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Prolonged Acid Blocker Use: A Closer Look at GERD and Functional Medicine

apple ciderAcid blockers, ranging from antacids to proton pump inhibitors, have become a common solution for individuals dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While these medications aim to alleviate the discomfort associated with excessive stomach acid, their prolonged use may come with unexpected consequences. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the potential harm caused by extended acid blocker use and explore alternative approaches within the realm of chiropractic and functional medicine.

The Counterintuitive Approach: The primary purpose of acid-blocking agents is clear—to halt the production of stomach acid. However, when we consider the natural physiology of the stomach, it becomes evident that inhibiting acid production contradicts the body’s intended function. The stomach’s role is to generate acid for optimal digestion, making long-term acid suppression counterintuitive to overall health.

The Perils of Prolonged Use: While acid blockers can offer relief for GERD sufferers, their extended use may lead to unintended consequences, including:

  1. Increased Risk of Dementia: Studies indicate a heightened risk of all-cause dementia, particularly among individuals who commence acid blocker usage at a younger age.
  2. Cardiovascular Concerns: Prolonged acid blocker use has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  3. Nitric Oxide Suppression: Acid blockers hinder the production of Nitric Oxide, a vital signaling molecule that plays a role in vasodilation, enhancing blood flow throughout the body.
  4. Mineral Absorption Impairment: Acid blockers interfere with the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies.
  5. Incomplete Protein Breakdown: Inadequate stomach acid can result in the incomplete breakdown of proteins, potentially triggering immune responses and increasing inflammation.
  6. Higher Susceptibility to Infections: Stomach acid serves as a natural defense mechanism against harmful bacteria; therefore, reduced acid levels may elevate the risk of bacterial infections.

Addressing GERD Holistically: In the realm of chiropractic and functional medicine, the focus is on addressing the root cause rather than merely alleviating symptoms. For individuals grappling with GERD and prolonged acid blocker use, a holistic approach may include:

  1. Gradual Medication Reduction: Patients should not abruptly cease acid blockers. Instead, a gradual reduction should be supervised by healthcare professionals.
  2. Lifestyle Modification: Embracing a healthier lifestyle is paramount. This includes eliminating processed foods, reducing sugar intake, identifying food sensitivities, and moderating alcohol, coffee, and chocolate consumption.
  3. Natural Aids: Incorporating natural aids, such as Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, may help support digestion. However, individual tolerance levels should be considered.
  4. Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate GERD symptoms. Strategies to manage stress, including mindfulness and relaxation techniques, can play a crucial role in overall well-being.
  5. Prioritizing Sleep: Ensuring 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night is fundamental for digestive health and overall vitality.

Conclusion: While acid blockers may provide temporary relief for GERD, their prolonged use poses potential risks that extend beyond digestive discomfort. Chiropractic and functional medicine offer a holistic approach, addressing the root cause of GERD and providing patients with alternatives to long-term medication dependency. By embracing lifestyle changes and seeking comprehensive care, individuals can move towards lasting relief and improved overall health.

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