I know you all probably don’t believe in the drugs prescribed to treat acid reflux.
But my husband started taking an acid blocker several years ago and it has saved him a great deal of suffering ever since.
So what’s so bad about these medications?
A. Lilly, Dallas, Texas
Think of acid-blocking treatment like drying up the river after a flood but never repairing the faulty dam that’s causing the flooding. Like many of the “wonder drugs” that have become available in this age of pharmaceutical-dominated medicine, neither anti-acid drugs nor traditional neutralizing antacid products do anything to cure the underlying causes of heartburn or GERD.
Instead they only temporarily suppress the major symptom — heartburn. And symptom suppression, sadly, is enough for mainstream medicine.
But these acid-blocking drugs, by their very nature, cause profound changes in the internal environment of the stomach and intestines. These changes have been associated with a wide range of ailments. Decades of research has demonstrated that chronically low levels of stomach acid can be harmful in the long run, causing poor digestion, which leads to inefficient absorption of nutrients from food, which leads to malnutrition.
Besides, the relief anti-acid drugs offer is temporary. Heartburn stays away only as long as acid levels stay suppressed, and acid levels stay suppressed only as long as you keep taking the drugs. If you stop taking them, you risk heartburn’s return, sometimes with a vengeance. It happens so often that it even has a name, the rebound effect.
It’s not uncommon for people using Zantac, Prilosec, or even Tums to take them daily for years and years at a time in order to avoid a relapse.
This strategy leaves much to be desired for people with heartburn, but it works great for the pharmaceutical companies. If the drugs actually cured heartburn/GERD, the companies wouldn’t make nearly as much money as they do by selling drugs that provide only temporary relief.
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