older man with heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion

Q. Stopping omeprazole (Prilosec) is really hard. When I tried, my heartburn came back worse than ever. I heard a report on public radio last year that when people stop this kind of medicine they experience rebound acidity that leads to bad heartburn.
An Internet search revealed a number of folks using deglycyrrhizinated licorice extract (DGL) to manage their reflux. When I asked at my local health food store, I learned that many people claim DGL has helped them get off omeprazole.
I went cold turkey off the omeprazole and chewed two 400 mg DGL tablets before each meal. If it was a particularly spicy meal (garlic is a culprit for me), I used an additional tablet after the meal. I followed this regimen for several months and then stopped altogether.
Today I seldom need the DGL, but when I do, I chew a single tablet for immediate relief. I continue to be amazed how effective this is.

A. Licorice that has not had glycyrrhizin removed could be dangerous. People who overdose on natural licorice may experience hypertension, headaches, hormonal imbalance and reduced libido.
DGL, on the other hand, appears much safer. It has been prescribed in Europe and South America to treat ulcers (Gut, June, 1985). Others tell us that DGL can help in gradual withdrawal from acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole.

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  1. Roya

    Has anyone experienced headaches related to omeprezole bicarbonate? I have been taking this for over 2 years and just experienced a lengthy 2 week headache. I have never had a serious headache previously.

    • Candy
      wa state

      Yes! I had immediate and pretty severe headaches when taking it over the Christmas holiday. Once I stopped, the headaches stopped. I am looking into DGL, a natural option.

  2. Naomi

    I have been on Omeprazole/Bicar 40-1100 capsules (one per day in the morning) for 10 or so years, plus I take Zantac 150mg at bedtime. I was still getting reflux on occasion, but chalked it up to rich foods, alcohol or weight gain. :( I belch all the time, not a very attractive side effect! But I decided to seek an alternative because of the increased cost of my insurance – I did not know how expensive it is – $2800 for a 30 day supply!! I know it is double the OTC dose, but that is insanely overpriced. So, I started reading about all the side effects and long term effects and now I am determined to stop for those reasons.
    I read about drinking lemon water first thing in the morning – warm, filtered water with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Day three and I am vacillating on taking an OMEP. I had a very rich dinner last night and perhaps too much wine…and the reflux at 1:00 a.m. was EPIC!
    But, I am hanging in here this morning with my lemon water after reading all these great posts. I think I will seek out the licorice root tablet today. So glad I found this forum!

  3. Alan

    I’ve been taking Omaprazole for about 5 years. Over the last year or two I have had various side effects consistent with PPI’s but particularly leg pain and muscle cramps with some numbness in my feet. The doctor was somewhat baffled and diagnosed Morten’s Neuroma.

    I did some reading up online and came to the conclusion the Omaprazole was a likely culprit. Initially I started taking Magnesium tablets about 6 weeks ago. I then reduced my intake of Omaprazole by 50% – taking one 20mg tablet every other day. I noticed an improvement in the first week.

    Over the next few weeks I reduced the Omaprazole down to one or two tablets a week, supplementing them with over the counter Gaviscon tablets. The change and improvement was astonishing. The leg cramps disappeared completely, my energy levels increased and my tired legs were rejuvenated.

    As a test, I restarted the Omaprazole, at the doctors recommended dosage of 20mg a day, and after 4 days all the old symptoms have returned!

    I have now stopped the Omaprazole once again and expect the symptoms to disappear. I have ordered Natural DGL Liquorice tablets as a method of controlling my acid reflux.

    • Sam
      South Africa

      Hi there

      Where and how can I get natural DGL Liquorice Tablets? are they the same as liquorice root?

  4. Benson

    i have been using omeprazole and experiencing some erection problem. Is it true that OMEP causes erectile dysfunction?

  5. Jaime

    I was wondering if anyone was having nasty side effects from alcohol after stopping the omeprazole? I was taking them for 14 years decided to stop after reading lots of information about the long term side effects of taking this drug which none of my doctors had told me about

  6. Donna

    I have been taking Omeprazole for almost 8 yrs for silent reflux. I have IBS and also fibromyalgia. My GP has advised me to reduce to 1 tablet a day rather than the 2, although he didn’t give an explanation. A few yrs ago I saw an anaesthetist at my hospital who advised me to stop the omeprazole, stop smoking, alcohol and coffee and that I would see an immediate improvement not only in my reflux but by IBS and fibromyalgia. I didn’t stop them because I was so reliant, just missing 1 day would send me into panic! After numerous visits to my GP he finally sent me for blood tests, they show iron deficiency and vitamin d deficiency, After so much research I have linked fibromyalgia with Vitamin d deficiency, symptoms are the same, Iron deficiency with tiredness, dizziness, IBS symptoms, cold hands and feet… these are also fibromyalgia symptoms and last but not least.. Omeprazole blocks absorption of iron and vitamin D plus numerous other essential vitamins and minerals!

