GERD and Protein Pump Inhibitors: Seeking Alternatives
Ingrid Pincott, ND
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are one of the ten most prescribed drugs in North America. PPIs are used in the treatment of acid reflux or GERD. I see at least one patient every week who is taking PPIs and wanting to get off them.
Bob, age 45, is a typical example. He has been taking PPIs for years and his GERD symptoms were not completely under control. He also had developed a rash he could not get rid of through conventional treatment so he is ready to try and improve his health. Certainly if a person is in severe gastric pain due to hyper-secretion of stomach acid, these drugs are useful to treat the acute phase. The side effects of long term treatment include: Decreased blood flow to the stomach, bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, hyperplastic polyp formation in the stomach, increased bile reflux and increased food allergy because food is not digested properly. Hypersensitivity reactions that can occur include urticaria, contact dermatitis, and drug rashes.
One of the reasons an MD might recommend a PPI for life is due to Barrett’s esophagus which increases the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). However, in some recent research published by F. Hvid-Jensen, 2014, the risk of developing EAC increased with PPI use due to the increased formation of polyps while taking the drug!
Other complications of long term PPI use include: gastrin secretion increases, contributing to the risk of colon cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma; women taking PPIs have an increased risk of hip fracture, and reduction in bone density; there is also an increased risk of developing community acquired pneumonia especially in the elderly; and, finally, there is an increased risk to developing C. difficile as well as an increased risk of having a heart attack.
I recommended to Bob to come off PPIs gradually over six months to avoid rebound excess stomach acid. Some patients I have seen come off a lot faster than that because they did many other changes at the same time. For example removing wheat from their diet, eating a low carb diet, and eating food in proper combination helps a great deal to reduce GERD symptoms quickly. I put Bob on my candida program which addressed a lot of these recommendations in one protocol. The “yeast” killers help to kill off harmful bacteria and taking a strong probiotic away from the “yeast” killers helps establish a healthy microbiome. I told Bob this treatment program has helped many with chronic GERD.
I also have great success with a digestive aid containing licorice, marshmallow and slippery elm that is aimed to heal the stomach and help digest starches and fats without the use of protease, which can aggravate these cases in the early phases of treatment.
I saw Bob one month later. He was using the PPIs much less and was amazed. His skin was beginning to clear and he was much less itchy. He continued on the candida program for another two months and once he was off the PPIs I recommended a slightly stronger digestive enzyme. During this time I noticed on his blood work results that his liver and gallbladder were abnormal so I added a bile thinner and detoxifier for at least three months.
At the six month mark, Bob had lost 20 pounds due to the diet changes, his liver enzymes were back to normal and the only digestive aid he needed were the probiotics and the digestive enzyme. Often the symptoms of too much stomach acid are the same as too little stomach acid. The rest of his maintenance health program included B complex, vitamin B12, omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin D and a calcium magnesium complex. PPIs deplete magnesium and B12 so we had some catching up to do because he had been on them for so many years.
[A version of this article originally appeared in the Campbell River Mirror, March 25, 2016.]
SCIMEDICA Health Group is celebrating Naturopathic Medicine Week with a clinic Open House and FREE METABOLIC TESTING.
Join Dr. Adrian Yeong and Dr. Victor Chan on Wednesday May 11 between 3-6pm. You will learn about how to detect some common metabolic imbalances in your body and the naturopathic medical approaches to treating them. Stay for free testing, Q&A with the doctors, and a fascinating presentation that will make you think twice about the water that you drink.
*Free metabolic urine testing (normally $105) includes:
- Urine dipstick analysis
- General screen of kidney function, glucose handling, hydration, and acidity
- Koenigsberg test
- Assess sub-clinical stages of low adrenal function
- Oberymeyer (Urinary Indican) test
- Detection of intestinal toxemia and overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria due to incomplete protein digestion
Our facility is wheelchair-accessible. This event is ideal for the whole family.
Space for free testing is limited so please book ahead by calling the SCIMEDICA Health Group clinic at 604-541-8811.
IV Movie Night – Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare
Yinstill Reproductive Wellness is hosting an IV movie night showing Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare at their clinic on May 14th.
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Yinstill Reproductive Wellness Clinic at 3523 Main Street in Vancouver
RSVP before May 13: 604-873-9355
Watch a preview of Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare:
In this video Max Lugavere sits down with Alex Doman, creator of The Listening Program, to learn about how music and sound can heal and enhance your brain.
Our World. Our Health.
We kicked off this year’s Naturopathic Medicine Week in British Columbia with a tagline: Our World. Our Health.
As the professional association for naturopathic physicians in BC, the BCNA acts on behalf of and for the profession to promote the services provided by and the integrity and honour of the naturopathic profession. Our members connect with their communities across British Columbia: by enjoying outdoor activities in our beautiful province; by opening their clinic doors for free doctor consults, testing, and more; and by sharing their knowledge through workshops, presentations, and media interviews.
The BCNA selected Merchants of Doubt for this year’s movie nights (May 13 in Victoria and May 14 in Vancouver). The Naturopathic Medicine Week’s film screenings continue to be very popular.
A new film by Food, Inc director Robert Kenner, Merchants of Doubt considers the so-called experts who weigh in on studies, research and advances in science, but who are more often than not paid by corporations for their opinion.
Both movie nights included special guest Alan Cassels, a health researcher at University of Victoria and author of the book Selling Sickness, he is an expert on the corporate interests which drive health headlines and, often, medical care.
Proceeds from both events went to the Family Naturopathic Clinic in Victoria, a naturopathic teaching clinic providing free care to young low income families since 2007.
Many of our doctors were invited to speak about Naturopathic Medicine in their communities. Dr. Erika Buckley-Strobel spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce in Golden. Dr. Victor Chan, president of the BCNA, appeared on Global 1 and also in the Vancouver Sun.
Read Dr. Victor Chan’s article, “Opinion: More naturopathic access to patients would ease pressure” here.
Listen to Dr. Alana Polo explain she became a naturopathic doctor and how naturopathy can help with tons of health issues below:
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Doctors also had an opportunity to share their tips in daily blog posts May 11-17 on a daily theme: digestive health, allergies, pain management, and more.
Each day after reading about the daily theme, residents of British Columbia were invited to enter a daily contest. A prize was given out each day, with grand prizes generously donated by Finlandia Pharmacy and the Floathouse. Congratulations to all of our winners!
Meet the Doctors
This year we introduced a new hashtag (#NatMedWeek), which we were thrilled to see being used across the country!
We also featured a members on posters – six NDs from across the province enjoying the outdoors.
Our World. Our Health. Our Doctors.
A successful week! Looking forward to next year!
BC Naturopathic Association
2238 Pine Street
Vancouver, BC, V6J 5G4
Phone Toll-Free 1-800-277-1128