May 10, 2010 a news report with CBS News highlighted the increasing concern about the overuse of acid stopping medications such as Prilosec and Nexium. In their report they stated that more than 50% of prescriptions are unnecessary and there is mounting concern about some of the side effects. They cited an Archives of Internal Medicine article revealing that there is a 25% increase in bone fractures in women, and a 74% increased probability for intestinal infections, especially C difficile. But this and other risks are not new.
When acid-stopping medications first came on the market they came with warnings to prescribe them for only two weeks. This was because this was the time determined needed for the stomach to heal from damage, and because usage longer could result in malnutrition.
Malnutrition? Yes. When you stop your body from producing the very enzymes needed to digest your food – to extract nutrients from your foods – you are setting the stage for malnutrition. The body can deal with that for short periods of time, but not the extended periods so common today. When you can’t digest calcium, how do you expect it to get into your bones? Of course you would have increased risk of bone fractures. When you are changing the natural chemistry in the gut, altering the acid versus alkaline enzymes, of course you would set the stage for opportunistic infections. It is all logical.
But what if you have heartburn and feel you need medications for it? First of all, we need to correct the problem. Why do you have heart burn, reflux, a hiatal hernia, indigestion, IBS, esophageal spasms, etc. in the first place? You certainly can’t just stop your medications, because the problem is still there. However, there is much you can do to resolve the digestive issues, therefore no longer needing medications. Since there is a risk of esophageal cancer with prolonged reflux, it must be addressed, and not just ignored.
There are many things that effect digestion: stress, diet, lifestyle habits, posture, sleeping habits and much more. Some solutions are simple, others are more complex or need time to resolve. But getting your body to digest properly is a must. It’s not just about comfort. If you are not digesting properly, every organ and cell in your body that requires a nutrient (which is all of them) cannot effectively do their job. Every system will suffer. Whether digestion is suppressed from stress, medications or other things, improving digestion is essential to the health of every system in your body.
Acupuncture, nutrition, dietary supplementation, chiropractic and others can uncover the reason for your digestive challenges. Armed with causative factors, you can heal your gut issues with one or more of these effective modalities.