Antacids as a Band-Aid

On the heels of my last blog about the sometimes snail-like speed at which traditional medicine moves forward comes my comment about some research cited on NPR.org. The article is entitled “Popular Antacids Increase the Risk of B-12 Deficiency.”

The writer sites a JAMA study about the use of acid inhibiting drugs like Zantac, Prilosec, Pepsid, and Tagamet causing B-12 deficiency. This deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, depression, weight loss, anemia, and loss of appetite.

My first response to the study was twofold. First, how many other vitamins are these people deficient in since B-12 is the only one they tested for. Second, how do we then prevent the need for these drugs. The writer and, unfortunately, most doctors response is to continue taking the antacids and just supplement with more B-12.

We, as patients, need to understand that medical schools generally don’t teach doctors to search out the root of the problem. They are taught to listen to the symptoms, label the condition, and prescribe a drug. In the case of acid reflux, the cause usually involves low stomach acid, not too much acid. Taking an antacid, while helping the symptoms temporarily, only exacerbates the lack of acid problem. Long term use then results in vitamin deficiencies. Take a look at this link which describes small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a common cause of acid reflux.

The bottom line is to do your own research. The internet offers a wealth of information on health. Take responsibility for your own care and don’t trust that doctors are going to always have the answer and make everything right with a pill. Proper diet (low carbohydrate and anti-inflammatory) and exercise can go a long way to a disease free, prescription free life.