There are many people who suffer from acid reflux and want to get off the proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPI drugs). The main action of this group of pharmaceuticals is the long acting reduction of gastric acid production. These include Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix.
These drugs are convenient to use and can be initially useful, but many find that the side effects outweigh the benefits. When it comes to quitting them, one will find that it is not so easy.
PPI drugs are supposed to be used for a restricted period of time, however most patients continue their use indefinitely. Not only do patients abuse these drugs, but also the physicians who prescribe them. Unfortunately, there are no studies regarding the effects of the long term use of these drugs. One has to question whether the prolonged use of PPI drugs is really safe.
We do know that by reducing the production of stomach acid, the proper digestion and assimilation of food is restricted. Are chronic users of these drugs suffering from a form of malnutrition? It is important to keep in mind that stomach acid also keeps potentially dangerous intestinal bacteria in check. So what may seem to be acid reflux utopia, in reality may be acid reflux hell.
When one stops these drugs, after prolonged use, the acid pumps turn on again and come back with a vengeance producing more acid than they did before. This is referred to as “acid reflux rebound”. This is often such a terrible and frightening experience that most people become quickly discouraged and immediately get back on the drugs. This “catch 22” situation has proven to be a virtual gold mine for the pharmaceutical companies, who make billions of dollars in profits each year.
It is a horrible position to be in. You know you want to quite these drugs. They stop working and you are instructed to double the dose. You make an effort to stop, but it all backfires on you. Your throat burns like its on fire and your doctor tells you that if you don’t take the drugs you may develop esophageal cancer. Who wouldn’t be frightened?
Now for the good news; there are non-pharmaceutical things that one can do to survive “acid reflux rebound” and get back on the right track.
At this point there is most likely damage to the esophagus. One cannot hope to improve until the esophagus is well again In order to heal the esophageal damage, there are a few things to be considered. First and foremost one must temporarily change their diet. By now everyone should be aware of what foods and beverages trigger their acid reflux. Replace these offending foods with mild, easy to digest foods.
Instead of a slice of pizza with acidic tomato sauce, have a salad. Substitute that morning cup of coffee with a cup of tea. Have a glass of white instead of red wine with dinner. It’s just a matter of common sense, but these changes are necessary during the acid reflux recovery period.
In order to defeat the acid reflux syndrome, one must attempt to become as alkaline as possible. Anything which has an acidic effect on the body should be eliminated. Smoking is perhaps the most acidic thing one can do. Eating too much at one time causes an over production of stomach acid. Aerobic exercise actually causes the body to become more alkaline in nature.
Drinking copious amounts of clean fresh water will help flush out the acidic toxins which accumulate in the body. A body which is properly hydrated is rarely acidic in nature. A glass of water after a meal is a good idea, but drinking much of anything with meals is counter productive. This dilutes the digestive fluids, causing the stomach to produce more acid.
Believe it or not, chewing gum between meals is beneficial. Chewing produces saliva which is very alkaline. Chewing gum after meals puts more alkalinity in the stomach to counteract the over production of acid.
There are many natural ingredients found in grocery and health food stores, which can help during the acid reflux recovery period. Herbs, such as marshmallow and slippery elm have wonderful healing properties. Licorice, natural honey and aloe vera juice can sooth the esophageal lining and assist in the healing process.
There are very few cases of acid reflux which can’t be successfully treated if one understands what causes this condition. Simple things like eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly, in a pleasant relaxed atmosphere, can reduce ones chances of having acid reflux.
We do not have to be prisoners of this drug oriented “acid reflux rebound” effect. It is unfortunate that most doctors rely on pharmaceuticals as the only solution to the acid reflux condition.
With a little education regarding the causes of acid reflux and the knowledge of natural medicine, one can survive “acid reflux rebound” and go on to live a normal life. We are at the brink of a new era where the patient must sometimes also be the healer.