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Anti-Reflux Medications: What You Should Know

Proton Pump Inhibitors are commonly used for the treatment of conditions like gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), ulcers and functional dyspepsia (recurring symptoms of indigestion that have no obvious cause).

Do you use Losec, Nexium, Pariet, Somac or Zoton?

Since their introduction in 1990, their use has increased by 1000% in Australia! That's an enormous increase and the research says over 19 million prescriptions were written between 2013 and 2014. Pretty mind-blowing. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide which is why I feel it's important to share with you the prescribing guidelines. See below:

"When clinically indicated, PPIs should be used for the shortest duration necessary and chronic use is NOT recommended except for treatment of pathological hypersecretory conditions including Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and maintenance healing of erosive oesophagitis.”

This Begs The Question.. How Long Have You Been On Your PPI?

Were you informed by your doc about the potential side effects of chronic, longer-term use?

If not, you should be. Chronic use can lead to:

  1. A reduction in stomach acid by approx. 80% which can lead to impaired ability to digest and absorb nutrients and in turn - multiple nutrient deficiencies even if you have a varied wholefood diet

  2. Sudden development of IgE food allergies

  3. Increased rates of small intestinal overgrowth (SIBO)

  4. Increased rate of gastrointestinal infections

  5. Increased bone fractures and the onset of osteoporosis

  6. Increased susceptibility to immune infections

  7. Altered stomach function

  8. Potential interaction with other medications both within the gastrointestinal tract and via the liver (CYP450 system)

  9. Significantly more detrimental long-term effects on one's health compared to meds like Zantac (H2 blockers)

There is also research that states: 'PPI use translates to a 2.4 times greater risk of gastric cancer and daily use is a 4.55 x risk compared with weekly use.'

These are scary stats.

Of course, there are always drawbacks with research and certainly, there are other dietary and lifestyle risks that increase cancer rates independent of PPIs but all the info above is still worthwhile taking into consideration because there are other better, safer options that can reduce acid reflux, indigestion, heal ulcers and prevent GERD.

In rare cases, people need to be on these medications long-term, but PPIs are notoriously tough to get off because they work so well. Remember to always speak to their GP’s prior to ceasing any medications.

How Exactly Do PPI's Impact Our Digestive Tract?

  • PPI use impacts our gastrointestinal microbiome and has been shown to significantly lower the abundance of good bacteria and microbial diversity.

  • Long-term use has been associated with an increased risk of 'all-cause mortality', including cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and upper gastrointestinal cancer.

  • PPI use, through secondary changes in the composition of our gut microbiota, has been associated with a risk of major depression, childhood obesity, IBS and allergic disease.

Moral of the story?

Before accepting a PPI prescription, ask your doc if there are other options and consider what else your symptoms might be telling you.

  • Does your diet need to change

  • Do you have an imbalance in bacteria in the gut?

  • Are you eating enough fibre, fermented foods and drinks?

  • Why is there so much acidity?

  • Are you overconsuming alcohol and sugar?

  • Do you have significant stress that needs to be better managed

  • Could you have a parasitic infection?

  • Is it possible that H pylori is causing your ulcer?

  • Do you have low digestive enzymes (common with anxiety)?

  • Does your gut health need an overhaul

  • Could there be weakening of the lower oesophageal sphincter function

If you need help with answering these questions, we recommend the Heal Your Gut Package. Find out more about it with a free 10 minute chat that can be booked, here.


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