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acid blockers

  • After 20 to 30 years of smoking, research shows that people have a 50 percent higher risk of dying than non-smokers.

    Now, a major new study in the British Medical Journal1 showed that people taking PPI acid blockers for two years also had a similar fifty percent higher risk of dying. Making prolonged use of acid blockers a deadly problem. Potentially as deadly as smoking for 20 to 30 years. Fortunately, it is also preventable. But this will require a paradigm shift in how we address heartburn and indigestion.

    Multiple studies have shown that acid blockers called PPIs are associated with a dramatic increased risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis), dementia, and a host of other problems. There is a reason why most animals have evolved to create stomach acid that can dissolve their own stomach. It is because this acid is critical for proper digestion and nutrition. Without it, people can be malnourished even if they are obese.

    So it should come as no surprise that there is a high price to pay for turning off stomach acid long-term.

    What The New Study on Heartburn Showed

    This large study of over 349,000 people was led by Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, director of clinical epidemiology at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System. They compared prescription and over-the-counter acid blockers called PPIs to much safer and gentler acid blockers such as Tagamet and Zantac, as well as to people taking no acid blockers. What they found was stunning.2,3

    Although there is no significant increased risk in taking these medications for a month or less, which is how they are meant to be used, people taking them for one to two years had a dramatic 25–50 percent increased risk of dying.

    The Heartburn Problem

    Research has shown that acid blockers are highly addictive. After six weeks of use, people get a rebound acid hyper secretion when they try to stop these medications. Put simply, they have a "Niagara Falls" of acid flow. Because of this, many people dangerously stay on the acid blockers long-term.

    The Heartburn Solution

    It is important to realize that our understanding of heartburn has been faulty. It is not caused by too much stomach acid, and in fact most people with indigestion have inadequate stomach acid. This results in acid reflux when food is incompletely digested after an hour, and the stomach hits the "return to sender" button. Turning off the stomach acid keeps the reflux from causing heartburn, but aggravates the problem. Which is poor digestion.

    The solution is actually fairly simple. It is important to realize that indigestion comes not from too much stomach acid, but from poor digestion. Digestion can be improved simply by using plant-based digestive enzymes with meals, along with nutritional supplements such as DGL licorice (Called Advanced DGL) that enhances the stomach's protective lining. After six weeks of this, the person can switch from their acid blocker to Tagamet. This does not completely turn off stomach acid, so you do not get the rebound acid hyper secretion that makes PPIs addictive. After a month, they can then stop the Tagamet and stay on the natural digestion support as needed.

    That way they can be off medications and be free of heartburn pain, while having healthy digestion and improved health. Meanwhile, occasional indigestion can then be treated with chewable antacids. Research has raised a concern about taking plain calcium, and therefore it is recommended that the calcium be combined with magnesium and vitamin D and K to avoid calcium depositing in the arteries. This can be found in combination and products such as Immediate Heartburn Relief.

    Fortunately, with proper nutritional support it is likely that the problems caused by long-term PPI use can be reversed. Interesting that another large recent BMJ study showed that NSAIDs cause approximately 50,000 preventable US deaths a year. The medical approach has been to try to decrease this by giving PPIs along with the NSAIDs. This is a very deadly mistake.

    Let's look at a quick running of the numbers. In the graph at the end of the study, it showed that after seven years about 18 percent of the people had died using safer acid blockers such as Tagamet, as opposed to 27 percent in the PPI group. This translates to 180,000 deaths per million versus 270,000 deaths. With millions of people using acid blockers, this translates to over 90,000 excess and preventable deaths over the seven year period for each million people using them long-term.

    PPI Survival Probability BMJ 2017

    An alternative? Numerous studies show that natural alternatives are as or more effective than NSAIDs for arthritis, but result in "side benefits" instead of side effects. They have also been found to be safe on the stomach and not increase ulcers as the NSAIDs do. Natural treatments for indigestion are also highly effective. So using these natural options could easily prevent over 65,000 US deaths yearly.


    1. Gap in Mortality Rates Between Smokers and Non-Smokers Continues to WidenStudy
    2. Popular Heartburn Drugs May Boost Death Risk: Study
    3. Risk of death among users of Proton Pump Inhibitors: a longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans Study
  • Waking with a sweat?

