older man with heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion

Q. Do you have a diet for helping me survive omeprazole detox? Your book Best Choices alerted me to the dangers of the drug and I want to end my addiction. When I forgot to take the drug two days in a row, I experienced heartburn hell.

Earlier I tried to take myself off the drug, but I could only stand it for a week. Now I can’t skip one day without wanting to die.

A. Stopping powerful acid-suppressing drugs like omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium) or lansoprazole (Prevacid) can be tough. (We have written about this problem before.)

In one study, even people who had never had heartburn before developed it when they abruptly stopped taking omeprazole  (Gastroenterology, July, 2009). The fact that rebound heartburn symptoms can be even worse than the initial problem being treated explains your difficulty stopping the medicine.

In another study, some healthy volunteers took placebo pills while others took pantoprazole (Protonix) for a month. When they stopped their medicine, those who had been on placebo had very little change in their digestive symptoms, while those who had taken pantoprazole had significant digestive distress (American Journal of Gastroenterology, July, 2010).

Company in Your Misery

You have plenty of company. Many visitors have reported trouble getting off omeprazole or other PPI drugs. KH reported:

“A few months ago I went to my doctor complaining of occasional nausea and stomach pain a few hours after going to bed. After having a blood test done to ensure nothing serious was going on, she suggested that I take Prilosec OTC for a 28 day cycle to repair my stomach lining. It seemed to work great! Last week was my first week Prilosec free and even though I only took it for 28 days my body was a mess.

“I had nausea and stomach pain frequently, had bad headaches, felt weak and generally had no energy. I went back to the doctor at the end of the week and she suggested I go back on the Prilosec. I have been really hesitant to do so because she gave me no end date, only told me I should keep taking it as long as I needed. I found this site just in time! I will definitely be looking up natural remedies to cure my issues.”

Joe discussed this phenomenon with NPR reporter Richard Knox several years ago. Gradual reduction of the dose, if possible, is a good tactic.

Tips for Getting Off Omeprazole


The effort to stop the medication is worthwhile. Such proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPIs) have multiple frightening side effects, especially when used for a long time. The most recent bad news on this front is that such medications can increase the risk of a heart attack by about 20% (PLoS One, June 10, 2015).

In addition to avoiding the foods that generally cause you heartburn, you might want to experiment with a low-carb diet. One small study found that when obese individuals followed a very low-carb diet, similar to Dr. Atkins’ recommendations, their reflux symptoms improved and they had less acid splashing up into the lower part of the esophagus (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Aug. 2006).


A number of people have reported that eating a small quantity of almonds after a meal can ward off symptoms of heartburn. Dr. Crystal wrote:

“I have a new patient with severe heartburn. (I find taking a person off their allergens usually clears it up permanently.)

“I saw her yesterday and she had a strong aggravation during our visit. I watched her stop it almost immediately with 2 almonds. She says it works every time.”

We should caution that some individuals report almonds make their symptoms worse, although many report that it helps as much as medication, if not more. Stella suggests sipping almond milk for reflux relief.


Some readers are enthusiastic about broccoli as a heartburn remedy. One fellow who calls himself Luke Skywalker reported that cutting out meat, flour and sugar and drinking a cup of freshly made vegetable juice twice a day was his ticket to alleviating heartburn symptoms. Another visitor wrote:

“During the first two weeks I ate 1/2 cup of broccoli a day (sometimes raw, sometimes cooked). I was able to stop taking Prilosec.

“Now I make sure to eat broccoli at least twice a week. I haven’t had any problems with reflux in more than a year.”


Other possible dietary remedies include fermented foods. One person wrote that drinking homemade sauerkraut juice eased symptoms quickly, perhaps due to the beneficial probiotic microorganisms in sauerkraut. Such bacteria have been shown to relieve digestive symptoms (Gut Microbes, Nov.-Dec., 2010).

Other remedies that people have tried and liked include eating half a banana, drinking bitters in club soda, swallowing a spoonful of yellow mustard and chewing sugarless gum. There are even studies demonstrating the value of chewing sugar-free gum to fight reflux symptoms (Journal of Dental Research, Nov., 2005; Journal of Dietary Supplements, June, 2015).

