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Block The Deadly Effects Of Acid Reflux

June 2015

By Michael Downey

Those who complain about symptoms of acid reflux (heartburn) at least once a week are not alone. A startling 10 to 30% of Americans and Europeans may suffer symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).1

Although GERD is commonly treated with proton-pump inhibiting drugs such as Nexium® and Prilosec®,2 many patients using these medications do not achieve desired relief. Patients sometimes suffer rebound gastritis, develop a Helicobacter pylori infection, or encounter other adverse effects.1 These acid-blocking drugs are also linked to nutritional deficiencies, bone fractures, infections, and even withdrawal symptoms.3-8

While proton-pump inhibiting drugs do provide relief from distressing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, laryngitis, cough, and dental erosions1—acid reflux itself can have a lethal effect. Those with long-standing and severe acid reflux symptoms have 43 times the risk of developing esophageal cancer!9

The main reason that proton-pump inhibitors don’t provide complete relief is that GERD is not caused by excessive stomach acid—GERD occurs when the sphincter valve between the stomach and esophagus fails to close completely. When this happens, undigested food and drink, bile, digestive enzymes, and stomach acids flow into the esophagus where they inflict considerable damage.

Once you understand that GERD involves more than just stomach acid, you’ll understand why it takes more than an acid-blocking drug to achieve optimal relief.

In this article, you’ll learn about a unique approach—known as raft-forming alginate10—that provides inclusive relief and protection from this chronic condition that affects so many aging individuals.11

Novel Approach Physically Blocks Acid Reflux

A number of conditions increase the likelihood of acid reflux or GERD—a disorder in which the sphincter valve does not close sufficiently, thus allowing harsh stomach contents to wash back up into the delicate lining of the esophagus and throat.

Pregnancy can create temporary reflux, whereas obesity can result in chronic reflux.12

The number of people affected by acid reflux is expected to climb higher with the growing prevalence of reflux risk factors such as diabetes,13 asthma,13 being overweight,14 and greater use of ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxers, and blood pressure drugs.14

New findings reveal how acid reflux—as well as its inherent cancer and other health risks—can be blocked in a unique way.

Chewing tablets containing marine alginate and bicarbonate—known as raft-forming alginate10 —provides a temporary physical barrier that prevents the backwash of stomach contents, including burning acid, into the esophagus,11 thereby protecting delicate esophageal tissue.

Raft-Forming Alginate

Raft-Forming Alginate  

To provide relief to those suffering from acid reflux or GERD, doctors have been interested in strategies that not only cut the acid content of the stomach, but also block acid, enzyme, bile, and food reflux.15 Many patients with GERD exhibit food or acid reflux independently. A compound known as raft-forming alginate can decrease the number of both types of reflux events!

The alginate’s unique mechanism has been shown to work—often within a few seconds of dosing—to form a barrier that can be retained in the stomach for hours, providing longer-lasting relief than traditional antacids.11

When chewed, the alginate-based, raft-forming formulation expands in the stomach, where it mops up excess acid that is about to do damage to your esophagus and forms a pH-neutral barrier that reduces reflux episodes. Here’s how it works:

  • One component of the mixture—alginic acid—is a dry powder derived from brown seaweed. Upon reaching the liquids and acid in the stomach, it forms a thick gel.11
  • A second component of the mixture is sodium or potassium bicarbonate. On contact with gastric acids, it produces carbon dioxide bubbles that get trapped in the gel.11 The expanding bubbles cause the thick gel to form a foam that literally floats on top of the stomach contents like a raft.11

Scientists have shown that in people with acid reflux, the raft then glides up into the lower esophagus16 and creates a barrier that prevents acid and other stomach contents from pushing up into the esophagus.11

Meanwhile, the bicarbonate in the mixture reacts with the stomach acid and forms carbon dioxide—helping to directly neutralize stomach acidity. This provides an additional mechanism to further reduce the effects of heartburn.11

This entire raft-forming protective process occurs in less than a minute. Yet the raft can survive in the stomach for as long as four hours until it is finally broken up and passed out of the body.11 This explains raft-forming alginate’s remarkably rapid onset and long-duration relief when used immediately after a meal.11

In the next section, we’ll learn about compelling studies that have demonstrated that alginate is effective at reducing the intensity of symptoms and the frequency of reflux attacks.11,17

What You Need To Know
Blocking The Serious Risks Of GERD

Blocking The Serious Risks Of GERD

  • Proton-pump inhibiting GERD drugs do not always provide sufficient improvement in acid reflux. They may cause rebound gastritis, H. pylori or C. difficile infection, and can increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies, bone fractures, and other complications.
  • GERD causes heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, laryngitis, cough, asthma, and dental erosions.
  • Long-standing and severe GERD cases involve 43 times the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Proton-pump inhibitors don’t provide complete relief because GERD is not caused by excessive stomach acid, but by failure of the sphincter valve between the stomach and esophagus to properly close. This allows undigested food/drink, bile, digestive enzymes, and stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus where they inflict considerable damage.
  • GERD is a strong risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, which is on the rise compared to the squamous type of this cancer—and which is substantially more treatment-resistant than squamous carcinoma of the esophagus.
  • A unique and effective approach offers both relief and optimum anticancer protection—raft-forming alginate physically blocks the backwash of stomach contents, including burning acid, into the esophagus.

