1. When choosing the right heartburn medication, it is essential that you know how much stomach acid your body produces and how antacids work. Using antacids should not be taken lightly, as recent research brings concerns about misuse and health risks associated with the prolonged use.
2. Stomach Acid is essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients including protein, iron, and B12 to name a few. Antacids block the production of stomach acid, hindering digestion and posing other health risks as a result.
3. Getting to the root of your symptoms with some simple tests can help you understand what is really happening with your body so that you and your trusted healthcare provider can decide on the best treatment for your needs.
Have you been taking heartburn medications to find relief, only to end up feeling worse? Maybe you wake up feeling exhausted or find that new symptoms are suddenly showing up. If so, know you are not alone! Recent scientific research suggests that inappropriate use of antacid medications could contribute to a variety of health risks.
Most people who take antacids do so without understanding the mechanism of action. In other words, they don’t understand the biochemical interactions occurring within the body that allow the drug to create the “desired” effect – which in this case, is relief from heartburn.
With billions of dollars spent each year on antacids, and new research suggesting that misuse could be harmful, it’s important to start taking these medications seriously. It is essential to talk to your trusted healthcare professional about other factors that could be causing your symptoms to avoid being prescribed antacids for the wrong condition.
Antacids are drugs used to treat conditions caused or worsened by the overproduction of stomach acid. Physicians often prescribe these drugs for chronic heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastric ulcers, and for H. pylori (in combination with antibiotics).
Some antacids, such as Pepto-Bismol, work by neutralizing stomach acid. Other antacids, known as H2 blockers (i.e., Pepcid, Zantac) and proton pump inhibitors (i.e., Nexium, Prilosec), reduce the production of acid in the stomach by binding to specific receptors in the parietal cells, which are responsible for acid production within the stomach. (1)
While antacids can be helpful for occasional symptom relief, they do not treat the underlying condition and prolonged use can often lead to new, or worsened, symptoms.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is essential for optimal digestion and immune health. We need it so our bodies can absorb vitamins and minerals, activate the production of enzymes, and protect against harmful organisms and infections. HCl is also needed to break down proteins into their smallest components known as amino acids, which are then used to build tissues, enzymes, antibodies, neurotransmitters, and more. (2)
Many vitamins and minerals depend on hydrochloric acid to be absorbed and utilized by your body. Iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and B12, for example, cannot be absorbed without HCl.
Stomach acid is also needed to keep the muscle that acts as a barrier between your esophagus and your stomach closed, preventing acid reflux. Yes, you read that right! Adequate amounts of stomach acid can prevent acid reflux. This begs the question: Why would physicians be prescribing a medication that will block HCl production, eventually worsening the symptoms people are seeking to resolve? (3)
These types of acid reducing drugs are prescribed every day to patients struggling with acid reflux, heartburn, or ulcer symptoms, but what if their conditions, or symptoms, are caused by a lack of stomach acid rather than an over production of stomach acid? Taking antacids in this situation would exacerbate symptoms and could result in severe health conditions over time. (4)(5)(6)
Many factors can contribute to a decline in HCl production such as age, stress, poor dietary habits, nutrient deficiencies, and the prolonged use of certain drugs like birth control, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and, you guessed it, some antacids.
Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, can lead to chronic fatigue, bloating and discomfort, protein deficiency, heartburn, reflux, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency, magnesium deficiency, skin issues, hair loss, frequent infections, anemia, neurological problems, food allergies, and more. (7)
With 235.1 million U.S. dollars spent on just ONE brand of antacid in 2019, and with no evidence that these health conditions are being treated, it is time to consider a better approach. (8)
Here at the Energetic Health Institute, we learn the importance of addressing the root cause of a symptom/disease, known as a functional approach. This approach activates the body’s innate healing mechanisms, rather than suppressing them. In this way, we can work to resolve the underlying problem, not just the symptoms.
Why guess when you can know? Working with a healthcare professional to get the proper labs will ensure you take the appropriate measure(s) for your recovery. Helpful tests for some of the problems we have discussed may include a comprehensive stool analysis, delayed food allergy panel, and/or an organic acids test.
Some measures you can take now to improve your symptoms include removing trigger foods, managing stress, avoiding a large amount of water with meals, and talking with a trusted professional about quality supplements you can take to support the health of your gut. (9)
Using antacids to relieve your heartburn symptoms comes at an awfully high price. Long-term use of these drugs is scientifically proven to cause various health risks in some people and may be costing you your healthy and your money.
A functional approach might not reduce your symptoms immediately the way a drug can, but it will help you target the core issue and begin restoring your health, so you don’t have to experience these symptoms ever again. If you choose to try this approach, get ready for better digestion, more energy, and zero unwanted side effects!
Jiovanna Acosta is a Board-Certified Holistic Nutritionist and graduate of the Energetic Health loves to dance every chance she gets. Her background in special education has inspired her to focus her work on children, providing personalized education and developmental tools for their wellbeing and future success.
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