Are Big Pharma’s Drugs Making Your Heartburn Worse and Worse? Just Fix It with Surgery!


silent-acid-refluxNow they want to cut open your throat and install a metal ring with magnets, when the best and safest natural remedies cost pennies!

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects at least 20% of adult men and women in the US population, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. It also occurs in children. It’s the backflow of stomach contents (usually accompanied by heartburn) into the esophagus, and can cause tissue damage which may eventually lead to cancer. This kind of cancer has been increasing rapidly and threatens to become an epidemic. There are reasons to think that current treatments for heartburn are directly leading to the cancer.

Much of the current thinking about heartburn centers around the idea that one’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is defective—which leads to its not shutting properly—allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus and burn the esophageal lining. So researchers have invented a procedure in which an expandable metal ring of titanium beads with magnetic cores is clipped onto the bottom of the esophagus. The ring of magnets pull inward to close the esophagus but can expand to allow food to pass downward.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study showing that 86% of patients with GERD who had the metal ring implanted no longer used heartburn medicine one year after the implant. Over three years, most patients showed lower acid levels in their esophagus, and patients who continued taking heartburn medication were able to lower their doses.

There were some downsides, however: six patients experienced pain, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing, and ultimately had the device removed. Two-thirds of all who received the implant reported difficulty swallowing, though this fell to 11% after one year, and 4% after three years.

The study was far from ideal. The researchers excluded everyone who was obese, and everyone who had advanced inflammation of the esophagus or a large hiatal hernia (a bulge, which is associated with GERD). In other words, they didn’t even study the very populations who need a treatment for GERD the most.

We would also note a rather telling irony: the study was not a random controlled trial (RCT), which is mainstream medicine’s idea of the “gold standard.” Even so, the results are being announced as if it were a great triumph. When it comes to natural treatments, one of conventional medicine’s main critiques is that no RCTs have been done, even though the critics know the expense is too great for non-patentable supplements!

This is not the first time surgery has been suggested as a treatment for GERD. Last year we told you that surgeons were trying to seal the valve with sutures.

Mainstream medical treatment for GERD and heartburn has up to now been to use drugs to decrease stomach acidity, either by neutralizing stomach acid (antacids) or shutting down the stomach’s ability to produce acid through proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The study is quick to say this new surgery is a way to get patients off stomach acid drugs.

It may be they’re finally acknowledging that the popular acid blockers, the PPIs in particular, are dangerous. They have a number of highly undesirable side effects, as documented by academic research, including reduced calcium absorption (which is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in women); reduced absorption of other critical minerals and nutrients; an increased risk of vomiting and diarrhea; an increased risk of pneumonia (because an acid-free stomach lets pathogens into our body); and an increased risk of dementia in elderly African Americans and probably in others.

An article published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery also showed that these medications increase bile reflux and that this bile reflux is particularly dangerous for the throat. Other drugs can also increase your risk for reflux and throat cancer, including pain relievers (NSAIDS) and bone medications called bisphosphonates (e.g., Fosamax), as integrative physician Dr. Frank Shallenberger points out in his publication “Stop the Stomach Torture.”

Common sense tells us that acid is in our stomachs for a reason. We need it for digestion. Moreover, acid production declines, sometimes sharply, with age, while stomach problems including GERD increase sharply with age. If stomach problems are more often associated with declining acid production, how can completely shutting off acid production improve the situation? In time, we will look back on the almost promiscuous use of acid-blocking drugs, among the drug industry’s biggest sellers, as one of modern medicine’s most colossal and inexcusable errors.

Neither the drugs nor the surgery address the question of why people have a “defective LES” in the first place. Most likely, it’s a simple case of needing more stomach acid, not less, in order to keep the valve shut. If there is enough acid in the stomach, the stomach probably signals the valve to shut. If there isn’t enough acid, this won’t happen.

