What Seems Like A Minor Health Problem Can Snowball Into Irreversible Health Decline
Acid reflux or heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest or throat, caused by stomach acid touching the lining of the esophagus (the esophagus is the passage that travels from the mouth to the stomach).
Although a seemingly minor health problem, if you only mask the symptoms with medications and don’t address the root problem, your health problems can snowball into much worse ailments.
Since healthy individuals may also experience light reflux – occasional heartburn is not a medical issue that needs to be addressed.
Acid reflux disease however, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD; is where a person suffers from heartburn persistently.
Some GERD sufferers may also experience:
- Bad breath
- Morning hoarseness
- Voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing (especially lumpy foods)
- Chronic earache
- Burning chest pains
- A sensation of food being stuck, choking or tightness in the throat
Damage of the Lower Esophegeal Sphincter (LES)
Some people suffer from GERD as a result of a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) malfunction.
The LES is a 3-cm to 4-cm ring of muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and the stomach. When the LES does not close perfectly – stomach acid splashes up into the esophagus.
There are several factors/conditions, which can prevent the LES from being closed properly.
- Over-eating and obesity – Pressure from over-eating and obesity causes the LES to lose its shape, strength and ability to close properly.
- Some medications – There are certain medications that reduce the LES’s ability to do its job properly such as:
- Blood pressure medications
- Iron and Potassium supplements
- Sleeping pills
- Anxiety medications
- Angina medications
- Asthma medications
- Smoking – The tar from smoking damages the LES.
4. Alcohol – Although alcohol can be a GERD trigger for many people, it also relaxes the LES which allows stomach acid to rise into the esophagus.
Omeprazole (Proton Pump Inhibitors) Warning
Omeprazole is a GERD medication which is the third most prescribed drug in the US.
It’s classified as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which is used to decrease the production of acid in the stomach.
Omeprazole comes with a warning – alerting users that Omeprazole shouldn’t be used for longer than 8 weeks at a time.
Some users may have noticed the warning but chose to ignore it because they are unwilling to make the lifestyle changes needed to naturally treat their GERD at its root cause.
Unfortunately, most doctors don’t take the time to warn their patients the serious health problems that come with long term PPI use. To make matters worse, Big Pharma has been accused of playing-down the possible side effects.
Here is a list of possible health problems that can arise from long term Omeprazole use:
The pancreas is an organ responsible for the production of digestive enzymes. The pancreas also produces insulin, a hormone important in the control of blood glucose levels.
According to Drugs.com, long term use of Omeprazole can inflame the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Long-standing inflammation in your pancreas can lead to pancreatic cancer (mayoclinic).
In recent years, the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), especially omeprazole, has been associated with development of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered evidence in mice and humans that stomach (gastric) acid suppression alters specific gut bacteria in a way that promotes liver injury and progression of three types of chronic liver diseases.
Gut Flora Disruption
Long term users of Omeprazole have decreased diversity of gut flora (good gut bacteria).
A healthy gut flora has been proven to be essential for physical and mental wellbeing.
Research reveals that an unhealthy microbiome (gut dysbiosis) is associated with a long list of different ailments, including inflammatory, autoimmune, metabolic, neoplastic and neurodegenerative diseases.
Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) Use Can Cause Weight Gain
A clinical research team from Japan examined the effects of long-term proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy on body weight in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They concluded long-term PPI treatment was associated with weight gain in patients with GERD.
A study published in August 2016 suggests that PPIs increase the risk of heart attack.
Seventeen RCTs covering 7540 patients were selected. The pooled data suggested that the use of PPI’s was associated with a 70% increased cardiovascular risk.
Research concluded that Omeprazole could significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular events and, so, should be used carefully.
Reduced Ability To Absorb Vitamins And Minerals
Many vitamins and minerals require an acidic environment for optimal absorption. Iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B12 absorption are dependent on the intestine’s acidic environment.
Several studies and case reports describe associations of omeprazole with altered calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 absorption.
Chronic inflammation. Persistent heartburn puts the body into a state of chronic inflammation.
Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) Lawsuits
If lawyers are circling around PPI side effects like vultures… with some who even specialize in PPI grievances… we can only assume that the problem is worse than we think.
In 2016, AstraZeneca paid the United States Department of Justice a $7.9 million penalty for engaging in a kickback scheme involving the sale of Nexium and Prilosec.
In 2015, AstraZeneca settled a national class action involving deceptive marketing of Nexium for the sum of $20 million.
In 2003, AstraZeneca faced allegations by the European Commission that the company provided false and misleading information in order to protect its patent on Losec (sold in the U.S. as Prilosec). After a two-year investigation, the Commission ordered AstraZeneca to pay a fine of €53 million (approximately $67.5 million USD).
In the court filings, lawyers argue the following:
- Nexium and Prilosec are defective and unreasonably dangerous.
- The manufacturers (including AstraZeneca, Proctor & Gamble, and Pfizer) were negligent in the production of the drug.
