(NaturalHealth365) Around 10 percent of Americans who suffer from acid reflux take an acid reflux medication called a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI. These drugs are designed to block the secretion of stomach acid in order to relieve the burning and discomfort of acid reflux. (But, there’s a ‘dark side’ to this approach)
A disturbing new finding out of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine offers a serious warning to anyone currently taking or considering the use of these medications. It turns out that taking acid reflux medication can dramatically increase your liver disease risk.
Acid reflux medication alter gut bacteria and damage liver function
The researchers discovered that in both mice and humans, specific gut bacteria are altered by proton pump inhibitors. The result of this alteration is a higher risk of liver injury as well as a faster progression of three different chronic liver disease types. If you’re interested in diving a little deeper, the findings were published (Oct. 10, 2017) in the Nature Communications publication.
But, basically, the team started with mouse models mimicking non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and alcoholic liver disease in humans. They then blocked gastric acid production using either a PPI or genetic engineering.
It was found that mice with blocked gastric acid production had more Enterococcus bacteria in their guts, which in turn caused liver inflammation. This condition actually induced liver disease in some of the mice.
The team then looked for links between PPI usage and alcoholic liver disease in humans. A cohort of 4,830 patients with chronic alcohol abuse were analyzed. Those who had taken PPIs had an average of 8.3 higher chance of liver disease than those who had never taken them.
Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the top causes of death throughout the world
Under normal conditions, gastric acid is produced by the stomach in order to kill microbes and digest the foods we eat. And that’s a good thing.
But, taking a drug that suppresses this – automatically changes the composition of the gut microbiome. (in a negative way) Keep in mind, the communities of microbes living there are well-known to influence liver health.
Ultimately, the researchers determined the absence of gastric acid promoted Enterococcus bacteria growth in the intestines. This bacteria then translocated to the liver where inflammation was increased – raising the risk of liver disease and exacerbating existing liver conditions.
So, why do we see cirrhosis causing so much suffering and death? This is largely due to the alarming prevalence of obesity as well as alcohol abuse in the United States and many other Western countries. Around half of deaths related to cirrhosis are linked to excessive alcohol consumption.
Of course, the consumption of unhealthy foods and other pharmaceutical drugs only add to the toxic burden inside the liver.
The value of natural cures can NOT be underestimated for acid reflux
PPIs are among the most widely prescribed medications in the world. Some of the most common PPIs go by the brand names Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium. They are widely available and offered in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths.
Of course, there are many alternatives to PPIs for acid reflux relief, including Tums and H2 blockers Zantac and Tagamet; however, these all still suppress gastric acid to some degree. And, none of them address the root cause of digestive problems, such as toxic food or chronic infections.
Natural alternatives to acid reflux medication include: ginger, spearmint or peppermint tea; probiotic-rich foods like miso soup; tea made with ume plum concentrate and the avoidance of ‘trigger’ foods like, spices, fried dishes, caffeine and (of course) processed sugar, gluten and alcohol.
The key is to identify what’s upsetting your digestive system – including mental/emotional issues that must be resolved – especially in chronic acid reflux conditions – and seek out the safest way to resolve the problem for long-term healing success.
Sources for this article include:
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