February 22, 2016

Proton pump inhibitors have long been used to help people stave off poorly chosen diet induced GI disease like GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, when they were really meant to be used for people with diseases like Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome where stomach acid is over secreted. These drugs have been hailed as the savior from heartburn pain and chest discomfort that follows a beer and chicken wing Superbowl binge. Witness Larry the Cable Guy in his Pilosec commercials inducing the average Joe to keep up the bad habits because relief is here! Sad but true for the average American.

That being said, who cares if there is no side effect to this behavior! Unfortunately, these drugs are a veritable nightmare for the human body when used longterm.

In the journal JAMA Neurology this month, Dr. Gomm and colleagues looked at PPI use in roughly 74000 elderly German PPI users. PPI use was associated with a 44% increased risk of dementia!!!!!!! This study does not prove causation, just association. However, this data is reinforced by animal data that shows that these medicines increase the deposition of beta amyloid protein in the brain that is associated with dementia.

PPI's are also known to affect the gut micro biome negatively by allowing some microbes to pass the higher pH stomach zone safely and cause dysbiosis in the small intestine.They are associated with increased risks to pneumonia and GI infections as pathogens that should be killed by the stomach acid survive the more hospitable environment of a PPI treated stomach.

PPI's increase an amino acid molecule called asymmetric dimethyl arginine that is a potent inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase thus reducing nitric oxide and causing cardiac endothelial dysfunction. In other words, PPI's indirectly affect the heart's blood vessel lining and can rase blood pressure. Not good. All of this can lead to a heart attack.

An increased risk of food sensitivity and allergy are possible with food proteins making it to the intestines undigested triggering an immune response.

To continue: PPI's deplete the body of magnesium, calcium, B12 and iron, increase your risk of bone fractures, allergies, heart attacks, infections and now dementia. These are nightmare medicines that should not be used lightly.

Nexium alone made 6.1 billion US$ in 2013. Big business to keep us happy eating what we want. But at what cost?

Never stop these medicines cold turkey as you will likely suffer a major rebound acid pain.

If you or your child suffer from heartburn or GERD, consider the following treatments to get off of these potentially dangerous medicines:

1) Try an elimination diet. Avoiding corn, soy, wheat, dairy and egg, refined flour and sugars for a month will likely decrease the inflammation that is triggering your symptoms.
2) Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as they all promote reflux.
3) Try melatonin. This hormone is useful in tightening the muscle that prevents acid from refluxing into the esophagus.
4) Try swedish bitters which have an effect on bitter taste receptors and can help kill bacteria as well as helping to aid the digestive process.
5) Try deglycyrrhizinated licorice to heal the stomach lining. Regular licorice is dangerous in high volume because of an effect on the hormone aldosterone and blood pressure.
6) Add ginger to your diet.
7) Adding sea salt to the diet provides the chloride necessary for HCl acid production.
8) Try aloe vera juice for mucosal healing.
9) Look into the acid level of your stomach at baseline. You may be paradoxically low in hydrochloric acid which is the actual cause of the dysfunction. This is uncommon in children. Read the Inside Tract by Gerry Mullin, MD for a complete understanding of this issue. More common as we age.
10) Reduce your stress level. Try meditating, deep breathing, yoga, prayer, and other forms of relaxation to calm your sympathetic nervous system. This will help all diseases especially, GERD.

Be well,

Dr. M