Did you know that the number of prescriptions issued by family doctors has soared threefold in just fifteen years, with millions now committed to taking a cocktail of medications – many of them unnecessarily so?
When you are prescribed medication on a long-term basis, there are numerous ‘hidden dangers’ – drug-induced illnesses causing muscular aches and pains, lethargy, insomnia, impaired memory, and a whole host of other symptoms. There has been a sharp increase in the number of emergency hospital admissions for serious side effects from drugs, and a recently noted decline in life expectancy in the UK – attributed to over-medicalisation. I feel both saddened and infuriated by this.
I have lost count of the number of people I have spoken to over the years who have felt as though they have been coerced into taking prescription medication that they don’t need only to feel debilitated by the side effects. Then we have worked together to get them off the meds, and they report feeling as though they have experienced a ‘miraculous recovery’.
I am by no means against the use of medication; lives have been saved and prolonged, time and again – when they are used correctly. However, I always recommend that if a GP prescribes medication for a condition of any kind that you ask what the risk is over the benefit. Oftentimes there are alternatives. I talk about it more in my blog post: “You can’t Drug Yourself To Better Health“.
In my specialist field of digestive and gut health, I am inundated with enquiries from people who are taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs are the ‘big guns’ developed to block the production of stomach acid. They’re now commonly used as a first-line treatment for gastrointestinal acid-related diseases.
PPIs work by blocking the brain’s signal to the stomach to secrete more hydrochloric acid. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But there are problems with this approach. First, is that PPIs must be taken daily to keep acid levels low. The second problem is that PPIs block the communication-response system to the brain, disrupting the entire digestive process. The continued use of PPIs impairs digestion since the body has no way to adjust for the correct amount of acid to be released during or between meals.
While PPIs may alleviate the problem of excess stomach acid, many people don’t realise that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer, pneumonia, c. difficile infections, osteoporosis (you need stomach acid to absorb nutrients such as magnesium and calcium into bones), and vitamin B12 deficiency, among other serious diseases.
Studies have shown that a large proportion of people on PPIs do not have indications for these medications; what’s more they are not being reviewed regularly by the GP, and therefore at increased risk to the potential harm of long-term use of these acid-suppressing medications.
PPIs are one of the most difficult types of medication to wean people from; they can be highly addictive. You might wonder how – imagine the PPI acting like a dam for a river. When the dam is created, a lake forms behind it. When the dam is removed, the water from the lake floods downstream. In a similar way, stopping the use of PPIs causes the suppressed stomach acid to flood the digestive system, and symptoms return with a vengeance. The result? Most people return to using PPIs, and the cycle continues.
So much can be done naturally to control acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion, without taking these strong drugs. You can find lots of helpful information and tips about this in my indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux plan here.
One caveat – anyone who has Barrett’s Oesophagus and oesophagitis needs to stay on the PPI otherwise they are at risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
Any change in drugs needs to be checked with a GP, so if you do want to try and wean yourself off your PPI or any other prescription medication, you need to speak to your GP first.
If you want to learn more about how progressive over-medicalisation is now harming people and causing a major threat to their health and wellbeing, I recommend reading James Le Fanu’s book, Too Many Pills – How too much medicine is endangering our health and what we can do about it.
Read how Sally was able to come off her PPI after taking it for five years:
If you would like to talk about a digestive and gut health issue, or find out more about our supplement protocols, just get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!