Calcium carbonate antacids alter esophageal motility in heartburn sufferers

Dig Dis Sci. Nov-Dec 2004;49(11-12):1862-7. doi: 10.1007/s10620-004-9584-1.


Chewed calcium carbonate (CaCO3) rapidly neutralizes esophageal acid and may prevent reflux, suggesting another mechanism of action independent of acid neutralization. Calcium is essential for muscle tone. Our aim was to determine if luminal calcium released from chewed antacids improved esophageal motor function in heartburn sufferers. Esophageal manometry and acid clearance (swallows and time to raise esophageal pH to 5 after a 15-ml 0.1 N HCl bolus) were performed in 18 heartburn sufferers before and after chewing two Tums EX (1500 mg CaCO3, 600 mg calcium). Subjects with hypertensive esophageal contractions or hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LESP) were excluded. Subjects with normal to low LESP were included. Differences between parameters were determined by two-tailed paired t-tests, P < 0.05. Proximal esophageal contractile amplitude was significantly increased after CaCO3 (47.18 vs 52.97 mm Hg; P = 0.02), distal onset velocity was significantly decreased after CaCO3 (4.34 vs 3.71 cm/sec; P = 0.02), and acid clearance was significantly increased 30 min after CaCO3 (20.35 vs 11.7 swallows, [P < 0.005] and 12.19 vs 6.29 min [P < 0.007]). LESP was not altered after CaCO3 (22.70 vs 23.79 mm Hg; P = 0.551), however, LESP increased in 9 of 18 subjects. Depth of LES relaxation, medial and distal esophageal contractile amplitude, and duration of contractions were not altered by CaCO3. CaCO3 did not alter salivary secretion and pH in a subset of these subjects, and CaCO3 with secreted saliva did not neutralize a 15-ml acid bolus. The Ca2+ released after chewing of CaCO3 antacids may be partially responsible for the reduction of heartburn by significantly improving initiation of peristalsis and acid clearance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antacids / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium Carbonate / therapeutic use*
  • Esophagus / drug effects*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Female
  • Heartburn / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peristalsis / drug effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tablets


  • Antacids
  • Tablets
  • Calcium Carbonate