Understanding Proton Pump Inhibitors (Part 2)

The Ten Downsides of PPIs

So, we now know that proton pump inhibitors—PPIs—can be quite harmful despite being widely used. Today, I’m going to break down the ten biggest downsides of PPI use.


  1. PPIs Part 1
  2. PPIs Part 2
  3. PPIs Part 3
  4. PPIs Advanced

1. Reduce Mitochondrial Function

As I explained last post, PPIs work by limiting the full energy production of cell mitochondria. Naturally, taking too many PPIs will cause lasting effects on how well your mitochondria can function in the future.  As a result, decreased mitochondrial function has been linked to almost every disease and underscores all the issues I’ll describe below.  For a bit more on the effects of damaging your mitochondria with common drugs, see my post last week about NSAIDs

2. Damage The Brain


In a study of nearly 16,000 people over 40, PPI usage was correlated with significantly increased risk of developing dementia.  There a a few explanations, all of which are linked to PPIs getting to the brain through your bloodstream. 

First, PPIs increase the production of a brain plaque called amyloid-beta that is observed in people with Alzheimers Disease.  Second, PPIs limit your brain cells’ ability to handle oxidative stress meaning that there is an imbalance in the body’s ability to neutralize toxins.  Lastly, PPIs decrease your ability to absorb vitamin B12 which can create inflammation in the brain.

PPIs also increase your risk of developing depression, suffering hallucinations, and of having a stroke.

3. May Cause Thyroid Problems and Seizures

PPIs can affect your thyroid’s ability to produce the hormones that your body needs.  This can lead to conditions such as hypoparathyroidism which lowers the amount of calcium in your blood and may induce muscle cramps and twitching and hypomagnesaemia which increases your chance of seizures.

4. Increase Risk of Developing Diseases

Just as PPIs reduce stomach acid, they limit the amount of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas.  This can lead to a heightened risk of pancreatic cancer and diabetes.  PPIs are also linked to other serious issues such as gastric and colon cancer, vitiligo, and Celiac disease and they make heart attacks 1.16 times more likely.

5. Lead to Liver and Kidney Complications

PPIs can do damage to your liver and kidneys.  In your liver, PPIs cause liver scarring known as cirrhosis and create pockets of pus in the liver.  For elderly patients, using PPIs increases the fatality of these issues.  PPIs are also linked to chronic kidney damage and disease.  In a long-term study of over 570,000 patients, the risk of developing kidney issues became five time higher. PPIs cause swelling in the spaces between the renal tubules in the kidneys, a condition known as acute interstitial nephritis.

6. Changes your Internal Flora

PPIs are designed to reduce stomach or gastric acid.  However, that acid is really important, not only for digestion but also for protecting the body against pathogens.  When less bacteria is killed by stomach acid than should be, your internal flora is negatively affected.  As a result, PPIs Is increase the chances of developing bacterial infections like salmonella, shigella, and staph infection and makes you susceptible to “stomach bugs” like norovirus.  It can also promote weight gain and leads to “leaky gut” (when the harmful bacteria that are supposed to stay in your gut are able to pass through to the rest of the body) which can worsen existing allergies.

7. Cause Malnutrition

The flip side of a “leaky gut” is that the nutrients that are supposed to be absorbed into the body from the gut leak out as well.  As a result, even if you eat nutritious foods, you could become malnourished because PPIs prevent the gastric acids from being acidic enough to turn the nutrients into a soluble form that can absorbed.  As you may have noticed from the other issues on this list, limiting the ability for the body to absorb nutrients leads to many other negative effects such as in the brain.

8. Decrease Bone Density


You’ve probably heard that calcium is important for strong bones and teeth.  PPIs not only lower your blood calcium through hypoparathyroidism, they also limits the body’s ability to absorb calcium.  This increases the likelihood for developing osteoporosis and for breaking bones like your hip, wrist, and spine.  PPIs also limit the effectiveness of drugs that are supposed to promote bone density.

9.  Disrupt Sleep

Remember the way that NSAIDs cause a negative feedback loop?  PPIs can have the same effect by increasing the likelihood of the problems that the PPIs are supposed to alleviate.  One issue, nocturnal acid breakthrough (NAB) is a form of acid reflux that affects people at night.  The discomfort from NAB can disrupt or even prevent sleep.  In one study, of the patients taking PPIs twice per day, nearly 40% had to increase their dosage because of their NAB which could result in more issues that could require PPIs.  In that study, only 50% found relief.

10. May Have Rebound Effects

There are a lot of issues caused by being on PPIs, yet, going off of them causes problems as well!  Stopping PPIs can have rebound effects such as heightening your risk of developing heartburn, stomach ulcers, carcinoid tumors, and increased gastric acid secretion.

TLDR: When PPIs hurt the cells in your body, your organs and health are negatively effected.

In My Next Post


Luckily, there are many natural and safer alternatives to PPIs.  In the next post, I have a more comprehensive list of alternatives to PPIs, how to use them, and why they work.

Have you already tried your own alternatives to PPIs? Comment below how you’ve looked for alternatives!  

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