Heartburn & Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) Part 2

In the last post, we spoke of the use of pharmacologic agents such as antacids, H2 blocked and PPIs to treat GERD and symptoms thereof. Chronic use of these agents will result in many problems. Chronic suppression of gastric acid is not always a good thing and will result in many mineral deficiencies, improper digestion, immune up-regulation and even infection. Allow me to illustrate:

Choices such as vinegar, spices and decaffeinated coffee, which increase stomach acid also improve diabetes. Prolonged pharmaceutical suppression of stomach acid may have an adverse effect on diabetes.

Suppression of acid function impairs intrinsic factor function (needed for absorption of B12) and B12 absorption. Long term use of PPIs is associated with B12 deficiency and all of its complications including depression, neuropathy, fatigue and dementia.

Stomach acid is required for protein digestion. When proteins are inadequately broken down into amino acids, they travel further down the GI tract where they can trigger food intolerances and immune up-regulation. Studies demonstrate that antacid medications-including PPIs and H2 Blockers can act as risk factors for food allergies and sensitivities.

Adequate gastric acid is necessary for proper mineral absorption. PPIs are linked to magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron deficiencies. Several studies have documented PPI induced magnesium deficiency causing parathyroid gland dysfunction. These same studies point o calcium deficiency resulting in increased fracture risk. More importantly, inadequate mineral status leads to greater uptake of heavy metal toxins because these minerals are necessary cofactors in enzymatic reactions that remove these toxins!

In the presence of chronic acid suppression, H. pylori, a bacterium in the stomach, can shift from co-habitation status to disease causing concentrations and may cause progression of GERD to gastritis.

PPIs decrease the absorption of thyroxine (T4 thyroid hormone). This is dangerous for those patients being treated with thyroid hormone as it can cause a relapse into hypothyroidism. PPIs also decrease the bioavailability of Vitamin C.

Protein and food maldigestion are common side effects of pharmacologic acid suppression and may cause nausea, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

PPIs can lead to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and gut dysbiosis causing symptoms of bloating, gas, indigestion and irritable bowel.

Finally, chronic PPI use can increase susceptibility to multiple enteric pathogenic organisms including salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
Again, these acid suppressing pharmaceuticals were never meant to be used chronically. Americans’ dependence upon them has lead to multiple problems, immune dysregulation and bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel. These pharmaceuticals, when used chronically, have ushered in a whole new host of complications and disease which will eventually affect all those who depend upon them.

Next time, we will discuss lifestyle choices that allow those affected with GERD to decrease their depend upon pharmaceuticals and their many and varied side effects. Thanks for reading…

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