iStock_000029707486SmallMany patients complain of heartburn and as a result, proton pump inhibitors are prescribed to reduce their body’s natural acid production. Unfortunately, these antacid medications may not be addressing the problem.

Proton pump inhibitors are prescribed for gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD). Patients complain of chest pain, chronic cough, sleep disturbances, and hoarseness. GERD is caused by too much stomach acid production causing it to reflux into the esophagus. Therefore, treatment with proton pump inhibitors are used to suppress acid secretion in the stomach.

Proton pump inhibitors may not be the solution. We typically do not produce more hormones, insulin, and enzymes as we age. The truth is that most of our bodies’ processes decrease as we age. Most people suffering with acid reflux or GERD may be suffering from too little acid called hypochlorhydria, which is when the stomach is unable to produce enough hydrochloric acid.

People with low stomach acid levels commonly have symptoms of gas, bloating, flatulence, and constipation or diarrhea. This low acid environment slows digestion. The protein in their food sits in the stomach and putrefies instead of digesting. The sphincter between the stomach and small intestine delays opening because the protein is not properly broken down into peptides due to insufficient hydrochloric acid production. The small intestine does not want whole proteins. It needs the amino acids from the broken down proteins. This faulty digestive process is associated with low acid, not high hydrochloric acid. These acids backflow into the esophagus causing the pain called acid reflux.

The barrier that prevents HCL from traveling from your stomach up into your esophagus is called the esophageal sphincter. The cause of this sphincter dysfunction is inadequate levels of hydrochloric acid. Normal acid levels help prevent infection in your gut as well as enhance absorption of vitamins and minerals. Supplementation with betaine HCL will enhance the normal acid levels of the stomach.

Additional supplements may be needed to improve your digestive function such as probiotics and glutamine. Deglycyrrhiizinated licorice (DGL) helps relax the esophageal sphincter and is soothing and protecting to the gastric mucosa and mucous membranes lining the digestive tract.

Helicoacter pylori is a major cause of gastritis. Mastic gum, methylmethionesulfonium, zinc-carnosine and vitamin C address both eradication of H. pylori and the healing and protection of inflamed mucosal tissue.

Natural treatments offer a more effective approach than what is provided by proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors can induce several nutrient deficiencies in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. In addition, they can cause serious neuromuscular and cardiovascular problems and increase the chance of hip fracture in people over 50 years of age.

The Annals of Internal Medicine, November 17, 2009, Volume 15.

Yang Y, MD, Lewis JD, Epstein S, Metz DC. Long-term Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy and Risk of Hip Fracture. JAMA. 2006; 296(24):2947-2953.

Too Hard to Stomach: The risks associated with antacids might outweigh the potential benefits they offer by Joseph Esposito, DC. Chiropractic Economics: Issue 18- November 13, 2012. p. 17-19.

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