Prescription Drugs – Benefits Versus Side Effects
I was slow to jump on the natural remedies over prescription drugs bandwagon. I believe in vaccinations and resent those who put other children in danger by refusing to have their own vaccinated. However, slowly, little by little, I am discovering that perhaps I was at least marginally wrong to blindly follow physicians’ orders, swallowing whatever meds were prescribed without a second thought. After all, I rationalized, they have the training and the knowledge to know what is good for us, right?
While at a group conference pertaining to another health issue, and led by a medical doctor, one of his admonitions hit home. To my utter astonishment and chagrin, number one on his list of things not to do was to take Nexium or any of the other strong proton pump inhibitors to relieve acid reflux. Apparently taking Nexium on a regular basis and for a prolonged period (which I have done and was continuing to do), raises the chances of acquiring Alzheimers by an astounding 44%. Forty-four percent! How could this be? I had been prescribed Nexium several years earlier to ease the pain and discomfort of severe acid reflux and heartburn. It had eased my symptoms almost immediately but whenever I attempted to lower my dosage or refrain from taking it completely, believing I was cured, the painful malady would rear its ugly head again. At different times I had asked two separate well trusted doctors when I could stop taking these meds and both of them vehemently answered “never, unless you are prepared to contract esophagus cancer.”
What was I to do? Being ever aware of the fact that Alzheimers is genetic to some degree, thereby assuring me of a more than casual chance of being afflicted, I was now being hit with the knowledge that I was virtually condemning myself to it by taking medications for a completely unrelated ailment and, if I stopped, I would most assuredly get the big “C”.
Research was imperative at this point and what an eye opener it was. Just type “side effects of Nexium” into your search engine and you could be reading steadily for the next week. Dementia is far from being the only side effect of continuous use of prescription acid reducers. Others include hair loss, tingling extremities, bloating, chronic diarrhea, headaches, skin rashes, arthritis, colitis, gum disease, osteoporosis, and increased risk of bone fractures. In horror I checked off several of these as being symptoms I had been experiencing and now understood the cause.
As explained by Dr. John Hunter “if you have acid reflux you need to understand the cause. Simply popping pills to block the natural production of stomach acid has proven to only cause more serious health conditions. Drugs used to treat acid reflux do not treat the condition itself, only the symptoms.
As a result, the problem continues to worsen over the years and the drug side effects worsen as well. Stomach acid has been unjustly vilified as the cause of acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).You have acid in your stomach for a reason. Your stomach is specifically designed with a layer of cells that protect it from the acid, which is produced because it is necessary for proper digestion of food, absorption of nutrients such as Vitamin B12, and killing of harmful bacteria.”
I was surprised to learn, therefore, that my acid reflux was not caused by too much stomach acid, as I had been led to believe, but by having too little.
Dr. Hunter goes on to explain: “The problem is when the acid leaks into the esophagus. Not having the protective layer of cells as in the stomach, the burning pain occurs.”
Dr. Zoltan Rona, M.D. imparts these chilling facts: “Heartburn drugs are a $15 billion a year industry in North America, mainly because it is far more profitable to steer people to drugs than to healthier diets, stress reduction, or herbal remedies. The most popular and powerful of these drugs are the proton pump inhibitors which cause the stomach acidity to be reduced or eliminated. The best known of these are Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix. These drugs are well tolerated if used for a few days but cause multiple and severe side effects if used for extended periods of time.”
There are numerous ways to prevent acid reflux or GERD, as well as natural cures but one thing that was very strongly recommended by numerous sufferers in online comments was to never attempt to stop using Nexium all at once or “cold turkey.” It was unanimously stated by all that they experienced severe, painful debilitating heartburn approximately seven days into their Nexium abstinence. Their experience proved that this very potent drug must be slowly eliminated over a period of time while simultaneously practising the natural remedies.
Lifestyle choices are extremely important to eliminate or prevent this painful affliction. Physical exercise, stress reduction ,abstaining from cigarettes, and proper diet are topmost.
Dr. Rona explains: “With respect to diet, the best thing to do is to eat frequent small meals throughout the day, drink plenty of spring or purified water, drink therapeutic vegetable juices such as carrot, spinach, beet, cucumber, celery, cabbage, and potato liberally daily. Avoid excessive red meat, alcohol, hot sauces, spicy and fried foods, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrate products.”
Dr. Hunter added, “It is important to consider other pain reducing drugs as Aleve, Advil, and Ibuprofen as common culprits.”
Dr. Rona suggests substituting willow bark capsules to alleviate pain symptoms. Also, low stomach acid allows for bacterial overgrowth.To restore this balance you must consume foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt, or take a natural probiotic supplement, and fermented foods (homemade sauerkraut). Bitter herbs can be used to increase the production of stomach acid. These include barberry bark, caraway, fennel, ginger, and peppermint. Another remedy that I have found aids in digestion immensely is a three times per day pill containing a vegetarian enzyme. Both doctors suggest a naturopath or herbalist for a personalized treatment regime.
Other beneficial remedies include aloe vera juice, coconut oil, slippery elm, and licorice root. It has been suggested that a spoonful of apple cider vinegar mixed with a cup of warm water taken upon rising each morning will prevent heartburn throughout the day.
I am convinced. I have ditched the Nexium (slowly, as suggested), and so far so good. I am faithfully adhering to the above natural remedies, as well as some lifestyle changes. Admittedly I have suffered a few bouts of heartburn but they have been short-lived and not severe. I consider this nothing short of amazing after taking Nexium daily for over eight years and suffering terribly painful heartburn whenever I would inadvertently miss a day or two. I shudder to think of all the side effects of this drug that I have caused myself to suffer by innocently taking medication provided by my doctor.
It makes me wonder how many other hard core prescription drugs are being prescribed daily by well meaning doctors who either do not know about, or simply do not mention, the adverse side effects.
Dt. Zolton Rona