Research on the treatment of heartburn published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine has shown that the herbal extract curcumin (500 mg four times a day) and the PPI acid blocker omeprazole (Prilosec, 28 mg once daily) produced comparable results over a two-month period. These findings represent the first head-to-head comparison demonstrating the efficacy of curcumin in treating functional dyspepsia compared with omeprazole.
This finding is good news for the 60 million Americans who suffer from heartburn symptoms at least once a month, not to mention the 15 million who suffer from it every day.
Heartburn symptoms are onerous, including burning in the chest after eating at night, pain that worsens when lying down or bending over, or bitter or acidic taste in the mouth. Contributors to the discomfort are often spicy or acidic foods, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
To optimize digestive health, I recommend:
- CuraMed® 750 mg, 1-2x day.
- DGL licorice to heal the stomach’s protective lining. Chew 1 extra-strength tablet 20 minutes before a meal. May take up to 3 extra-strength tablets per day.
- CompleteGest® digestive enzymes, 2 capsules with larger meals. Speeds digestion so food doesn't just sit there and reflux back up.
If in addition to the above, medication is initially needed, I strongly recommend Pepcid (famotidine) 20-40 mg instead of PPI acid blockers (e.g., omeprazole or esomeprazole) which IMHO are quite toxic for long-term use.
All four of the above can be used together, and over time. After 2-3 months of healing the stomach, these can then be used as needed.
The downside of PPI acid blockers is that they're highly addictive. They're also associated with a dramatic loss of bone density, a 33 percent higher risk of dementia (with prolonged use), a doubled risk of colds and flu, a doubled risk of vitamin B12 deficiency (the body needs stomach acid to digest B12), and even a 25 percent risk of premature death. The newest warning added by the FDA is that long-term use of PPIs depletes magnesium—an essential nutrient for nerve and muscle health, heart health, and maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
And the Winner Is ...
Curcumin has been consumed as a spice daily in the Southeast Asian diet for thousands of years. And I've been prescribing supplements that provide it, such as CuraMed® 750 mg, to my patients for decades for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
One common fact about heartburn that's often missed is that it's actually not from an overproduction of stomach acid as many think but is the byproduct of poor digestion. So, taking a drug that reduces stomach acid is actually counterproductive and sets up a vicious cycle in the system that fosters prolonged use and dependency.
If you want to take a prescription acid blocker, I recommend Pepcid instead of PPIs. Although it has some addictive issues, Pepcid is more benign than PPIs and may boost immunity which can be beneficial for other conditions.
The popularity of curcumin is booming. The global market for it reached $80.8 million in 2022, and according to forecasts by the IMARC Group, the market will reach $125.77 million by 2028—owing to ongoing research and growing awareness worldwide of the extensive health benefits of curcumin and its availability as a safe and effective dietary supplement.
Dr. T's Recommendation?
My favorite way to get curcumin is CuraMed® 750 mg 1-2xday. This is equal in absorption to 6-12 tablets of pure curcumin (or over 300 caps of turmeric). I take this myself because of its massive "side benefits," including dramatically helping immunity, mood, blood sugar control, and more (the list goes on and on...).
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.