I hope this blog helps others avoid serious illness and unnecessary diagnosis and development of Dementia. As a facilitator I hear many significant stories. Bill says I can publish his.
Bill is now 64 years old; he began smoking when he was 11 years old and stopped when he was 48. When he was 16 he became a vegetarian and probably ate too much cheese. He began eating meat again just after he had given up smoking at about 50, and apart from topical antibiotics and the occasional painkiller (remember Ponstan?) he was never prescribed any significant medication.
After standing on a set of bathroom scales at the age of 52, and being shocked to see his weight ballooning, he joined a gym and ended up running as many miles as he could, until three years later he suffered a massive heart attack, as his last pulmonary artery seized up with calcified cholesterol. A quadrupel bypass miraculously transformed his cardiac function and, replumbed, Bill emerged from hospital to resume an even more energetic lifestyle, and launched himself back into full time creative work, entirely re-energised.
However, Bill was now taking an ACE inhibitor (Ramipril), a beta blocker (Bispoprol) used in combination with the ACE inhibitor to reduce blood pressure and relax the blood vessels. Bill was also prescribed dispersible Aspirin and the maximum dose of Atorvastatin (80mg daily). He has taken these medicines everyday for the past 9 years, and has coped with any side effects by taking these medicines, which he accepts have kept him alive, at optimum times of day and diet, a fine tuning process of trial and error. He believes that if he stops taking these four medicines he will die a horrible death.
The one side effect Bill could do nothing about was the stomach irritation and acid reflux generated incrementally over the years as a result of taking a daily dose of medication. Bill took ranitidine morning and night for seven years to counteract both the corrosive effect of the essential aspirin and the irritant effect of the other medications. For seven years it worked.
Slowly, however, the ranitidine became less effective. It worked while it did by neutralising the stomach acids generated by the other medications, however, after seven years Bill began to suffer a parietal cell reaction to the ranitidine, which was extremely distressing, like having a permanently bursting ulcer.
Several visits to the GP only brought suggestions that he could supplement his ranitidine with Rennies. Bill at home tried yoghurt in excess, and also milk, and bananas, particularly at night, when he began to suffer extreme gastric reflux every time he lay down. He resorted, indeed, to frequent additions of Rennies to his daily intake of medications. Relief was essential, but such relief was merely temporary.
High in calcium, Rennies contributed to a kidney stone attack, for the first of Bill’s life, and the parietal reaction to ranitidine contributed to the development of a hiatis hernia, which was picked up when he had his kidneys scanned for stones. In disabling pain, and affected every day and night by extreme acid reflux, a new GP in Bill’s practice told him to stop taking ranitidine immediately and prescribed Omeprazole, a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs, like bisoprolol and ramipril, are amongst the most “essential” and highly prescribed medicines in the world. Indigestion today is a major health problem, and also a major source of income for the pharma/medical combine. PPIs work by reducing the production of stomach acids by up to 80%. And they do work, they stop indigestion in effect by stopping digestion.
The very first time that Bill took Omeprazole, he experienced an immediate end to the severe discomfort of acid reflux, and his hernia pain also greatly reduced. He genuinely felt he had found a cure, but a month later he, and those close to him, began to notice that his cognitive function had reduced considerably. Normally energetic, astute and industrious, Bill had become suicidal, withdrawn, lethargic and forgetful. He crashed his car, and felt his sensory judgements declining. He was needing to urinate several times throughout the night and defecating up to four or five times a day. He had a huge appetite but was undernourished. He had no energy and it was real struggle to keep upwith his busy life; his relationships were beginnig to be affected-negatively.
His GPs prescribed Gaviscon Advance to supplement the Omeprazole, and told him it was ok to alternate – 3 days of one, 3 days of the other. gaviscon just felt toxic and temporary. every time Bill ate, he had to swallow some gaviscon. Bill noticed that if he stopped the Omeprazole for a few days, his energy and cognitive levels slowly picked up again, he slept better, he pooed less. Within three days of returning to Omeprazole, he fell into a lethargic stupor again. He bagan to worry again, as did his loved ones and colleagues, that he might be developing dementia. He was forgetting words, names.
Being an educated man with a lifetime experience of working with the health problems of others, Bill dived into the internet and discovered the researched link between PPIs and amyloid plaques, a significant component of Alazheimer’s dementia. He was suffering all the listed side effects of Omeprazole, and returned once again to his GP in distress. He saw a locum, by chance, who told him to stop taking the opemprazole immediately. She was unaware of the PPI link with amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques block transmission on neural pathways in the brain, they clog up the brain’s enzyme flow, and there is no getting rid of them once they are there.
