Acid Reflux Drugs May Cause Dementia and Neuropathy


Has your memory been slipping lately? Have you experienced unexplained pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms of legs? Have you also been taking an acid reflux drug like Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec for a couple years? If so, then you may be the latest victim of the pharmaceutical industry’s medical model of healthcare.

After that first paragraph, you may have expected to see an attorney’s phone number to call and join a class action lawsuit! Well, I am sure that it won’t be long before that actually happens. New research, published Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that certain acid reflux drugs are “significantly associated” with vitamin B12 deficiency. In turn, vitamin B12 deficiency causes serious health consequences including anemia, osteoporosis, depression, memory loss, dementia, neuropathy and cardiovascular disease.

If you have acid reflux, you need to understand what is causing it. Find the cause and correct the cause. Simply popping pills to block the natural production of stomach acid has proven to only cause even more serious health conditions. Read on to learn how to restore your health without these dangerous drugs!

Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Acid reflux drugs, like Nexium, have long been known to cause some very serious side effects. Among them are problems such as anemia, heart problems, hypertension, osteoporosis and further digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, drugs used to treat acid reflux do not treat the condition itself but only the symptoms. They are not designed to correct the cause of the problem. As a result, the problem continues to worsen over the years. Drug treatment is continued and the drug side effects continue to worsen as well.

This new research(1) sheds further light on this problem. It showed that people taking certain acid reflux drugs are far more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. The study implicated proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec – and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) – Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. Proton pump inhibitors proved to be the worst.

Unfortunately, the study’s senior author, Dr. Douglas Corley, stated(2) that patient’s should not stop taking the drugs but should get their B12 levels checked. If your levels are deficient, then presumably, you should treat that as another symptom as well. All the while, the underlying causes are left unaddressed. Vitamin B12 deficiency cannot be corrected unless the cause of the deficiency is addressed. In this case, the cause may be your acid reflux pill.

Left uncorrected, this leads to fatigue, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome, increased risk of bone fracture, hypertension, dementia, depression and neuropathy. It is dangerous, costly, and simply ridiculous to continue treating symptoms of any condition rather than addressing the cause. Wouldn’t it be much better to find what is causing the acid reflux and correct the cause?

Why Do You Have Stomach Acid?

Stomach acid has been unjustly vilified as the cause of acid reflux and GERD. In a similar fashion, cholesterol was incorrectly pegged as the cause of deadly heart disease. Just as pharmaceutically lowering cholesterol increases the heart attack death rate, blocking stomach acid with drugs only makes the problem of reflux and GERD even worse!

You have acid in your stomach for a reason. The cells that line your stomach produce it. In fact, your stomach is specifically designed with a layer of cells that protect it from the otherwise damaging effects of the acid. This stomach acid is required by your body for:

  • proper digestion of food, especially carbohydrates

  • Absorption of nutrients (such as vitamin B12)

  • Killing harmful bacteria and limiting bacterial overgrowth

Without this acid in your stomach, you cannot properly digest carbohydrates or effectively absorb certain nutrients. Blocking this acid production also allows for overgrowth of bacteria and opens the door for H. pylori infections. Simply having the stomach acid is not the problem. In fact, most people suffering from acid reflux actually have too little stomach acid rather than too much.

What Causes Acid Reflux and GERD?

The problem is when the acid leaks (refluxes) into the esophagus. Your esophagus does not have the protective lining that your stomach has. When stomach acid gets into the esophagus, the burning pain of acid reflux results.

Your body has a very strong valve – called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) – between the stomach and esophagus that is designed to prevent the reflux of acid. The cause of the acid reflux is a dysfunctioning LES muscle which allows the acid to reflux into the esophagus.

It is not a problem of having too much acid. Again, most cases of acid reflux actually occur with low levels of stomach acid. The acid is just in the wrong place. Lowering acid levels or blocking its production does not fix the problem with the LES. As a result, the acid reflux continues and you are prescribed acid blocking drugs for the rest of your life.

So, the real question is what is causing the dysfunction with the LES muscle and how can your correct this cause of acid reflux?

Correcting the Cause of Acid Reflux

  • Your Nerve System and Chiropractic Care. The LES is an autonomic muscle. That means that it is automatically controlled by your autonomic nervous system. Stress on the nerves that control this muscle can cause it to malfunction. Additionally, production and secretion of stomach acid is controlled by your nerve system. Ensuring proper nerve system function is the first step to healing acid reflux and GERD naturally. Chiropractic physicians are trained to find and correct nerve interference such as this. As a result, many people experience significant relief simply from including regular chiropractic care in their wellness lifestyle.

  • Eliminating Drug Effects. It is also important to consider other prescription drugs that you are taking that may be causing the problem. Common culprits include steroid drugs, NSAIDS (such as Advil and Aleve), and aspirin. These drugs are commonly prescribed for various pain syndromes. However, there are many natural, safe, and more effective methods for correcting these conditions as well.