Herbal Remedies

One very helpful botanical medicine is deglycyrrhizinated licorice, DGL. Glycyrrhizin is one of the active compounds in licorice and gives licorice root its sweetness, but it can cause side effects such as high blood pressure. Removing the glycyrrhizin allows other ingredients in licorice to go to work calming heartburn symptoms. The usual recommendation is to take DGL twenty minutes before each meal.

Cayenne pepper extract is less common as a heartburn remedy, but a number of readers have testified that taking cayenne pills or adding Tabasco or other hot pepper concentrate to a beverage can prevent or reverse the discomfort of heartburn.

Another botanical medicine that is often very helpful is ginger. Ginger has been used for centuries to ease digestive distress, especially nausea but also reflux symptoms. We suspect that ginger is responsible for the benefit so many people have noted from using “Persimmon Punch.”

The Amazing Persimmon Punch Story:

Q. I have been taking acid-suppressing drugs like omeprazole for more than 20 years.

After reading about the side effects of such drugs, I am ready to quit. I understand that this can be painful.

I read about persimmon punch on your website and would like to try it to avoid heartburn. How often should I take it?

A. People who take proton pump inhibitors (PPI) such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) may experience rebound hyperacidity if they stop their drug abruptly (Gastroenterology, July, 2009).  Symptoms of reflux can last for weeks.

One reader phased off omeprazole over seven months by reducing the dose gradually. According to people who have used persimmon punch in this effort, it helps to drink two ounces before each meal.

The first time we heard about persimmon punch, it was from a woman who had eaten in a Korean restaurant:

“Someone ordered Persimmon Punch, a concentrated cinnamon-ginger drink, for dessert. A few sips later, I felt fantastic. After a month of adding 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon-ginger drink to my tea morning and night, my heartburn was in control.”

You can find the more details on the Persimmon Punch recipe along with Tips from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog for getting off PPIs in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice)

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.

Apple Cider Vinegar…Really!

Surprisingly, many people find that taking apple cider vinegar in a glass of water alleviates symptoms quickly.

And of course, dissolving a half teaspoon of baking soda in four ounces of water and drinking it is an old-fashioned but effective heartburn remedy. Don’t overdose, though and don’t combine the baking soda and vinegar; that would create a dramatically foaming concoction reminiscent of a grade-school volcano project.

Our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, has details on many of these remedies.

Revised February 19, 2016

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  1. mary

    My husband has been on omeprozle for a very long time. Every thing that you have mentioned he has experienced. Your suggestions sound very helpful. Just convening him will be a challenge.

  2. John

    I took Zantac for many years — 2 per day. Then after some digestion issues I switched to 2 Pril. per day. That fixed the discomfort but then I read about negative side effects of PPIs so reduced to 1 and 1 regimen– 1 Prilosec morning, and 1 Zantac eve.
    That worked out fine, I decided to go the next step and go off Prilosec. The result was bloating, diarrea. So back on the 1 PPI in the morning. After reading about some studies, it appears that the withdrawal effects can last from 12 wks to 3 months, and then should subside.
    So it seems to me I should try the gradual weening. Maybe 1 PPI every other day for a few weeks, plus low acid diet, and just try to cope with the withdrawal. I would continue to take Zantac during that time.

  3. Elizabeth

    My problem with Omeprazole (which I have been on for 15 years – 20mg once a day but now down to 5mg) is the debilitating constipation and bloating, nausea and discomfort. I have also gained 10 stones in weight in the 15 years. I was always 8 stones in weight ALL my adult life until starting this drug. I stopped completely last year for two weeks cold turkey and although it didn’t work that time I lost 10 pounds in weight, my constipation and bloating disappeared. When I went back on I developed an bad cough which I still have and it starts early afternoon. I now know Omeprazole has done more harm than good and I have been slowly reducing the dose. I am on 5mg per day which I will stay on for a further four weeks then reduce to 5mg ever second day, third day etc until I am completely off. I will never take this drug again.

  4. Earl

    Going to take Omeprazole 20 mg one day then zantac 150 mg next day.
    Also taking melatonin 5 mg at bed time. Im told melatonin helps reduce acid production. I plan on this regime long term.

  5. Joanie

    I was taking Omeprazole twice daily to control my GORD (GERD) for a few years, increasing the total daily dose as time progressed. After discussion with my doctor, we decided I should cut gluten from my diet. Since implementing this, all my symptoms have fully resolved & I have not required any further Omeprazole. I’m not saying this would be the cure for everyone but it does demonstrate the impact diet can have on the body.

