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Part One: Heartburn Med’s Effects
by Extra-Ordinary Health Writers

Part Two: Exploring Healthier Options for Relieving Heartburn and Acid Reflux
by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH


Part One:
Heartburn Med’s Effects by Extra-Ordinary Health Writers

Tens of millions of people take heartburn meds—also known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs—but there can be some fallout from taking them. For example, a newer study published in the journal CMAJ Open found that people aged 65+ who take them are twice as likely to be hospitalized with kidney failure than those who don’t take them.

That doesn’t mean that heartburn meds cause kidney failure, but it does raise a red flag of concern for those taking them. Lead study author, Tony Antoniou, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, explains, “Generally, the drugs are very well tolerated, and the vast majority of patients who take them will not develop kidney failure or other serious problems. But the drugs should be used for the shortest possible duration.”

Dr. John O’Brian Clarke, a gastroenterologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, points out that the overall risk of kidney failure is quite low, but adds that one of the most concerning side effects of these drugs is osteoporosis, and that there is also a risk that people won’t absorb certain vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, B12 and calcium. He, too, agrees that proton pump inhibitors use is not risk-free and that they should be restricted only to those people who truly need them, to find the minimum dose and shortest duration of time used.

Antoniou adds that patients should regularly review whether proton pump inhibitors are even necessary, saying, “In many cases, lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding precipitating foods and losing weight, may be all that are required.”

This study is a newer one among many past ones which point out the risks associated with taking proton pump inhibitors. For example, past studies have indicated that since PPIs disrupt stomach acid, they also reduce gut bacteria diversity in the microbiome, creating a hospitable environment for the superbug Clostridium difficile and bacteria which cause pneumonia. C. diff causes severe diarrhea and intestinal infection, particularly in the elderly, and it is difficult to get rid of. In fact, one study found that those taking PPIs had a C. diff rate that was 74 percent higher than those not taking PPIs and were 42 percent more likely to have a C. diff recurrence. Studies also highlight higher rates of pneumonia among those taking the meds.

PPIs can also block nutrient absorption in the stomach, leading to a deficiency in vitamin B12, iron and calcium, which are associated with neurological problems and anemia as well as the risk of brittle bones, fractures and osteoporosis.

Likewise, a study published in the journal Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, says that taking PPIs may raise the risk of heart disease and heart attack. How? John P. Cooke, clinical professor and chair of the department of cardiovascular sciences at Houston Methodist Hospital explains that PPIs may cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow. More research on this is underway, so stay tuned. PPIs can also increase the risk of arrhythmias, seizures and muscle spasms.

If you or a loved one is taking PPIs, especially long-term use, then it might be time to look at other options. Some ways to control acid reflux without meds include eating smaller portions, eating fewer fatty foods, avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs or foods which trigger reflux; wearing loose-fitting clothes; losing weight—even 5 or 10 pounds; waiting two hours to lie down; and elevating your upper body when sleeping.

Part Two:
Exploring Healthier Options for Relieving Heartburn and Acid Reflux by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH

In addition to the helpful dietary and lifestyle suggestions mentioned in the above article, I am including more recommendations for preventing or relieving heartburn and acid reflux. I’ll start with some natural nutritional supplements that I have found helpful.

Capra Mineral Goat Whey powder is a highly concentrated, alkaline, mineral food, containing over 20 naturally occurring electrolyte minerals and trace elements. It helps to alkalize acidic conditions such as heartburn and helps provide quick relief from acids.

D-Limonene is a natural orange peel oil extract that when taken right before bed acts as a natural barrier to keep stomach acids in the stomach, thereby helping to protect the esophagus and throat from stomach acids. It also stimulates detoxification enzymes and can help support normal immune function.

Melatonin in numerous studies has been shown to be helpful with gastrointestinal health by diminishing acid reflux and GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) related symptoms including heartburn when taken a half hour to hour before bed. It also helpful with sleep and for time changes including jet lag. In one study, both Melatonin and L-Tryptophan promoted a regression of GERD related symptoms without any side effects and may be useful in the GERD therapy. L-Tryptophan is also helpful for promoting restful sleep, for positive mood, and for promoting healthy serotonin levels.

Comprehensive Digestive Enzymes such as OmegaZyme Ultra Ultimate Digestive Enzyme blend by Garden of Life provides a broad spectrum of 21 digestive enzymes when taken before meals, can help to break down and digest foods more efficiently - reducing stomach bloating and pressure on the stomach, which in turn can reduce heart burn and indigestion.

Of course loosing weight, eating healthier, and reducing your internal and external stress are extremely helpful.

Avoid overly acidic foods that tend to stimulate HCL stomach acids. These include but are not limited to citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato sauces, alcohol, coffee, fried and greasy foods, spicy foods (for some), and chocolate for some (sorry).

Eating smaller meals more often to prevent your stomach from becoming over full, which can lead to heart burn. Also, eating your meals slower and chewing more can help you prevent over-filling your stomach. There is a lag of about 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to notify your brain when you are getting full, so eating slower and chewing more can help prevent too full a stomach and the resulting heartburn.

Sleeping at an incline with the head of your bed raised 6 to 8 inches off the floor is very helpful to help keep stomach acids down while lying down. You can put bricks or wood under the top (head end) feet of your bed to get the proper incline. Elevating your bed is much better for you than propping up with pillows, which angle can put more strain on your stomach and LES (lower esophageal sphincter) valve.

Sleeping on your left side helps to keep stomach acids down. Try not to sleep on your right side as this allows stomach acids to come up your esophagus and throat easier.

The suggestions here are not meant to replace your doctor’s or health care provider. They are meant to enhance your well-being by helping you to improve your health and reduce your symptoms in the most natural way, to understand what causes and what prevents your heart burn and acid reflux symptoms, and to understand the possible side-effects and/or health risks of long-term use of acid blockers or proton pump inhibitors.

In closing I am including some additional Heart Burn, Acid Reflux, and GERD natural support resources:

Note: The content provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. You are encouraged to consult with your medical health care provider regarding any health concern or health-related condition you may have.

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