Do Antacid Tablets Work?

Do Antacid Tablets Work?

Millions of people take antacid medications either over the counter or prescribed by their physician to quell what they believe to be is excess acid in their stomach contributing to their heartburn and acid reflux pain.  The numbers of people relying on these medications are rising every year.  Experts are concerned that there is daily overuse of these medications.  So, do antacid tablets work, why and how?

What are Antacids and Proton Pump Inhibitors?


Antacids are acid neutralizing products.  Conventional thought is that your stomach is producing too much stomach acidstomach acid and it needs to be neutralized. For the desired effect, they will do the job. Antacids come in tablets, liquid or chews. Some dissolve in water. Each of the below antacids has their own acid buffering ingredient.  It’s important to know the differences of the active ingredients to make sure you are taking something that won’t aggravate a health condition or cause one.

Examples of popular over the counter antacids are:

  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Maalox
  • Mylanta
  • Rolaids
  • Tums
  • Amphojel
  • Milk of Magnesia
  • Mylanta
  • Gaviscon

Brands, Ingredients, and Warnings:

  • Alka-Selzer – contains sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. It also contains aspirin. If you suffer from high blood pressure, this is not the acid neutralizer you need. If you are taking blood thinning medication you’ll want to avoid Alka Seltzer due to the aspirin. Children below the age of 18 should never take aspirin as it can bring on a serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Tums, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids – contains calcium carbonate.  Because Tums contains calcium, someTums-americas-no-1-antacid doctors recommend taking Tums or these other brands as calcium supplements.  NEVER do this! Calcium can only be absorbed if it is accompanied by Vitamin D, K2, and magnesium. Tums does not contain either of these vitamins. Free circulating calcium is not healthy and can be damaging to organs and contribute to artery plaque. Calcium carbonate can also cause constipation.
  • Amphojel – This product contains Aluminum Hydroxide. Aluminum is a highly controversial mineral. If it’s not eliminated via the kidneys, it will store in the bones, liver, muscle, and brain.  Adverse health effects have been shown in studies on animals.  Aluminum is found in our environment and our food, but the biggest amounts consumed are in the form of antacids.  Experts believe the true dangers of long term aluminum containing antacid use is seen over a period of time. Most studies have not followed up to reveal these long term effects. Aluminum based antacids are also not as effective or strong as other antacids and are less potent.  They can cause constipation and calcium loss. If you suffer from kidney disease, do not take aluminum based antacids.
  • Gaviscon – If you’re looking to protect the esophagus, an antacid like Gaviscon contains a foaming agent, alginic acid, that blocks the stomach acid from entering it.

Proton Pump Inhibitors/H2 Blockers

Antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach, proton pump inhibitors reduce the amount of stomach acidnexium-prevacid-prilosec2 produced in the wall of the stomach. If you are suffering from ulcers in the stomach or esophagus, or if you suffer from GERD, your doctor may recommend Proton Pump inhibitors in order to heal the ulcers or reduce heartburn.  

Examples of H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors:

  • Nexium, Nexium IV, Nexium 24 hr.
  • Prevacid, Prevacid IV, Prevacid 24 hr.
  • Prilosec
  • Dexilent
  • Yosprala
  • Vimovo
  • Protonix
  • Zegerid

Proton Pumps are similar in action and there is no evidence to suggest that taking one over the other is more effective. However, they differ with how they are broken down by the liver and each may have their own and different drug interactions.  The effects of some may last longer than others too.

It’s important to take the lowest dose possible and for the shortest duration of time to avoid vitamin deficiencies and health problems.

Reducing stomach acid with proton pump inhibitor use is not good for future digestive health. Our bodies need strong stomach acid to digest our food and assimilate certain vitamins for proper absorption.  Use with caution and care and always under the supervision of your doctor.

A More Natural And Effective Approach

Using an antacid product or proton pump inhibitor product may be useful and in some cases necessary in the short term, but clearly, long term use can cause worse digestive issues.  It is always best to find the root cause of your stomach issues and heal them naturally.  For more natural heartburn remedies that are effective read here.

