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Getting Off PPIs

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Q. Do you have a diet for helping me survive omeprazole detox? Your book alerted me to the dangers of the drug and I want to end my dependence on this heartburn medicine.

When I forgot to take omeprazole two days in a row, I experienced hell. I tried to stop the drug earlier, but could only make it one week before the heartburn became unbearable. Now I can't be off it for one day without wanting to die.

A. People who take powerful acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium) often have difficulties with rebound acidity if they stop suddenly. A study done in healthy volunteers without heartburn showed that exposure to this kind of medicine can precipitate symptoms such as indigestion and acid regurgitation (Gastroenterology, July, 2009).

Make sure to check in with your doctor before you stop this medication. To get off it, you will want to taper down gradually. There are instructions for a 6-week plan and a recipe for Persimmon-Ginger Tea to ease heartburn in the Guide to Digestive Disorders we are sending you.

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In doing research on GI problems as a nurse practitioner I discovered several studies using melatonin. Melatonin proved to be helpful in a dose of 6 mg. taken nightly for a period of at least 40 days. A case study where a patient was on one of the acid suppressants and had been unable to get off was able to stop it after she had taken the melatonin for the length of time. Missing melatonin resulted in the return of her acid reflux. I tried it myself, and it relieved my acid reflux and as a menopausal woman I have no heartburn and have great sleep. I was never on a proton pump inhibitor so did not have to deal with the discontinuation issues.

I was on Protonix 40mg/day for several years. Routine endoscopic exam revealed "several stomach polyps, PROBABLY benign". I discontinued Protonix immediately, then discovered this is a known side effect, with controversy as to whether the polyps become cancerous. A three-time cancer survivor, I do not need stomach cancer. I try to avoid the foods known to bother me, and to not eat after 7pm. Have become reacquainted with TUMS!

A little baking soda in water works wonders.

This story is one more reason why I can't understand the public's need to run to doctors and get a "quick fix pill" for everything that ails us. Seems to me, those wonder drugs create more issues than what you had to begin with.

I discontinued Omeprazole, an every other day dose, several months ago out of concern for nutrient malabsorption. I tried an online diet that called for smaller meals plus between meal snacks and slower, more relaxed eating. It made a difference. I also realized that Omeprazole was only somewhat effective in controlling gastric symptoms and appeared to cause lower gi. symptoms.

It did not prevent middle of the night symptoms. I continue the smaller meal plus three snacks plan, with evening snack at least 2 hours before bedtime. Symptoms are 98% gone.

JL

My heartburn flares when I eat wheat. It's not severe enough to qualify as celiac disease, but if I don't eat bread, I don't have heartburn. The poster may want to consider serious dietary mods in addition to the taper protocol.

Read your article this morning in the Charlotte Observer re GERT. I used to use Prilosec OTC to control my GERT until I read a letter to Dr. Gott, another newspaper medical advice giver. This letter writer asked why Dr. Gott had not recommended eating almonds to control GERT. Long story short, I eat nine almonds daily, and have been able to control my GERT for several months with the use of nothing else. I also do not eat a heavy meal in the late afternoon or evening to help with this issue as well as a means of weight control.

About one year ago, I was looking for information on this site for help with getting off Prilosec. I followed the advice of someone who wrote about how they did it. It worked for me, although it took 7-8 months. I started last January (2010) with a three day cycle of two whole pills, one half pill for a month. Then a month of one whole pill, two half pills. The third month was half pills every day. The fourth month was three half pills, one day off. The fifth month I did two half pills, one day off. The sixth I did one half pill, one day off. The seventh month was one half pill, two days off. The eight was one half pill, three days off, after which I just kind of stopped.

Once in a while my stomach will feel a little hot, or I will have a slight heartburn feeling and I just take a couple tums and I'm fine. Hope this helps for someone. I have to say I never had very bad heartburn in the first place. The PA in my doctor's office put me on the prilosec after I complained that I felt like I was swallowing an air bubble once in a while. Instead of putting me on something milder, she went right to the PPI's.I tried to stop after several months, I had reflux so bad I was admitted to the hospital. They thought I might be having a heart attack. At the time I was 51 (female).