- The manufacturers failed to properly test the medication and failed to warn doctors and patients of certain risks.
- The manufacturers concealed evidence of the dangers from the government and the public and misrepresented the safety of the drug in its marketing material.
Aluminum Hydroxide and Magnesium Hydroxide Warning
Also known as Mylanta, this milky substance offers instant relief for acid reflux. But it is not recommended for long term use.
Aluminum is a highly toxic metal that accumulates in your system and can cause:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Liver and kidney failure
- Memory loss
- Aching muscles
- Speech disturbances
- Worsening gastrointestinal problems
Antacids like Tums seem like a relatively harmless over-the-counter drug. But like Omeprazole, they should only be taken for short periods of time.
Antacids neutralize stomach acid. As mentioned with the dangers of Omeprazole, low levels of stomach acid disrupt essential gut flora, increases inflammation, and limits your absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Prolonged acid reflux disease can lead to serious health complications. Those include:
- Inflammation of the esophagus resulting in scars from tissue damage
- Esophageal spasms
Or worse; ‘Barrett’s esophagus’ – a condition that manifest in an abnormal shape and color of cells in the esophageal lining. This condition is a precursor to esophageal cancer, especially in adults over 60 years old.
Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide, accounting for 400,000 deaths each year.
A study by the International Journal of Cancer (IJC) revealed that a greater proportion of oesophageal cancer cases (compared to controls) used medications known for damaging the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Natural, Quick Fixes For Acid Reflux
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is effective for instant acid reflux relief.
Half a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved into a four-ounce glass of water is the recommended dose for adults.
How does it work? Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and temporarily relieves symptoms of acid reflux.
Although baking soda is great for instant relief, it is not recommended for daily, long term use because:
- It’s very high in salt (‘sodium’ is salt)
- Interference with calcium absorption is common
- Kidney damage and/or kidney stones are a risk
For this reason, this treatment should always be administered under doctor’s advice.
Ginger tea is one of the oldest Chinese remedies for digestive issues and a great temporary fix for acid reflux.
Ginger is proven to reduce inflammation. But If you take too much, you may make your symptoms worse.
Bananas are an alkaline fruit that helps neutralize acid in the stomach – ripe bananas are best!
Turmeric. In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is prized for its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a 2007 study, chronic acid reflux (GERD) is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. The report suggested that GERD should be treated with anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Sleep on Your Left Side. Sleeping on your left side (called the “left lateral decubitus position”) may help you avoid heartburn during the night.
The esophagus enters the right side of the stomach. As a result, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) sits above the level of stomach acid when you sleep on your left side.
When you lay on your right side, stomach acid covers the LES. This increases the risk of acid leakage and causing heartburn.
Treat Chronic Acid Reflux At Its Root Cause For Good!
Chronic heartburn is a symptom of an imbalance in your stomach. If you only treat the symptoms, you’ll never be free of the problem.
Acid reflux is commonly caused by an unhealthy gut microbiome (also known as “gut flora” and “good bacteria”).
The microbiome is a 2-5 pound mass of bacteria living in your gut.
As disgusting as that might sound… mountains of new research proves that a healthy microbiome, serves to maintain a long list of body functions.
You’ll be surprised to learn that these “good bugs” are responsible for:
- Strengthening and supporting the immune system
- Keeping you slim by regulating your metabolism
- Producing and regulating hormones for mental clarity, feelings of happiness, and weight control
- Producing essential vitamins not found in the diet
- Promoting and retaining youthful looking skin
- Producing enzymes for digestion to give us long-lasting energy
- Maintaining a healthy inflammatory response so you feel great all the time
You’ll always have some bad bugs, but the good ones should dominate.
Modern-living however, kills off the native, good bacteria in your gut… and the space that’s left behind gets taken over by bad bacteria.
When the balance of your gut tips in the direction of bad bacteria, a wide range of digestion related diseases follow… such as acid reflux.
Bad bacteria don’t serve the body in any way… it simply grows like weeds… taking up space in your gut, and making it tough for the remaining good bacteria to do its job properly.
So how does an unhealthy microbiome cause acid reflux?
An unhealthy gut microbiome is called gut dysbiosis… when there is too much bad bacteria, it can creep into the small intestine and create gasses.
This gas rises up and pushes acid from the stomach… up into the esophagus.
Acid reflux medications are responsible for the extinction of your good bacteria… making matters worse!
Acid reflux meds are designed to lower acid levels in in the stomach… which changes the pH levels of the gut… killing off good bacteria.
With lower acid levels, bad bacteria and fungus that would have otherwise been killed, pass into the gut where it begins to ferment and grow…
Bad bacteria takes up room in the gut (where the good bacteria once lived), and prevents the good bacteria from returning.
If you suffer from chronic acid reflux… instead of reaching for a quick fix, you should consider restoring the health of your microbiome.
Learn more about the importance of your microbiome and how to take better care of it… check out a recent article of ours: A healthy microbiome is more important than you think.