One out of every 14 Americans uses a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to treat GERD. PPIs include the over-the-counter omeprazole (aka Prilosec), pantoprazole or Protonix, lansoprazole or Prevacid, esomeprazole or Nexium, etc.

Aside from the fact that these medications treat the symptom of GERD without addressing the root cause, I’ve never liked the PPI class of drugs in general. They may help heartburn symptoms—for awhile. Many of my patients have had to increase the dose over time to get the same effect, which is common for any merely symptomatic treatment. But these drugs also cause gut flora imbalance, leading to dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria), candidiasis, malabsorption (especially B12 and magnesium deficiency), osteoporosis and fractures.

But it gets worse: long-term PPI usage is associated with heart attacks, dementia, and renal failure.

Lysosomes: Your Cell’s Garbage Disposal

Quick Biology 101 recap: each of your cells has a number of different organelles within it to perform the various functions necessary for life. Lysosomes are organelles that chew up metabolic waste and dispose of it—using acid, incidentally. Big picture: health = giving your body the building blocks it needs, and removing obstacles to cure. Lysosomes remove obstacles to cure at the cellular level, by eliminating byproducts so that the cell can function as well as possible. If metabolic waste doesn’t get eliminated, cellular function is impaired, and inflammation and aging result.

PPIs block the production of acid in the stomach (they “inhibit the proton pump.”) Guess where else they inhibit production of acid? In lysosomes.

Blood vessels are made up of cells, too. They, too, have lysosomes. If lysosomes don’t do their jobs properly, waste accumulates, which leads to inflammation and oxidative damage. Oxidative damage to the endothelial lining, if not properly repaired, leads to cardiovascular disease.

The Upshot

If you’ve been on PPIs for a long time, do NOT abruptly stop. See your naturopathic doctor, find the underlying cause of GERD and treat that.

Then, ask your doctor to help you taper off of the PPI (slowly!)

While you’re at it, in light of this research, get these markers checked for cardiovascular disease.