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Bloating drug restricted due to dangerous side effects

Posted 5 years ago by Jo

A recent report has indicated that a popular drug used as a remedy for bloating is now being restricted due to its potential side effects. The drug, known as domperidone, is used by up to 2 million people in the UK as an anti-sickness medicine and is also commonly used to help relieve symptoms associated with bloating and an unpleasant sense of fullness in the abdomen. Domperidone medication (sold under various brand names) works as a dopamine antagonist, which means it blocks dopamine receptions in the upper digestive system and helps to speed up peristalsis, the passage of food through the digestive system.

Domperidone has potentially serious side effects and should no longer be used as a remedy for bloating

Like many presciption and over the counter medications, domperidone carries the risk of side effects. The recent report states that its use has been restricted by the EU for use as a remedy for bloating etc following reports of serious side efffects, including a "small risk" of heart attacks.  The medication is believed to disturb the heart's natural rhythm and electrical activity, as well as causing other unpleasant symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety. The European Medicines Agency is responsible for the evaluation of medicines in the EU to ensure they are safe for use, and they have deemed the potential risks of domperidone medicine to outweigh the benefits when it comes to treating conditions like bloating and heartburn. The European Medicines Agency have advised that the use of domperidone should be restricted to a reduced dosage for symptoms of nausea and vomiting.  Most relevant for us, the EMA has stated that domperidone should no longer be authorised to treat other conditions such as bloating or heartburn.

This discovery has prompted the UK Goverment body, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to update their advice for the use of domperidone.  Dr Sarah Branch, the deputy director of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency states, "The review concluded that the benefits outweigh the risks of using domperidone when used to treat nausea and vomiting but that there should be restrictions on its use. It should no longer be used for symptoms of abdominal discomfort such as heartburn and feelings of fullness".

What are the alternatives?

This news may come as a shock to some, as well as a cause for concern if it is something they use regularly to help reduce symptoms of bloating and other digestive complaints. However, they can be comforted by the fact that there are many natural alternatives and remedies to help reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort.

Camomile Tea

Camomile Tea is just one example of a natural remedy that is traditionally used for bloating.

Happily there are others ways in which to tackle bloating without having to rely on the use of medications. It can be very helpful as a first step to simply take a step back and try to identify the triggers for the bloating. There are many different causes of bloating, from food intolerances or a lack of digestive enzymes through to stress. Everyone is different and what may trigger bloating in some people may be well tolerated by others. Therefore we would always encourage you to really get to know your body, become adept at reading the signs when you may not be functioning at your best, which will in turn help you to determine what may be contributing to your bloating and digestive concerns. You can read more about causes of bloating here - this may help you get to identify the triggers of your bloating symptoms.

It is of course possible to go down the more natural route in terms of helping to relieve symptoms of bloating.  There are a number of important factors contributing to a healthy digestive system, and by addressing these and ensuring you are doing all you can to support your digestion, you may be pleasantly surprised at the reduction of your bloating symptoms. You can read more about digestive health here, and how good and bad bacteria can contribute to the workings of your gut. It may be possible that you are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), of which bloating can be a symptom. 


IBS can often be a trigger for bloating and other abdominal discomfort 

As an alternative to either prescription medication or over-the-counter remedies there are several natural remedies that can be helpful to reduce symptoms of bloating, many of which have traditionally been used for many years and make up part of the tool kit for complementary practitioners. Read more about natural remedies for bloating here.

Interestingly this recent report adds to the growing amount of negative press of a number of prescription medications of late. Statins for example, medication used by GPs maintain healthy cholesterol levels, have received a fair amount of negative press recently regarding their potential associated side effects. Antibiotics are continuously receiving negative attention in the media, for example the fact that they are sometimes over-prescribed by GP's in order to meet the expectations of the patient. We are increasingly seeing problems with antibiotic-resistance which may have serious implications for our future health. Antibiotic use may also act as a trigger for dysbiosis, another possible cause of bloating. 

Whilst the news of potentially serious side effects of this popular bloating medication may be unsettling for some, we can be comforted by the fact that there are often natural alternatives to try for a number of different digestive complaints.  It may well be time that we turned more to natural remedies.  Take a look at the article, Natural remedies for Bloating.


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