Stomach acid is required for our digestive system. Sometimes, this acid burns the inside lining of the esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach. It is called heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
We can buy antacids (Tums, Alka Seltzer, Maalox, Di-Gel, Milk of Magnesia and others) over the counter heartburn to neutralize the acid. Doctors can prescribe medicines that reduce stomach acid – Tagamet HS, Percid AC and others. They also can prescribe medicines that block acid production – proton pump inhibitors (PPI) – Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Zegerid, Protonix, and Aciphex.
The PPIs not only block the acid production in your stomach, but also block the production of acid in your brain which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease has several causes. One well-know cause is the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins. These proteins increase inflammation in the brain. Our brains can cleanup (destroy) the beta-amyloid proteins by releasing small bursts of acid from our immune system (the lysosomes in our microglia).
Without lysosomes’ acid production, beta-amyloid protein accumulations increase without removal. Recent research shows that PPIs directly impact the acid levels in our brains. Two independent studies found 44% of patients taking PPIs had a higher risk of dementia compared to similar patients not taking PPIs. One study involved 74,000 participants 75 years or older over a period of seven years. The other study looked at 3,300 people also aged 75 or old over a period up to six years.
High doses and long-term use of PPIs increase the risk of bone fracture. PPIs also increase the risk of ischemic stroke. Another interesting cause of Alzheimer’s-like symptoms is related to a deficiency of vitamin B-12. PPIs inhibit the ability of our stomach digestive processes to properly process the B-12 molecules. It is estimated that between 25-70% of the people using PPIs do not really need them. Talk to your doctor about your need for your current dosage and continued use of PPIs. Ask if other options might be better for you.