For a short while Bill got by with four hourly swallows of Gaviscon Advance and the occasional Omeprazole (he had plenty left over) together with Rennies in emergencies. He felt he was dying and had nowhere to turn. Life was becoming profoundly unpleasant. On the one hand, philosophically and existentially, Bill realised that he was in fact lucky to be alive at all, and was living on borrowed time. He had to keep taking the medication, and he had to take something to mediate the stomach damage he was experiencing as a result. But he was losing hope, he was not functioning well, and he was beginning to hide this from others, becoming secretive, while hoping that by sheer will he could plot his way through each day.
He was forgetting some tasks, struggling with names and details, and was daily conemplating suicide as he lost hope; his natural optimism began to drain away. In a final attempt to put this right, Bill went back to the GP, almsot a year after first being prescribed Omeprazole, and this time saw a new doctor at the practice, who listened to everything he said. She accepted the link between Omeprazole and Amyloid plaques, and told him that he should never have mixed the Rennie, Gaviscon and PPI medication. She prescribed another PPI, Lanzoprazole for Bill. Lanzoprazole has “less” side effects, and for three months Bill felt almost like his old self. No stomach discomfort, no lethargy, some return of cognitive function. A rebirth of positivity.
However, slowly but surely, the same symptoms begain to recur. The lethargy became accute again, then chronic, an uncharacteristic sense of “can’t be bothered” took over his persona, his jittery memory and irritability began to become his new personality. Walking to the kitchen became a challenge. He couldn’t even turn his laptop on, any effort at all left him exhausted. Food passed through him in a couple of hours. Reading was a massive challenge. He was beginning to stop caring. He was missing emails and repeating himself in business meetings.
He studied again the pharmacology of the PPIs – Lanzoprazole and Omeprazole. They act by reducinbg to 20% levels of digestive acids in the stomach. Digestion of food is therefore equally reduced, in partcular magnesium, Vitamin D3, iron and Vitamin B12, all essential for the productions of the enzymes which support a healthy neurology. In the brain this creates a higher potential for the concretisation of amyloid plaques, in the gut the growth of probiotics is similarly reduced. Food literally passes straight through you, and congnitive function reduces. In short, slow malnutrition sets in. Infection is harder to resist.
Together, Bill and his wife worked out a supplementary plan. Lanzoprazole in the morning, and with the main meal a strong Multivitamin and Acidophilus. Within a day Bill felt so much better, within a week he had begun to function with positivity, writing, walking, being really active, suffering no muscular or existential lethargy, no aching limbs, no suicidality. He was reading, he was laughing. He has had no need for Gaviscon or Rennies. He can eat and drink as normal, but is able to focus on a healthy diet.
Without Bill questioning the best way of using the Lanzoprazole, without compensating for the negative effects of the PPI, he may now indeed be undergoing diagnostic tests for early onset Alzheimer’s. perhaps the plaques are already there. None of the doctor’s he saw knew anything about the link between PPIs and Ameloid plaques, and doctors all over the world are prescribing them to older people.
How many older people with multiple pathologies, are prescribed PPIs? – Worldwide, millions – in the UK hundreds of thousands. How many of those people give up, and are then further hurt with “dementia medicines”? Bill says he has never felt more like giving up than when he was taking Omeprazole. He says that if he had just carried on he may have indeed developed dementia.
Bill went to see a medical consultant for a review, and told him his story. The consultant was shocked. He said, “I take Omeprazole. I have noticed my memory getting really bad.” Together they checked out the research. Check it out yourselves, dear readers.
Those if us who suffer multiple pathologies and are multipharmologically treated, should be aware that, even if we have to take some medicines, there are things we can do to avoid medicine’s lazy outcomes. Bill and I have never heard anyone from any “professional” or pharmaceutical research body suggest that such widely used medicines can actually be a major cause of dementia. Vitamin B12 and magnesium should always be prescribed with PPI’s, just as Acidophilus should always be prescribed with antibiotics (they kill good bacteria as well as bad ones). Bill says that a cynic might say that the pharmaceutical industry might almost have a vested interest in developing such covert dementias, as there is therefore a justification for new “research”, and of course new drugs. As long as not too many Bills find out. That’s what Bill thinks, anyway, how about you? PPIs it seems, can cause and accelerate dementia. Shouldn’t doctors know, and should we be told?
We have often been told that taking Vitamin B12 will “help minimise memory loss”, but not that this is due to the malnutrition caused by PPIs. Bill, nor I, for what it’s worth were ever advised that Omeprazole or Lanzoprazole could lead to amyloid plaques, we had to find out for ourselves.
Next Time : Peggy;s story – Thyroxine and memory loss.