers for the B-vitamins and, and some of your antioxidants coQ10. And then your detoxification. It has all these incredible markers. It’s a great overall body test that shows you what’s going on in the inside and allows you to have some insight into the root cause of your issues.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: It’s a great test. I think it’s really good for the clinical picture to see an OATs test. I use Great Plains OATs testing as well. Where do we get H pylori infections? Where do they come from and how do they set up shop in our stomachs?

Lindsey Parsons: I’m not sure if people are born with them, but I can tell you that you can get them from a romantic partner and from kissing. It’s very very easy to transfer it back and forth. I think there’s a lot of that where people might get rid of it, but then their romantic partner gives it back to them. And the romantic partner may not have symptoms or may not have bad enough symptoms to want to get treated or may not be somebody who’s as attentive to their health.

Whenever I have a client who has H pylori, I recommend that their spouse or romantic partner gets checked and treated. If they want to do the same thing that I’m teaching them about, they can do that. Or they can see their doctor and take multiple antibiotics and a PPI if they want. But I don’t recommend that.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: That’s a keynote for sure. And you can also get it with breastfeeding. It’s transferred primarily with breastfeeding. That’s another place it’s transferred. Correct me if I’m wrong, 60% of the population has an H pylori infection is that the number?

Lindsey Parsons: In the U.S? Yeah, 50 to 60%. Yep.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I mean, it’s easy to transfer if you have that many romantic partners or if your mother has it and she breastfed you, et cetera. It’s easy to be passed.

Lindsey Parsons: And on top of that, let me just say that it is missed all the time. I can’t tell you the number of people I have seen, who’ve said, “oh, well, I was tested for H pylori, I even had an upper endoscopy and a biopsy. I had a breath test. I had this”. I recommend stool testing. Obviously, the GI map is ideal, but if not, at least try and get just a stool test from your doctor to test for it. Even if it doesn’t show up, I mean, I think it can be missed because if you have all the symptoms of it and there’s no other obvious root cause it’s up to you, then if you want to do something about it, but there comes a point when you’ve got to figure out what is at the root cause of your health problems.

And if you can’t target anything else, H pylori just seems to be wreaking, all sorts of havoc. I mean, I see people who have GERD and they have silent reflux. They have a lot of pain, they have insomnia, but then on top of that, constipation, sometimes diarrhea. Sometimes I’ve seen people with ulcerative colitis whose root cause may be at least partially, H pylori. It just seems to be a root cause for a lot of stuff.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I saw a couple of patients this week that had ulcerative colitis. They all had H pylori infections. They all had gluten sensitivity and they had a couple of opportunistic bacteria and that was pretty much it on the entire stool tests.

I think I started to think that H pylori might have been one of the trigger factors here. But I don’t have any research to support that, but yeah, I think that’s an amazing point.

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Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: You mentioned a PPI and you said, I don’t really recommend people go on PPI and antibiotics. What’s your comment on why you don’t recommend that? And I agree with you. I just would love to hear it.

Lindsey Parsons: Right. Well, when they say they call it a triple antibiotic or tri-pack, but I think what it is two antibiotics and the PPI is what allopathic doctors will give for H pylori. It’s the antibiotics that I’m a little more nervous about to start with because obviously, they will only deal with bacteria. And when you wipe out bacteria, what happens, you’re yeast goes up.

Then you end up having an overgrowth of candida and some of the same problems and symptoms you might’ve already been having. That’s for the antibiotics. Whereas when you use an herbal treatment, then you don’t tend to have that overgrowth of the yeast. In terms of the PPIs, obviously, when most people show up with a GERD presentation, the doctor’s going to recommend they go on a PPI.

Now, back in the day, they didn’t have all these warning labels when they first went over the counter. I was on PPIs for about 15 years. Yes. And what happened? Well, I ended up with three autoimmune diseases. I’m convinced that, because that reduces your stomach acid significantly and you need your stomach acid to do all sorts of bodily things to digest your food, in particular, to break down your proteins. 

I look at that as the beginning of all sorts of problems with my health. Even though I had some presentations before that. Now it turns out I had a gluten and dairy sensitivity and when I stopped dairy altogether, I stopped having any kind of acid reflux and was able to get off the PPIs.

But if you’re looking at just a short course, sure it’s not going to kill you to take it for 14 days. And when I almost gave myself an ulcer by taking so many painkillers when I had sciatica and I was in the seventh circle of hell, I had to take those PPI’s to stop from getting an ulcer, but I knew why I was giving myself an ulcer and I had to stop the ibuprofen. Once I did it went away, but in terms of long-term usage, definitely not recommended. You can end up with all sorts of problems again, absorbing nutrients…

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: You get an increased risk of fractures, just because of the lack of absorption of your key nutrients. You have a risk of lower magnesium. Most people have it anyway because we’re pretty magnesium deficient.

You really need magnesium to absorb, vitamin D for example, that’s really important. There is a risk of B12 deficiency for sure, chronic kidney disease, dementia, abdominal pain, diarrhea. The list can go on and on and I mean on the other side of things, just hanging out with an H pylori infection, you can get an iron deficiency, magnesium deficiency, et cetera because they eat that to reproduce and B vitamin deficiencies as well.

It’s really important that your medicine be your food and it’s important to absorb that. You need to treat this infection for about two, possibly a little longer, but primarily two months. And you have a pretty good eradication of the H pylori infection. Is that correct?

