I used to date a guy that would pop antacid medication like lollies.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you know someone like that too actually, considering the prevalence of antacid use today.
PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are one of the most popular classes of drugs prescribed. Doctors wrote 114 million prescriptions for them last year. Americans spend $5.1 billion on Nexium, the most popular PPI, alone.
There’s two main types of acid-blocking drugs. Proton pump inhibitors or PPI’s (like Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex, and Zegerid), and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (like Pepcid, Buscopan, Mintec, Quick Eze, Zantac, and Mylanta, Gaviscon).
What has been found though is that all acid stopping drugs (not just PPIs) inhibit nutrient absorption, promote bacterial overgrowth, reduce resistance to infection and increase the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.
With recent studies showing long term use of antacids can be dangerous, it’s imperative we understand all of our options, in managing heartburn. Especially when there are natural solutions such as essential oils that do no harm to the body and can actually improve our condition.
The paradigm shift from big pharma (and big dis-ease) to healthier bodies will occur when we begin to choose natural solutions as a first port of call to support our body and not a ‘last resort’.
What’s the problem with antacids though?
Study Finds Antacids Increase Risk of B12 Deficiency
Data examined from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population showed:
- Those who took acid-inhibiting drugs for two or more years were more likely to have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Those taking proton pump inhibitors were more at risk than those taking histamine 2 receptors antagonists, but both were still at an increased risk of deficiency.
- In the study, 12 percent of the people taking proton pump inhibitors for two years or more developed a deficiency, compared to 4 percent of those taking histamine 2 receptor antagonists.
- When people stopped taking these drugs, their B-12 levels rose.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause, weakness and fatigue, light-headedness and dizziness, palpitations and rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, a sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance, nausea or poor appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes.
In addition to sapping the body’s B-12, long-term use of antacids can also cause the following health problems:
- An increase in stomach acid production (called “acid rebound”), which can create more heartburn—causing a vicious cycle.
- Interference with calcium and protein absorption in the body, which can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures.
- Dry mouth, which can lead to tooth problems.
- Increased risk of food-borne infections.
In 2010, the FDA cautioned against prolonged use or high doses of proton pump inhibitors, and ordered revised labeling on these drugs to reflect the fact that they had been associated with an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine. The greatest danger exists for those over 50 years of age.
As with all natural solutions when working with the human body, I advise to approach heartburn holistically. Our own body is a an eco-system itself, so it makes sense that we encompass more than one approach to support our healing from heartburn.
Natural Solutions for Heartburn
- Low-carbohydrate (high fat) diet: A study found that patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD—a form of consistent heartburn) who went on a very low-carbohydrate diet were able to significantly reduce their symptoms.
Here’s some high-fat, low-carb recipes you may want to try.
- Functional Foods, especially probiotics and prebiotics. There is some evidence that heartburn and GERD may be linked with an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Consuming probiotics may help restore a healthy bacterial balance. Try fermented foods like yogurt or kefir, or a probiotic supplements. One recent 2013 study found that patients with indigestion who received extra-virgin olive oil enriched with probiotics experienced significant improvement in their symptoms.
Here’s some functional food recipes you may want to try:
How to ferment sauerkraut
Fermented cashew cheese
How to make bone broth and why you should.
- Herbs: A number of herbs have shown in studies to help tame indigestion. Some good ones to try—peppermint, licorice, slippery elm, ginger, barberry, chamomile, lemon balm, caraway, dandelion, and milk thistle. These all help to sooth the lining of the digestive tract and support the mucosal lining of the digestive system.
Here’s a post on Dandelion tea you may want to read.
- Alkaline vegetables: These can help tame the acid in your stomach. Try juicing carrots, cucumbers, radishes, or beets, with a little salt and pepper if you like, and consume with meals or when you’re experiencing symptoms. You can also consume these vegetables raw.
- Fennel seeds: Fennel was traditionally used to soothe digestive upset, and contains a compound called “anethose,” which can suppress spasms in the stomach. You can try chewing the seeds slowly after your meals, which can also help minimise gas and bloating. (The oil from fennel seeds is also a key component of the doTERRA essential oil blend DigestZen, which may be very helpful for heartburn)
Essential Oils for Acid Reflux
DigestZen by doTERRAThis formula contains ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander, and anise essential oils, all of which work together to restore balance in the digestive system. Fennel oil has long been used to treat stomach disorders like indigestion and acid reflux. Applying peppermint oil in combination with caraway oil in a carrier oil to the body, may reduce feelings of fullness and mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms.
Lemon Oil by doTERRALemon oil’s antibacterial properties may be effective against H. pylori bacteria in the stomach. Application of lemon essential oil in a carrier oil to one’s stomach may temporarily sooth the stomach and has the potential to reduce the excretion of digestive acids associated with heartburn.
Sweet fennel oil by doTERRAFennel oil can promote healthy digestion, support the health of the lungs and respiratory tract. It can help calm the spasm response in the gut and helps minimise gas, bloating and feelings of dis-ease in the gut.
How to use Essential Oils for Supporting Heartburn
You can take 1 drop of essential oil orally, under the tongue, when you feel heartburn coming on, or, you can make a salve that you can rub onto your chest and around your stomach in a clockwise direction when you experience feelings of heartburn.
1/4 cup hard coconut oil
3 tsp organic Australian Beeswax pellets (you can buy here- not affiliated in any way)
15 drops doTERRA DigestZen essential oil
15 drops doTERRA Lemon essential oil
Melt the beeswax pellets in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. When liquid, melt coconut oil in. Remove from heat. When it has cooled for 2 mins, stir through the essential oils and then pour into tins or jars (simply recycle jars from the kitchen).
Use as a salve on your stomach and chest.
- Austin GL1, Thiny MT, Westman EC, Yancy WS Jr, Shaheen NJ. “A very low-carbohydrate diet improves gastroesophageal reflux and its symptoms”,, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16871438
- Jameson R. Lam, et al., “Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency,” JAMA, December 11, 2013, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1788456.
- Thomas H. Maugh II, “The FDA cautions against high dosages or prolonged use of acid inhibitors,” Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2010, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/05/the-fda-cautions-against-high-doseages-or-prolonged-use-of-acid-inhibitors.html.
- Austin GL, et al., “A very low-carbohydrate diet improves gastroesophageal reflux and its symptoms,” Dig Dis Sci. 2006 Aug; 51(8):1307-12, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16871438.
- Tharwat S. Kandil, “The potential therapeutic effect of melatonin in gastroesophageal reflux disease,” BMC Gastroenterology 2010, 10:7: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-230X/10/7.
- Chris Kesser, April 10, “How your antacid drug is making you sick (Part A)”, https://chriskresser.com/how-your-antacid-drug-is-making-you-sick-part-a/