PPIs Make Reflux Worse
What do proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) do?
They inhibit the production of stomach acid.
If you didn’t read last week’s post you can READ IT HERE. It’s about the idea that reflux is actually caused by insufficient stomach acid. It’s sort of a pre-requisite for this week’s blog post. 😉
Reduced stomach acid can often impair the absorption of certain key minerals, including iron and magnesium, as well as protein and vitamin B12. We need good, robust amounts of stomach acid to break down and absorb these necessary nutrients.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, low magnesium is also a common cause of reflux as it can make the pyloric valve (the valve at the bottom of the stomach) get stuck closed. So, if a person has low magnesium (closed pyloric valve) and low stomach acid (weak, open esophageal sphincter), it’s likely they will also have reflux.
Because the PPIs impair absorption of magnesium, this situation is getting worse behind the scenes with a person taking PPIs long term.
Weakened esophageal sphincter
While taking PPIs, the muscle tissue of the esophageal sphincter is weakening as well as the lining of the esophagus.
Sufficient stomach acid causes the esophageal sphincter valve to close as we digest food, but insufficient stomach acid does not trigger the valve to close, and that situation encourages reflux. At the same time that the valve is not getting triggered to close long term (many people stay on PPIs for years), the valve is weakening because of non-use. So, right there, the PPIs are actually making the situation worse.
Alternatives to PPIs
- Eating hygiene
First, consider your eating hygiene. It seems like a no brainer, right? Of course you chew your food! But are you really chewing enough?
We should be chewing 20 or more times per bite. We begin digestion in the mouth, with the action of chewing and the enzymes in saliva starting to break down the food.
Make sure your food is a mushy paste, not merely small enough to get it down.
Do your stomach and intestines a favor by chewing your food up enough that it’s easy to digest once it gets to your stomach.
- Consider pathogens or imbalanced or low levels of gut bacteria
It turns out I had Candida and parasites that were helping to cause my reflux years ago.
Get a stool test (at least 3 days long) to see what’s happening in there. You will find out the levels of bacteria in your stool as well as if you have any pathogens. With that information, your doctor (or I) will be able to guide you in ways to remove the pathogens and balance your gut bacteria.
- Stress levels
Stress alone can reduce stomach acid and trigger reflux. When in the fight or flight mode, our body slows down certain functions including digestion.
- What about medications?
There’s a chance you may be on some medications that are reducing your stomach acid. In this case, it is possible to take hydrochloric acid supplements at meal time. Do this under the supervision of a health care practitioner.
- For goodness sake, stop taking those PPIs!!!
A good bet is to stop PPIs and start a good, full spectrum probiotic or start eating fermented foods and reduce stress.
PPIs are probably making the cause of your reflux worse, not better.
It says right on the Prilosec box that they are not recommended to use for longer than a 2-week period. They were originally developed for people recovering from ulcer surgery. They were never meant to use long-term.