FDA Cautions Against Acid Reflux Drugs by Dr. Brenda Watson

The National Heartburn Alliance tells us that more than 25 million Americans experience heartburn on a daily basis, and for the majority of them, acid-blocking drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the answer.

But thanks to an analysis of several recent studies, mainstream medicine may be on the verge of realizing what natural health practitioners have been saying for years—that prolonged use of PPIs comes with a laundry list of side effects that can take a serious toll on your health.

The FDA released recently a comprehensive review linking long-term use (a year or more) of high doses of PPIs like Nexium® and Prilosec® with an increased risk of bone fractures—especially to the hips, wrists and spine. That’s because over time these drugs block the :: absorption of calcium in the body needed for healthy bones ::

The reality, however, is that bone fractures are just the tip of the iceberg. Widespread PPI use upsets the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut, leaving your body vulnerable to illness and infection, and America’s dependency on acid-blocking drugs has been linked to even more serious health risks, including:

  • A nearly 75% greater risk of developing C. diff (a severe intestinal infection)
  • Higher rates of pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Increased permeability of the upper GI tract lining
  • Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid secretion)
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Increased acetaldehyde production
  • Increased risk of developing gastric cancer
  • Vitamin deficiency (including B12 and D)

Fortunately, there are simple things we can do every day to help prevent the onset and worsening of heartburn symptoms without relying on harmful drugs.

Diet changes like limiting our intake of caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods can make a big difference, along with maintaining a healthy body weight, getting plenty of exercise and quitting smoking.

Natural supplements made with ingredients such as ellagic acid (from raspberries and pomegranates) can also provide soothing relief for occasional heartburn, and :: digestive enzymes :: with added HCl can help ensure complete digestion and reduce the chances of heartburn and acid reflux happening in the first place.

The bottom line is this: why take a potentially dangerous drug when smarter, safer alternatives exist? My hope is that the more people learn about PPIs and their side effects—including why they may not even need them in the first place—the more people will take steps to improve their digestive health naturally.

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