Let’s talk about the commonly prescribed stomach medication that is used to ‘treat’ GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). These acid reducing drugs are #4 on the list of most commonly prescribed medication.
GERD is most often treated by the medical establishment utilizing stomach acid blockers such as Histamine-2 blockers and PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). It is all in the name of reducing the stomach’s ability to produce acid.
Important Note: Most of the time the symptoms of GERD are caused by too little stomach acid and not by too much. The symptoms are basically identical, but that’s a topic for another article and another time.
Acid blockers are fraught with dangerous side effects, especially if used for long periods of time. Incidentally, they were never designed to be taken for long periods of time.
Let’s discover these side effects one at a time.
Osteoporosis: Acid blockers can lead to deficiencies in the minerals calcium and magnesium. PPIs used for more than 5 years have increased the incidence of hip fractures. Postmenopausal women have 3 1/2 times the risk of spinal fractures, (compression fractures).
Diseases associated with mineral depletion: Disorders such as cardiac arrhythmia, muscle weakness and collapse from dizziness caused by low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension). A fall when you are older and with the increased possibility of osteoporosis can be deadly. An acid environment is key to absorbing the minerals in our food.
Increased risk of stomach and intestinal infection: Acid in our stomach has many functions and an important one is the destruction of invading bacteria and parasites that may be within our food. The acid is kept at about pH 1-2 at all times to maintain a healthy stomach. Taking PPIs doubles the risk of C. diff. and increases the risk of Salmonella by 2 1/2 times.
Increases the incidence of food allergies: Undigested proteins from reduced stomach acid allows these proteins to cross into the blood stream causing an immune reaction and can lead to cross reactivity of our immune system which is thought to be a component of auto-immunity.
Leads to Vitamin B12 deficiency: Proper amounts of stomach acid are needed by our body to produce and absorb Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to cognitive problems, memory impairment and anemia. All of which are found in older individuals that produce less stomach acid.
Disrupts normal digestion processes: This can lead to downstream gall bladder problems, gas, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. The digestive process is very precise in the sequence of and environment of each process. When one is disrupted or altered, it will change the whole downstream process. This can lead to very serious issues years from the start of the acid blockers.
Creation of stomach ulcers: Stomach ulcers are known to not be caused by too much stomach acid but rather infection from the bacterium H. pylori. H. pylori thrives in a lower stomach acid environment and has been shown to create its own lower acid environment while it damages the lining of the stomach.
The lining of our stomach was designed to be subjected to high amounts of Hydrochloric Acid.
The stomach needs this acid in order to stimulate the proper digestion of protein into amino acids so that they can be absorbed and used by are body.
The acid also stimulates the opening of the next valve so that the stomach contents empties into the duodenum (small intestine). The acid then stimulates the gall bladder to contract and enable the next sequence of digestion.
Can you see how taking a PPI or antacid such as Histamine 2 blocker can result in a total disruption in our digestion. Taking the time to investigate why someone may have GERD, acid reflux or stomach pain is paramount in managing their health.
Fear not, the causes of this dysfunction are many and they can be uncovered by careful analysis. Finding the cause of stomach problems can be a key to your future health.