Why Acid-Reducing Medications are My Least Favorite Drugs
By Sarah Axtell, ND • February 11, 2017
Antacids, H2 blockers and PPI’s (Proton pump inhibitors) are my least favorite medications. Nexium, Prilosec, Pepcid and Zantac are examples of these medications. Long-term use can come with serious side effects:
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency: B12 supports the mylein sheath around nerves that allows for nerve impulses to conduct. So a deficiency in B12 can lead to a whole host of neurological symptoms, such as impaired gait, loss of sensation, numbness and tingling, dementia (see below) and MS. B12 also plays a major role in regulating mood through methylation and keeping homocysteine (an inflammatory marker) levels in check.
- One study published in JAMA found that 12% of those taking PPI’s were deficient in B12 at a 2-year evaluation and that higher the daily dose of PPI’s, stronger the association with B12 deficiency.
- Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease studied the use of PPIs in 70,000+ men and women over the age of 75 who have yet to suffer from dementia. Over the course of five years, 29,000 of the test subject developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It was concluded that regular use of antacids increased the risk of dementia by 52% for men and 42% for women.
- Increased Risk of Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis: Lowering stomach acid reduces your ability to absorb essential nutrients, such as calcium. It has been found the longer you take the medication and the higher the dose, the higher the risk of fracture.
- Magnesium Deficiency: This can lead to muscle spasms, constipation, heart palpitations and headaches. See here for more info on magnesium deficiency.
- Increased Risk of Pneumonia
- Increased Risk of Heart Attack
- Altered Gut Flora: This can lead to leaky gut and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Symptoms of SIBO include bloating, belching, gas, indigestion, and constipation and/or diarrhea. An imbalance in your gut flora can also predispose you to frequent illness. After all, we have 10 times bacterial cells in our body than human cells. We cannot underestimate the power of bacteria in our system!
- A 2014 study investigated the diversity of microbes in stool samples of those taking PPIs. Dramatic changes in altered microbial balance and diversity were found even after a week of these medications.
We were blessed with stomach acid for a reason. It helps sterilize the gut, keeping you safe from harmful invaders, and enhance the absorption of your nutrients. See this previous post on “The Truth About Stomach Acid.”
There are ways to successfully get you off these dangerous medications and restore function to your GI tract. Know you have options besides acid-blockers for your chronic digestive distress!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.