Antacids, known as Proton pump inhibitors by the medical community, are a class of drugs normally prescribed for heartburn symptoms. With names like Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium and Protonix- a large percentage of Americans are intimately familiar with these prescription drugs.

They are SO often recommended for heartburn that most people who take them have never had any testing to figure out WHY they have chronic heartburn. Yet that is EXACTLY the question that they SHOULD be asking before they just hand over a prescription medication to you. Despite the ease with which your doctor hands these drugs out, they could have some serious consequences in the long run that your doctor most likely didn't tell you. First, they do exactly what they say they do- block acid in the stomach. While this might relieve some symptoms of heartburn, isn't our stomach SUPPOSED to have acid in it? That is a big YES. The pH of our stomach is close to that of battery acid. And for good reason.

Approximately 98% of pathogenic organisms that we are exposed to come into our bodies through the food we eat and the fluids that we drink!! Our stomach is the very first line of defense that we have against these 10's of thousands of pathogens that our bodies encounter every single day of our life. And stomach acid is the defense that we evolved over 10's of thousands of years to effectively kill these viruses, bacteria, protozoa and their cysts.

So why would you bother washing your hands after using the restroom if you are going to take an acid blocker and destroy the first line of defense for your digestive tract? Decreasing the pH in your stomach is setting you up to get salmonella, giardia, "food poisoning" and a number of other digestive tract pathogens. The battery acid action of your stomach also helps to digest your food, so changing this pH will affect the digestion of your food and the absorption of nutrients- especially calcium.

Calcium REQUIRES an acidic environment in order to be absorbed, and research is finding that these prescription antacids increase your risk of hip fractures- a potentially lethal event in the elderly! Another long term consequence of taking acid blockers is that they INCREASE your risk of gastric cancer! Yes, your doctor is prescribing you a drug that GIVES you an extra risk factor for stomach cancer. I'll bet that he didn't tell you THAT either, now did he? Ironically, the one thing that your doctor SHOULD test for if you have chronic heartburn- but that it's likely that he won't- is the H pylori bacteria .

The irony is that untreated H pylori is ANOTHER risk factor for gastric cancer.

So, if you DO happen to have the H pylori bacteria AND he gives you an acid blocker, then he has just given you TWO risk factors for gastric cancer when you could have eliminated BOTH of them with a simple blood test.That's enough to give you heartburn.

Author's Bio: 

If you would like to find out about alternatives to prescription antacid drugs and how to test for and eliminate the H pylori bacteria that may be causing your heartburn or GERD in the first place, I do customized health programs that can help you to overcome your chronic health issues and finally get well.

Kerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine. She uses a scientifically based 'What Works Best' approach in order to help people actually OVERCOME chronic health problems that have not been helped by any other means.

She has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, but works primarily by telephone consultation so that she can help you wherever you happen to live in the US. She can be reached through her website at

"Stop managing your illness and start getting well..."ke