I recently read where eating almonds (3+) before or after a substantial meal alleviated heartburn.

I, myself, have been on Protonix for more than a couple years now and would like to get off because of the fracture possibilities. Ironic that Protonix has fractures as a side effect and the bone density drugs have GERD as a side effect. So, I am giving up my Protonix twice a week now and starting the almond routine. Esophageal cancer is a big fear of mine though, more than fractures.

I was told by a gastro enterologist that I would be on a PPSI the rest of my life. I have been reading your comments and decided that I did not want to continue... I gradually weaned myself off of (Prilosec) by using Aloe Vera juice and probiotics when the burning occurred. I am having very good success with that regime I do take an occasional Tums at bedtime when I have indulged in something that triggered GERD.

This person is probably suffering from NOT ENOUGH stomach acid. I've talked to a lot of people who have gone through the same type of thing this person did. I suggested that they start slowly on digestive enzymes that have a small amount of Betaine HCL along with the other digestives and increase gradually over time. When they get an acid stomach they go back to the last good dose.

Every single person was helped! They do need to do a challenge test every few years to make sure they are getting enough though. It will make a huge difference in hair, nails and bone health.

We need to be constantly aware of the "mess" we can create by taking pharmaceuticals. Prilosec and Prevadid are an example. Neither of these pharmaceuticals addresses the "root problem" that is causing the reflux in the first place. Initially we need to look to diet and the things that we are eating that our body just doesn't want any part of: white sugar, chemical preservatives, artificial colorings, trans-fat and maybe gluten.

As we age our digestive system changes. This system is the first line of defense of our immune system. If it is giving us a "hard time" something is out of balance. Address the balance, first. If you are not taking a "good" pro-biotic (one that has to be refrigerated) you need to begin. The tea is a good idea, also Grape Seed Extract in a dropper bottle is a great emergency supply to carry. Six drops in a little water will almost immediately settle down any digestive disturbance that shows up. Be more mindful about what your tossing down and learn to avoid the things that don't work for you.

I emailed you about two months ago because I wanted to get off of Prevacid after about 10 years of taking it daily. You suggested I start taking one capsule every other day using three supplements either before meals or one was every day. You suggested I do this for about two weeks and then take a Prevacid every third day. I have done that and plan to make it every fourth day in a week or so.

I have trouble remembering the supplements but I take them most of the time. I will continue to extend the time between a dose of Prevacid until I reach no more days in the week but I'm hoping I can make it that far. With it being every third day I am experiencing some indigestion at dinner time.

Thank you for your help. Nobody else, doctors or pharmacists could.

I recently read several testimonials by folks who had success treating their GERD by drinking anywhere from 2 tsp to 2 T of (usually unpasteurized) apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water. Some added a bit of honey or real maple syrup for taste. They drank this either before meals or sipped it throughout the day. One person mentioned adding 1/4-1/2 tsp baking soda.

There are lots of good digestive enzymes available in most health food stores. EH, you do not need to take any Prevacid. Take a digestive with each meal and play around with the dose to see what works best. Also there are a lot of different combinations so be prepared to do some experimenting.

Over thirty years ago I had split and cracked fingernails and split ends on my hair. I went to a new Dr and he is the one who started me on the digestives. I have not had problems with fingernails nor hair since.

As I have gotten older I have had to increase my Betaine HCL. Every few years I experiment again with the balance.

Every one seems to be saying that we need more digestives, like enzymes and vinegar, to help with reflux; well, I have been on Prilosec (beginning with Prevacid) since 1999. I have tried numerous times to quit; MY problem is when my stomach is empty; the "emptier" it is, the more it hurts and the more I am bent double in extreme, burning pain. I have written this website many times, especially after a fail attempt to stop prilosec.

