Side effects of popular stomach acid–blocking PPI drugs like Prilosec include nutrient deficiencies, and increased risk for food-borne illnesses, infections, and hip fractures. Tierona Low Dog, MD, talks PPIs and natural alternatives.
My husband has had acid reflux since he was a baby, goes the family lore (which makes me wonder about an undiagnosed lactose intolerance), and still suffers from occasional, painful heartburn—at which point, he grabs the bottle of antacids.
He’s not alone: Increasing numbers of Americans now fill prescriptions for stomach acid–blockers proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix, pushing sales to $13.6 million last year, according to IMS Health. Although effective and necessary for severe gastric conditions, PPIs are heavily marketed and overused by people who don’t need them.
I talked with Tierona Low Dog, MD, a well-known speaker, herbalist, and integrative physician, about potential negative side of PPIs, as well as effective natural alternatives that can help many people. Here’s what she had to say:
Here’s more to think about with PPIs:
PPIs can increase the risk of fractures.
Calcium, along with iron and vitamin B12, needs an acidic environment to be absorbed. This is a special concern forolder women at risk for osteoporosis.
Natural gut-health supplements can help you reduce your dose and eventually wean off PPIs.
D-limonene, an extract of orange peel, can help, Low Dog says. Other effective, traditional remedies include deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), aloe vera gel, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and the amino acid glutamine.