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  • Writer's pictureDr. Angela Palmer


In the last few years there have been some disturbing results coming out of a number of long range studies done on the long term use of the Protein Pump Inhibitors (PPI) omeprazole or esomeprazole, commonly known as Nexium, Somac and Zoton. These issues are quite serious. One study in Germany of 74,000 patients older than 74 years regularly taking PPI’s were 44% more like to have dementia/alzeimers. In 2016 a study following 10,482 people showed that those on PPI had a 20 to 50% incidence of Kidney disease and also showed that the higher the dose the higher the risk. Other issues include increased fractures, low Vitamin B12 levels, and 25% increase in premature death.

These drugs work by shutting down the cells that produce stomach acid permanently. The body then needs to make more of these cells to compensate (which is why you cannot go off these drugs suddenly as the rebound effect can be severe) as you need the acid to digest foods, particularly proteins such as meat. Inability to digest can result in bloating, low mineral and B12 absorption, and fatigue.

Short term use of such medications are not an issue, problems are more likely in use over many years, such as 10 or more years. So it’s a serious issue for millions of people. The use of these ant-acids to prevent stomach damage when taking pain killers could be reduced by taking slippery elm powder instead and taking them on a full stomach. Other chronic issues need to be addressed by a health professional and can include dietary changes. Wheat, yeast and sugar (especially together) are big triggers of heart burn and many will respond by cutting these things from the diet, or for some it’s onions and tomatoes. You will not miss them when you feel so much better I assure you! A naturopath or Chinese Medicine doctor can help pinpoint your triggers and give good advice on herbs and dietary advice.

Gastritis, can also be managed well with herbs, elevation of the top of your bed by putting a piece on 2 x 4 wood under the head end of you mattress and by taking Bi-carb of Soda, 1 teaspoon once a day at night nor whenever you have some symptoms. Slippery Elm powder is fabulous for lining the stomach and is avaiable in pill form, pro and pre-biotics to rebuild the micro flora of your stomach and digestive system. Dandelion tops (pu gong ying) in TCM kills helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for stomach ulcers, and also reduces stomach acid. A handy over-the-counter product called Rennie is fabulous and is basically Calcium and Bi-Carb and you can keep them in your bag or car for when you eat out. Long term treatment does need to be professionally assesed and prescibed by your natural health professional. A recent study showed that acupuncture was as effective as PPI’s for both short and long term relief of heart burn. It is very important to not come off these drugs (PPIs such as Nexium) suddenly, the patient should wean off gently with the assistance of their health professional.

Until next time

Stay well

Dr Angela Palmer

Chinese medicine practitioner


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