Joe Barton = JB
Scott Saunders = SS
JB: All right. Well, hello everyone. This is Joe Barton with Barton Publishing, and my guest today is Dr. Scott Saunders. Scott, how are you today?
SS: I’m fine, thanks, Joe.
JB: All right. Well, we’ve finally got our recording software working here, thanks to FreeConferenceCall.com. And so today we are going to talk about acid reflux medications and the pros and cons and everything in between. So, Dr. Saunders, I’m going to just kind of let you take this over and maybe give a little introduction to acid reflux medications, and then I’ll have some questions for you.
Acid Reflux Medications Are Popular, But Not A Long-Term Fix
SS: Okay. Well, that should be easy. Acid reflux is a very common problem. Just to sort of let people know how common this problem is, the medications, when they first came out for acid reflex, including Zantac, Tagamet, and those, many years, 25 or 30 years ago, very quickly became the most sold medications in the world. In fact, before Prilosec came out, which is the first proton pump inhibitor, Zantac was the biggest selling medication in the whole world. So these are big. This is a really common problem and people deal with it all the time, so the medications are used frequently. And now we have several of the proton pump inhibitors that are over the counter, and these are much stronger than the older medications, which were histamine blockers that slowed down the acid. The new ones block the stomach acid completely. They stop what’s called the proton pump, which is what makes the acid in the stomach. It just stops it. So it works very well to lower the acid and raise the pH of the stomach. And there are a lot of consequences to this that people don’t think about. There have been well-known problems with what’s called achlorhydria, and that’s when people don’t make stomach acid. And this is a disease that’s been known for many years, and it causes certain kinds of problems such as vitamin deficiencies – Vitamin B12, the B vitamins especially, but also minerals. Many minerals require acid in order to be produced. So this is – the medications are great short-term medications. People have an ulcer; they need to heal the ulcer. They’re used appropriately in that kind of a situation – they’re great. But the problem comes when they’re used long-term, when people say, “Oh, I’m getting acid reflux. Here, I’ll take another one, take another one.” Because with the proton pump inhibitors, you have to take them every day in order for them to be useful. It’s not something you can just take when you feel the acid coming on, because they take a day to start working.
JB: So, maybe some more details on what you mean by “short-term” versus “long-term.”
SS: Oh, yeah. Short-term would be a week, maybe even a couple of weeks. If someone actually had an ulcer, they may be on a proton pump inhibitor for three weeks or even as long as a month, and that would be an appropriate use of the medication. And it works great. The stomach heals well. It’s pretty well documented. And it does stop the acid and allow the stomach to heal, so that’s good. Long-term would be more in terms of people’s continued use, ongoing, everyday for years. I’ve had patients on these proton pump inhibitors for many years. They say they can’t go off them because they – every time they go off them, they get the acid reflux back again.
JB: Right. That seems pretty common. A lot of people take these medications for a lot longer than what they’re actually prescribed for or intended for. You said that it can cause deficiencies in minerals and vitamins and things, so what are some examples of deficiencies that you’ve seen?
SS: Most of the ones I’ve seen are
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