Acid Blocking (Heart Burn) Drugs, Bone Loss & Athletes

by Dr. Jason Barker October 09, 2014

Acid Blocking (Heart Burn) Drugs, Bone Loss & Athletes

30% of the U.S adult population suffers from heartburn/reflux (or more formerly, GERD - gastro esophageal reflux disease).  Diagnosis of reflux increased by an astounding 216% from 1998 to 2005.  Reflective of these statistics, it seems like everyone is taking some sort of acid-blocking drug to treat reflux these days.

GERD is a condition where the stomach sends acid back up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach).

This is often a painful condition where a person experiences burning in their chest (this is why it’s called “heart burn”), but a person may also have to clear their throat often, cough frequently or have a bad taste in their mouth.

GERD is readily treated by conventional doctors with nearly 65 million prescriptions written each year. This statistic doesn’t include the millions of over-the-counter treatments that people seek as well.

So what’s the big deal with taking these drugs?  Well the problem is the effect they have on bone structure. Our bones are primarily made of calcium and a few other minerals that play a smaller role. We need these minerals in adequate amounts in our diets in order to create strong, dense bones. Everyone knows the drill about getting enough calcium in his or her diet for bone health, right?

The problem with acid blockers (the proton pump inhibitor type) is that they reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.  In turn, you can no longer readily absorb the minerals you need for bone health – there are many studies showing a risk of bone demineralization (weakened, thin bones) as a result of being on a specific group of acid blocking drugs.  As a result, the FDA warned that taking high doses of proton pump inhibitor drugs for a long time might make fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine more likely.

There are 2 main classes of acid-blocking drugs:

1. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – these include prescription drugs like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid). There are over the counter (OTC) versions of Prevacid, Prilosec and Zegerid.  These are the type to be concerned about with mineral absorption.

2. H2 blockers include cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Calmicid, Fluxid, Mylanta AR, Pepcid), and ranitidine (Tritec, Zantac).  These drugs are probably more bone friendly, however the research isn’t back yet.

Even if you’re a runner, acid blockers may negate the effects of weight-bearing exercise on your bones. So all that running, while certainly not a waste of your time, might not be building your bones the way you think it is if you’re taking an acid blocker.

If you have GERD and are taking an acid blocker, there are alternatives to consider that don’t have bone-thinning side effects.

We use two different natural medicines to treat acid reflux.

Acid Reflux Formula is great for getting at the cause of reflux so that you don't have to deal with it in the first place. It contains several key nutrients for calming inflammed stomach tissue and those that have been clinically shown to address the causes of GERD, reflux, and and heartburn.

Rhizinate can provide relief from the symptoms and pain of reflux.

Want to learn more about treating reflux naturally? There's a lot more info here.
Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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