  • Excessive Carbohydrates. Consuming excessive carbohydrates – especially simple carbs like sugars, breads, pastas, pastries, etc. – create an inflammatory environment in your body. This can prevent normal production of stomach acid and allow bacterial overgrowth. This leads to gas production and increased intra-abdominal pressure. As a result the LES muscle becomes inhibited and acid reflux occurs. Simply switching to a low carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet naturally corrects this cause of acid reflux.

  • Balancing Bacteria. Low stomach acid allows for bacterial overgrowth and disrupts the balance of healthy gut bacteria. Consuming foods rich in probiotics (healthy bacteria), such as raw fermented foods, restores this balance. Taking a probiotic supplement may be necessary as well. Restoring the normal, healthy bacteria in your gut helps to correct many digestive disorders, including acid reflux.

Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux

Using these methods addresses the actual cause of acid reflux and GERD and allows your body to heal itself naturally. While you are healing, you may need to use some natural remedies as well to help with the symptoms. As mentioned earlier, the problem is most often a result of not enough stomach acid production in order to digest food, absorb nutrients and kill harmful bacteria.

Bitter herbs can be used to increase production of stomach acid. These include herbs such as barberry bark, caraway, dandelion, fennel, ginger, goldenseal root, peppermint, and wormwood. They are typically taken in very small doses and made in a tincture of water. Consult an well-trained herbalist for best results.

While you are reconditioning your body to produce the proper amount of stomach acid, you may benefit from natural digestive enzyme supplements as well. Without proper levels of stomach acid, the pH is too high to stimulate the release of these enzymes naturally. These supplements can help provide your body with the support it needs to break down carbohydrates and proteins more effectively.

As with all health conditions, dangerous drugs are not the only option. It may seem easy to simply pop a pill and ignore the problem. However, your body and your long-term health will ultimately suffer the consequences. You can live a radiant and vibrantly healthy life! Simple lifestyle changes make a huge difference in your vitality and they will help you heal acid reflux naturally!

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References for this Article:

(1) Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

(2) Stomach acid drugs may increase vitamin deficiency risk

Dr. Brent Hunter
My mission is to help you Achieve Wellness! I am a Chiropractic physician with a focus on delivering the principles of a wellness lifestyle to people of all ages. In my practice, this is accomplished through providing specific chiropractic care and whole-person wellness education.

Additionally, I am a husband and father of a Deaf son. I am passionate about the Word of God, building strong families, Chiropractic Health Care, Optimal Nutrition and Exercise, Deaf Culture and American Sign Language.

  • deborah

    I been ill with what seems h pilorey bacterial infection…could yyou suggest anythin other than antibotics…

    • Annmariesaved

      Colloidal Silver? People at Sovereign Silver company said the following, " 2 TBLS while standing up for 10min, 2 TBLS while lying down on left side, the 2 while on right side, then 2 while lying on stomach and then 2 while lying on back. Man said H-pylori should not be able to survive." You could call the company and talk to the health advisor concerning this. Sovereign Silver is the brand of Colloidal Silver. I did try this and I did notice a difference with decreased reflux, but I also have parasites and Candida that I'm dealing with.

  • darkmoon

    what about regular tums?

  • bamalori

    Another common cause of GERD and indigestion is HPTH, hyperparathyroidism. Once I had my adenoma removed (same day surgery in Tampa by Dr. Norman) , the M I R P, minimally invasive surgery, same day surgery. cured my GERD….it will never get better and this will also causes low vitamin D..and high calcium, which destroys the bones, as it breaks down bone calcium to use because the parathyroid hormone (which controls calcium) is high, and malfunctioning due to a tumor on it. As soon as I woke from my 20 min surgery the pain was gone in bones for the first time in years, my BP returned to normal after having high BP for a long time., as well as palpations.. AND, I've not had GERD one single time since either in over two years since the surgery. I had been misdiagnosed for YEARS by local doctors that do not understand HPTH, they nearly killed me with symptom treating drugs for depression, GERD, high BP, …and fibromyalgia… all cured with the M I R P, but many doctors will not even do the PTH test before going down this symptom treating road… ask for PTH, calcium and vitamin D before taking harmful drugs, then, just go on to Tampa, odds are you will not find a surgeon who can do the same day 20 minute minimally invasive parathyroid surgery, don't trust any other kind of surgery with HPTH, trust me on that, I tried with three other surgeons locally, they all wanted to put me through a 6-12 hour surgery, take all my glands, including my thyroid, and told me it was cancer…it was not, it is nearly always benign, as mine were, plus I saved my thyroid, and now take NO drugs for anytthing, my remaining two parathyyroids work just fine now and were kept in tact.

  • bamalori

    Another common cause of GERD and indigestion is HPTH, hyperparathyroidism. Once I had my adenoma removed (same day surgery in Tampa by Dr. Norman) , the M I R P, minimally invasive surgery, same day surgery. cured my GERD….it will never get better and this will also causes low vitamin D..and high calcium, which destroys the bones, as it breaks down bone calcium to use because the parathyroid hormone (which controls calcium) is high, and malfunctioning due to a tumor on it. As soon as I woke from my 20 min surgery the pain was gone in bones for the first time in years, my BP returned to normal after having high BP for a long time., as well as palpations.. AND, I've not had GERD one single time since either in over two years since the surgery.

