man with heartburn or stomach upset holding his chest

Q. I have been taking Protonix for heartburn for at least six months. After I learned that long-term use might lead to complications, I tried to stop taking it. Big mistake!

After about a week, I had to start taking it again due to severe heartburn–the rebound effect, I suppose. I asked my pharmacist how to discontinue acid suppressing drugs but she was unable to find out. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Rebound heartburn may make it difficult to stop medications such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec or Protonix. As a result, people sometimes end up taking such drugs for years. The consequences might include an increased risk of pneumonia, hip fractures and vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to nerve damage or cognitive problems.

We spoke recently with Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Director of Education for the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. She recommends a gradual approach for discontinuing acid-suppressors.

Dr. Low Dog suggests taking ginger capsules and chewing DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) tablets as you phase out Protonix. Probiotics may also be helpful during this time.

There is much more information about the pros and cons of acid-suppressing drugs and many non-drug approaches for controlling reflux and heartburn in our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. It is available in libraries, bookstores and online at

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  1. Old lady Lin
    United States

    For two months I have been off of omeprazole. I found that it made the kidney damage from taking celebrex worse, it also makes thyroid disease and bone density worse. I was on omeprazole for years and years.

    I started taking DGL licorice, mastic gum and Complete Gest, a mealtime enzyme formula. I was able to survive the acid reflux with the help of these three tools, but being off the omeprazole created gas that was uncontrollable. I could hardly go out in public. Yesterday and today, I had to go to the city for some errands and knew I could not go with uncontrollable farting, so I took an omeprazole each day. Not a single gas attack.

    There has got to be some way to stay off the omeprazole and protect my kidneys, thyroid, and bone density, and not have the gas. Anyone have any solutions?

  2. cc

    Does anyone get severe nausea in the morning? I’ve had it for years and I don’t ont know if it’s acid reflux or what but I have been taking protonix and my wrists have been hurting really bad and I’m only 20 yrs old. I don’t know what to do I’ve been to so many doctors and no one knows what it is and it is really ruining my life cause I don’t know how to stop it.

    • Former antacid user

      CC, I recently was successful getting off Prilosec, after taking it for 14 years. It caused my body to not be able to absorb nutrients from the food I ate, leaky gut, food intolerance, etc.
      I had to go to a clean diet which consist of a grain-free, organic, processed-free diet, low in sugar.

      It sounds as if the beneficial bacteria in your gut is being overtaken by unfriendly bacteria. I think your nausea is a secondary effect of the protonix, and your immune system might need some help; a cleaner diet and probiotics. After you do that, why not withdraw slowly from your protonix and add DGL plus other natural antacid such as d-Limonene to help with the reflux. Conventional doctors are not trained to look a the root of the problem, but only to mitigate symptoms with drugs. If you want to avoid serious health problems in your future, don’t eat GMOs. sugar, grains, and artificial sweeteners. Withdraw as soon as you can from the protonox. Get informed, there’s lots of education in the internet. Take responsibility for your health. Check Dr. Mercola website, that’s a good starting point. Good luck. There’s hope if your are realistic and take action.

  3. Betsy Miller

    Absolute Best thing to take for general health, colds, and ESPECIALLY acid reflux! is good quality ORGANIC APPLE cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons in glass of water before bedtime… it is a miracle!!!!

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