From Dr. Mercola:
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most widely used medications in the U.S. This class of drug is used to treat chronic heartburn. Although the pain often happens in the lower to mid chest area, it is not related to heart disease or a heart attack.
Instead, heartburn pain happens when acid refluxes up your esophagus, burning the tissue. The fluid in your stomach is highly acidic, necessary for digestion of your food, protection against bacteria and absorption of many nutrients.
A variety of different reasons can cause this acidic fluid to pass the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and burn your esophagus, but most cases of heartburn are due either to a hiatal hernia or Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.
Occasional heartburn is best treated with simple lifestyle changes, such as drinking a bit of apple cider vinegar in water right before or after your meals. Unfortunately, when you experience chronic pain over many weeks, your physician may prescribe a daily medication. PPIs are one class of those medications.
The top selling PPIs include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, all available both as a prescription and over-the-counter (OTC). However, your doctor’s orders may actually do more harm than good in this instance, as these drugs tend to make your situation worse rather than better.
Smoking Gun Points to PPIs
Your cells use a proton pump to produce acid. PPI medications are designed to inhibit the proton pump and reduce the amount of acid produced. PPIs do not specifically target the cells in your stomach, and stomach acid is usually not the primary trigger behind chronic heartburn.
This class of drug is not specific, and instead will inhibit any cell with a proton pump producing acid, whether those cells are in your stomach or not. Researchers from Stanford University and Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas believe this is the smoking gun behind the variety of dangerous side effects linked to PPIs.1
The production of acid in your cells is associated with a specific cleanup process. The cells use acid to clean out end products and garbage from metabolism and cell function. When the acid is not present, there is a buildup of these toxins in the cells, which may lead to the development of a variety of significant health conditions.2
Excess stomach acid is not often the cause for your heartburn. Quite the opposite is true. Low amounts of stomach acid and the subsequent overgrowth of bacteria changes the digestion of carbohydrates, producing gas. The gas increases the pressure on the LES, releasing acid into the esophagus, creating heartburn.
While you may experience speedy relief of heartburn from immediate acting acid neutralizing medications such as TUMS, long-acting medications such as PPIs may increase your risk of heartburn over time.3
When Acid Levels Change, It Damages Your Body’s Ability to Function Properly
When PPIs were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they were designed to be taken for no more than