In conclusion,

Antacids are used to neutralize stomach acid for the occasional discomfort of heartburn. These products do what they are intended to do.  The ingredients in antacids can be dangerous for the young and contraindicated for others. For instance, any antacid with aspirin cannot be taken by those under the age of 18 or those on blood thinning medications.

Antacids that contain calcium should never be used as a supplement, although many are, due to the danger of free calcium in the bloodstream.

Antacids that contain aluminum are not well studied to be harmless to toxicity in the human body. If you suffer from kidney disease, these should be avoided.aluminum hydroxide

Antacids are different than Proton Pump Inhibitors. Proton Pump Inhibitors reduce stomach acid. Reducing stomach acid has long range health implications and should only be used for a very short duration of time.

Finding the root cause of your digestive issues is important. Future health problems are implicated in ignoring or masking heartburn, reflux, and other stomach issues. If you are serious about getting off the OTC antacid or Proton Pump Inhibitor train, sign up for this free webinar to get to the root of your problems and finally get the healing you need.

Please comment if you have any questions about this article.StomachProblems_300x250

14354940_1147966088611029_3013149574780621067_n(4) Linda is a Certified Functional Health Coach



16 Comments Add yours
  1. The big pharma companies are NOT going to like you!!!! This is info they DONT WANT Americans to have! It will seriously cut into their profits. We need more sites like yours!!:)

    1. Hi Lisa, no, they will not. 🙂 People need more natural options so they can finally heal and not mask symptoms that will just morph into something else someday. Thanks for posting.

  2. Wow, I LOVE this site! I’m heavily against taking pills, OTC meds and prescription drugs – for the very most part. So this sort of thing is right down my alley! And I learned so much! Hadn’t heard of Reye’s Syndrome, didn’t know there’s only a certain way your body can absorb calcium, or things called Proton Pumps. I learned more during this article than I did in health class in high school. Thank you for this!

    1. Thank you Courtney! Glad you are getting some information you need. My goal is to get people healthy and there is a time for drugs, but keeping our bodies healthy and using natural first when possible is always the way to go.

  3. I haven’t taking OTC medication for a while now and I don’t plan to change that anytime soon. This will just add on to my reasons of why I don’t. Thank you for making me more aware of the side effects, and problems these medications can cause.

  4. What great information. I actually take prescribed meds called “Pariot”. It does the trick but apparently hard on the liver. I will give your ideas a try. Thank you

  5. I now know the difference in the OTC acid relief meds and the proton pump inhibitors. I have been guilty of misusing the OTC products in the past. But now with this post, I have the ammunition to take care of my problems with natural methods.

    Thank You so much for the education!

  6. I enjoy reading your articles because they are filled with such helpful information. I use to suffer greatly from heartburn and so I would take antacid tablets. My symptoms would go away for the moment, but then return. The same thing happened with prescribed medication, so I started researching natural remedies. A friend told me about the “Cactus” plant. I scraped the gel out and soak it in water for a few hours, then drink it. That has been my natural relief from heartburn. It works well for me.

    1. Thank you for the great natural remedy, Carol! I will look into it and do a post on it sometime. :-). Also, if you continue to get heartburn, you’ll want to get to the root cause. Look into food sensitivity testing so you can finally get to the root cause so you don’t have to rely on anything anymore.

  7. My wife has been taking antacid tablets since she was a child. I will have to show her this post so she can see what these inhibitors/blockers can do.

    I didn’t know about not giving aspirin to under 18s, so that’s good to know.

    Thanks Linda.

  8. Hi Linda, thanks for all the information here. I have always used Gaviscon ant-acid tablets and I find they work for me the best. I don’t like taking too many of them though and I’d like to try and find an alternative herbal remedy. Is there something you could recommend? It’s really for my wife since she is a bit reluctant to take pills regularly.

    1. Hi Craig. Gaviscon is the one where it has a buffering agent so the acid doesn’t get into your esophagus. I do have a recommendation for something similar. These are chewable that your wife might like. I’d love to know how she likes them.

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