    • Gary
      United States

      I too was taking omeprazole. I was taking one 20mg tablet in the morning for about 8 years and it worked great, but I wanted to get off of the drug mostly because of the issues I read about dealing with bone loss and lack of absorption of various vitamins and minerals. I had tried a number of times but due to the acid rebound effects I had to go back to them. After reading about the DGL Licorice being used to counteract the rebound I had to try it. Well I have been off of the omeprazole for about a 5 days and the DGL works great. No major issues at all! I take one before each meal and one before I go to bed at night as stated on the bottle. I did want to let you all know of a couple other issues that also went away. I have had lower back pain for about a year and nothing I have done in the past has solved it. We changed beds, I went to a chiropractor, did special exercises for lower back pain and nothing really helped much. Well, 2 days after being off the PPI, I have no more lower back pain in bed or out of bed. I can now sleep on my back all night, where before I tossed and turned and woke up many times with pain. I am amazed. Also, I was getting bumps and itchy feelings in my scalp. This has also gone away. Now, I have not changed any other activities and I take no other medications so there is no change there also. All I can attribute this to is stopping omeprazole.

      • Gary
        United States

        I am still doing well. I little heartburn after some meals, but getting better each day. A couple of other observations. No more bloating after meals and no more stomach pains after eating. All good for now.

  7. Janine

    I have horrible gerd and am still on omeprazole, but looking for alternatives.
    Just thought I would pass along a home remedy that I discovered and use whenever my reflux gets really bad and that is to drink pickle juice, it is amazing how quickly it works and even though I don’t like pickles I will chug some juice with no hesitation for the instant relief it gives me!

    • Elan

      @pickle juice
      This is strange because I would assume pickles are in vinegar which is extremely acidic.
      Maybe there is another herb or other ingredient in the pickling mixture.

  8. frank b

    Well it seems even the medical community does not have solid answers for us. I’m confused as anyone and I get scared too having barrtett’s as I do smoke but I do not drink and my diet is actually fairly healthy and I take supplements every day and anh avid green tea drinker which helps. These doctors we4ll there’s a local TV doctor in Hawaii who comes on every Thursday and takes peoples calls. He said he takes omeprazole and for a very long time and he has no worries? SOOO who do u believe?

  9. shell

    For the last year I have been making my own kombucha tea. it’s easy and cheaper than buying it. google it. I take about 1/4 cup of this tea on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and it really helps.

    • lola

      I have used omeprazole for over 20 years and now my gastric pathology report shows definitive changes in the lining of my stomach. It has been clearly stated and written that this stuff is not so innocent as they claimed year ago. I am living proof that it has caused worrisome changes which may or may not go on to a malignant condition. Yet my gastro dr has NOT advised me to stop taking it if it stops my heartburn.

  10. frank b

    All I know is that gastro Doctors all say same thing. To stay on OMEP rest of life. They always fail to tell you the bad effects of such. The malabsorbtion of magnesium, calcium b vitamins and metabolizing proteins. You can speak up to your gastyro Doctor. Mine did not like me to challenge him. All I can tell u is that he said what’s the more evil of two choices? To stay on this stuff and perhaps not get cancer or get off it and not suffer countless other problems. Yes I have a hiatal hernia too and my barrett’s is not very big in centimeters and he said only about 1-3% of people get esophageal cancer. I’m out to lunch on what to think anymore. Remember Doctors love to push pills. They get nice stipends from drug companies from promoting these drugs. I would suggest also taking digestive enzymes and probiotics regularly.