    In three recent articles, we discussed how reproductive and adrenal hormones, as well as Candida overgrowth, can trigger night sweats. In the last of this four-part series, we will discuss the other common cause.

    If you have acid reflux, the stomach acid coming up into your food pipe while you sleep can cause you to wake with sweats. A large body of research is suggesting that longterm use of acid blockers (such as Prilosec and Nexium) can be very toxic. Zantac and Tagamet are much safer, but still interfere with digestion.

    Nighttime acid reflux is especially likely to be a problem if you have daytime indigestion as well. Although you may sometimes notice the heartburn when you wake up, other times you won't and you'll just wake up in a sweat after inhaling the stomach acid.

    My article on How to Get Off Prescription Antacids, Naturally, can be very helpful. You can also look up "heartburn" in the free Cures A-Z phone app.

    Don't try to stop acid blocker medications suddenly, as they are very addictive. The rebound acid hyper-secretion will cause indigestion from hell. Instead, follow the instructions in these articles.

    But your food pipe and GERD won't be able to properly heal until you take care of the nighttime reflux as well. Here's how!

    Getting Rid of Nighttime Acid Reflux

    Poor digestion is epidemic in this country. Daytime indigestion is largely caused because food processors learned that destroying the enzymes naturally found in food prolongs shelf life. This is because these enzymes cause the food to ripen. The problem? These enzymes are also critical for humans to digest the food properly. Without them, the food simply sits in the stomach and churns. After a while, your stomach hits the "return to sender" button, and you get acid reflux.

    But a key part of getting rid of daytime indigestion and night sweats is eliminating the nighttime acid reflux. Our stomach is built like a tank, to protect it from stomach acid. But our food pipe isn't, and the acid treats it just like another piece of meat, trying to digest it.

    Acid reflux (GERD) at night occurs because gravity is no longer holding the acid in the stomach when we lie down. If the valve that's supposed to do this isn't working, the acid flows into your food pipe (esophagus). This causes irritation that will markedly amplify daytime indigestion as well.

    How to tell if you have nighttime acid reflux causing your night sweats

    Start by taking an acid blocker medication an hour before bedtime for three to four nights. If this helps, you've identified the problem. Stop the acid blocker, as it is quite addictive and toxic when used long-term. Instead, follow the instructions below. If you need a nighttime medication for a while, use Tagamet or Zantac at bedtime instead.

    How Acid Reflux Works

    A Recipe to Get Rid of Nighttime Reflux

    After six weeks doing the below, you may find your daytime heartburn starts to settle down as well.

    • A–Bicarbonate of soda. Take 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (e.g., Arm and Hammer) in 4 oz of water at bedtime to neutralize the acid in your stomach (not for children under 16 years old). Though it's a bad idea to keep your stomach acid "turned off" during the day (you need it to digest food), you don't need stomach acid at bedtime while sleeping. I recommend one called Complete Gest. Animal-based enzymes do not help digestion. If you have high blood pressure, use potassium bicarbonate instead (not carbonate). This can be found on
    • B–Don't eat within two hours before bedtime and take two caps of a plant-based digestive enzyme such as Complete Gest an hour before sleep. This will ensure your stomach is empty when you sleep.
    • C–Sleep with your upper body elevated, so gravity keeps the acid in your stomach. Raise your upper body at least 6–8 inches when in bed (just raising your head with pillows won't work). One way to do this is to place a 6–8 inch brick or phone book under the legs by the head of the bed (i.e.–just the two legs by the end of the bed where your head is). Another wonderful solution is to use a sleep wedge pillow (you can find one online at
    • D–Melatonin. Take 5–6 mg of an immediate release melatonin at bedtime. Research shows that this decreases reflux.
    • E–Immediate Heartburn Relief chewable antacids.

    Keep a few at the bedside to take if needed. These are more effective and much healthier than regular calcium chewables.

    By taking the steps discussed in this four-part series, night sweats will usually be gone and you will be having a much more restful sleep!

    Disclaimer: Please be aware that medicine is complex and without actually being your attending physician we cannot give medical advice. Any information given is to be used as a teaching tool for you and your physician to work with therefore we cannot take any legal responsibility for its use. Please check with your personal physician before applying any recommendations.