By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
April 11, 2018
- Is it safe to take antacids?
- The deadly truth about PPIs
- Let’s get to the root of the problem
If you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or other digestion complaints, it is incredibly easy to take an antacid drug in the hopes of gaining some relief. But if you start relying on these medications to consistently ease your symptoms, you could be making one of the biggest mistakes of your life.
In recent years, the safety of these meds – both over-the-counter and by prescription – has been called into question. And I’ve seen enough overwhelmingly negative evidence against these heartburn drugs that I consistently advise my patients to stay away from them at all costs.
I’m talking about proton pump inhibitors, or PPI’s. Some of the popular brands that fall into this category include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid.
Before you pop another one of these antacids, you need to take a very hard look at the serious risks they pose to your health.
The Deadly Truth about PPIs
Most people tend think that over-the-counter-medications are relatively safe. And who really considers the idea that a medication for stomach acid could have any major side effects?
Well, it might surprise you to learn that PPIs come with an extremely long list of serious health issues. They can even shorten your lifespan. Just take a look at some of the problems associated with them.
- People who use PPIs are between 16% and 21% more likely to experience a heart attack than people who don’t use them.
- PPI users have a greater chance of developing chronic kidney disease and acute kidney damage that can lead to end-stage renal disease. And here’s a sad note: More than half of people on PPIs who develop chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease have never had kidney problems before in their lives.
- Long-term use of PPIs more than doubles the risk of developing stomach cancer.
- People who take PPIs for one or two years have a 50% increased risk of dying over the next five years compared to those who take H2 blockers.
- While data is mixed, there is some evidence that PPI use is associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Regular use of PPIs is known to decrease your stores of two very important nutrients, vitamin B12 and magnesium. These are both common deficiencies here in the U.S. that can be detrimental to your health.
Additionally, PPIs can weaken your bones which increases your risk of a hip or spinal fracture. They also strip away beneficial bacteria in your gut, leaving you open to antibiotic resistant infections like clostridium difficile. (This is a “super-bug” that causes diarrhea and colon inflammation.)
And here is the scariest news of all..
It’s estimated that as many as 70% of PPI prescriptions have no appropriate indication for use! (And that doesn’t even include all of the people who purchase them over-the-counter without a diagnosis or prescription.)
Let’s Get to the Root of the Problem
Here in my own practice I find that, more often than not, people with digestive issues are suffering from too little stomach acid, not too much.
In fact, at least half of patients with heartburn—especially those over age 60—don’t have enough stomach acid to start with. Yet they’re popping PPIs like candy. This, of course, depletes stomach acid and digestive enzymes even further.
You can easily found out if you have too little stomach acid. Just take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water the next time heartburn strikes. If the pain disappears or gets remarkably better, that’s a pretty good indication that your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid.
In this case, you can boost your body’s natural production of stomach acid by taking 325 to 650 mg of HCL betaine with pepsin at the beginning of each meal. (If you experience a slight burning sensation in the pit of your stomach, just decrease the amount next time you take it.)
If it turns out that you truly are suffering from acid reflux, you should know that certain foods may act as a trigger for it, while others can provide soothing relief. With this in mind, I recommend that you take a serious look at the foods you’re eating and try to stick with those that won’t fight back.
In the meantime, if you’re currently taking a PPI to reduce stomach acid, I suggest working with your doctor to find a safer remedy. (Taking 500 mg of mastic gum capsules twice a day with 75 mg of zinc carnosine for three to four weeks can help while you make the transition.)
You’ll also want to repair any damage caused by reflux and acid-blocking drugs. For that, try deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). It can help ease your heartburn symptoms while repairing the mucosal lining of the stomach. Simply chew two DGL tablets before eating or whenever heartburn strikes.
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