A month ago, I had my gall bladder out and decided that since I was on pain meds (oxy), why not kick PPI's? I lasted 4 full days and on day 5 I took my prilosec, while moaning in pain. I then had an endoscope done and no ulcers. The surgeon told me I was having the effects of too much PPIs for too long, etc and rebound. He told me to go to family doctor and listen to his advice about getting off.

Well, my Dr said I would be on them the rest of my life. I said no, and listed a few side effects, like low B-12, etc. He said, OK , he'd help; he R x'ed a 300 mg generic for tagamet and said to be VERY VERY CAREFUL and mix and match it with prilosec; he said to "play with the dosing and usage and to vary between the two and be very, very careful." He said that what I was doing was a serious thing, getting off PPI's and dosing down! I thought, hey, with 300 mg tagamet I should be ok.

I took my last prilosec and said goodbye to it and that night began with the 300 mg. By 11 am the next day I was bent double in pain. A little more than 24 hrs from the last PRILOSEC PPI to pain and tears!! I took a second 300mg Rx tagamet and waited for the pain to lessen; it took hours!!! That was it for me until I am trying one 300 mg tagamet at bedtime and a 1/2 prilosec before breakfast; then after a while I will cut to 1/4 prilosec and the 300 mg at night of tagamet generic........the saga continues......................

I too have been on Prilosec for about 10 years. I realized this summer that my stomach problems started when I started Fosamax! I quite Fosomax this summer and have been trying to quit the Prilosec. I tried Ranitidine 300 mg tabs and it resulted in a huge setback. I had to resort to Dexalant and then Nexium.

I am now back on Prilosec. I have noticed when I do not eat "gluten" foods my stomach is better. I am trying a very slow approach to getting off Prilosec by skipping it one day a week and being very careful what I eat. I expect it to take a good six months or more. No matter what I do, though, my stomach always aches!

All the above comments are extremely interesting and potentially very useful as I consider how to reduce, and hopefully eliminate prilosec from my life. However, I don't know if the complication of having scleroderma might make it more difficult given GERD is a common symptom with scleroderma. I was on tums for many many years, and then they no longer worked and now have been on prilosec for over ten years.

I believe it's causing me digestive problems now. I do not want Barrett's syndrome or esophageal cancer, yet I also believe there may be ways for me to experiment using some of the above suggestions above. I can at least try and see how it goes.

Thanks to everyone who contributed how they did it. If anyone else has scleroderma and has lessened or eliminated prilosec or nexium and are using other methods, I'd love to hear from you.

It's heartening to hear the various approaches people used to tackle this complex problem and eventually had success. Thanks, MGL

I was on protonix then prevacid for years, my heartburn kept getting worse.
I then stopped prevacid and really hurt for a few days. Then I started eating an apple after meals. After a couple of weeks the heartburn was gone. Also chewing sugarless gum helps. My Doctor seemed to doubt that an apple could help but I know better. Carolyn M.

Hello,

I was on nexium for 2 months, then prevacid for 2 months for horrible GERD. I was taking prevacid 2x daily, and it really only lessened the reflux. When my stomach got empty it was like an acid volcano, with shortness of breath, a choking feeling and burning in my gut. I also started having muscle pain, weakness and chest pain. I stopped coffee, alcohol, tea, smoking, sugar and was eating a mostly "macro" diet, that included veggies, grains and legumes. I didn't get better.

Last week I found info about the Paleo diet-- apparently some folks have cured their GERD by following this diet. It is basically fresh meat, lots of fresh veggies and fruit. No grains, beans, or sugar. Well, let me tell you, after one day I felt great. I decided to try going off the prevacid, and had to use baking soda and water a bit , as well as aloe vera juice. But I am on day three with no PPI, and no reflux. None. Feel like I did before all this happened. Check it out, there is a ton of info online. I hope it helps someone else out there!