Alginates Proven Effective In Human Studies

Researchers set out to test on human patients the speed of relief provided by an alginate-based formula. They found that a single dose of a liquid form of alginate delivered a soothing effect in an average of just 65 to 66 seconds! Over 82% of patients described the effect as an “instant” cooling effect, and a full 100% of subjects experienced heartburn relief within just 3.3 minutes after the dose.18

In another study, addressing duration of relief, scientists employed sophisticated pressure- and acid-monitoring equipment to show that 20 mL of alginate kept the esophagus in the nonacidic range almost three times longer than placebo and slashed food reflux incidence in half.15

And in 2014, another comparison with a placebo was reported. This randomized, double-blind, clinical study on 110 GERD patients found that seven consecutive days of treatment with an alginate-containing formulation substantially decreased reflux and dyspeptic symptoms.19

Impressive results were also seen when alginates were experimentally compared to antacids and placebo.

Significant differences in objective scores—based on appearance and condition of the larynx—were seen between participants taking 10 mL of alginate suspension four times daily, after meals and at bedtime, relative to placebo subjects.20

Other studies demonstrated marked reduction in symptom severity scores and gastroesophageal reflux with alginates compared to the reflux medication Propulsid® (cisapride)21 and to the acid blocker Prilosec® (omeprazole).22

Since then, Propulsid® was removed from the United States market after it was shown to cause cardiac arrhythmias, with over 70 fatalities reported between 1993 and 1999.23,24 Side effects are also associated with Prilosec®.25-28 The good news is that a 2012 study published in BMC Gastroenterology showed that alginate treatment is equivalent to Prilosec®.29

In fact, studies regularly find that alginate treatment goes beyond superior efficacy—it delivers relief significantly faster than drugs.22,30

A huge benefit of alginate is that it erects a physical barrier that protects the esophagus—not only from stomach acid—but also from digestive enzymes, bile, and food/drink regurgitation. Proton-pump inhibiting drugs function only to stop acid production in the stomach.

Prevent GERD-Induced Cancer Of The Esophagus

Prevent GERD-Induced Cancer Of The Esophagus  

Many people think of the burning of GERD merely as pain and irritation—in other words, as a mere discomfort. But rates of esophageal cancer are rapidly increasing, and GERD is a major contributor.31,32

Esophageal cancers are most common in white men over 50, in smokers, in those who are obese, and especially in people with frequent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.33,34

Studies show that people with recurrent symptoms of reflux have a 7.7-fold risk of esophageal cancer, while those with long-standing, severe symptoms are at an incredible 43.5-fold risk of the disease!31

Worse, the prevalence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus has been skyrocketing relative to squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus35,36—which used to be the more common of the two.

The significance of this is 2-fold.

First, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is largely attributed to cigarette smoking and excess alcohol ingestion,36-38 as well as infrequent consumption of raw fruits and vegetables39—while esophageal adenocarcinoma is known to occur more often in people with frequent symptoms of GERD.34

Second, and equally alarming, esophageal adenocarcinoma is substantially more resistant to treatment. In 2015, a Japanese medical team published a study indicating that the adenocarcinoma component of esophageal cancer is more stubbornly resistant to chemoradiotherapy than the squamous component of esophageal cancer.40

Dangers Of Common GERD Medications
Dangers Of Common GERD Medications

When the sphincter valve at the bottom of your esophagus fails to close properly, stomach contents—including stomach acid and food—push up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and damaging the delicate esophageal lining. Drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec®, inhibit the release of stomach acid, providing some relief.50 However, the continual inhibition of acid release with drugs hinders digestion and absorption of key nutrients.51 This ultimately leads to alteration in gut pH balance and deficiencies in key nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium,52 folic acid,53 and zinc.54

The following are the most common adverse effects of proton-pump inhibitors:

  • Blockage of release of a glycoprotein called “intrinsic factor,” making it impossible to absorb vitamin B12,
  • Dietary iron is inhibited,55 contributing, over an extended period, to anemia,
  • Calcium absorption is greatly reduced due to the reduced acid levels,52
  • Active transport of magnesium in the intestine is inhibited,56 leading to deficiencies and potentially serious health consequences,
  • Absorption of folic acid could be inhibited,53 disrupting production of new cells needed for body growth and repair,
  • Impaired absorption of zinc,54 which is needed for a host of enzyme reactions in the body,57
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures of any type, including wrist, spine, and hip,52
  • Higher risk of infection—including pneumonia and C. difficile58,59—from decreased acid secretion and possibly from undigested food reaching the intestines and contributing to increased toxins and an imbalance of gut flora, and
  • Withdrawal-induced rebound acid hypersecretion,60 forcing a return to drug usage.