  6. Pierrette
    austin Texas

    i was on. Omaprozole for 10years my MD told me to use Zantac I hope it s ok. No problem so far

  7. Kim

    I have been taking Omeprazole for about 9 years. A couple of years ago I started have trouble with bloating and diarrhea. My doctor sent me to a specialist to have an upper and lower done. They found I had Barrettes Esophagus. I had several Halo Ablations done, and the BE is gone. The GI doctor told me to stay on the Omeprazole to avoid getting BE again, but I really want to get off of it. I am having EXTREME bloating. It seems as though my food is not digesting. I think the lack of stomach acid is causing more trouble. At this point I don’t know what is the greater risk.

  8. April

    I forgot to take my morning dose of Omeprazole yesterday. I went to bed last night eating tums like crazy. I was woke up all night from the intense heartburn.

    Here it’s almost 24 hours later and I still had the WORST heartburn. I started gagging & coughing and I felt like I was going to vomit. I read through this page and decided to try 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. I drank a few gulps of it and immediately felt relief. I am not sure how long this will last, but for now I am better.

  9. Hope

    I wish I had read all this before I stopped taking Omeprazole 3 weeks ago. I had been prescribed this years ago and I only took it for a few months because of stories of long term side effects. Then I was put back on it about a year or so ago because an upper GI showed stomach lining wear. Again I started reading about more long term side effects and decided since I had already had changed what I was eating to have a more alkaline body environment. I was going to stop taking it. I didn’t realize you had to “ween” off of it. Now I understand why I was getting nauseous so much the first 2 weeks. I had some episodes of reflux (not heartburn) just pressure in the esophagus when eating salsa and drinks with lime. (Margaritas) Now I know not to mix the two. Everything seems to be ok now. Hopefully proper food pairing will keep everything in check. I already take a supplement with cayenne, apple cider vinegar extract & cinnamon and some other things to help keep an alkaline environment. Anything I can do holistically to avoid long term medicine usage, I will do.

  10. Linda
    Exeter UK

    Started taking Omeprazole about 7 years ago due to high gastrin levels, before I had an operation to remove a non-cancerous tumor in my stomach. Suffer from low B12 and have injections every 12 weeks. Heard that taking Omeprazole can cause problems with low B12 so stopped cold turkey over 3 weeks ago but getting some nausea and some cramps. I’m fine up until lunch time (no problems after cereal for breakfast) so maybe it’s down to what i’m eating. Never had a problem with indigestion or heartburn before taking these. Going to keep a food diary over next couple of weeks. Hope it settles down as I really don’t want to go back on them. Should I persevere ?

    • John

      So how did it work out? Off the PPI now?

  11. SGH

    My plan is to lose another 20 pounds in addition to the 25 pounds I’ve already lost – before approaching my Doctor about going off Omeprazole. Being overweight is what got me into trouble with reflux in the first place. Thank you all for your ideas, which I’ll try when I start the withdrawal. I think being at a healthy weight will make it easier.

  12. Karmel

    Have been on PPI for 20+ years. Nexium last 15. Decided to come off it. This is my fifth day. Day one take 1 x 20mg Nexium second day take half 10mg Nexium with 1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar + l/2 glass water before meals. So far so good so will continue. Kraft make an almond paste/spread which I have every morning with Manuka honey on toast.

  13. Deb

    I have been on prilosec daily for over 2 years and tried to go off it cold turkey several months ago. I didn’t know about the rebound effect then and so I promptly got back on the prilosec when my reflux was intolerable. Then last month I read several people’s comments on this site that mentioned DGL licorice tablets. WOW! I weaned off the prilosec for two weeks, and have since taken the DGL tablets, starting with 6 per day, and now only as needed. I’d absolutely tell anyone to give it a try! They are low-cost, low-risk, and work like a charm. Thanks again to People’s Pharmacy for a wonderful remedy.

  14. Lisa

    I had a terrible time with withdrawal symptoms and ended up going back on the med each time. Finally, I caught a stomach virus and reasoned that after days of throwing up, my body would be natural resetting its acid production as I recovered. So, I stopped cold turkey, with zero rebound symptoms. I will never take this kind of medication again.

