Is Your Antacid Medication Ruining Your Gut?

By on March 2, 2016
Your antacid medication could be ruining your gut bacteria

Proton Pump Inhibitors are a class of Antacid Medication that are so common and considered to be so safe that they were even declassified as prescription drugs and are now available over-the-counter so that anyone can use them if they happen to have heartburn. With names like Omeprazole, Nexium, and Prilosec, the ‘little purple pill’ is advertised everywhere on billboards and TV ads with barely a mention that their might be consequences to suppressing stomach acid.

There are consequences of any Acid Reflux Medication, however, like the Side Effects of Omeprazole and other proton pump inhibitors can lead to osteoporosis, nutrient deficiencies and even Alzheimer’s Disease Just from Taking an Antacid. Because our stomach is supposed to be acidic in order to ward off dangerous bacteria present in our food and drinks that might make us sick, a drug that decreases the acidity of the stomach isn’t without risk.

Ironically, in a ‘germ phobic’ society that is paranoid about Handwashing, using antibacterial soaps and gels, and not touching bathroom faucets; people have utterly missed the boat when it comes to taking these antacids. I say that because taking the little purple pill will expose your body to far more pathogenic bacteria than any amount of touching questionable faucets in public bathrooms could ever do.

Antacid Medication Leads to Pathogenic Bacteria Growth in the Stomach

Here’s how the stomach works; the stomach is incredibly acidic, almost to the point of being the same level of acidity as battery acid. This battery acid in the stomach is there both to help digest food, and to kill pathogens that are in everything that we eat.

But antacid medication is just what they say they are: drugs that decrease acid levels in the stomach. While this may sound like a good idea if you have a bout of heartburn, decreasing acid in the stomach is a terrible thing to do for your health, as you will constantly be introducing bacteria into the stomach that are not killed when the stomach acid is not quite as acid.

Studies show that lowering acid ‘really’ is a problem too. Real world medical tests showed ‘profound’ increases in pathogenic bacteria, sometimes at more than double the level of those who were not taking these antacids 1 leading to a condition known as Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO.  Additionally, the diversity bacteria in the gut is decreased2, which could lead to problems that medical science is only now becoming aware of.

Why is SIBO a Problem?

Can Your Antacid Medication Ruin Your Gut?
SIBO is a serious chronic condition that can lead to profound symptoms of chronic health problems such as fatigue, digestive issues, and even can induce Celiac Disease in those with the genes for this disease 3.

Many people with SIBO are often misdiagnosed as things like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for years, with the true cause of the problem often only being found years later, or sometimes never. Even a regimen as short as two months can lead to high levels of small intestinal bacterial growth that cannot be detected with any in-office testing that is available with today’s technology. 4.


Food Poisoning from Your Antacid Medication

Just like the problem of Antibiotics Causing Food Poisoning from alterations in gut, antacid medication can also allow the bacteria like Salmonella and E-coli to proliferate in the gut.  There are entire public health campaigns focus around not eating raw eggs, and not using the same cutting board for chicken as for vegetables in order to prevent getting Salmonella.

PPIs appear to increase susceptibility to the following bacterial
enteropathogens: Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, invasive
strains of Escherichia coli, vegetative cells of Clostridium difficile,
Vibrio cholerae and Listeria.
The Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors and Increased
Susceptibility to Enteric Infection

But there are no public health campaigns to prevent PPI use, which increases the risk of getting illness from Salmonella. And in fact, doctors who should know better are giving them out twice as often as they should be, putting millions of people at needless risk of health problems 5.


Traveler’s Diarrhea is a Problem Too

PPI’s ability to allow harmful bacteria to grow in your gut could be a particular problem for people on Proton Pump Inhibitors who might be traveling in foreign countries with a high rate of Traveler’s Diarrhea.  About 50% of bacteria that would be killed in a healthy stomach can live and thrive in a gut with low stomach acid 6, leading to what might have been a fun relaxing trip into a horrendous bout of Motezuma’s Revenge.

And all because you felt the need to eradicate a bit of uncomfortable hearburn instead of understanding that the hearburn was your body’s way of intelligently letting you know that you need to change your diet or lifestyle.


 A Lifelong Gut Infection You Don’t Want

In addition to the potential for the problem of undiagnosed SIBO leading to years of chronic illness, the low acid levels and shift from more beneficial bacteria to more damaging bacteria, the opposite of the Benefits of Yacon Syrup and the Side Effects of Xylitol, are well-known to be the major risk factor for contracting a contagious intestinal infection known as Antibiotic Colitis caused by a bacteria called Clostridium Difficile. C-diff, as it’s called for short, is a spore-forming bacteria that can cause serious digestive pain and diarrhea, sometimes for life. While there are treatments for C-difficile, they often fail, and many are left with fecal transplantation as their last hope for a normal life.

The risk for getting C-diff also goes up when taking antibiotics, and particularly when taking Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are VERY often given with Proton Pump Inhibitors, particularly when doctors treat the H pylori bacteria that can often infect the stomach.  So, taking normal ‘triple therapy’ for H pylori, that includes both a PPI and an antibiotic, could give you a lifelong intestinal infection that is just as bad, or even worse than the H pylori infection you were trying to get rid of! Is that a good trade off?

While antacid medication may be the ‘easy’ solution to your problem of heartburn, there are serious risks. Is the risk of SIBO, traveler’s diarrhea, lifelong diarrhea, and even Alzheimer’s Disease worth it to get fast relief from a cheap over-the-counter purple pill that everyone declares is perfectly safe? There’s a better solution. Get the Acid Reflux Remedy and find out how you can solve your acid reflux problems without using dangerous drugs.

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.