Has your memory been slipping lately? Have you experienced unexplained pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms of legs? Have you also been taking an acid reflux drug like Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a couple years? If so, then you may be the latest victim of the pharmaceutical industry’s medical model of healthcare.
After that first paragraph, you may have expected to see an attorney’s phone number to call and join a class action lawsuit! Well, I am sure that it won’t be long before that actually happens. New research, published Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that certain acid reflux drugs are “significantly associated” with vitamin B12 deficiency. In turn, vitamin B12 deficiency causes serious health consequences including anemia, osteoporosis, depression, memory loss, dementia, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease.
If you have acid reflux, you need to understand what is causing it. Find the cause and correct the cause. Simply popping pills to block the natural production of stomach acid has proven to only cause even more serious health conditions. Read on to learn how to restore your health without these dangerous drugs!
Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Acid reflux drugs, like Nexium, have long been known to cause some very serious side effects. Among them are problems such as anemia, heart problems, hypertension, osteoporosis and further digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, drugs used to treat acid reflux do not treat the condition itself but only the symptoms. They are not designed to correct the cause of the problem. As a result, the problem continues to worsen over the years. Drug treatment is continued and the drug side effects continue to worsen as well.
This new research(1) sheds further light on this problem. It showed that people taking certain acid reflux drugs are far more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. The study implicated proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec – and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) – Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. Proton pump inhibitors proved to be the worst.
Unfortunately, the study’s senior author, Dr. Douglas Corley, stated(2) that patient’s should not stop taking the drugs but should get their B12 levels checked. If your levels are deficient, then presumably, you should treat that as another symptom as well. All the while, the underlying causes are left unaddressed. Vitamin B12 deficiency cannot be corrected unless the cause of the deficiency is addressed. In this case, the cause may be your acid reflux pill.
Left uncorrected, this leads to fatigue, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome, increased risk of bone fracture, hypertension, dementia, depression and neuropathy. It is dangerous, costly, and simply ridiculous to continue treating symptoms of any condition rather than addressing the cause. Wouldn’t it be much better to find what is causing the acid reflux and correct the cause?
Why Do You Have Stomach Acid?
Stomach acid has been unjustly vilified as the cause of acid reflux and GERD. In a similar fashion,cholesterol was incorrectly pegged as the cause of deadly heart disease. Just as pharmaceutically lowering cholesterol increases the heart attack death rate, blocking stomach acid with drugs only makes the problem of reflux and GERD even worse!
You have acid in your stomach for a reason. The cells that line your stomach produce it. In fact, your stomach is specifically designed with a layer of cells that protect it from the otherwise damaging effects of the acid. This stomach acid is required by your body for:
proper digestion of food, especially carbohydrates
Absorption of nutrients (such as vitamin B12)
Killing harmful bacteria and limiting bacterial overgrowth
Without this acid in your stomach, you cannot properly digest carbohydrates or effectively absorb certain nutrients. Blocking this acid production also allows for overgrowth of bacteria and opens the door for H. pylori infections. Simply having the stomach acid is not the problem. In fact, most people suffering from acid reflux actually have too little stomach acid rather than too much.
What Causes Acid Reflux and GERD?
The problem is when the acid leaks (refluxes) into the esophagus. Your esophagus does not have the protective lining that your stomach has. When stomach acid gets into the esophagus, the burning pain of acid reflux results.
Your body has a very strong valve – called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) – between the stomach and esophagus that is designed to prevent the reflux of acid. The cause of the acid reflux is adysfunctioning LES muscle which allows the acid to reflux into the esophagus.
It is not a problem of having too much acid. Again, most cases of acid reflux actually occur with low levels of stomach acid. The acid is just in the wrong place. Lowering acid levels or blocking its production does not fix the problem with the LES. As a result, the acid reflux continues and you are prescribed acid blocking drugs for the rest of your life.
So, the real question is what is causing the dysfunction with the LES muscle and how can your correct this cause of acid reflux?
Correcting the Cause of Acid Reflux
Your Nerve System and Chiropractic Care. The LES is an autonomic muscle. That means that it is automatically controlled by your autonomic nervous system. Stress on the nerves that control this muscle can cause it to malfunction. Additionally, production and secretion of stomach acid is controlled by your nerve system. Ensuring proper nerve system function is the first step to healing acid reflux and GERD naturally. Chiropractic physicians are trained to find and correct nerve interference such as this. As a result, many people experience significant relief simply from including regular chiropractic care in their wellness lifestyle.
Eliminating Drug Effects. It is also important to consider other prescription drugs that you are taking that may be causing the problem. Common culprits include steroid drugs, NSAIDs (such as Advil and Aleve), and aspirin. These drugs are commonly prescribed for various pain syndromes. However, there are many natural, safe, and more effective methods for correcting these conditions as well.
Excessive Carbohydrates. Consuming excessive carbohydrates – especially simple carbs like sugars, breads, pastas, pastries, etc. – create an inflammatory environment in your body. This can prevent normal production of stomach acid and allow bacterial overgrowth. This leads to gas production and increased intra-abdominal pressure. As a result the LES muscle becomes inhibited and acid reflux occurs. Simply switching to a low carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory dietnaturally corrects this cause of acid reflux.
Balancing Bacteria. Low stomach acid allows for bacterial overgrowth and disrupts the balance of healthy gut bacteria. Consuming foods rich in probiotics (healthy bacteria), such as raw fermented foods, restores this balance. Taking a probiotic supplement may be necessary as well. Restoring the normal, healthy bacteria in your gut helps to correct many digestive disorders, including acid reflux.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux
Using these methods addresses the actual cause of acid reflux and GERD and allows your body to heal itself naturally. While you are healing, you may need to use some natural remedies as well to help with the symptoms. As mentioned earlier, the problem is most often a result of not enough stomach acid production in order to digest food, absorb nutrients and kill harmful bacteria.
Bitter herbs can be used to increase production of stomach acid. These include herbs such as barberry bark, caraway, dandelion, fennel, ginger, goldenseal root, peppermint, and wormwood. They are typically taken in very small doses and made in a tincture of water. Consult an well-trained herbalist for best results.
While you are reconditioning your body to produce the proper amount of stomach acid, you may benefit from natural digestive enzyme supplements as well. Without proper levels of stomach acid, the pH is too high to stimulate the release of these enzymes naturally. These supplements can help provide your body with the support it needs to break down carbohydrates and proteins more effectively.
As with all health conditions, dangerous drugs are not the only option. It may seem easy to simply pop a pill and ignore the problem. However, your body and your long-term health will ultimately suffer the consequences. You can live a radiant and vibrantly healthy life! Simple lifestyle changes make a huge difference in your vitality and they will help you heal acid reflux naturally!
References for this Article:
(1) Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiencyhttp://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1788456
(2) Stomach acid drugs may increase vitamin deficiency riskhttp://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/10/us-stomach-acid-drugs-vitamin-d-idUSBRE9B914Y20131210?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews
Photo by Rennett Stowe