Upper digestive symptoms such as indigestion, ‘acidity’ and heartburn are common.
The mainstay of medical treatment for these symptoms is a class of drugs known as the ‘proton pump inhibitors’ or PPIs.
These drugs, include omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid), inhibit acid secretion in the stomach.
Proton Pump Inhibitors can do more harm than good
They do help control symptoms in some people. However, as I have explained before, they can also cause the very symptoms they’re designed to treat.
One of the applications of proton pump inhibitors is as a preventer of inflammation, ulceration and bleeding that can be caused by certain painkilling medication known as ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ or ‘NSAIDs.’ However animal research suggests that, again, proton pump inhibitors may do more harm than good .
In this study, rats were treated with a proton pump inhibitor for 9 days. During the last four days of this treatment, the rats were also treated with a NSAID drug.
The researchers monitored inflammation and ulceration in the small bowel of the animals (the small bowel is the part of the digestive tract immediately after the stomach). They found that treatment with proton pump inhibitors actually worsened the ulceration and bleeding.
PPIs can wreak havoc with good gut bacteria
Treatment with proton pump inhibitors was also found to be associated with an alteration in the balance of bacteria in the digestion tract. Sometimes referred to as ‘dysbiosis’, this sort of imbalance can lead to a range of digestion symptoms and issues.
Very interestingly, giving the rats probiotics (supplements of healthy gut bacteria) prevented the problems associated with proton pump inhibitor treatment.
The authors of the study speculate that treatment with probiotics [in humans] may prevent the small bowel problems seen as a result of proton pump inhibitor treatment.
1. Wallace JL, et al. Proton Pump Inhibitors Exacerbate NSAID-Induced Small Intestinal Injury by Inducing Dysbiosis. Gastroenterology epub 13th July 2011
Dr. John Briffa is a graduate of the University College London School of Medicine. Since qualifying as a doctor, Dr Briffa has developed a special interest in nutritional and naturally-oriented medicine.
He is in private practice in London, and his aim is to assist individuals identify and remedy the underlying cause of chronic symptoms and conditions.
Dr Briffa is a former columnist for the Daily Mail and the Observer, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. He is a former recipient of the Health Journalist of the Year award in the UK. He has written 6 books on the subject of nutrition and natural health and has been a major contributor to 3 others.
Dr. Briffa lectures internationally to corporations, members of the public and health professionals, and is a regular guest on radio and TV.
You can read more at www.drbriffa.com.
Latest posts by Dr. John Briffa (see all)
- Mental Illness Is Not “All in the Mind” - October 1, 2015
- Drop Self-Criticism and Drop Pounds Too - September 28, 2015
- B12 Deficiency Linked with Brain Shrinkage in Later Life - October 2, 2011