Part 2: Getting Rid of the GERD
Last week I discussed my own personal affliction with acid reflux, a.k.a G.E.R.D., and the route I followed to obtain an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. (If you missed it, scroll down this page and click on “previous Monday Morning Health Tips”—it’s archived there at the top of the list.) But that was just the beginning of my journey.
If you have been down the same road as I, you might have had great results (as I did) from taking the PPI or proton pump-inhibitor medication prescribed by your doctor. This medicine includes the over-the-counter brands Prilosec®, Prevacid® and Nexium® or prescription-only meds such as Protonix® (pantoprazole). When I asked about the associated side effects of these medications I was told two things: they can produce benign (non-cancerous) polyps in the stomach and also long term use can lead to osteoporosis due to the fact that these meds partially block the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Hmmm…
A red flag was raised in my mind. How can something that reduces the amount of acid produced in my stomach not also have impact elsewhere—wherever God had inserted proton pumps for other reasons? I had to dig deeper.
Dr. John Cooke, senior author of a recently published study conducted at Stanford University and Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, found that indeed, reducing the effectiveness of proton pumps throughout the body reduced the acidity in many of the cells in the body which hampered their ability to rid themselves of damaged proteins. This disconcerting effect is why scientists have now linked prolonged use of PPIs to increased risk of heart and kidney disease as well as dementia!
Other previously known side effects include increased susceptibility to bacterial infections (because the acid in the stomach isn’t strong enough to kill off swallowed bacteria) and increased risk of fractures due to the calcium blocking effects of PPIs.
Given all this disturbing evidence, I was motivated to discover natural remedies/helps that I could employ to put out the fire of my acid reflux. Here is what I have done to free myself from my prescribed medication AND my reflux:
- Begin my day with a drop or two of essential lemon oil in a 4 oz. glass of water
- Take probiotics
- Eat smaller meals, add less spice, and avoid eating anything 1-2 hrs. before bedtime
- Had a “hands on”, manual physical therapist mobilize my esophagus and stomach to decrease tension in my upper digestive system
If you find you still have occasional bouts of burning, you are safer to use an H2 blocker medicine (Tagamet®, Zantac®, Pepcid®). They come with much less “baggage”.