Calcium Channel Blockers and Irritable Bowel

Recently we had a woman write in regarding concerns she had with her prescription medications.  She had talked to her doctor about it, but was frustrated by his lack of interest in her concerns and having given her what she called “the kiss off.”

She was concerned that one of her medicines was giving her an irritable bowel and she was getting frustrated because of the stomach upset that was becoming more frequent.

The medicine in question was a calcium channel blocker.  This drug has been shown to increase the blood flow and available oxygen to the heart, while also relieving the workload or stress the heart is under.  She was taking a long-acting version to treat high blood pressure and had been on it for some time.

Calcium channel blockers are also used to treat specific types of heart failure and also some migraine conditions, so these types of drugs are very widely used.  Many have seen relief from their cardiac symptoms while using them, but at the cost of introducing a host of side effects.

Even though she had been taking her prescription for a number of years, she was surprised when she started in with the stomach upset since it seemed to be a relatively new symptom.

Her assumption at the time was that she had gotten hold of some bad food.  Then when it persisted, she thought maybe she had gastroenteritis.

But as the weeks dragged on and the stomach pain and constipation persisted, she wondered if it could be due to medications.  She was already experiencing occasionally low heart rates and passing dizziness, which she understood was a known side effect, but the pain was a new symptom altogether.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is a known side effect of calcium channel blockers.  So is constipation.  Both of these symptoms are painful, and pain increases a person’s blood pressure.  She said she felt like she was causing high blood pressure by treating high blood pressure.

There was also a concern that she was showing the early signs of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and she had always been told not to take a calcium supplement because of the calcium channel blocker.  Similarly, grapefruit is also on the “no” list, as the “grapefruit effect” occurs with this drug in a similar way as it interferes with statin absorption.

Frustrated and worried, she went to her doctor to see if he could reconcile the pain, supplement and medication quandary with which she was faced.

He apparently just gave her the standard answer of, “Well, we can adjust your dosage.  We’ll also need to consider starting a prescription GERD medication and you’ll need to look at maybe a laxative a couple times a week.”

After that there was a discussion of timing… when to take which pill, how long to wait before the next, which ones required a full stomach, which ones couldn’t work together, etc.  It was apparently more than she was able to process and she left the doctor’s office angry, frustrated, and still in pain.

We hear stories like these so many times and it is frustrating every time we hear it.  While the stories are all different, they resonate with one common theme, which is dumping more medicine to undo side effects of medicine that is used to treat preventable (in many cases) or naturally treatable diseases.

Our advice to her was not exactly what she wanted to hear, but it’s the only thing that safely works to resolve all the issues she was having.  That is basically to march back into the doctor’s office with the list of complaints and this time the list of goals.  The goals being specifically, not to have to take more pills and to resolve all the conditions in a natural way, where possible.

It was a tough conversation because she had already decided the doctor wouldn’t listen to her.  But she pressed on anyway, citing that she was not going to take the GERD medication, didn’t want laxatives, and wanted to come to some agreement regarding the current dose of her calcium channel blocker.

He was apparently glad she went this direction and had a lot of feedback for her about ways to get the blood pressure under control, and referred her to a dietician who could help her to get the bowel irritations resolved using diet and supplements that wouldn’t interfere.

The diet plan was also more concentrated on bone health, so that helped to get on the right track with that problem as well.

While we don’t have the details yet on how she’s doing, I did want to write about our correspondence so far, mostly because the point can still be made that if you suspect that your medications are causing side effects that you are not willing to live with, take the bull by the horns and talk to the doc.  You might be able to find a new treatment plan that is much easier (and safer) to live with.

For natural, drug-free ways to conquer high blood pressure, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome that are easy and safe, click on the links here or have a look at the guides in our library, listed on the right side of the page.

Warm regards,

Christian Goodman

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9 comments

  1. Islamuddin Siddiqui

    Dear Mr.Goodman:
    Like many others, I m highly grateful for ur very authentic reports which help to avoid health risks.Keep it up.
    Regards

  2. Dearest Christian,
    I have been taking aprovel 300mg in the morning and amlodipine 5 mg. on early evening with a mineral-alkaline concentrate drops in a glass of water. so far my GERD has stopped. I also take mangosteen caps to regulate my sugar and so far been successful. my highest sugar when I occasionally binge is 140.
    Thank you very much for valued information.

