If you experience heartburn, you are not alone. Over 20% of Americans will experience heartburn every week. But think twice abut how you treat it. Proton-pump inhibitors, such as Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid, are common medications used to block the stomachs production of acid. No acid=no acidreflux=no heartburn. Seems pretty simple. And it perfectly illustrates the over-simplified approach that is common in medicine today. For every symptom, there is medication meant to suppress the discomfort without looking to the underlying cause.
And at what cost? When you suppress a symptom, you ignore the message that symptom sends. And, when you use a medication daily, you take on risks. Over the last couple years, the FDA has started to issue warning regarding some concerning side effects associated with long term use of proton pump inhibitors. One of the most serious is an increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture. It makes perfect sense – stomach acid is needed to digest calcium. If you chronically block the production of stomach acid, you won’t be able to absorb the calcium you need. Other concerns are magnesium deficiency and increase rates of infection.
In Naturopathic Medicine we believe in the wisdom of the body. Stomach acid has a purpose. Namely to digest nutrients and keep infections from entering the body. Uncomfortable symptoms, such as heartburn, don’t appear for no reason. They are a signal that the body is out of balance. This is what separates our philosophy from the current mainstream approach to healthcare. And this is why patients seek out our care.
So take a moment to consider your symptoms and ask yourself what messages they might be sending. Before you interrupt the the natural functions of your body, consider the long term implications. And before starting any medication, consider the many safe and non-toxic natural therapies available. And, of course, consider adding a naturopathic doctor to your health care team