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 Five Steps to a Happier and Healthier Holiday Season 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Dr. Galland's Integrated Medicine by . View all columns in series

Your body will detoxify well if you feed it properly. Unfortunately, there are many actions that people take to relieve symptoms that actually interfere with detoxification. Acid-lowering drugs are being aggressively marketed for the treatment of heartburn, a common holiday complaint. Heartburn, however, is not caused by an excess of acid. It results from a normal amount of acid getting into the wrong place. People who are prone to heartburn have a weakness of the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus (the LES valve). Fatty foods, coffee, alcohol, chocolate or lying down after a large meal can stress or weaken the LES, allowing stomach acid to enter the sensitive esophagus. The key to treatment and prevention is not to turn off stomach acid, but to support the LES by eating sensibly and-if necessary-taking a chewable calcium pill after eating and before bedtime. Calcium naturally stimulates the LES to function properly. Acid-lowering drugs, on the other hand, deprive the gastrointestinal tract of stomach acid, its first defense against infection. Two of these drugs, Tagamet and Zantac, actually block enzymes in the liver which are required for detoxification.

Pain relievers are another class of drugs commonly used for relieving holiday symptoms. When you take acetaminophen (found in Tylenol and other products), your liver uses a precious anti-oxidant called glutathione to remove the drug from your body. The more acetaminophen you take, the more glutathione is lost. Because alcohol and eating poorly also deplete the liver of glutathione, additive effects can occur and have occasionally produced serious consequences.

Aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Alleve) are often used for the relief of pain and/or inflammation. Their most common side effect is damage to the lining of the stomach and intestines. They may also interfere with proper kidney function. Aspirin kills about a thousand people a year in the United States, mostly because of internal bleeding. A study conducted at Boston University found that the use of only one adult-strength aspirin a day triples your risk of being hospitalized for serious internal hemorrhage. Although occasional use of pain relievers is not likely to be a problem, their frequent use signifies the need for another strategy for feeling well, one which uncovers the reason for your pain. If seasonal stress is the reason, don't reach for the pills. Follow the Y2K Detox Plan, along with a brisk walk and relaxing bath or massage. Maybe your body will heal itself without the drugs.

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 About The Author
Leo Galland, M.D. has received international recognition as a leader in the field of Nutritional Medicine for the past 20 years. A board-certified internist, Dr. Galland is a Fellow of the......moreLeo Galland MD, FACN
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