The Dangers of Antacid Medication

 Figure 1

Figure 1

According to statistics, up to 30% of Americans have symptomatic heartburn that occurs at least weekly, and more than 40% have it to one degree or another. For those suffering, medication has been a life saver. Or has it?

If your smoke alarm went off in the middle of the night, would you simply disconnect the wires? That would be ridiculous, of course. You would search for the CAUSE of the smoke. With this in mind, if you have heart burn, why would you simply cover up the symptoms?

Most people have been told (by both the manufacturers and their doctors) that their problem is too much acid. Actually, the opposite is true. Let's take a look at this logically: 

1) Your stomach makes hydrochloric acid. This acid is essential for protein digestion, infection protection, and vitamin absorption. A lack of acid results in bloating due to protein purification in the stomach. This gas build up forces  the normal acid in the stomach back into your esophagus, resulting in the burning pain of reflux (Figure 2). The medication seems to work because the symptoms go away, but the problem is not solved (remember the smoke alarm?).

2) Research shows that as we age, we lose the capacity to make hydrochloric acid in the stomach (Figure 1). This being the case, young adults should have more problems than older adults. Therefore, most patients suffering from acid reflux actually need MORE acid, not less.

3) The stomach contains special cells that secrete mucous, protecting the delicate stomach lining from damage. If this layer becomes compromised, the protection is lost. Imagine you are a furniture refinisher that uses harsh chemicals to strip away old varnish. If you had holes in your gloves, would you water down the chemicals or get new gloves? In this case, the stomach's protective lining needs to be restored rather than reducing acid production. 

What's so bad about some harmless medication? The fact is, it's not so harmless. Here is what the medical research has shown:

Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors increases the risk of kidney disease(1), blood vessel calcification(2), nutritional deficiencies such as calcium, iron, zinc, B12, and folic acid(3), cardiovascular disease(4), infection(5), diarrhea(6), microbial disruption/dysbiosis(7), and bone fracture(8). In one particular study, taking these drugs in high doses was associated with a 2.6-fold higher risk of death(9). In a profoundly troubling study published in 2016, acid reducing drugs were associated with an increased risk of dementia(10).

If you suffer from acid reflux and require medication to control your symptoms, we can help. The first goal is to find out why you are having your issues; then, correct the underlying cause through natural means. This may include a variety of specific nutrients and botanicals that have been clinically proven to effectively treat acid reflux including zinc carnosine, marshmallow root, DGL-licorice, and betaine HCl to name but a few. 

Both the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization recommend acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment for heartburn. Research has also shown that patients who failed standard medical treatment found resolution with acupuncture(11). 

Why continue to suffer or take medication that might be harmful? Give us a call today!

 Figure 2

Figure 2

  1. Lazarus B, Chen Y, Wilson FP, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(2):238-46
  2. Fusaro M, Noale M, Tripepi G, et al. Long-term proton pump inhibitor use is associated with vascular calcification in chronic kidney disease: a cross-sectional study using propensity score analysis. Drug Saf. 2013;36(8):635-42
  3. Howden CW. Vitamin B12 levels during prolonged treatment with proton pump inhibitors. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2000;30(1):29-33
  4. Shih CJ, Chen YT, Ou SM, et al. Proton pump inhibitor use represents an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction. Int J Cardiol. 2014;177(1):292-7
  5. Bavishi C, Dupont HL. Systematic review: the use of proton pump inhibitors and increased susceptibility to enteric infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011;34(11-12):1269-81.
  6. Janarthanan S, Ditah I, Adler DG, et al. Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and proton pump inhibitor therapy: a meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012;107(7):1001-10
  7. Lo WK, Chan WW. Proton pump inhibitor use and the risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11(5):483-90
  8. Cai D, Feng W, Jiang Q. Acid-suppressive medications and risk of fracture: an updated meta-analysis. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(6):8893-904
  9. Maggio M, Corsonello A, Ceda GP, et al. Proton pump inhibitors and risk of 1-year mortality and rehospitalization in older patients discharged from acute care hospitals. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(7):518-23
  10. Gomm W, von Holt K, Thome F, et al. Association of Proton Pump Inhibitors With Risk of Dementia: A Pharmacoepidemiological Claims Data Analysis. JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(4):410-6.
  11. Dickman R, Schiff E, Holland A, Wright C, Sarela SR, Han B, Fass R. Acupuncture vs. doubling the PPI dose in refractory heartburn. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007