Antacids, both prescription and over the counter, are some of the most popular, and too often casually used, medications.

Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, H2 blockers (including Zantac and Pepcid), as well as Proton Pump Inhibitors such as Prilosec and Prevacid all come with short- and long-term issues of which we must be aware.

First, they are some of the biggest contributors to nutrient depletions including; B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, as well as causing disruptions of healthy bacteria and other conditions.

Then there is altered pH. pH is a measurement of both acid and alkaline balance. Whereas a pH of 7 is considered neutral, the human digestive tract varies greatly in pH. Saliva is often between 6.5 to 7.5, the upper portion of the stomach is a bit more acidic (or should be) with a pH between 4.0 to 6.5.

The lower portion of the stomach where the secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) and pepsin takes place is much more acidic, between 1.5 to 4.0. We need Betaine HCL to break down and absorb vitamin B 12, calcium and iron, as well as fat and proteins from food. Betaine HCL is more than just a digestive aid. It acts as a first line of defense against various bacteria and viruses that can come through our foods.

Our pH can become altered from the natural aging process, unhealthy dietary choices, or from the over use of antacids. If the pH becomes too alkaline in certain areas of our digestive tract, our good gut bacteria can be destroyed, and overgrowth of bad bacteria such as C. Defficile may ensue.

When people come to me with heartburn or acid reflux even though their body might need betaine HCL, this is not where I like to start. The reason is that they could have an active ulcer, which betaine HCL might only make worse. Or, they could have excessive irritation from years of reflux and heartburn, which the betaine HCL could irritate.

The common therapy for heartburn and acid reflux is antacids. Where this might be appropriate for the short term, especially in the case of ulcers (as we mentioned), the long-term use can lead us down the path of nutrient malabsorption. We run the risk of losing our front line of defense against various pathogens and altered pH.

I like to begin with a product called Heart Burn Essentials from Pure. This can be added to current antacid therapy with the intention of weaning off the antacids, or by itself, if nothing has been tried yet.

Heartburn Essentials provides natural ingredients and enzymes which are designed to support natural gastric secretion, enhance digestion, sooth and support the integrity of the digestive tract while offering relieve for occasional heartburn and indigestion.

For the month of May, Heartburn Essentials is 25% off regular price at all Martin’s Pharmacies.

If you’re interested to further your understand on digestive health, then you want to miss our Wellness Workshop’s for May, Healing Digestion, at two locations.

Heritage Square, Granger on Monday, May 8 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm and in Stevensville on Monday, May 15 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Cost for each is $10 and tickets may be purchased by visiting