When acid reflux hits hard, it’s no joke. The chest pain can be intense and terrifying… you are not alone if heartburn has made you feel like having a heart attack.
In addition to that frightening chest pain, many patients also report difficulty swallowing, sore throat, hoarse voice, coughing, nausea, and an acid taste in the back of the mouth.
If you have any or all of these symptoms, getting rid of them becomes a top priority… and people will do pretty much anything to find relief.
40% of Americans are suffering with heartburn!
About 40% of Americans have regular heartburn symptoms.
In fact there are so many folks suffering from heartburn pain that I actually came home from work one day and wrote this song about it.
PPI’s almost completely shut off stomach acid
Millions of them wind up taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication called a PPI.
PPI is short for “Proton Pump Inhibitor” which is a family of drugs that includes…
- and Zegarid.
These are the most potent acid blocking medications on the market today. A single dose will almost completely turn off the hydrochloric acid that is produced by your stomach for nearly an entire day. For many heartburn sufferers, relief can come quickly after starting one of these medications…often within 24 hours.
Not only are they very effective at reducing acid production, PPI’s are also incredibly popular. Every year, over 100 million prescriptions for these medications are written, for a staggering total of about $15 billion annually…and that doesn’t even include the over-the-counter sales!
Again… you’re not alone.
It’s easy to become dependent on hearbburn medications
When a PPI works and those terrible heartburn symptoms disappear…many people become really attached to their medication. They don’t want to be “hooked” on a drug, but are afraid to stop taking it because the thought of symptoms coming back is terrifying.
For this reason, many people who start a PPI will wind up taking it continuously for months…even years. This is WAY LONGER than the 4-8 week treatment is generally recommended by the companies who make these medications.
What you may not realize is that PPI’s have only been in widespread use for about 20 years and in that time we have learned lots about what happens to people who take them long-term.
6 problems with PPI drugs
In my practice, I see many patients who have been on PPI’s for years who are now struggling with any or all of the following six problems:
1. PPI’s increase the risk of other diseases:
Studies have demonstrated that the long term use of PPI’s can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections.
2. PPI’s can cause dangerous nutritional deficiencies:
Stomach acid helps to digest and absorb food. Suppressing that acid over the long term will result in decreased ability to absorb important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.
3. PPI’s are very difficult to quit:
I tell my patients that stopping a PPI that has been holding back your acid is like taking down a dam that has been holding back a river. When you take down the dam, the river comes roaring back…rushing even stronger than it did before.
4. PPI’s treat the symptoms but they don’t treat the underlying problem:
Acid reflux is more about reflux than it is about acid. The acid (and the food) in the stomach is supposed to stay there for awhile…and then head south. When it regurgitates into the esophagus, it causes heartburn. Turning off the acid helps minimize the pain, but it doesn’t do a thing to stop the reflux.
5. PPI’s do not decrease the risk of cancer:
Recent research has caused concern among physicians that long term use of PPI’s does not decrease the risk of esophageal cancer…and may actually increase it!
6. PPI’s make you lazy:
Well, the medication itself doesn’t actually cause laziness…but taking a pill once a day is quite a bit easier than making lifestyle changes or making healthier food choices.
PPI’s are NOT an effective long term solution
Although PPI’s often do provide relief from acid reflux symptoms… heartburn sufferers need to understand that these medications are NOT an effective long term solution and often create new problems as well.
The good news is that there are some very simple, inexpensive, and effective options that can help to treat acid reflux, help with the adverse effects of the drugs, and make it easier to get off of these medications for good.
Please chime in with a comment below if you would like to read more details on the naturopathic management of heartburn and acid reflux disease.
- Kindness, caring, compassion
- Open-minded about alternative medicine
- Friendly (dare we even say…cool?)
Well, you’ve come to the right place. HealthierTalk is proud to introduce you to Dr. Joshua Levitt… a man who actually checks all the boxes, and more.
Dr. Joshua Levitt is a naturopathic physician who is widely known for his expertise in treating both common and complex medical problems. In practice, Dr. Levitt draws on his broad knowledge of the science of both conventional and natural medicine and the art of combing the two into a “best of both worlds” treatment strategy. He has over 15 years of direct clinical experience using a unique blend of nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and physical medicine to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. His patients and his readers praise him for the ability to educate, motivate, and inspire them with stories and advice that helps them help themselves. In addition to his work as an author, Dr. Levitt owns and runs a private practice in Connecticut, where he is also a clinical preceptor for the Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Levitt’s unique perspective was informed by an education that includes a degree in physiology from UCLA, a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the prestigious Bastyr University, formal residency training in integrative medicine in Seattle, and experience with thousands of patients.
Dr. Levitt is also the author and creator of several popular books, and many articles and videos, which all demonstrate his passion and commitment to bringing information and products to you that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. You can see more from Dr. Levitt at UpWellness.com.
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