Best,

Mary

I am 25 years old and I have severe acid reflux and Dyspepsia. GERD is making me miserable. I stopped taking Protonix last week since it wasn't working and I started drinking aloe vera juice. Still no result, it's day 4 already and eating apples too and avoiding the yummy food. I feel like I'm burning inside and I am desperate because I am afraid of getting complications from the gerd. My throat and esophagus have a sour and burning pain. I don't know how long this will last and I'm thinking about going back on Protonix. Please help!!!

GV, I'm so sorry you are suffering. Please read my two posts above and give the digestive enzymes a try. It certainly won't be any worse than what you are going through now. Drinking lots of water may help in the meantime.

Hi I've been on lasaprazole? kind of drugs (first nexium now lansaprazole) for last five months, treatment started for a peptic ulcer. I've suddenly developed high blood pressure which I take ACE pills for, now I seem to be getting problems, each day since started pills I have loose bowels till mid morning, and now for last couple of weeks, every two or thee days its much worse and my blood pressure spikes, I get sweats and then need the toilet. Once I've emptied my bowels, the blood pressure levels out...

Could this be side effects of combination of pills? My pulse and heart beat are normal by the way.

Hello All!

I have been taking lansoprazole (same as all the pills above but stronger) for 12 years and I am only 32! I had no idea it was only supposed to be a 7 day course... If I miss a tablet it is severe! Even when taking the tablets, when I was younger, I would have to double dose when going out drinking and would get really bad reflux from weirdly the healthy type of brown bread! I have been resigned to taking them until my sensitive teeth got me researching about calcium absorption and I stumbled across all the info on how taking PPIs reduce absorption of loads of stuff, inc vit b12 which is vital for folic acid production which is essential to prevent spina bifida in babies!!

I was horrified!! Anyway to cut to the chase, I have read about all these things before but never tried them as I was still smoking! I have now stopped now so am going to use a combination of all of your advice in an attempt to get off these pills so my body will be fit to have a healthy baby!

Check out this website for alkaline forming foods. Lemons etc which you assume are acidic are actually highly alkaline forming in your stomach so have a good look at the list of food.

http://rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm

Weening off them is a good idea, combined with soothing probiotics and aloe juice. Not smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine is essential in combination with developing a generally healthier life style.

In addition, something I have never heard of before is Centaurium Tincture. You take 15 drops before each meal and it tightens the sphincter at the top of the oesophagus to prevent the reflux. I have been using this for the past 2 days, have not smoked, had alcohol or caffeine but otherwise have had "normal" food (cereal, crumpets, cheese!) and surprisingly, have had reflux!

I think because I have been on them for so long it's going to take ages for my body to know what is going on when I suddenly stop so I propose to continue with centaurium to strengthen, ween myself off the drugs, eat copious alkaline forming foods, remain a non smoker and hopefully in 6 months will have just about finished the PPIs!

Good luck everybody, seriously! Oh Chi Gong and acupuncture ARE also amazing! As soon as I have a regular job and can pay for it, will do that too, it worked for so many other things before, I have no doubt it will work for this too :-)

Hi everyone, my Mother died last year from a form of cancer that doesn't seem to have any genetic 'connections', Large-cell B Lymphoma. She inherited EXTREMELY long-living genes and her death at a very young-seeming 79 years of age shocked everyone. She always had stomach and digestive problems and took Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, and other PPI's by the handful, it seemed. She was living out of state for the winter and by the time anyone realized how sick she had become, she was too far gone. She only thought it was more of the stomach problems: gas, bloating, stomach pain, burning, burping, acid-reflux, indigestion, etc.

I am still haunted by her death and have gone off of EVERY prescription drug she took: PPIs, Trazodone, etc. I also removed my acrylic nails for good and I have TRIED to give up or greatly cut down my sugar intake. She loved sugar, perhaps because it gave her energy, or perhaps she was on the antibiotic-yeast infection-merry-go-round that made her crave it.

Years ago I was put on PPI's with NO MENTION of any side-effects. I read up on it after my Mother died and was horrified to see how they interfere with calcium absorption!!! We all know that EVERY red blood cell HAS to have calcium in it---it will drag the calcium out of your bones if it has to...osteoporosis?????

