Antacid Side Effects & Natural Solutions

The dangers of stomach acid medication and how you can treat it from an Ayurvedic perspective.

In This Article

Addressing Stomach Acid

In a recent study published in the journal Gut, researchers evaluated the gut microbes of 1,815 people. The people taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) had significantly less beneficial gut bugs or microbial diversity compared to those who were not on the PPIs. They also linked the lack of microbial diversity from the PPIs to an increased risk of harmful opportunistic intestinal bacteria, like Salmonella or C. difficile. (2,3)

In another study, patients that were taking PPIs had a 28 percent higher risk of kidney-related issues compared to those who did not take them. (1) While these studies cannot make direct cause and effect claims, to be safe, I would suggest talking to your doctor about these two alternative strategies:

  1. Temporarily switch to a H2-blocker
  2. Address the underlying digestive issue, rather than just treating the symptoms

The two drug types used to address stomach acid concerns are:

  1. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium
  2. And H2-blockers, like Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamet.

While 170 million PPI prescriptions were filled in 2014, both PPIs and H2-blockers are also available over-the-counter. Recently, PPIs have been the target of some negative research, and surveys are suggesting that they are widely over-used and often do more harm than good. (2,3)

Looking Under the Hood

The accumulation of excess acid in the stomach can be exacerbated by a handful of underlying digestive imbalances. Here are some of the most common:

  1. Poor elimination – which is not moving the bowels completely at least once a day. Toxins from sluggish elimination are re-circulated back to the liver, where they can congest the gallbladder and bile flow. >>>Learn more about how to improve elimination here
  2. Liver and gallbladder congestion – which most commonly causes the inability to digest fatty or greasy foods. Uncongested, quality bile flow from the liver and gallbladder is needed to buffer the acids from the stomach. A lack of bile flow will cause the stomach acid to linger and irritate the stomach. More bile is required. >>>Learn more about how to decongest the liver and gallbladder and improve bile flow here
  3. The stomach lining that buffers the acids is made up of 95 percent water. If water is lacking, the buffer layer will be too dry and there will be an increased risk of occasional heartburn. Solution: Drink 12 ounces of water 30 minutes before each meal to pre-hydrate the stomach lining. This is not to be confused with drinking large amounts of water with the meal, which can dilute the digestive acids. >>>Learn more on the importance of hydration here

References

  1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_158313.html
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26657899
  3. Scientific American. M. Moyer. Heartburn Meds Alter the Gut. May 2016

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