By Sofia Potente – The Natural Switch
Are you using reflux medications such as Losec or Nexium? This could be THE most important article you read – for the sake of your future gut health.
The truth is, no one wants to rely on medications if they don’t have to.
We often use them because our doctor told us so, that the pain is unbearable or because we have no other options.
Well, what if I told you – there’s something that your doctor hasn’t told you and that you don’t need to live with the pain.
And more importantly – that there IS another option that WORKS!
We spent YEARS repairing the damage done by the high dose reflux medications my son was on as a baby.
As a public health researcher and educator, I’ve spent countless hours researching the side effects, that unfortunately we were never told by our well-intended doctors.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs such as Losec and Nexium) are among the top 10 prescribed drugs in the world. They work by blocking the enzyme in the wall of the stomach that produces acid.
Why is reducing stomach acid a problem? Because our stomach acid is CRITICAL for a healthy gut – we need it to absorb nutrients, digest and break down our food, and maintain a healthy ecosystem of bacteria.
Did you know the FDA recommends no more than three 14 day treatment courses of PPIs in a one year time period? Yet millions of babies, children and adults are prescribed PPIs for years with no plan made to transition off them.
Here are 3 side effects everyone should know about reflux medications. Studies have shown that use of PPI’s result in:
- Decreased nutrient absorption – Stomach acid is needed to absorb many of our macro and micronutrients. Use of PPIs is linked to an increased risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
- Impaired digestion – the reduction of stomach acid via the use of PPIs leads to poor digestion, as stomach acid is necessary to digest and break down our food. Ironically, many of the side effects listed for PPIs are abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence and constipation.
- Overgrowth of bad bacteria – sufficient stomach acid is needed to protect against bacterial infections and maintain a healthy intestinal pH. A 2013 study also found a significantly increased percentage of individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) among PPI users. Those who used PPIs also had an increased chance of bacterial infections of Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, and community-acquired pneumonia.
What to use instead?
If you want true gut healing in the long term, I highly recommend getting to the bottom of what is causing your reflux.
More on this later – in the meantime you need relief!
Here is a safe, effective remedy for when tummy upsets arise. We use an essential oil roller containing the following essential oils for bloating reflux, constipation or any discomfort.
- Peppermint – shown to reduce muscle spasms and reduce bloating in IBS symptoms. A 2007 clinical study found that consuming peppermint with your meal speeds the rate that food empties the gastrointestinal tract, which may help relieve constipation or bloating.
- Ginger – improving the movement/motility of the bowel can help to reduce bloating. Ginger was found to enhance gastrointestinal motility and have a similar effect to prescription medications such as metoclopramide and domperidone. Due to its carminative, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used traditionally to improve digestion and for preventing and reducing discomfort such as indigestion, nausea, gas and bloating.
- Fennel seed oil has been shown to reduce intestinal spasms and increase motility of the small intestine. Fennel is a great option for babies and children – a 2003 study found that the use of fennel oil eliminated colic in 65% of infants in the treatment group, which was significantly better than 23.7% of infants in the control group.
DigestZen is a powerful essential oil blend that combines the oils above (and others) and helps relieve bloating, promote healthy digestive function and ease stomach upsets.
Essential oils are fantastic for relieving symptoms and promoting digestive function.
However, the ultimate goal is to identify the underlying cause and to investigate why you are experiencing digestive symptoms in the first place.
Many factors can be involved such as food intolerances, nutrient deficiencies, poor digestive function, parasites or bacterial imbalances.
Having a holistic approach and the right practitioner to support you is crucial.
Don’t know where to start? Create a simple actionable plan – download my free Gut Health Action Plan for 4 simple steps to better gut health that your doctor won’t tell you.
It contains the 4 steps we took to take my son from heavily medicated and screaming in pain to thriving and well (here’s our story).
You’ll feel more confident navigating the gut health journey with practical tips on food, mindset and plant-based solutions for your whole family.
As always, speak with your practitioner before ceasing any medication and also do your own research into side effects and options to help you make an informed decision. And trust your own instincts!