Acid Reflux:

By: Dr. Mercola
Dated: June 17, 2010

One of the most commonly prescribed drugs for heartburn and acid reflux are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs, which include brand names like Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium, VERY effectively block your stomach's ability to produce acid.

While that may sound like a good thing, in most cases it is the absolute worst approach for the problem, as typically your stomach is producing too little stomach acid, not too much.

That, coupled with the fact that the drugs are horrendously over prescribed and riddled with side effects, and you've got a veritable prescription for disaster. The issue is so serious that even the FDA has spoken up on this one.

Heartburn Drugs Wreck Your Bones

It's been known for years that people who take proton pump inhibitors for a year or more have a greater risk of fractures. It's thought that the drugs may make it more difficult for your body to absorb calcium, leading to weaker bones and fractures.

Now, after the FDA reviewed several epidemiological studies that showed an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine in people taking the drugs in high doses or for one year or longer, the FDA is requiring PPI drug labels to warn of the fracture risk.

"Epidemiology studies suggest a possible increased risk of bone fractures with the use of proton pump inhibitors for one year or longer, or at high doses. Because these products are used by a great number of people, It's important for the public to be aware of this possible increased risk," Joyce Korvick, M.D., deputy director for safety in FDA's Division of Gastroenterology Products said in the FDA's press release.

The risk of a bone fracture has been estimated to be over 40 percent higher in patients who use these drugs long-term.

The Risks Greatly Outweigh The Benefits

Before taking any medication, you've got to ask yourself this fundamental question: do the benefits outweigh the risks?

In the case of heartburn drugs, the answer is rarely.

These drugs are actually designed to treat a limited range of severe problems.

According to Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health who wrote an editorial on this topic, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are only warranted for the treatment of:

PPIs were never intended for people with heartburn, and according to Katz, "about 60 to 70 percent of people taking these drugs have mild heartburn and shouldn't be on them."

However, I believe the number may be even higher than that, because there are over 16,000 articles supporting the fact that suppressing stomach acid does NOT treat Helicobacter pylori infection, which Katz included above. Suppressing stomach acid is also not the solution to treating heartburn.

Heartburn Is Usually Caused By A Lack Of Stomach Acid

One of the reasons why common heartburn and ulcer drugs are such dismal failures is that they suppress stomach acid, which is actually the opposite of what you want if you have heartburn. As Dr. Jonathan Wright explained in detail in an interview I did with him a couple years back, heartburn and GERD are almost always caused by a LACK of stomach acid, rather than an overproduction thereof.

Further, acid reflux (of which heartburn is the primary symptom) is commonly related to hiatal hernia, a condition in which the acid is coming out of your stomach, where It's supposed to remain.

After food passes through your esophagus into your stomach, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes, preventing food or acid from moving back up. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the LES relaxes inappropriately, allowing acid from your stomach to flow (reflux) backward into your esophagus.

An organism called helicobacter pylori (initially called campylobacter) can also cause a chronic low level inflammation of your stomach lining, and is responsible, or at least a major factor, for producing many of the symptoms of acid reflux.

Suppressing stomach acid does not treat the problem; it only treats the symptoms. And one of the explanations for this is that when you suppress the acid in your stomach, you decrease your body's ability to kill the helicobacter bacteria. So it actually makes your condition worse and perpetuates the problem.

Pneumonia, Food Borne Infections And MORE Heartburn, Anyone?

Reducing acid in your stomach, which again proton pump inhibitors do very well, diminishes your primary defense mechanism for food-borne infections, which will increase your risk of food poisoning.

PPI drugs are also fraught with other serious side effects, including pneumonia and infection with Clostridium difficile, a harmful intestinal bacteria.

You'll also develop both tolerance and dependence on them, so unfortunately you can't stop taking them without suffering repercussions.

In fact, you should NEVER stop taking proton pump inhibitors cold turkey. You have to wean yourself off them gradually or else you might experience a severe rebound of your symptoms, and the problem may end up being worse than before you started taking the medication.

In one study, more than 40 percent of healthy volunteers experienced heartburn, acid regurgitation and dyspepsia (pain and fullness in your abdomen) in the weeks after stopping the drugs. These were symptoms they did NOT have before!

The drugs lead to what's called "rebound acid hypersecretion," which is an increase in gastric acid secretion above pre-treatment levels within two weeks of stopping the drugs.

Essentially, because these drugs slam the brakes on the acid-producing pumps in your stomach, when you stop taking them that built-up acid can be unleashed with a vengeance.

It's a vicious cycle and one you're far better off avoiding in the first place.

Are You Taking PPIs For Symptoms Of Heartburn?

There are far better ways to resolve the problem than with drugs that could destroy your bones and make your heartburn even worse. Here are the top steps to relieve heartburn symptoms, naturally:

Acid Reflux Information: Health Freedom Alliance 12/22/2011 - Ten Tips To Cure Acid Reflux Naturally

Acid Reflux Information: Dr. Mercola 6/17/2010 - Warning: FDA Says Heartburn Meds Can Increase Fracture Risk

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 2/21/2011 - Cinnamon, Ginger & Apple Cider Vinegar Are Natural Remedies

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 3/24/2011 - Soothe And Prevent Acid Reflux Naturally

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 7/25/2011 - Beat Acid Reflux Naturally

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 4/30/2012 - Six Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 6/19/2012 - Stop With The Antacids Already

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 6/29/2012 - Avoid The Dangers Of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) And Treat Your Acid Reflux Naturally

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 11/22/2012 - Five Best Homeopathic Remedies For The Treatment Of Heartburn, GERD And Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux Information: Natural News 3/4/2013 - The True Cause Of Your Acid Reflux

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