  3. I see the term ‘side effects’ cropping up again in this article. I feel we should advocate, by our usage of more accurate language, a clearer and more real description of what drugs do. There are no such things as side effects. That would imply that a chemical has an intrinsic purpose and any other result is incidental whereas in fact chemicals are totally indifferent to human aspirations. The term is the medical industry’s euphemism for ‘ADVERSE EFFECTS’. The result is that doctors treat them more lightly than they should, as your article showed.
    When we ingest a chemical it invariably affects our system in more than one way. Some of these effects may be beneficial (desirable). But the rest are likely not and should be given at least equal consideration. For example Vioxx(which my doctor prescribed for me at one time ) allowed me no more relief for my backache than ASA. I went back to ASA thank goodness. Vioxx has been linked to heart attacks. So what is the primary effect and what is the side effect. If we want to encourage openness and truth in the use of drugs of any kind we should ourselves make it clear that what we are talking about are BENEFICIAL EFFECTS on the one hand and ADVERSE EFFECTS on the other. A decision to take any drug must give full attention to the latter.

  4. Hi Christian, Excellent article as always and I think that this is the most appropriate approach with any doctor. Always take ownership of your health first then talk to the professionals for advice and support with some healthy scepticism. Its your health not the doctors! Your approach to health management is very refreshing. Thank you.

  5. Sounds like me help. I am ok for 2 dAYES THEN IT COMES BACK WITH A VENGENGTIONS.

    help

  6. Thanks Christian for the article. I too had problems with a drug which I did not believe was working properly. I had been on Pariet for GERD for about 14 years and the symptoms of severe heart burn reoccurred making my life very miserable. I went to the doctor and told him that the Pariet no longer seemed to be working. He sent me to a specialist, who after several months of investigations eventually did an endoscopy. He said I had severe oesophageal ulceration and doubled the dosage of the Pariet. This caused me to have side effects (looked them up) of dizziness, nausea and cronic tiredness so I cut back to the original dose. When I saw the specialist again he was not impressed with me reduding the dose back to the original amount and threatened to do an operation where he took part of my stomach and wrapped it around the oesophagus. I informed him that I would not consent to this and asked whether I could go on a different medication, so he put me on Nexium 40mg for a month then reducing to 20mg daily. I have been symptom free since. I also took some alovera liquid which I believed helped heal the ulcerated area. I now believe that the problem has gone but continue on the Nexium.

  7. Hi Christian, interesting article. Just one point. Grapefruit does not “interfere” with calcium channel blockers, it enhances the effect, making the effect a variable multiplier of the actual dose taken. You are probably aware of it. It involves the “p450 cycle” for those who want to look it up. and although I am not certain, I believe it only involves one particular calcium channel blocker, verapamil.

  8. I feel the doctors are pushing a few drugs, like the Periot, and ssri.. I got the Remeron (a tetra-cyclic anti-depressant for sleep, and Atenolol for
    blood Pressure.. they were both heavy weight gain causing pills. I gained total of 70 pounds, and had to take antibiotics and a diuretic for the Atenolol, and a lot of Omega-3 for the remeron side effect, as it gives strong cravings for fat. The body’s Omegas are destroyed, it seems and the brain craves cholesterol.. The butter and chocolates and chips are the wrong fats, so it craves even more. After taking Flax seed oil and omegas, the cravings disappeared,and I cannot stand chips. I actually am sorry to lose that taste.. I miss chips but hate the taste now… The Gerds may be a lack of acid and too alkaline as well , and feel like burning .. If a tsp of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with water or with unpasteurized apple cider.. is taken, it relieves the burning, and aids the digestion. I rinse with Club Soda water to protect my teeth after the acid drink. About grapefruit, I was told it interfered with the blood thinners, possibly enhancing the effect. It is the worst time for any prescription, or even non-prescription drugs. The big pharma seems to be pushing the docs to give these same drugs to everyone.
    We do nee a group to talk about the different ones, and not take any that are under 2 years on the market…
    The Omegas are what the ADHD kids need, and they speak of giving them the Remeron,as well as to mental patients..The poor people will not know what hit them, with the weight gain. This may be one of the causes of the obesity explosion.. yet the docs scold you if you gain weight. We all need more Omegas for the brain to remain stable.

  9. For Wendy, I think the hiatus hernia is causing the Gerds, and the surgery you described is for repair of hiatus hernia. I would have it.. … and for Neddup98, the back ache may be related to abdominal ruptures or diastasis, which leaves the abdominals not giving enough support to the back. People do get back surgery, when it is the front causing the problems.. Check it out well before taking too many asa. It may be fixable, by repair of the front rips..we cannot tell, and need a good exam by an experienced doctor.. to avoid later surgeries on hips and knees. If the waist is getting slowly wider, for no reason, there may be a rupture starting, and giving back pain. Heavy lifting just the once can start the ripping.. A person with a real condition like diabetes or heart problems is taken prisoner by the pills . We need all the info we can get. Thank you for the great article.

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