A month ago I found a website with a suggestion that you eat an apple in the evening, not right before bed, but just as a night time snack. I was AMAZED to find that this helps! I did this for many nights, then one night I missed or thought I was too full or something, and sure enough----reflux up into my mouth in my sleep. Ever since then I have missed maybe one night, but I had to sleep propped way up in my bed to avoid reflux. If anyone has any other suggestions, I am ready to try....I will NEVER go on PPI's again!!!!

When I saw spine x-rays indicating severe collapse I decided to go off omeprazole cold turkey. It had been prescribed for what my GI doctor called "cyclical motility problems" seven years ago. Apparently he didn't want to go so far as calling it gastroparesis which is what all my symptoms point to. Anyway, my reflux had more to do with stomach immobility than acid.

After educating myself about the various natural remedies I decided to use a multi-faceted approach. I took vinegar water before meals, aloe vera in a smoothie once a day, acidophilus during meals and GLS after meals. It took only ten days for the rebound heartburn to subside (most days it's gone altogether). After reading so many articles on the dangers of PPI's, particularly in terms of calcium and magnesium loss,and after continuing to have bouts with gastroparesis despite being on medication, I realized that the doctor had simply prescribed the drug as a matter of course (seems to be the GI favorite cure-all because, apparently they think it harmless) since there was nothing else he could prescribe.

I want physicians to know that if there is no drug available to treat a condition, many patients (including me) would rather not get a prescription just so it seems something is being done. I know most of the advice says to wean off the drug, but I had no problems going cold turkey.

Hi all, I am still struggling with stomach acid. I swore off PPI's in 2010 after my Mother died. She had taken PPI's ever since they were invented. She took them EVERY day, even more than prescribed and she still suffered. In May of 2010 she died of a non-genetically related type of cancer, all the while taking her Prilosec, et al. Her mother lived to age 94, and her father's FOUR sisters all lived to over 90 years, one of them living to 100! (Her father died in an accident at age 45.)

So, what I am saying is that she inherited long-living genes on both sides, but this cancer took her at a very young 79. It is very concerning to me that the calcium & magnesium absorption levels are so affected by PPI's, and even more concerning is the amount of PPI's that are prescribed by doctors without much thought of the long-term effects. Any help will be appreciated! Thanks, Rona

I've been reading comments and and now even more determined to give up Lansoprozol after taking a daily dose of 15mg for over 10 years. I currently trying to lower dose by opening capsule and removing a portion daily - and had planned to do it this way bit by bit. However my doc suggests it would be better to start by taking a full capsule every other day - I've tried this and it does not work as feel extremely sick.

I'm not sure what the best approach is - Almonds / Probiotics/ grapeseed extract /aloe vera juice all sound good. With severe nausea should I take all of these and stick to cutting down dose??? I'm not sure even if Lansoprozol works if you don't take the minimum dose which is 15mg as I understand it. I'm willing to try anything natural but would greatly appreciate some guidance on what to buy, how much to take and where to buy it from. Many thanks for any help in advance.

Slippery Elm Powder

It's amazing. I'm coming off mine with it now.

Have a gentle walk to work, melon & banana for breakfast, salad for lunch, veggie sticks and almonds for snacks and "normal" dinner.

Slippery elm first and last thing.

Loads of water

Bob's your uncle and fanny's your aunt :-)
I've been on lansoprazole since 1999!!!

Good luck

I feel so bad for everyone. I am trying to get of the omnaprazole. I've been on PPI's for 24 years! These last two years the doctors have been upping my dosage. After reading about the FDA warnings and what others are saying, I am trying to get of these pills! It is hard. The sour taste in my mouth is awful. I went cold turkey and I am supplementing with aloe juice, and other remedies.

Why don't doctors want to work with patients that want to get their stomachs working on their own? They get so incensed and defensive when you question them....in search of answers for your own health.

