Stressors in our lives can cause many different digestive issues. Some people experience burping, burning, or nausea. Or that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach? There is a strong connection for most people between stress and digestion. Sometimes it is the stress that seems to be causing heartburn, or maybe the heartburn is increasing your anxiety. Whether stress is the “chicken” or the “egg” there is something you can do about it!

First, a little background: Commonly correlated with GERD (gastro-esophogeal reflux disease) and heartburn symptoms is a condition called a “hiatal hernia.” This is when your stomach squeezes up into your chest cavity through the hole in your diaphragm. This condition varies from mild and intermittent issues, to severe herniations that can require surgical interventions. Hiatal hernias of some degree are present in as many as 50-94% of symptomatic patients, and are present in 13-59% of asymptomatic patients.

Because this issue is so common, the providers in our office check every patient. If needed, we perform a fast and simple organ or visceral manipulation. Barrall Institute’s website describes visceral manipulation as “specific placement of soft manual forces to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. These gentle manipulations can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.” When we perform this low-force manipulation on your stomach, we are encouraging your stomach to stay down below your diaphragm where it belongs. If you are someone who deals with acid reflux due to anxiety or a mild hiatal hernia, this adjustment can make a world of difference for you!

Whatever way that stress is affecting your digestive system, here are three tips that can help ease symptoms and decrease anxiety too!

  1. Drinking a small amount of apple cider vinegar in water before meals can help ease heartburn symptoms.

A long held home remedy for heartburn is drinking a high quality ACV diluted in water before meals. This trick is backed by years of anecdotal evidence, but hasn’t been studied in typical Western medicine research. While this does not work for everyone, ACV can be a very helpful tool to minimize acid reflux or GERD symptoms. As one gastroenterologist put it, “if you are curious and want to try it, you can.” The risks are low and the potential benefits are high!

  1. Practicing deep belly breathing helps keep your stomach down below your diaphragm where it belongs.

As an added benefit, when we use our belly to breathe and keep our shoulders down, we help decrease the tension and stress in our upper trap muscles. Deep breathing helps lower your heart rate and center your mind so you can focus better, and stress less.

  1. And get yourself adjusted!

In addition to the organ manipulation described above, a chiropractic adjustment of the spine is also helpful in decreasing GI symptoms. Chiropractic adjustments can help ease both the “chicken” and the “egg” of acid reflux and anxiety. When we adjust your spine, we allow the nerves from your spinal cord to your stomach to send messages back and forth without interruption or interference. With this information flowing smoothly, your body is able to adapt better to your environment, even if that environment causes stress.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Each individual is unique and requires an examination by a licensed health care provider for appropriate medical decision making and care. If you are experiencing health issues similar to what is described here, please contact our office for more information and/or for a phone consultation. This allows us to ask more questions about your case and to help decide if chiropractic care at Breath of Life is right for you. As always, for emergencies, please contact your local Emergency Services.