  11. Sandra

    Hi Jules, you are certainly on the right track…..getting off as many prescriptions as possible! Please google your other drugs and side effects and act accordingly. For example, you can’t get off beta blockers cold turkey…. you can die! You may be getting off of the wrong drug first. Check side effects of the other two drugs (I googled them) first. I got off the same anti-depressant and refused beta blockers. There are natural alternatives. The best thing you can do for yourself is exercise! I know. Dirty words, diet and exercise! But it helps everything! I have tried everything to get off Nexium, but cannot do so yet. I finally decided that it was better than esophageal cancer. BUT I haven’t given up….and you shouldn’t either. I know it takes a long time to get the stomach back in order. Best wishes!

  12. Jules

    Hi everyone,
    I’ve stumbled across you all because I am into day 3 of my omeprazole wean!
    After being on the drug for the past 15 years, I’ve started to notice problems like severe bloating in my stomach to the point of pain! And just generally feeling really ILL every morning after taking them! This has been going on for at least 5 months, so I decided to start digging online to gather knowledge from others about the problems people are having with omeprazole.
    After doing a lot of reading and discovering how potentially dangerous omep is, I’ve decided to quit it and see if my symptoms improve. For the record I’ve been on 10mg omep, 80mg half inderella beta blockers, and 25mg lustral for the past 15 years. Gradually over time have notice LOTS of damaging problems. Weight gain from which I cannot recover no matter what I try, skin problems, hearing problems, liver swelling, bloating so painful I ended up in A&E (Accident and Emergency)! Dizzy spells, twitching nerves in fingers and eyes that I have no control over, changes in my bones, Painful Stiffening of my muscles. The list seems endless!
    Omeprazole is my first step, second will be the beta blocker, and lastly the lustral. I am weaning myself because my gp will not support me after requesting for the past year to be weaned off them! So I’ve adopted the mentality that if I want something doing I have to do it myself. And so, here I am! After the rambling of history to give you all the heads up, I’ll explain what I’ve done for the past 3 days.
    Day 1, I opened the capsule, counted the micro beads inside and halved them. Popped the cap back together and discarded the rest. I didn’t feel any different.
    Day 2, same as day 1, still no change just felt a little floaty, light. Can’t explain it any better really.
    Day 3, I FEEL THE ACID!!!! It’s not overwhelming yet, but I definitely can feel it starting up. In a way I’m excited but in another way a bit scared because I’m not sure with how to handle it. I’m feeling warm and tender in my stomach and shaky and stressed in my head and body. But I am determined to continue and get myself drug free!
    What is bothering me the most is that the above symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately aren’t being dealt with by the GP, they don’t much care, but if I persist I get the feeling they will just give me another drug to counter act the affects the first batch of drugs are giving me thus bringing on a mad cycle of rattling like a chemist! I don’t want this lifestyle I’m 39! I want to be free of these drugs and not accept any others! So as my requests fall on deaf ears, I found myself here!

  13. O L

    I have been on Omeprazole for three months. I have not taken Omeprazole in the last ten days and I feel just fine. If you ask me what happened I would not have any idea. My digestive system was not doing well for 18 months until I took Omeprazole.

  14. Iza

    Hello everyone,
    I was told by a few people as well as I have been researching on the internet that juicing raw potato is very good for the GI track. But You have to be careful because if you don’t do properly it can cause headache and vomiting. You have to drink that juice at least for a month, 3 times a day on empty stomach .5 tsp each time. Some people say drink half a glass each time. The way you do it is you peel the skin of 3 medium size organic potato (yellow or red skin) wash them and juice them.
    You have to wait 3 minutes after the starch comes down and you drink the only juice from the top. My friend has cured her stomach ulcer by drinking raw potato juice without any medication. I have Barrett’s esophagus and gastritis, I am going to try that. I suggest you do research first. If anyone of you have other suggestions regarding Barrett’s, acid reflux, stomach problems, I really appreciate if you share them with me and others,
    Thank you.

  15. CM

    This site has been is helpful. 6 days ago I stopped taking Omeprazole. I was only on it for a month. The first five days were fine and the the 6th day the rebound, burning and upset stomach. I didn’t have this before I started taking the med. imam deciding if I should take one tomorrow and go every other day, weaning off more slowly. Any suggestions? Thanks

  16. BW

    As a followup, I am now off of Omeprazole completely with no real discomfort. Its been 3 weeks now and I’m so happy to be free of that stuff. In the past week or so I have been experimenting a bit to see what if anything triggers heartburn and have been surprised at how well I’ve done. Yesterday I had caffeine, sugar and alcohol all in the same day with no heartburn. It’s been a long journey to get here, but we’ll worth it. I still eat and drink my trigger foods in moderation and occasionally use TUMS Freshers to combat minor HB, but I’m never going back to Omeprazole.
    Best wishes everyone!

