“He told me that if I took this medication it would take care of my acid reflux and stomach problems,” said a patient sitting in my office. I asked my patient how long the doctor wanted him to take the medication. “Forever.” I told my patient what he needed to know and I’m going to tell you too because this misinformation is common across the nation. Your stomach acid is not the cause of your stomach problems and you don’t want to get rid of it!
Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and other PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) don’t make your body function normally. They disrupt the normal function of your body. Taking medication doesn’t mean it’s healing your body or making it normal. PPIs do the opposite! They change your normal biochemistry, so your body isn’t doing what it is supposed to, which causes a bunch of negative side effects. They won’t tell you the harm of PPIs so I’m going to talk about it today.
What Do PPIs Do?
What exactly are these medications designed to do? Proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of acid by blocking the enzyme in the wall of the stomach that produces acid. (1) Wait. It makes it so your body doesn’t make acid? And you think that’s a good thing? It stops the normal function of the stomach. Guys something should make you stop and say that’s not right. It stops the enzyme that creates acid. Something your body needs and has always had.
Let’s talk about this. This whole idea that stomach acid causes your stomach problems is ridiculous. Anybody who says that acid causes stomach problems obviously has no idea how the body works.
The Role of Stomach Acid
First, we need to talk about the role of stomach acid. You might have heard that its primary role is digestion. You heard wrong. The primary role of stomach acid is sterilization. Everything that goes in your stomach needs to be sterilized and if you stop that from happening you can cause major problems. If you block the production of stomach acid, you set the small intestine, the stomach, and the large intestine up for major immune assault. This can trigger an auto immune response that leaves you with a wide range of symptoms. It can also leave you vulnerable to an infection. Your stomach is a line of defense for your whole body.
My patient’s doctor had told him he would have to take this medication forever. “He told me that it stopped the stomach acid and it was a good thing because I don’t need stomach acid to be healthy,” said my patient. Does this sound right to you? His doctor told him he needed to be on medication to stop something that has always been a part of the body’s normal function. Since birth!
Yes, acid burns. It’s supposed to because it’s sterilizing. Let’s take the example of rubbing alcohol. If you pour some on your finger its cool. It doesn’t burn but if you put it on a cut on that same finger it will burn like a son of a gun. Because the barrier was broken and it’s sterilizing! Same thing happens in the stomach. If you are feeling burning it means there is inflammation in the stomach, or the barrier is broken. It doesn’t mean it was caused by the acid. If you’re taking PPIs and don’t feel your ulcer, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It means the acid isn’t there.
Side Effects and Harm of PPIs
Your GERD, ulcers and stomach problems have a different cause. Trying to treat them by lowering stomach acid can make you even more sick because you’re preventing the stomach from doing an important job. Let’s look at some of the side effects of common proton pump inhibitors.
- Abdominal Pain
- Flatulence – Farts
Now what are the majority of these problems? You might think many of these are just digestive problems, skin problems and other inconveniences. What most people don’t know about their digestive problems and their rash or headaches are they can be caused by an immune problem. The majority of these are actually immune problems. What can cause immune problems? Your food that hasn’t been sterilized. Despite your best efforts of cooking, cleaning dishes and sterilizing your food can still harbor bacteria that can be harmful.
So, you need that stomach acid. Not having stomach acid can make you very sick and can actually lead to more stomach problems and infections. It can actually lead to an overgrowth of bacteria including h pylori which can lead to ulcers. It’s not the stomach acid that causes ulcers. Can you see now why inhibiting the normal body function of making stomach acid is disastrous to your health?
Skip the Prilosec and Other PPIs
Studies have linked PPIs to a wide range of increased health risks including stomach infections, kidney disease, pneumonia, and heart disease. It’s not such a good idea to mess with the function of the body. One study saw this link to greater health risks and wondered if it meant a higher risk of death. It sure did. It meant a 25% higher risk of death compared to those who just took H2 blockers, which also reduce the stomach acid but are not as strong. Wonder how it compared to those who didn’t take any?
You don’t want to rely on any medication for the rest of your life especially one that inhibits the normal function of the body. You need to get to the bottom of what is causing your stomach problems and how to diminish them. What is causing the inflammation? Check out our article on heartburn to learn more. Don’t be one of the 15 million Americans taking PPIs every year who are harming their bodies. What your MD won’t tell you is it isn’t worth the harm of PPIs
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Check out Dr. Patrick Flynn’s Quick Tip on PPIs.