Health & Beauty Bytes: What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About Your PPIs

Pop Quiz!

Q: Which popular prescription anti-acid medication can deplete your body of magnesium thereby causing new problems like constipation, restless leg syndrome, and chronic fatigue?

A: Lots of them!

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“Et tu, tomato sauce?”
Many foods can exacerbate symptoms of GERD.

If you or anyone you know has GERD (like I do), you will have one or more of the following symptoms:

1)       Heartburn
2)       Regurgitation
3)       Difficulty in swallowing
4)       Pain with swallowing/sore throat
5)       Increased salivation
6)       Nausea
7)       Chest Pain
8)       Coughing

When I was pregnant years ago I developed really bad indigestion, which mostly disappeared after I gave birth, but then slowly came back over the next few years until I had symptoms 1, 3, 6, & 7 listed above.  Fun!  I was given an EKG about 2 years ago and was told “you have GERD”, given a long list of foods to avoid , and a prescription for pharmacy-grade Prilosec, twice a day.

What I was not told was that there are equally effective natural alternatives to prescription antacids like Prilosec, and that the prescription medications (and over the counter versions!) in question can severely deplete you of magnesium. For a full list of such medications(PPIs), click here.

What can happen when you are magnesium deficient? Fun things like the following:

“…agitation and anxiety, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep disorders, irritability, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle spasm and weakness, hyperventilation, insomnia, poor nail growth, and even seizures.” Source: University of Maryland Medical Center

I had a few of those too — lovely! Was I told that the medicine I had been taking until last summer could do this? Of course not, that’d be too forthright.  It may have been listed in tiny print on the drug information sheet that came with my prescription, but it certainly was not told to me by a human being (i.e., my doctor).

So I have to give credit to an episode of Dr. Oz I saw this past summer that clued me into the Prilosec/magnesium issue in the first place: “The Fatigue Solution.”  Had I not seen this show I would have never realized I was magnesium-deficient in the first place. Now, most of my magnesium deficiency issues have disappeared since I began taking a magnesium citrate supplement.

So how can you treat GERD without prescription medication?

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8 Weeks to Optimum Health, by Dr. Andrew Weil

The answer for me is really simple and super-cost effective: Ginger pills. I owe credit to this discovery to Dr. Andrew Weil’s book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health that I read over the summer.

So to get off the Prilosec, first I tried the licorice pills that Dr. Oz suggested.  I tried them for maybe 3 weeks, but they were not super helpful. Then I read the chapter on ginger as an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid in Dr. Weil’s book and thought I would give it a shot.

I can attest that since I started taking 500mg capsules of pure ginger I haven’t taken my prescription stomach medication since August.  Of course I am not cured, I still have GERD, but it is no longer out of control and I am not loading myself up with manufactured, magnesium depleting chemicals twice a day.  I am all in favor of taking natural, non-toxic remedies whenever possible, over side-effect-laden, unnatural, toxic pharmaceuticals any day! If you or someone you know is taking a PPI listed in the link above, you may want to try ginger capsules (or ginger tea, etc.) which are readily available at your local health food store, GNC, or online.

Ginger: Does a body good...

Ginger: Does a body good…

And for those of you paying attention, yes, coffee is on my naughty list of no-no’s for GERD!  But I get around it by having only a cup a day, and heavily diluting it with lowfat milk and chai (which also has ginger!). I’ll exchange an extra ginger pill for the caffeine if I have to! And with that….

Time for a coffee,

Maddy

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