New research is showing us something we didn’t know about medications given for heartburn. The class of drugs we’re talking about are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Losec, Nexium, Prevacid, or Pariet. These medications account for 1/3 of all prescriptions given in Canada annually and they do something we previously thought only occurred with antibiotics.
It’s been found that PPIs create a marked decline in the diversity of your microbiota (all the good and bad bacteria contained in your gut) within 7 days of starting them. Once the medication is stopped, it takes about a month for partial reversal to take place.
With this comes the increase risk of C. difficiles, increase risk of overgrowth of bad bacteria in the small intestine (SIBO), and decreased bifidobacteria population in the colon.
This may not sound like a big deal, but to give you an idea of how impactful this can be to your health – there is a bacteria that feeds on the oxalates responsible for kidney stones. If they are wiped out by PPIs or antibiotics, they don’t come back. This would drastically increase your chances of getting kidney stones at some point in your life. This is just one of the multitude of examples that could be given.
This same effect has also been seen with use of NSAIDS such as aspirin, Celebrex, and ibuprofen.
If you have heart burn and are wanting to come off your medication, I suggest doing so under supervision of your Naturopathic physician or Western doctor. I have written previous blogs on how to heal heartburn naturally, and how to reestablish your microbiota once it’s been wiped out.
The microbiome is truly a powerful part of our overall health and well being, and it’s up to us to nourish and protect it :)