  17. marietta

    I was diagnoses with STAGE 1 ESOPHGAEL CANCER AND WAS TREARES WITH CHEMO AND radiation. Finished treatments 4 years ago and I am cancer free. Probably have some barrett’s left. I was told that I will have to take the omaprazole 20 mg for the rest of my life. I hate the medication. Have no heartburn. Please help

  18. frank b

    I want you all to do me and yourself a favor. Next time you see your gastro Doctor ask him to tell you the side effects of taking omeprazole and see what he says. Or if he is just newly prescribing it to you stop and see if he gives you any info about effects or long term effects. If he does not tell you that taking such can prevent many absorptions of vital nutrients such s proteins, calcium, magnesium and b-6 to list a few and if he does not warn you that long term use can cause H-pylori and stomach cancer then you need to tell him straight off “WHY ARE YOU NOT INFORMING ME OF THESE POSSIBILITIES”?
    Most will not tell you this. Mine said to me after I made him aware of what I know that “WELL? Consider the worst of two evils he said. You can risk cancer if you have Barretts or just put up with other end results. What a quack! Those other things can equally kill you! YOU need to ask questions, speak up! Your paying dearly for that visit don’t let DR. Think he has upper hand or his opinion is more important than your concern. He is a pill pusher and he does deals with drug companies to push these pills.
    READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN on your condition and exercise your right to seek answers and knowledge. Mine got pissed of with me.

  19. moira

    I was on omeprazole for 4 years and went cold turkey with no problems. I had nocturnal reflux with acid rattling and wheezing in my chest usually relieved by getting up and vomitting. I used a slanted pillow which helped a lot but eventually it caused my legs to ache so I stopped that about 2 years ago. I’ve been existing on careful eating at dinner time eg nothing too heavy, and keeping gaviscon by the bed. I was finding I was taking gaviscon more frequently so came back here to check out some other treatment …..and I think I’ve found it !! I take one DGL licorice capsule at most meal times (no drama if I miss one or two) and one before bed. I religiously go to sleep on my LEFT side…….AND I can eat what I want, although nothing after my main evening meal, I’ve shoved the gaviscon into the drawer !! I know a lot of you have very serious GERD and I think I was heading that way myself, who knows. But I’m truly grateful of the expertise from everyone here, thanks to you I’m in heaven with undisturbed sleep at long last.

  20. Anonymous

    Suggestion. Eat light as you can. Incorporate ginger in your diet. Add it to your tea or soothe stomach with chamomile but to note this tea is a ragweed so if you have bad allergies to ragweed maybe reconsider. No carbonated beverages! Avoid caffeine and to soothe a bad throat use honey. Add honey to your tea. Instead of eating a large dinner keep it your lightest meal of day. GREASY foods! That’s a no no. Broil, bake but avoid greasy foods and frozen dinners. FRITOS and other chips bad news. Keep hydrated.

    • P J

      Everyone says sleep on your left side but for me that aggravates it. I am going to try DGL because I am sick of taking this med, and I am starting to get a facial tic last few months

  21. Heftd

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My MD just prescribed Prilosec ..40 mg a day..I have not picked up the script yet and after reading this blog.. No Way am I going to start! Yikes! I did not know about almonds, but I would often eat a few when my stomach was upset because it seemed to soothe it. Now I know why. So much great information.

  22. shell

    Agree with Frank. You need good bacteria. I eat raw cultured vegetables daily and only drink cold water process coffee occasionally. Cold brew coffee concentrate is easy to make-you can google it-67% of the acid is removed as the coffee grounds do not come in contact with hot water. I avoid carbonation, fat & grease & sugary foods also.

  23. sh

    I was taking omeprazole twice a day, feeling miserable. My doctor insisted I stay on even after telling him I was feeling worse.
    I decided to take myself off. I did it simply by taking one pill put of the capsule and the next day taking two out… next day three… four next day, etc until there weren’t any left… after that I didn’t take anymore ever.
    I have been great ever since.

