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The side effects of conventional antacids and how you can treat heartburn and indigestion naturally

The side effects of conventional antacids and how you can treat heartburn and indigestion naturally!


Do you regularly use antacids for heart burn, acid reflux & indigestion? Do you know the side effects? Regular antacids can cause constipation, osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and other side effects. Plus they can also worsen your digestive problems in the long run.

Read on as the Feelgood Health team discusses the side effects of antacids and how YOU can treat acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion naturally.

How do antacids work?

If you are popping antacids regularly, then it’s important that you know exactly how antacids work and affect your body. These over-the-counter medications neutralize the acid produced by your stomach and offer instant relief in the short term. However, relying on antacids in the long term can cause more harm than good.

Using antacid medications lowers the amount of stomach gas and acts as a barrier which restricts the backflow of stomach contents into the oesophagus. They cause food to stay in our stomachs far longer than is necessary and as a result this prevents the proper breakdown of food. While the antacids alkalise and neutralize the acid in the stomach, they also raise the pH levels, thereby killing off 99% of your stomach acid, which is necessary for proper digestion.

Many antacid medications contain certain salts such as calcium carbonate, aluminium, magnesium and even sodium bicarbonate - yes, that’s baking soda believe it or not! Antacids often provide immediate relief but quickly become ineffective when over-used, leading to further damage of the stomach.

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What are the side effects of antacids?

Antacids suppress acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion but unfortunately don’t target the cause of the problem. In fact, antacid medications only continue the vicious cycle of these frustrating digestive problems.

Antacids are made up of a combination of various ingredients which can cause side effects.

Antacid medications containing aluminium cause side effects which include diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, kidney stones, feeling of discomfort, weakness, mood changes, swollen ankles and wrists, bone pain, osteoporosis and pale-coloured stools.

For example, Gaviscon contains aluminium with magnesium hydroxide and when high doses of this antacid are taken, increased levels of aluminium are deposited in the bones and joints. The side effects of large amounts of aluminium in the bones may lead to a condition called osteomalacia, or softening of the bones. It can cause bone and muscle pain and weakness, tears and fractures. Continued use of antacids with aluminium can also lead to the development of arthritis.   

Side effects of antacids containing sodium bicarbonate include nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, headaches, loss of appetite, slow breathing, muscle pain, weakness, tiredness as well as mood changes.

Antacids containing calcium carbonate such as Tums can be strong and fast-acting. However, side effects that are experienced include constipation.  Elevated levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia) are also a side effect of people taking antacids which have calcium carbonate – however, these are rare cases. This condition can lead to kidney stones and kidney failure. Using these antacids long term can also cause white-speckled or white stools.

Antacids with magnesium compounds (such as the all-too familiar Milk of Magnesia) will neutralize the stomach, but they can also cause diarrhea when used continuously.

How to treat acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion naturally

Here are some simple steps to take to treat ….

  • Eliminate food culprits from your diet

Start firstly by removing all the foods that are causing discomfort to your digestive system. Avoid high protein and high fat foods that don’t digest well. Foods containing sugar, artificial preservatives and additives should also be eliminated. Keep a food diary where you can list exactly what you’ve eaten. Become more aware of how your body reacts to certain foods – your body will let you what it doesn’t like!

Introduce more low-fibre foods such as fresh fruit and veggies into your diet and drink lots of water too. Chia seeds are also a great source of healthy fibre and vegetable protein - which will soothe the digestive system and prevent constipation. Chia seeds are a wonderful addition to the diet for anyone wanting to improve digestion and can be added to your breakfast cereal or to a smoothy every day. Please CLICK HERE to order Chia Seeds.

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  •  Add vitamin supplements and probiotics

If you are prone to acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion, vitamin supplements such as digestive enzymes can help to break food down into the nutrients your body needs – these are protein, carbohydrates, starch and fat. These enzymes digest food easier and help to relieve indigestion and bloating. Use Solgar’s Digestive Enzymes which is an excellent supplement for digestive comfort and absorption.

Include probiotics which occur naturally in various foods such as plain yoghurt, fermented soft cheeses, acidophilus milk, sourdough bread and naturally fermented pickles. You can also use an oral probiotic supplement such as Solgar’s Advanced Acidophilus Plus which helps to maintain the balance of intestinal flora. It contains beneficial micro-organisms Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains that are essential for gastro-intestinal wellbeing.

  • Use natural remedies

Natural home remedies can ease acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion. Try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in a bit of water to relieve heartburn and indigestion. Honey is also an effective but soothing all-natural treatment for heartburn and acid reflux. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey in a glass of lukewarm water (Get Mac’s Raw Honey from Feelgood Health at Unit 6,  Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town). Another quick and easy home remedy to reduce excess stomach acid is to mix a ½ teaspoon of bicarb (baking soda) to 180 ml of warm water. Sipping on a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon before and after meals can also aid digestion.

Herbal remedies such as Gastronic Dr by Feelgood Health can definitely benefit chronic sufferers of bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, gas and more serious digestive conditions such as ulcers, IBS or GERD.

In addition, use Acid Free-Flux, a 100% homeopathic remedy to quickly treat the symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion when they flare up. Acid Free-Flux comes in liquid drop form and can be added to water to sip after meals whenever relief is needed. This remedy is homeopathic and free from the side effects of conventional over the counter antacids.

HAVE A QUESTION related to your health?
Email us, FREE of charge for advice, click here   

As you can see, continuous use of antacids can have side effects which may cause serious damage to your health and wellbeing. However by making certain lifestyle changes, eating the right foods, using vitamin supplements and probiotics as well as natural remedies, you can keep your digestive system healthy and happy!  

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