For some people, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which can trigger the development of cancerous cells.
In GERD and Barrett’s, stomach acid creeps back into the esophagus, damaging stomach lining. Those with Barrett’s esophagus are 30 times more likely to get esophageal cancer, according to MSNBC.
For gastrointestinal disorders, including heartburn, many people use over-the-counter and prescription medications that suppress acid production.
However, drugs that inhibit natural acid production are associated with increased risk of hip fractures, intestinal infection and bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and small intestine. According to another MSNBC story, the overgrowth of bacteria in the stomach could lead to pneumonia, vitamin B12 deficiency and stomach cancer.
Digestive enzyme supplements assist in the digestive process. They appear to decrease distension of the stomach, which might help relieve symptoms of GERD, according to MSNBC.
For those with ulcers or other damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, digestive enzymes and natural herbs such as licorice and aloe are a good alternative to antacids.