As we noted last year, the lack of acid in the stomach, where it is meant to be, means that the stomach may fail to signal the pyloric valve at the top of the stomach to close when you are digesting food. Failure to close may also be linked to an overgrowth of helicobacter bugs (associated with ulcers) which do not like acid and are able to reduce your stomach acid production.

In some people, it could also be caused or exacerbated by food allergies and sensitivities, or by too much caffeine, alcohol, nicotine consumption, or other drugs, as mentioned above.

In other words, the very drugs being prescribed by conventional medicine could be offering temporary relief but at the cost of exacerbating the problem over the long term. Why do they even provide temporary relief? Because when the stomach lacks the acid and enzymes released by the acid needed for digestion, it falls back on a secondary mechanism of fermentation. This works to get the food through but creates gas and discomfort. The acid blockers probably make you feel better by temporarily stopping the fermentation.

Bottom line: promoting an invasive and unreliable surgical throat ring is not exactly a solution for a problem probably caused in the first place by acid-blocking drugs.

Alternative remedies for GERD will vary, of course, depending on each individual’s symptoms. You’ll need to see an integrative physician, but their recommendations may include:

An excellent book on this subject is Your Stomach: What is Really Making You Miserable and What to Do About It by Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD, published by our friends at Praktikos Books.

  • abinico warez

    Drink some raw, organic apple cider vinegar – one dose cured me – been now about 5 years with no GERD at all.

  • Harold Blumberg

    Papaya tablets work very well for me within minutes.

  • Searching for answers

    Many thanks to Dr Wright!
    He often mentions in books and his newsletters that most patients in his clinic over a certain age are producing increasingly less stomach acid. Although not suffering from GERD, what I was not aware of is that low stomach acid also reduces ones ability to digest food and therefore absorb nutrients from food we are eating…It seems this is an important aspect of the aging process.

  • Rob Bledsoe

    I took omeprazol for a long time. Then read that a table spoon of apple cider vinegar taken when I felt acid reflex would take care of condition. Started doing that about 2 years ago. A table spoon was pretty tough to swallow so I cut back to a tea spoon. It works great. No more pills and no more acid reflex. I still have the problem but the vinegar controls it. Health and Happiness, Rob

    PS; drug companies are ripping people off on the price of omeprazol. Buy the generic. You can get it in Mexico or Canada for pennies… vinegar is better solution.

  • Beth

    Great article. To add to your list, something as simple as taking a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar with a little water before meals can help restore proper acidity in the stomach. And raw, lacto-fermented sauerkraut can help, too. And not having a large meal within 2-3 hours of bedtime. But these are cheap solutions and nobody makes much money.

  • Astrid.Asimov

    All this so that they can continue to promote and sell bad food and bad eating habits to an undereducated, propagandized captive consumer population.

    Why don’t they just produce and promote good wholesome food?

    With proper management they could easily make as much money.
    I don’t get it.

  • I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and before I went on Omeprozole I was taking Pepcid and, Prilosec regularly. Making better choices with my diet may have changed my battle with Gerd but now having been diagnosed with osteoporosis and a vitamin “D:” deficiency I have more concerns about taking meds that help but not really all together.. In reading about how Omeprozole does not help the health probleme of bone loss, I took less of it and started using the good ol’ “Tums”. That even gives me some calcium. I hope this will be my solution for good.

    • LMP

      Tums will not reverse your osteoporosis. Bone health is complex and requires a comprehensive nutritional approach including Cal/Mag, Vit D (sunlight!), Vit. K, Boron, and other minerals! Beware any continued use of antacids and see a professional nutritionist. Also search Mercola . com for articles on these topics.

