FDA Recalls Antacids Because of Cancer Causing Ingredient
The FDA just recalled large batches of a widely-prescribed class of antacids containing ranitidine. One of the affected brand names is Zantac, which is prescribed around 15 million times per year. There’s a fair chance that you or someone you know is either frustrated because they cannot get their Zantac, or worried that they’ve been taking a drug with a frightening ingredient long-term.
Sure, these medicines provide relief almost immediately. The problem with rantidine is that it is highly unstable. Ranitidine medicines have a strong tendency to form NDMA, a known carcinogen, when they interact with other substances or when heated. So there’s plenty of opportunity for NDMA levels to climb -- even after production.
It’s not mistakes, errors, or oversights that causes ranitidine medicines to test off the charts for NDMA. Mistakes can be fixed, and problems from the production line can be prevented. NDMA formation can even happen once inside the body. In one study, rats given ranitidine along with high levels of sodium nitrite, a common food preservative, resulted in high levels of NDMA.
Here’s the rundown on acid reflux and how to deal with it without reaching for antacid medications.
What is acid reflux and heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid reflux is a burning sensation that you feel in your upper chest typically after you eat. Symptoms are different and vary in severity from person to person. Eating foods that don’t agree with you, or experiencing higher than normal stress can cause heartburn every now and then. But, if you feel the symptoms of acid reflux more than a couple times a week, it’s something you’ll need to address with your doctor.
In addition to the burning sensation, reflux can cause other symptoms like:
- Throat tightness
- Regurgitation, or undigested food “coming up”
- Trouble swallowing
- Acidic taste in your mouth
- Belching around mealtime
You can have reflux from time to time and pin it down to a cause -- you’re under stress, you ate something that has given you trouble before, you worked out too soon after a meal, or you ate late at night. It’s when indigestion becomes a persistent problem that you need to dig into the cause.
Why antacids may not work.
Covering up symptoms with acid neutralizers (like Tums) can provide immediate relief. But if you’re popping them like candy, it’s probably wise to figure out why it’s happening.
A lot of doctors and TV commercials treat stomach acid as something bad, and they will tell you to neutralize your stomach acid. But, you need stomach acid to thoroughly digest your food.
Sure, over-the-counter antacids and prescription acid blockers will relieve the burning, but you may be making the problem worse. More progressive practitioners recognize that a lot of cases of reflux are not from overproduction of stomach acid, but instead from underproduction. You need stomach acid to properly digest your food and to signal to your stomach to empty into your intestines. If that signaling is off balance, your stomach will not empty properly, and it’s contents can creep up into your esophagus instead of down into the next phases of digestion.
How to deal with acid reflux without drugs.
Medicine has its place, and sometimes it’s the best option. Other times, there are ways to deal with indigestion without medications. If your doctor tends to go to pharmaceuticals as the first and final treatment, consider seeing a functional medicine or integrative medicine doctor to address lifestyle factors that may be contributing to heartburn.
Some things that may have an effect…
- Slow digestion. If you’re not digesting your food properly, there’s a good chance you’ll feel it somewhere along the digestive tract. Some people swear by taking a few tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar or herbal digestive bitters before a meal. These both signal for your body to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which helps everything move in the right direction. You can also ask your doctor about taking digestive enzymes or betaine HCl capsules, which boost your body’s stomach acid.
- Food sensitivities. Your body can react to foods you don’t tolerate in several ways. You can experience skin rashes, mood swings, and of course, digestive discomfort that includes burning in your chest. You can ask your doctor about food intolerance testing or go through a reputable at-home testing service.
- Diseases and conditions. There are several medical conditions that cause or exacerbate acid reflux. Talk to your doctor about any conditions you have, whether they’re linked to heartburn, and how to get it all under control so that you can eat comfortably.
- Medication. Review your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines with your doctor to see if any of them are contributing to your acid reflux. Overusing some over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can raise red flags.