  24. frank b

    ONE MORE THING. I also developed H-pylori from being on such because you need a certain amount of good bacteria in your system and your acid level is low. You need to supplement with probiotics TRUST ME! I wound up on antibiotics to address the hyplori imagine that? More good bacteria was lost which can leave you open to other problems. I’M CHOOSING AND HAVE FOR LONG TIME TO STAY OFF THE OP. I will have to gamble I guess but the bad to good ratio is favoring not taking it anymore. Just do great diet drink a lot of water, indulge occasionally on your bad foods but avoid carbonation, excessive caffeine, greasy foods and take dgl

  25. frank b

    CONSIDER THIS TOO! long term omeprazole also depletes calcium, magnesium and some protein metabolizing. I had lost 25 pounds in few years I was taking this drug. My old girlfriend saw me in safeway store after not seeing me for long time and had to ask if I was well! She thought I looked sickly. This stuff is no good for long term. I really do not know the answer other than watching foods you eat and perhaps taking alot of ginger and DGL. These Doctors push pills and they never explain the long term or short term effects. I still worry about my esophagus because I also smoke. Sure he says the chance of getting cancer from barretts is very low but yes still worry.

  26. BW

    I’ve been taking omeprazole for 8 or 9 years. I have tried many times to get off of it but have struggled each time with severe rebound. I went to a gastro who scoped me and said that i have no ulcers or signs of damage. He recommended that I taper off. I thought that this would be easy but is most certainly not. I started the process 3 months ago by reducing my daily intake very slowly.
    I bought a pill cutter and I cut 1/4 of each pill (and kept the piece for use later) I then alternated each day, 1 full pill then 3/4 pill for a week. on week 2 I switched to 3/4 pill each day and did that for 2 weeks. I then started alternating 1/2 pill and 3/4 pill for two weeks and eventually I switched to just 1/2 a pill each day.
    It has been going ok like that. I am mindful of what I eat and I do occasionally take tums to help. I stick to one cup of coffee a day and have reduced sugar and fatty foods, but nothing extreme. I have just started alternating 1/4 pill and 1/2 pill but I am hopeful that it continues to improve. I am determined to never go back to anything more than 1/2 pill. I think I’ve failed in the past because when things got bad, I went back to the full dosage and started the process all over again.
    I wish everyone luck in their efforts. It’s somewhat relieving to know that others are having success, so thanks to everyone for sharing.

  27. Mary

    I have been taking prilosec for more than 4 years for heartburn and bile reflux. I have experienced a slowing of digestion, this is called gastraoparesis, to the point where all I can eat is eggs, cooked not raw veggies, jarred/fermented fruits, laughing cow cheese (swiss light is the only kind I can eat) with pretzyl chips (plain), pita bread, and plain hummus. Chocolate is a culprit. I can eat some cereals if they are very plain. I can eat breads and yogurt and some cheeses. But no coffee, jalepenos are the DEVIL, no sweets, no red meat, very little chicken or fish, low sodium, and absolutely no coffee or tomato sauce, no peppers or onions. I think coffee is the main culprit for me. I take a cup of bone broth with every meal (see the GAPS diet for details) I have to eat 1 cup of food every two hours to regulate blood sugar and avoid over eating since my digestion is so slow.
    I reduced the prilosec to 1/2 tablet in Jan. of 2013 with no ill effects and my symptoms improved, I have been able to gradually add other foods to my diet, but gastroparesis flares up in 2 to 3 mo. cycles so I have to adjust my diet accordingly. Today is my third day off the prilosec and I have replaced it with a tsp of apple cider vinegar, tsp of aloe juice, and tsp lemon juice first thing in the morning, which I will slowly increase as I can tolerate it.
    Since I stopped the prilosec I have a headache and shoulder, and ear pain and ringing in my ears every evening about 4:00 and a feeling like being poisoned. I have been extremely tired and irritable, noises bother me and my stomach makes loud noises like squirting sounds. I have had endoscapy which showed the top valve to be not functioning, I have heard that this is indicative of vagas nerve damage and can be corrected with a stomach “pacemaker” and/or a modified diet and vitamins/minerals are very important, especially vitamin C.
    I have also discovered that the valve at the bottom of my stomach is not opening properly and causing acid and food to back up, especially if I over eat. This is enough to drive a person insane. The gut/brain connection is very strong, one fouls up the other and vice versa. I am starting to do deep relaxation meditation and yoga. Deep breathing exercises help too. If I can be more consistent with these things I think it will help. Also doc says I am not allowed to have any STRESS whatsoever. Anyone else experiencing similar symptoms from taking prilosec? I have had a terrible time and even developed an aversion to food and eating altogether.

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