  • Phillip

    Ive been taking them for 18-20 yrs the dr told me i better buy stocks in the company will take for life – now problem has progressed to Barretts esophagus.. Even taking the meds.. – God Help me – they told me i have increased cancer risk each year to cancer to esoph – and prescription is 50 a mo which is cheap compared to the 125 a mo i used to pay – I have noticed trouble with concentration and attention.. sucks..

    • jordan

      You may not worry there is a treatment called as Endoscopic mucosal resection – (EMR) that lifts the abnormal lining and cuts it off the wall of the esophagus before it's removed through the endoscope. The goal is to remove any precancerous or cancer cells contained in the lining. If cancer cells are present, an ultrasound is done first to be sure the cancer hasn't moved deeper into the esophagus walls.

  • toreo

    Some of us have an inherited weakness of the sphincter muscle. I have tried many natural therapies, but only proton pump inhibitors help. I take B-vitamins and magnesium. The uptake of magnesium and other minerals is also reduced when acid level is low.

  • John

    Qigong has exercises that can be extremely effective in eliminating GERD, Acid Reflux, heartburn and other digestive issues. However people just want to pop the pills. I have offered a class on this for 2 years now and there are few people interested.

  • mike bertnick

    I've been taking such acid blockers for about 11 year now I've been told I have IBS, And have a medical record that shows me complaining about almost every single one of these problems on this list, I also deal with anger issues and memory lost and lots of ansisty. If this was coused by and western medicine can mind problems be healed or reversed.

  • andrewdpapas

    Acid reflux drugs causing dementia is all new information. Post care for dementia is the most important aspect of leading a healthy life. Dementia is often experienced among old people where they intend to fail in doing their routine activities without help from others. Assisted living communities can help seniors suffering from dementia lead a normal life with help of staff who are qualified in doing this. Thanks for this informative article.

  • marion

    I had supper bad reflux for 4 years. I was told I would need an operation, and had three endoscopies. I was put on Dexilant. Normally, I am a very healthy person, yoga teacher, singer, vegetarian. The years I was on the Dexilant, I got pneumonia during the summertime, an odd time to contract it. I looked up side effects of Dexilant and one website said there is a connecting between Dexilant and pneumonia. (It makes sense: mucus in the stomac being toyed with can affect mucus in the breathing apparati.) I got myself right off the Dexilant by opening the capsules and dumping out proportionally more and more of the stuff before dosing until I went cold turkey. I was terrified, but started feeling better with in a week. Then I was given Iberogast by a well know healer/doctor/acupuncturist in Salt Lake City. My dosage in the beginning was too low, but after using it before at least 2 meals a day for a month, I felt better than I had in years. Now I don't have to . use it regularly, but I know that if I am eating late or have eaten something that may not agree with my stomach, it can reverse any digestive problems. Let me be clear: Iberogast worked better for me than any western medicine. I would also recommend Ginger/Liquorice tea in large quantities, probiotics, yoga twists, small portions, plenty of water, intelligent eating/drinking habits. And yes, there were some supplements that I chewed before eating ( digestive enzymes) that may have reversed my stomach problems.

  • Heartburn Sufferer

    With all of the side effects produced by the medications, it' s no wonder that more and more people are searching for natural ways to eliminate their heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. I've been a long-time sufferer myself and I find relief with the baking soda in a glass of water method.

  • violinmoksha

    I think everyone here could really benefit from my friend's acid reflux diet ebook. It's all about how you can keep your acid reflux healed using nutrient-dense, traditional foods, vs. having to routinely avoid foods or take pills.

  • rfjamieson100

    This is a great article, very informative thank you. I've had reflux for many years off and on, and control it through short spells on PPI's, taking amitriptylene (an anti-depressant), apple cider vinegar and chewing gum. In my experience there is no cure all for everyone, each must experiment to see what works. If anyone is interested, i've written about my experiences in my <ahref="">blog .

  • Donna Von Stanke

    My dad (67) has recently been diagnosed with dementia and he has been taking Nexium for a number of years not sure how long but a long time. His dementia specialist took him off the drug after he was diagnosed, I'm wondering if they know whats going on??? Donna
    Interesting listening to this

  • Rod

    For soothing of the digestive linings you may like to use slippery elm as a natural remedy – This article was the best I've read on the causes of acid reflux and gerd. Many thanks.

  • Reese

    Thanks for the read. Very informative. Sharing this dementia related article

  • Amy Aadland

    I know that acid reflux can give pain that could not easy to bear and now there are so many ways to control it as by taking natural medicines like “Acidgone®”. But it’s new for me that acid reflux can cause dementia and neuropathy that is not good. Thanks for share such unknown information’s about the Acidreflux.