Prescription acid blockers have been on my mind a bit lately. It's probably because I see how commonly they are prescribed, even to babies, and the news has recently been full of research study results showing their shocking long-term side effects.
I'm talking specifically about the Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPIs for short. These include the drugs called omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole.
They have become one of the most commonly prescribed medications today, but unfortunately medical research has shown that around 70% of those prescriptions are not actually necessary, meaning that the patient's symptoms are not actually due to excess stomach acid.
So what are the side effects? Lately the newspaper headlines are talking about how PPIs lead to a significantly increased risk of dementia, especially if you are above age 70. You also have a 50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease. These are not the only side effects, however.
It has been known for quite some time that when you block the secretion of acid in the stomach, it hinders the digestion and absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B12. As you can imagine, having reduced absorption of these vital nutrients can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and neurological symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the extremities.
To add insult to injury, without proper amounts of stomach acid, your digestive tract is more prone to GI infections that should have been zapped by the acidic environment of your stomach. Dysbiosis and the disruption of the microbiome can easily occur when on a PPI, leading to health problems throughout the body.
With all of the side effects of PPIs, and so few people actually needing to be on them, it is certainly worth your while to try some natural remedies for acid reflux symptoms. My next blog will focus on some of these natural acid reflux remedies, so stay tuned.
Dr. Melissa DeForest: I am a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. My goal is to educate, inspire, and empower others to lead a life they love.
Disclaimer: All information presented here is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise, supplement, or diet routine.