Indigestion? Beware PPI Drugs

Today’s Daily Mail warns of the dangers of drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors, usually ending in ‘…prazole’. Thirty six million prescriptions were handed out to just about anyone who mentions the word ‘indigestion’ or ‘heartburn’ or acid reflux. But there are natural solutions.

PPI drugs work by suppressing the formation of stomach acid (betaine hydrochloride), which is absolutely vital for digesting protein into amino acids, killing off bacteria in food, and absorbing vitamins, especially B12 and minerals, especially magnesium. This class of drug are generating over $20 billion a year in sales, about the same as anti-depressants. But, of course, they don’t address the true underlying cause of indigestion or heartburn. By simply suppressing acid formation you can get temporary relief but at quite some considerable cost. After all, the body doesn’t produce stomach acid for no reason. The worrying risks of long-term use include a greater risk for infections and cancer, as well as all the side-effects of chronic B12 and magnesium status, which include high blood pressure and memory loss.

Natural solutions

In my Special Report Four Steps to Improving Digestion, I talk about the most common solutions to indigestion, and to heartburn. One common reason for heartburn is eating a food you are allergic to. Babies, when given milk too early, regurgitate it. This normal reflux is what the body does to get rid of something that doesn’t suit it. If you keep eating the wrong foods, this can weaken the circular muscle at the top of the stomach until some stomach acid enters the oesophagus, producing symptoms of heartburn. Other things that aggravate the digestive tract include alcohol and NSAID pain killers (eg aspirin and ibuprofen), and should be avoided if you have indigestion. In my Special Report I recommend testing for food intolerance and supplementing a combination of digestive enzymes, probiotics and glutamine, the amino acid that heals epithelial cells in the gut. I know many people who have quit PPIs and taken a supplement with each meal containing probiotics, a specific sequence of digestive enzymes, and glutamine, which you can get in one pill, and had relief. Some find that there are certain ‘trigger’ foods – alcohol, wheat, yeast, milk are common ones. I think it is worth having a food intolerance test (, which identifies which foods your immune system produces antiibodies against, avoiding them and seeing what happens. If you are on PPIs get your magnesium and B12 levels checked (homocysteine is also a good indicator of B12 sufficiency), however the problem is that even supplements don’t always make enough difference if you are on the PPI drugs because they suppress acid production so efficiently. Let me know what’s worked for you. For access to this and all the other Special Reports in the Advice section, join the 100% Health Club. For more information read the book Improve Your Digestion.