Heartburn / Digestive Health

Your digestive system is one long tube, which runs from your mouth to your anus with the primary function of breaking down your food to extract what is needed to make your body work. Heartburn occurs when some food reverses course and moves from the stomach up to the esophagus. Chronic stomach pain (dyspepsia) occurs when the stomach’s powerful acids begin to irritate the stomach lining either from a breakdown in the protective mucous layer or overproduction of hydrochloric acid. This can eventually lead to ulcers, which is when the acids begin to eat the stomach or intestinal wall. Underproduction of stomach acid can lead to problems of nutrient absorption. For instance having enough stomach acid is crucial to calcium absorption. All digestive organs are controlled and regulated by the nervous system, which tells your stomach to produce just the right amount of acid to maintain health and balance. It also controls your mouth, tongue, esophagus, throat, pyloric valve, intestines, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, and other organs to maintain proper body functions.

Gonstead Chiropractic and Digestive Health

To put it simply, each digestive organ has two nervous signal inputs. One says, “slow down” the other says, “speed up”. These are referred to as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. An imbalance in these signals can cause malfunctions. For instance a dominance of parasympathetic signals to the intestine can lead to hyper motility or diarrhea while a sympathetic dominance can lead to under activity or constipation. Gonstead doctors pay special attention to balancing these systems by removing interference from spinal misalignment subluxation from both. In a study, gastroenterologists found 72% of patients with abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and heartburn had spinal subluxations in the area that supply nerves to these organs. Another study of 100 patients with ulcers found that the spine seemed to play a part. The patients were found to have scoliosis (spinal curvature/subluxation) at the area of the spine, which supplies sympathetic nerves to the stomach. If the curve was to the left the ulcer was gastric and if the curve was to the right the ulcer was duodenal. Those with “S” curves had ulcers of both types. A pilot study has demonstrated improvements in patients with duodenal ulcer who received chiropractic care. The researchers concluded, “Manipulation to remove spinal dysfunction not only relieves pain, but has a healing effect significantly better than standard drug therapy.”

What Gonstead patients are saying:


“With the adjustments I’ve had I no longer suffer from the heartburn that I used to get all day everyday.”

Vanessa S.

“Low back feels better and I have backed off my heartburn meds.”

Damon D. RN

“I don’t take Pepcid AC anymore. If people only knew there was a “heartburn bone” you (the Gonstead doctor) would be overrun with patients!”

Derek W.




Pikalov AA, MD, Vyatcheslav VK, Use of spinal manipulative therapy in the treatment of duodenal ulcer: a pilot study. JMPT, 1994 17(5):310-313.

Jorgensen, LS and Fossgreen, J, Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 1990, Dec.;25(12):1235-1241.

H Kamieth, Pathogenic importance of the thoracic portion of the vertebral spine, Journal of the American Medical Association (Nov. 15, 1958), p. 1586.

DeBoer, KF et al., Acute effects of spinal manipulation on gastrointestinal myoelectric activity in conscious rabbits. Manuelle Medicine, 1988, 3, pp.85-94.