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Did you know? Medications that lower stomach acid are intended for short-term use—about six weeks!
The FDA cautions us against anything more than three 14 day courses of antacid therapy in one year.
In spite of this, many people who take prescription antacids or PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) have been taking the medication for several months to several years.
This March in the Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, researchers explain that in spite of new acid suppressing drugs, “symptoms and injury persist in many patients” with acid reflux. (1)
Unfortunately, there is more to the story.
When it comes to acid reflux—or heartburn—we know that the lining of the esophagus is damaged from a reflux of stomach acid. Often, the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach is to blame. This barrier is also called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES.
When you have heartburn, the lower esophageal sphincter may be too relaxed. This allows stomach acid to reach the delicate tissue of the esophagus.
Antacid medication may lead to other disorders and even dependency. (2) Antacid medications—when used longer than recommended—can cause issues like:
Antacid overuse is more common than you may think. Using an antacid medication over the long-term could lead to food allergies, fatigue, a vitamin B12 deficiency, or even an irregular heartbeat.
Over the short-term, risks include gut and respiratory infection, vitamin B12 deficiency, and magnesium deficiency. (7)(8)
Studies have also found that there is the likelihood of dependency, or addiction. Also called rebound hyper-acidity, when you stop taking antacid medication symptoms of reflux often return. Rebound hyperacidity can keep you on the medication—sometimes for years.
And even worse, the trouble may not be over once the medication is discontinued. One study published last year in Surgery found that those on antacid medication were in greater danger of experiencing esophageal: (9)
When it comes to heartburn, people need to start looking beyond stomach acid. Strong stomach acid protects the body against invading bacteria. It turns “on” enzymes. And it helps break down protein.
So, what’s causing the reflux? And why have the past two decades seen such a dramatic increase in the number of cases? (10)
Studies have found that the inner ecology of the esophagus is as unique and complex as the stomach, the intestines, the birth canal, and the skin. (11) Like anywhere else in the gut, the inner ecology of the esophagus is influenced by diet, Candida overgrowth, and antibiotic use. (12)
That’s not all.
Studies have found that prescription antacids also change the inner ecology of the gut. (13) Antacids damage the inner ecology of the esophagus, the stomach, and the small intestine.
When the inner ecology of the esophagus is out of balance, unfriendly bacteria produce something called endotoxin. Endotoxin is as it sounds—a toxin. Besides being inflammatory, endotoxin also affects the lower esophageal sphincter.
Endotoxin from a wounded inner ecosystem can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. (14)
While antacid medications change the acidity in the stomach and destroy the inner ecology of the gut, the damage doesn’t stop there. Inflammation of the tissue lining the esophagus also contributes to the growth of an imbalanced inner ecosystem.
1. Support Stomach Acid: We know that stomach acid carries out two very important functions. The first is that it protects the body against infection. The second is that it activates enzymes and helps to break down proteins. Assist Dairy and Protein is designed to help maintain proper HCl levels.
2. Limit Hard-to-Digest Fiber and Sugar: Sugar is expansive and feeds both Candida overgrowth and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Hard-to-digest fibers also feed bacterial overgrowth. Examples are starchy vegetables, some fruit, and many grains. These fibers can sit in the gut and putrefy. This damages the inner ecology and leads to gas, bloating, cramping, and heartburn.
3. Support Enzymes: Enzymes play an extremely valuable role in the digestive process. Besides breaking food down into smaller pieces, enzymes also work with the lining of the gut to keep things moving. Too little enzymes, and food stagnates. This can throw off the inner ecology of the gut—leading to heartburn. Assist Full Spectrum Enzymes are designed to support proper digestion.
4. Replenish Beneficial Bacteria: Research tells us a damaged inner ecology may be the real cause of heartburn. Bring balance to the inner ecology of the gut with fermented foods and probiotic liquids. The good bacteria and yeast in these foods soothe inflammation and keep bad bacteria and Candida yeast in check.
Very few people realize that heartburn medications used to lower stomach acid are intended for extremely short-term use, just six weeks at a time. Yet countless people take proton pump inhibitors or prescription antacids for months or even years.
Long-term use of antacid medication could lead to dependency or health disorders, like food allergies, fatigue, an irregular heartbeat, and magnesium and zinc deficiency. Antacid dependency comes when you suffer from rebound hyper-acidity that can cause reflux symptoms once you stop taking the medication.
Unfortunately, prescription antacids can change the inner ecology of the gut, the esophagus, the stomach, and the small intestine.
You can take 4 steps to safely manage heartburn today by:
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