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By Candace McNaughton, ND

Acid blockers are one of the most prescribed medicines in the world. An article in the British Medical Journal reports on the risk of hip fracture in women who take acid blockers and who smoke. The risk of hip fracture increased by a whopping 50%! This was a survey of almost 80,000 patients over 10 years (from the Nurses Health Study), so the numbers are very likely to reflect the general population. The authors say that the reason is likely because acid blockers and smoking both interfere with calcium absorption. They also showed that taking calcium didn’t seem to help.

If you add on the risk factor of being small-framed, I bet the risk of fracture would be even higher. Acid blockers interfere with the absorption of a number of nutrients such as iron, B12, magnesium, and calcium. This is because the food doesn’t break down completely and because some nutrients (like calcium) are better absorbed in an acidic environment. Yes, that means that milk is a very poor way to get calcium (not to mention it’s not a food group and, and, arrgh!). To protect bone density, you need to start with weight-bearing exercise and take a comprehensive mineral supplement plus vitamin D.

Now the FDA has warned that acid blockers might increase the risk of C difficile-associated diarrhea. C diff is a bug that is usually picked up when people take a lot of antibiotics or from staying in a hospital. Sometimes after treatment, the diarrhea just won’t go away. If you take acid blockers and get C diff (which is on the rise), you are more likely to have chronic recurrent diarrhea that is very difficult to treat.

We need our stomach acid! Acid blockers are most often prescribed for ulcers and acid reflux. Why not make your ulcer go away instead of blocking acid so you don’t notice it’s there? One very important thing that I use for these conditions is chewable licorice extract, or DGL. It not only soothes on contact and is anti-inflammatory, but it also helps the tissue to actually heal. No worries if you’ve heard that licorice can aggravate high blood pressure. The chewable has that component taken out. At Glow we have a really yummy chocolate licorice extract chew. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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