Blocking Other GERD-Related Complications

Aside from the much greater risk of a less treatable form of esophageal cancer, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to gastric reflux can cause dramatic alterations to its function. These serious complications of GERD can include peptic stricture41,42 or Barrett’s esophagus.43,44

In people with long-term GERD, healing of ulcerations can lead to the deposit of fibrous scar tissue as well as a stricture—narrowing—of the esophagus known as peptic stricture.41 Segments of the esophagus with stricture are usually thickened, stiff, and may be shortened. The prevalence of peptic stricture among patients with GERD is about 10 to 25%.42 Treatment of severe peptic stricture involves the mechanical dilation of the narrowed region by a stent or balloon combined with acid suppression therapy.45

Barrett’s esophagus is a change in the cellular makeup of the mucous membrane of the esophagus. A normal esophagus is lined with a layer of flattened cells—squamous epithelial cells. In Barrett’s esophagus, these cells are replaced by a layer of thicker, taller cells—columnar epithelial cells, similar to those found on the inner surface of the stomach or intestines.46 The main cause of Barrett’s esophagus is thought to be an adaptation to chronic acid exposure from reflux esophagitis.43,44

Barrett’s esophagus can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.47 In fact, the risk of a patient with Barrett’s esophagus progressing to develop esophageal adenocarcinoma increases significantly with every year that Barrett’s persists.48,49

The optimum way to prevent these GERD-caused esophageal complications is to block the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus in the first place—by relying on the physical barrier that alginate erects.

Practical Steps To Help Prevent GERD Symptoms
Practical Steps To Help Prevent GERD Symptoms

There are a number of simple actions you can take to help prevent reflux symptoms before needing the natural compounds described in this article—and without having to rely on proton pump-inhibitors. These practical, preventive steps include:

  • Eating more slowly,
  • Having more frequent, smaller meals,
  • Avoiding fried foods,
  • Limiting alcohol intake,
  • Replacing sodas with health-promoting drink options,
  • Lowering caffeine intake,
  • Taking fewer prescriptions and over-the-counter medications,
  • Watching for, and limiting, foods that aggravate symptoms,
  • Quitting smoking,
  • Not eating within two to three hours of bedtime,
  • Maintaining a healthy weight level,
  • Wearing looser-fitting clothes,
  • Managing stress levels,
  • Supplementing with digestive enzymes such as proteases and lipases (so that food is more quickly digested and leaves your stomach sooner),
  • Taking 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with water and raw honey to reduce symptoms,
  • Taking quality probiotics to support healthy gut bacteria balance,
  • Helping to protect your stomach and esophagus by taking d-limonene, an extract of the peels of citrus fruit, and
  • Taking zinc-carnosine, cranberries, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, and picrorhiza for gastroprotective effects.

If you are already taking proton-pump inhibiting drugs, consider:

  • Blood tests (complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel) to detect nutrient deficiencies,
  • A high-quality calcium supplement, ideally combined with vitamins K and D3, and
  • A high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement with ample zinc dosage.
  • Over-the-counter antacids can be effective against stomach-acid damage, but do not provide sufficient suppression of stomach acid, especially with prolonged use. Raft-forming alginate preparations provide effective physical barrier protection against reflux symptoms.

Summary

Proton-pump inhibiting drugs provide relief from distressing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, laryngitis, cough, and dental erosions. Yet gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can have a lethal effect. Those with long-standing and severe acid reflux symptoms have 43 times the risk of developing esophageal cancer!

The reason that proton-pump inhibitors don’t provide complete relief is that GERD is not caused by excessive stomach acid. GERD occurs when the sphincter valve between the stomach and esophagus fails to properly close—allowing undigested food/drink, bile, digestive enzymes, and stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus and inflict considerable damage.

The fact that GERD involves more than just stomach acid explains why it takes more than an acid-blocking drug to achieve optimal relief.

GERD is a strong risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, which is on the rise compared to the squamous type of this cancer—and which is substantially more treatment-resistant than squamous carcinoma of the esophagus.

Raft-forming alginate physically blocks the backwash of stomach contents, including burning acid, into the esophagus.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

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