They are widely prescribed, they are often taken for long periods of time, for a long time now they have been considered to be harmless, but this reputation is now being challenged: the talk is of stomach acid or proton pump inhibitor, which are taken by patients with heartburn or reflux. Between 2000 and 2008, the consumption of these medicines in the Canton of Geneva rose by around 500%. They are prescribed too often, for too long, too often unnecessarily and sometimes also for children. And this despite the fact that the acid blockers are ineffective in around a third patients. In cases of an irritable stomach, they are effective only in 10 to 15 per cent of the cases and in the case of an irritable bowel, not at all. Yet, in these cases the dosage is increased dramatically.

Renal impairment and food intolerances

The proton pump inhibitors bind to certain cells in the stomach and so inhibit gastric acid production. As they are very selective, they have long been considered very safe. But now a study has shown that they damage the kidneys and can lead to chronic renal impairment. In long-term treatment with acid blockers, the body's absorption of micro nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12 form our diet is severely inhibited. This increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. The vitamin B12 that is missing has a significantly negative impact on important metabolic processes. As the stomach is less acidic, dangerous bacteria can survive and cause serious gastrointestinal infections. Finally, food intolerances can develop because the food reaches the intestine partially undigested.

Cayenne as an alternative

Heartburn and a strong reflux of acidic gastric contents into the oesophagus (acid eruption, reflux) are painful and unpleasant. Those affected, sleep badly and their quality of life is diminished. So, doing nothing is not an option. Fortunately, nature gives us a way to protect the stomach, which is also has no side effects namely Cayenne pepper. Instead of blocking the acid production, the burn of the Cayenne stimulates the production of the protective mucus layer on the gastric mucosa. Thus, you have an acidic stomach, which is necessary for the digestion and for defence against unwanted bacteria, as well as gastric mucosa protected by more mucus. The stomach becomes calmer, tightens less, is protected from excessive acid and leaves the oesophagus out of the equation. 

Change Slowly

It is important not to stop taking acid blockers immediately, but to slow reduce the dosage. Otherwise, because of a feedback mechanism, the acid production of the stomach suddenly increases excessively. This rebound effect occurs in a little as eight-week ingestion period. Similarly, the dosage of the Cayenne pepper can slowly be increased e.g. first take only one capsule together with the food and so dilute it to a certain extent. If tolerability is good, you can go up to two capsules and take them after the meal. Instead of taking capsules, you can also spice up your meals with very strongly with cayenne-pepper, but this is not for everyone.