  • Robert Morrow

    One more way that the Government Agencies like the FDA(murder for profit inc) want to kill or control you so the thugs can have more power and grease the palms of your Senators and Representatives. I have controlled heartburn’s for year with a little water and a pinch of baking soda. It just neutralizes the acid and not body functions which are normal. Also I use a pinch of baking soda when cooking up tomato sauces. The Soda here neutralizes the tomato acid and stop one from getting a heartburn in the first place. Our daughter could not eat tomato sauces because of the Acids and the poison High Fructose Corn Syrup added which makes it worse and a poison to the system. So I Neutralizes the acid and do not buy or cook with anything that has the FDA approved poisons. Now my daughter can eat my pizzas or anything with tomato sauces that I cook. But, the Quack Trained AMA doctors or the corrupt FDA and other agencies will never let that out as it might cut into getting their palms greased. Did you know that the FDA allows the Pharmaceuticals to murder thousands each year and toxins in the food to make your child sick in mind and body, before death. Have a good Day Comrades.

  • Vickie

    My Mom had the issue with GERD and she ended up with osteoporosis from the antiacid meds. I found a great Bone Restore supplement for her which is already working. She has been drinking Apple Cider Vinegar and honey which has alleviated the GERD issue. As an added bonus for some reason she also lost weight. You can get the vinegar at most supermarkets. I am so thankful that we can research natural remedies and know better than to always take the meds! Sometimes the Dr. does not know best.

  • ken niehoff

    The article pretty much summarizes the thinking of the nutritional and functional medicine community. If its a problem of not digesting our food because of age related reduction in stomach acid and and limited digestion, why does my client get intense reflux while exercising in the morning on an empty stomach? Wouldn’t stomach acid be at its lowest on an empty stomach?

    • Alice Scofield

      What makes you think that your “client” has an empty stomach just because it is morning?
      I have had nights when I just KNOW that the pain and discomfort I feel is that my food is just lying there NOT digesting—perhaps taking the fermenting route, and not very quickly at that. My advice, avoid a lot of fats and spices at the evening meal and take that vinegar and water when you feel the first pangs of digestive upset.
      I know that food is “supposed” to digest in about three hours…it is NOT always the case for us old duffers

    • Yes, that’s right – low stomach acid is associated with reflux and poor LES contraction. That’s mentioned in the article.

  • Dave K, Phoenix, AZ

    That’s interesting that the author reports that problems with acid reflux result from too little acid in the stomach. I have been drinking a small amount of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (with the mother culture) daily mixed with some water and have not had any problems with acid reflux since I began doing so. This is a home remedy that goes back to the time of Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is called the father of modern medicine. I don’t particularly care if it is approved by the FDA in double blind studies as my personal experience is that it works better for me than any of the other pharmaceutical remedies that I have tried.

  • Nydia Welles

    You are right, all the nutrients that you mention have helped me with heartburn. Now I am relatively free from heartburn since I discover the the real killer of my body is wheat. I call it the “Monsanto syndrome”. There are no celiacs in my family and it is something that I developed in my golden years.. When I discovered that wheat is poisoning my body, I stopped eating it. I lost weight without dieting and I feel great. No more GERD!! As you said a variety of veggies, some protein and fruits, brown rice, quinoa and some beans. Avoid processed foods at all cost. I know it is hard to exercise that control, but the benefits are great.

  • I take about 2 table spoons of apple cider vinegar for heart burn either mixed with water or a water chaser it works. The first time I tried it I thought this is going to make it worse but was surprised my heartburn was gone.

  • Don

    I suffered many years of quackery with my heartburn. I ate Prilosec and Nexium, to no avail, until a friend with the same issues discovered that supplementation with probiotics eliminated the problem. But it was too late. The neurological damage to the esophagus left me with a condition called achalasia. The Rube Goldberg surgical fix (Heller Myotomy) for this is as absurd as the procedure described in this article. I declined it, due to its marginal success rate, and had to greatly alter my dietary habits. Over the years the condition has slowly improved, but my faith in orthodox medicine was destroyed forever.

    • LMP

      So sorry to read of this epxerience. No doubt your sharing will help someone else faced with invasive procedures being pushed. There are many of us who “see the light” regarding allopathic medicine only after permanent damage has been done.

  • Parvati

    The best remedy for GERD is to eat an apple (organic, of course). I have told so many people about this, and they have all come back to thank me for a great and simple remedy, that they are off all their medications and OTC drugs, and that eating part or all of an apple works better than anything else. During the day I eat a couple apple slices when I begin to feel GERD starting up, and at night I eat a small apple just before going to bed. Works everytime!