Hi Carolyn,
I have gone cold turkey off omnaprazole. I have been on prevacid and then omnaprazole... going on 24 years. I've tried to stop before. This is day 4 and man, this is hard, did you have the sour taste in your mouth?

I've changed my diet and I am starting acupuncture.

After years of having chest pains while on PPI's I was desperate to find out what was causing it. I had extensive tests done on my heart and everything checked out OK. It seemed that with each passing month, my digestion became worse. I would eat and I would feel as if the food wasn't going down my intestinal tract. It felt as if my food was just sitting at the top of my stomach, just sitting there. I could feel the foods just sitting there, fermenting.

I've had years of IBS, Fibromyalgia and recently joint pain. I was tested for Celiac's disease but it was negative. Still I had a weird rash on my legs that would come and go. It would also get on my chest and back area. The rash seemed like it would get worse when I started trying to up my fiber due to my IBS with more whole wheat bread and cereals.

Also over the last few years I would also get muscle spasms and twitching. I was found to be on the low side of normal in Potassium. Once I was put on Klor-Con the twitching and spams would stop. I did not take it long term but found that I had three more prescriptions of it over the last two years as my Potassium would get low for unexplained reasons. My blood work also revealed I was anemic so I started taking iron supplements. I also would supplement magnesium as it helped with my IBS.

I've had chronic IBS-C for years. I've had years of digestion problems and it's sad but I got use to feeling sick and just went through life, while each year I gained more and more weight, feeling sicker and sicker. I also became borderline Diabetic but had not been put on any meds.

After noticing my rash getting worse when I increased high fiber wheat, I finally decided to go off wheat for a week to see if it helped. I was very careful to stay 100% gluten free and tried to avoid anything that would be cross contaminated with wheat. After a week on the GF diet, I forgot to take my PPI that night. The next morning my acid reflux was not raging like it normally would after missing a dose. In fact, I didn't even notice having any acid reflux that morning or the entire day.

I decided to miss the next night's does to see what happened and I felt as if 95% of my acid reflux was gone. I had not intended to come off the medication, it was by accident but then I started feeling better and just decided to come off of it completely. I noticed over the years while on PPI's I would get bloated, my chest would hurt and I would have a burning pain under my rib cage. I noticed anytime I ate salty items it would get worse.

After getting off PP's, I had no acid reflux issues for 30 days until one day it came back and swarmed me and attacked me worse than before. I thought going gluten free was the answer and my acid reflux was back with a vengeance. I started researching and found out that you can have rebound episodes coming off PPI's and you need to wean yourself off slowly.

I was so disappointed but I went back on the medication for three days as I had no other choice. After doing a lot of research I found that it was likely that I now had low stomach acid and that was causing all my digestion and food intolerances.

I have started taking Betaine HCL, (Hydrochloric Acid). I'm taking a probiotic, digestive enzymes and I have taken a couple of Tagamet to get me over the hump on a couple of occasions. I'm only a week into treating myself for low stomach acid I can already feel a big difference. I'm still choosing to be on a gluten free diet as coming off of all wheat has caused my rash to go away and I do feel as if I'm getting slowly better. I'm also trying to lose weight and I'm on a healthy diet that promotes good digestion.

I plan to also use apple cider vinegar, lemon and ginger to help treat my low acid.

I'm hopeful my reflux will not rebound again. I hope the FDA cracks down on the use of PPI's. It's over prescribed and for years I had doctors overlooking the obvious symptoms of long term PPI use. Most of the symptoms I mentioned above are directly related to overuse of PPI's.

I was I had been smart and figured this all out a long time ago, but I was going in all directions blaming other things such as my IBS-C, diet etc.

I've lost about 15 pounds in the past 40 days. I have much more to go, but I know I can do it. All of these years while on this drug I've gained more and more weight. I had been thin all of my life prior to be put on this drug.

I'll post again in about 30 days and let you know how I'm doing. Apologies for the long post.

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