Lindsey Parsons: So far everybody who’s done two months’ worth of the mastic gum protocol has been able to either see complete relief or actually retested and seen it disappear. And I know that Dr. Kayla did an actual study with the Mayo clinic on his protocol and it was validated in the majority of the people. Now I do also recommend that before people start that, ideally if they have the time, make sure that their diet is promoting the healthy bacteria in their guts. I encourage them to be eating beans and legumes and to just up their fiber intake and really feed those good bacteria in preparation so that it will take.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: There’s also been a debate diet. To bring up the prebiotics of the probiotics or probiotics specifically. Do you have any comments on that, especially in how your treatment of GERD and H pylori, et cetera?

Lindsey Parsons: In terms of prebiotics, definitely. I usually encourage people to use their diet, to increase their prebiotics. Rather than using some sort of a fiber supplement, but I might on the completion of a cycle, recommend a fiber supplement. I’m always sensitive to the fact that these supplements can run into hundreds of dollars for people. How many different supplements at one time in what sequence? It depends on the client.

Sometimes people will say, no, I’ll just get it from my food. And I’ll say, okay, that’s fine. In the end, I might throw in some type of nice fiber supplements, something with L-glutamine too, to help seal up the gut lining and feed the small intestine cells. In terms of prebiotics, I usually recommend a probiotic. People do not typically present with just H pylori, they usually present with overgrown commensals and commensal bacteria or healthy, normal bacteria, or they present with some pathogenic bacteria as well. Typically, the recommendations on the GI map are high dose Lactobifido type probiotics like they typically recommend something from the hundred billion to 300 billion range. Often people are put on a probiotic at the same time, or maybe partway through a protocol and then continue it after I also will use the spore-based probiotics in some cases. And then Saccharomyces-boulardii, I sometimes use, but that sometimes I’m more hesitant if they, it depends.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Awesome and I think the point that you made is that people just want it to be one thing. I think we’ve been conditioned to think, I just have GERD. But then, you run this test, you run the stool test and you identified there are multiple things going on on the stool test that are also contributing to the problems and maybe making an overgrowth of opportunistic or pathogenic bacteria that’s not good because of some of the other infections going on. I think it’s a really great point that is not just one thing. It tends to be, they compound on each other and they multiply. Do you have any tips maybe for keeping the gut healthy?

Lindsey Parsons: If you have a healthy gut, if you are prescribed antibiotics if you start taking them and you start having any sort of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, I definitely start taking Saccharomyces boulardii, which is beneficial yeast.

I wouldn’t necessarily start with it, but you could if you are inclined to use probiotics. And then of course having a diet that is rich in both the prebiotic fibers. At least two or three times a week, you’re eating some type of beans, legumes, lentils, that type of thing. And then also, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, a lot of polyphenols, and, you can look up what things are rich in polyphenols. I just saw a list recently, incidentally, the clove, I think was the highest by far in a way.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Is that true?

Lindsey Parsons: Yes, but of course, how many cloves do you eat in any, and most people only use them as a flavoring in something, and then they could grind up the cloves because they are very rich in polyphenols.

Herbs and spices are actually quite rich in polyphenols. We just don’t use tons of them. A diet that’s rich in polyphenols and different colored fruits and vegetables, not just eating the same thing every single day, but doing a variety and especially eating the rainbow, just like we used to teach the kids that I worked with when I advocated around healthy school food.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And are there any tips and tricks you do for yourself that you feel are must do’s to keep yourself healthy?

Lindsey Parsons: Well, I think exercise is obviously the single most important thing we can do to keep ourselves healthy over the course of our lives, exercising regularly, and obviously getting good sleep is important. Really eight to nine hours would be my recommendation. And if you are having sleep issues, you’d need to dig deep and figure out what’s going on there because that’s when your whole body is detoxifying. And if you keep losing sleep over an extended period of time, eventually your body is not going to be able to detoxify.

And then you’re going to start seeing the impacts. Eating organic and pasture raise so that’s really important to me. To the extent that we can afford it, we buy almost everything organic. I get my meats from a local farm that I know is pasture-raised and totally pesticide-free. Same thing with eggs, especially eggs and dairy products.

When you think of the top of the food chain, I think that’s the stuff that’s most important to be organic or pasture rates. That’s a must-do for me. And then the other thing is just always if you do have a health problem, not giving up, not just accepting a band aid to put on your symptoms, but that you always try and look at what’s the root cause? Why is this happening? I have IBS, so I guess I’ll just have to take something to stop my diarrhea or something to move my bowels on a long-term basis because I have a diagnosis. IBS isn’t a diagnosis. It’s a default. Lack of diagnosis really. It’s just saying, we don’t know what’s going wrong with you and why, so we’re going to give you something to cover your symptoms until we can figure it out or until the medical community catches up with the functional medicine community that already seems to know how to deal with these issues.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Okay. Preach. Amen. Exactly. I mean, because that is so funny. It’s just the default. I don’t know what’s going on or my other favorite diagnosis is Functional Bowel Disease. Like what does that mean? What does that mean, I don’t know what that means.

Well, where can people find you if they want to get in touch with you?

Lindsey Parsons: My business is called High Desert health and it’s at HighDesertHealthCoaching.com. And then my podcast is called The Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing, The Gut Microbiome. You can search for that on any podcast player or find links to it from my website and yeah, people can reach out and are welcome to set up a free breakthrough session with me for half an hour. Just chat about what’s going on with your guts and happy to try and see if I can be of help.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here today. It was such a pleasure to have you on the show and it was just lovely.

Actually. I love talking about GERD and H pylori. I think it’s so important. It was just such a pleasure to do that with you. Thank you so much for being here.

Lindsey Parsons: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

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Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”.

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