  • Eat apples, eat vegan, drive out the toxins from your gut, drink Kangen water and stop consuming their poison that comes in so many forms. I have heard from so many that a vegan lifestyle stopped all their GERD.
    What’s a grrrl going to do? Get angry, no thank you, that just burdens your liver more. Your liver already does 400-600 functions a day for you. Get smart. Go organic vegan!

    Remember Hippocrates, Father of Modern Medicine, said “Make food your medicine and medicine your food”…organic beans, rice and salad is a whole heck of a lot less expensive than pain and suffering.

  • Anhlover

    Could this misstated:
    “Failure to close may also be linked to an overgrowth of helicobacter bugs (associated with ulcers) which do not like acid and are able to reduce your stomach acid production….”

    H Pylori is attracted to acid environment, though it doesn’t live in such because it excretes substances that increase pH. Thus, the acid is there it’s just that it is neutralized.

    Also, fyr,
    “whether reflux itself initiates or exacerbates asthma, or whether asthma or its treatment primarily causes GER is a matter of current investigation”

    Lastly, and this is sketchy, H Pylori is pathogenic; some say it does not serve and we would be better off completely eradicating ourselves of it. Thus, I have heard from a practitioner that infection potentially comes into the body due to eating meats with nitrates/nitrites. The nitrates/nitrites “disable” the iodine which would normally fend off helicobactor infection.

  • It wasn’t easy finding out what was causing my laryngitis, gastritis and ear pain. After an endoscopy this was diagnosed as LPR, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux. I started on nexium and the “cure” was much worse than the disease! Medications of that type can cause lots more problems than what you started out with. I stopped the nexium due to serious side effects and started working on my diet. After eliminating greek yogurt for breakfast every morning, I realized that I was newly lactose intolerant. You would think the GI doctor would have suggested this as a possible cause, but no! I now avoid all dairy except occasional hard cheese and have very little problem with reflux. When I do, I eat some ginger and that takes care of it.

  • Here’sAnswer

    No more heartburn and 30 lbs lost by cutting out several factory foods:

    I hope you make copies of the article and pass them on….


  • Brad Roon

    Dr J Wright (being attacked by Washington state MQAC) has almost 2,000 patients with these acid problems. NOT ONE of them ever had their intestinal pH checked by their MDs. His other 10 doctors in his clinics have yet to have a patient come in whose MD checked their actual pH.
    Dr Wright gives them a Heidelberg capsule – radio data sending pH sensor device – swallow it and every step of your intestine is measured for real pH.
    Of his nearly 2,000 patients w/acid issues ONLY TWO INDIVIDUALS had too much acid. Every other patient had low stomach acid. It is still too acidic to not damage and hurt the esophagus, but the weak acids make for poor digestion, cause gas, this causes pressure, this causes reflux/heartburn.

    Since the intestines are about 90% of your immune system, and they are necessary for you to extract your nutrition in order to maintain health, IN MOST CASES, MOST MD’S ARE DOING THE EXACT WORST THING BY PRESCRIBING ANTACIDS!

    • Did not see you comment. Your right on. Big Pharma and current medical practice take care of the symptom and goes no further. Once the symptom has been deleted or covered up your cured. You body tries to fight back but eventually adapts gives up and tries to isolate the agitation with the inflammation response and moves on. The Inflammation results in bigger problems like the Big C or IBS or other colon problems.

  • Yes I think so. I also experienced GERD before and it feels really worst. I almost had myself admitted to a hospital for not being able to breathe. Drugs can augment the situation specially if they’re not appropriate for the condition. Some brand of vitamin C are also not good.

    • When you are you are experiencing GERD it is Probably because you are lacking stomach acid. Big pharma and doctors recommend antacids for “heartburn” then when that doesn’t work they recommend stronger antacids. When what you need is the acid not antacid.