Since gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) was first identified in the early 1930s, the number of people experiencing heartburn has increased substantially.
In fact, one study shows that in just 10 years, the number of people experiencing:1
- Any GERD symptoms increased by 30%
- Symptoms at least once a week increased by 47%
- Severe GERD increased by 24%
While these numbers are concerning, I’ll admit they’re not surprising considering the typical American diet.
Our nutrition-less, grain-based diet of carbohydrates and starches has wrecked our health and made our bodies behave in ways nature never intended.
This has led to an epidemic of chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity — and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Today, more than 60 million Americans experience the painful burning sensation of gastroesophageal reflux disease at least once a week and, in many cases, every day.
And instead of advising patients to eat the natural diet of their ancestors, doctors continue to dole out Big Pharma’s heartburn medications like candy.
These Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are sold under the names Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
It’s true these drugs can sometimes be effective at reducing your stomach acid. So they will help your heartburn — but they only proved short-term relief.
But as I’ve been telling my patients for decades, reducing your stomach acid is NOT a lasting solution to your problem.
Brand-new studies show there are some pretty serious downsides to using PPIs. With side effects that are so dangerous, mainstream medicine is finally starting to understand the cure is worse than the disease.
And they’ve even issued new guidelines regarding these medications.
I’ve warned my patients and readers to avoid these dangerous drugs for years. And it seems like the message is finally starting to get through to mainstream medicine.
New guidelines published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine advise doctors to stop prescribing PPIs long-term and suggest only taking them “as needed.”2
That’s because, as I’ve been saying for years, the risks outweigh the benefits. Brand new research has confirmed PPIs increase the risk of many diseases, including:
- Heart attack and stroke. Researchers found that long-term usage of PPIs changes the interior of your blood vessels from a slick Teflon coating into Velcro. This allows plaque and blood clots to stick and increases heart attack and stroke risk.3
- Diabetes. New research found that people who regularly take PPIs are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes.4 And the longer these patients took the drugs, the higher their risk.
- Hip fractures. A new study by BMJ found that postmenopausal women who took a PPI for two years were at a greater risk of breaking a hip.5
- Alzheimer’s. Two recent studies link PPIs with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the first study, researchers found people who regularly take PPIs have a 44% increased risk of dementia, even if they only took the drugs occasionally. A second study closely tracked more than 3,300 people for six years and found PPI users had a 38% increased risk of dementia and a 44% increased risk of Alzheimer’s.6
- Lung diseases. A study of nearly 5,000 patients determined that the overall rate of lung disease was 11% higher for those who used PPIs regularly.7 Another study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that PPI use was associated with a higher risk of developing COVID-19.8
Additional research has connected PPIs to chronic kidney disease… osteoporosis…liver cancer…and anemia.9,10,11,12
At the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, I never recommend PPIs. If heartburn is persistent, there are some easy, initial changes you should make that can have a big impact. You should avoid or minimize caffeine, alcohol, citrus juice, spicy foods, and greasy and fried foods. These can make your heartburn symptoms worse.
I also recommend that you don’t lie down after eating and, if possible, sleep on your left side. This allows gravity to work in your favor since your stomach is below your esophagus. But if you need additional relief, here’s what I suggest:
Use These Safe Alternatives To Big Pharma’s Deadly Drugs
There are a few favorite alternatives that I often recommend to patients:
- Ginger root: Research shows ginger can strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Add one-half teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root to a cup of hot water. Let the ginger steep for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger and drink.
- D-limonene: This is an extract from orange peel that’s highly effective. In one study, 90% of the people reported complete relief of their heartburn symptoms in just two weeks. What’s more, the effect lasted for six months after they stopped taking it.13 Take 1000 mg every other day for 20 days. Then, take a maintenance dose as needed.
- Zinc: Zinc has incredibly powerful gastro-protective effects. One study compared zinc to famotidine (the over-the-counter drug Pepcid). The result? Patients in the zinc group experienced identical symptom relief to those who took Pepcid.14 You can find zinc at any health food store or even your local grocery store. Aim for 96 mg of elemental zinc per day.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Ness-Jensen E, et al. “Changes in prevalence, incidence and spontaneous loss of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms: a prospective population-based cohort study, the HUNT study.” Gut. 2011. doi. 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-300715.
2. Dharmarajan T. “The Use and misuse of proton pump inhibitors: an opportunity for deprescribing.” JAMDA. 2021. 22(1);15-22.
3. Gautham Yepuri et al. Proton pump inhibitors accelerate endothelial senescence. Circulation Res. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA. 116.308807. published 10 May 2016.
4. Yuan J, et al. “Regular use of proton pump inhibitors and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective cohort studies.” Gut. 2020 Sep 28;gutjnl-2020-322557.
5. Khalili H, et al. “Use of proton pump inhibitors and risk of hip fracture in relation to dietary and lifestyle factors: a prospective cohort study.” BMJ. 2012; 344.
6. Haenisch B, et al. “Risk of dementia in elderly patients with the use of proton pump inhibitors.” Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2015.
7. Lin W, et al. “Association of increased risk of pneumonia and using proton pump inhibitors in patients with type ii diabetes mellitus.” Dose Response. 2019 Apr-Jun; 17(2): 1559325819843383.
8. Almario C, et al. “Increased risk of COVID-19 among users of proton pump inhibitors.” Am J Gastroenterol. 2020 Aug 25 : 10.14309/ajg.0000000000000798.
9. Lazarus B, Chen Y, et al. “Proton pump inhibitor use and the risk of chronic kidney disease.” JAMA Intern Med. February 2016.
10. Thong B, et al. “Proton pump inhibitors and fracture risk: a review of current evidence and mechanisms involved.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 May; 16(9): 1571.
11. Song H, et al. “Proton pump inhibitors and risk of liver cancer and mortality in patients with chronic liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2020 Jun;76(6):851-866. doi: 10.1007/s00228-020-02854-8.
12. Imai R, et al. “Iron deficiency anemia due to the long-term use of a proton pump inhibitor.” Intern Med. 2018 Mar 15; 57(6): 899–901.
13. Willette RC, et al. “Purified d-limonene: an effective agent for the relief of occasional symptoms of heartburn. Proprietary study.” WRC Laboratories, Inc. Galveston, TX.
14. Garcia-Plaza A et al. “A multicenter clinical trial. Zinc acexamate versus famotidine in the treatment of acute duodenal ulcer. Study group of Zinc acexamate (new UP doses).” Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 1996 Nov;88(11):757-62.