The mouth, esophagus and intestines are home to between 400-1,000 species of bacteria. However, a healthy stomach is normally almost completely sterile. Why? Because stomach acid kills bacteria.
In fact, that’s one of it’s most important roles: to provide a two-way barrier that protects the stomach from pathogenic bacteria.
You can see that histamine-2 blockers are not the answer for a cure for GERD, since they are meant to be used for less 2 weeks and they have some undesirable side effects and ingredients. Instead, see which diet and lifestyle changes you can make to try to eliminate the cause of frequent reflux and heartburn.
One major goal of the new Captain Zantac campaign from Boehringer is to remind those suffering from GERD or periodic heartburn about the added speed of its H2 blocker, Zantac, (onset of action at 30 minutes) over other proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), taking several hours to take effect, but lasting much longer 1-3 days.
Both PPI and H2 blockers significantly increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency in elderly
patients. B12 requires adequate gastric acid for absorption. This population is already prone to deficiency in intrinsic factor, necessary for B12 absorption. (12) This lack of stomach acid also decreases the absorption of folic acid, iron and zinc. (13,14) H2 blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid and Zantac) decrease acid secretion by blocking histamine.
Mental status changes associated with H2 blockers have usually occurred within the first 2 weeks of treatment. Fortunately, these CNS reactions typically resolve within 3 days of stopping H2 blocker therapy.
Interestingly, another commonly prescribed heartburn drug class called H2 blockers showed no association with elevated heart-attack risk. H2 blockers, which have been around longer than PPIs, are reasonably effective against heartburn and are the second-largest-selling class of drugs used to treat it.
Most people have no idea how many vital roles stomach acid plays in our bodies. Such misunderstanding is perpetuated by drug companies who continue to insist that stomach acid is not essential. Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are taking acid suppressing drugs that not only fail to address the underlying causes of heartburn and GERD, but put them at risk of serious (and even life-threatening) conditions.
H2RAs decrease gastric acid secretion by reversibly binding to histamine H2 receptors located on gastric parietal cells, thereby inhibiting the binding and action of the endogenous ligand histamine. Normally, after a meal, gastrin stimulates the release of histamine, which then binds to histamine H2 receptors and leads to gastric acid release. H2RAs suppress both stimulated and basal gastric acid secretion that is induced by histamine.
The H2 blockers (also called H2 antagonists) were the first effective drugs for peptic ulcer. In the 1980s, they were the mainstay of treatment for ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Now, antibiotics cure non-NSAID ulcers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are better for GERD. Therefore, H2 antagonists face an uncertain future as prescription drugs.
Nonetheless, they are comparatively cheap, effective, and safe for heartburn relief. Lower dose preparations are available over-the-counter to be used for mild heartburn.
Histamine H2-receptor antagonists, also known as H2-blockers, are used to treat duodenal ulcers and prevent their return. They are also used to treat gastric ulcers and for some conditions, such as Zollinger-Ellison disease, in which the stomach produces too much acid. In over-the-counter (OTC) strengths, these medicines are used to relieve and/or prevent heartburn, acid indigestion, and sour stomach.
By decreasing the amount of acid, H2 blockers can help to reduce acid reflux-related symptoms such as heartburn. This can also help to heal ulcers found in the stomach or in part of the gut (the duodenum).