By Marc Courtiol
Omeprazole is better known by its brand name of Prilosec. It is used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as duodenal and gastric ulcers.
Omeprazole is a type of proton pump inhibitor that has been widely prescribed since the late 1980s. While they have generally been thought to be safe drugs, some health concerns have developed over the past few years. It is now believed that the long-term use of omeprazole, or any other proton pump inhibitor, is linked to the development of cancer, gastric atrophy, and infection. Despite this link, these drugs continue to be widely prescribed and used by patients, including children of varying ages.
Beware of the Side Effects
The most common side effects that routinely occur in patients who take omeprazole include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash. Interestingly, these side effects are not mentioned in the over the counter version of this drug, though they are mentioned in the prescription version.
Omeprazole can also cause joint, leg, or muscle pains, which can turn into a serious problem when doctors decide that these “symptoms” are a separate issue and then treat them with yet more prescription medication. There have actually been cases where people have developed arthritis as a result of taking omeprazole, so these side effects that can result from the use of this drug should be considered carefully before patients begin taking them.
After all, it certainly isn’t helpful to take a medication that is supposed to help with one problem only to wind up with additional health problems.
Finding Natural Alternatives
Many of us want to avoid the potentially dangerous side effects that are commonly associated with prescription medications, but often times it is difficult to find safe, healthy alternatives that will alleviate our symptoms.
If you are looking for a natural alternative for your acid reflux problem, you might want to try ginger. Ginger has been shown to naturally aid the digestive process, and it is great for settling upset stomachs. Ginger helps the stomach to produce greater quantities of mucus, which then acts as a natural soothing agent.
Papaya might also be a great option for you, as this enzyme helps the body to digest foods more quickly, thus eliminating the likelihood that you will develop acid reflux after eating.
Other natural remedies for treating acid reflux include:
- Chamomile – An excellent herbal supplement for treating a variety of digestive disorders, chamomile is tolerated well by most people and generally produces no side effects.
- Licorice capsules – Licorice extract increases the production of mucus in the stomach. This helps to protect the lining of both the stomach and the esophagus. Licorice extract has also been shown to aid in the healing of ulcers.
- Marshmallow – This herb contains mucilage. It is believed that mucilage helps to soothe and coat the lining of the esophagus. It is not safe for everyone to take marshmallow, particularly women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are diabetic.
- Meadowsweet – This is an herbal supplement that works wonderfully as an anti-inflammatory as well as an antacid. It protects the lining of the digestive tract and also helps to relieve pain that is commonly experienced with GERD.