  15. Mattie
    Dorset, England

    I have been taking Omeprazole 20mg for more than 20 years. Having recently heard about side effects I decided I would come off it permanently.
    Is it Ok to take ‘ranitidine’ instead. I have not taken Omeprazole for 3 days but today I have ‘Heartburn’. Can I take an alternative which is not a “ppi”
    Such as ranitidine. I really don’t want to take “Omeprazole” any more.

    • Margaret

      I have checked this out with my Doc. after being on Omeprazole for 18yrs, apperently Ranitidine is a diffent type of drug, and (so far) safe to take. But, you should not just stop taking Omeprazole, you have wean off gradually, otherwise the stomach goes into overdrive, so, something like 1 every other day and then just stretch it out over a few weeks, and other kinds of heartburn relief, then go on to Ranitidine, well, that’s what I’m just started to do myself. Good luck.

  16. Dorothy

    Two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar in water or juice works great.

  17. Lynn
    Manchester uk

    I have been using omeprazole for a few years now having been diagnosed with an hiatas hernia but in the last few weeks I have been throwing up after each meal, I have been doing some looking into it and now find out all this bad press, now I am really wondering what I should do. Any ideas? thanx

  18. Leosrme

    A lot of this is anecdotal evidence. Some people are suggesting that taking something spicy will alleviate heartburn symptoms when in fact heartburn symptoms would be exacerbated by spicy food. Suggesting that mustard, sauerkraut juice, tabasco, cayenne all worked? I cannot think of anything I would avoid more while having acid reflux.

    • John

      Agree. MOST of these suggestions are anecdotal. But on the other hand, doctors don’t seem to be alarmed at the chance of PPI dependency and they probably will not be alarmed until some real findings come out to support the negative side effects.

  19. Jackie

    I was on omeprozole for years and I have a hiatal hernia. I have decided to stop taking the medication because I don’t trust it. I’ve decided to change my diet. No red meat, eggs or dairy. Plenty of greens and fruits etc. I get light bouts of reflux still…but I’m so used to them now, that they go on their own. No more omeprozole

  20. Problem is acid reflux
    UK Bershire

    Problem is all drugs have side effects and are different within each person. Just stopping medication is and can be very serious for the individual. Some have no choice but to take them, take Omeprazole, if you have acid reflux that returns it directly to the lungs because of a faulty valve then you take the drug or have a not so successful operation. So much scaremongering on the net these days. You just have to make sure your decision is safe to action or you could be making your illness far worse. Long term medication is now being highlighted, when you take it for 20yrs it does make you wonder why at times other issues start? What is the answer to it? ( take another pill).

  21. Aine Ni Nuallain

    Interesting read. I had treatment last year for Pylori Helcobacter (the treatment for the bug that is responsible for must gastric problems) and have been told to stay on the PPIs esemorapraszole twice a week until April. Just wondered if by coming off would cause gastric again. The bug has gone so I will try it and see!!!

  22. Paula
    Wales UK

    I am trying to reduce my dose of lansoprazole from 30mg to 15mg at the moment. I have been on high dose ppi’s for a long time, maybe 15 years for a diagnosed hiatus hernia. It is so difficult, really bloated, bad pain and acid indigestion. I also have a conclave chest which makes me feel like my stomach is in my throat a lot of the time. I am taking a liquid antacid which does help a little bit. Just starting my second week on the lower dose, I’m hoping I can stick to it and gradually wean myself off them eventually. I am amazed at how many others are stuck on these meds…felt like I was the only one! Thank you for making me feel not so alone 🙂 Will update with how I get on

  23. Lee
    Scarborough uk

    I was on omeprazole for years.. Great drug for me as it stopped my acid reflux problem. I could guarantee what time of day I would get the unbearable pain at and like clockwork it appeared..
    Then one day at 9 am the pain started and I took a tablet and started my journey… but the pain didn’t go away… I continued on and did what I had to do and found myself at the last drop off and 40 miles away from home… I was in severe pain and discomfort with a very worried passer by asking me if I was ok!!

    I decided to go to hospital bit as I got close the pain eased slightly so I decided to make a dash for home. I hadn’t eaten for around 6 hours but strangely felt full and not hungry. I managed to get home and immediately took another tablet, got in the bath and went to bed hoping the pain would ease.. At this point my wife asked if I wanted my steak and I refused so she became worried.. At around 11pm the bearable pain intensified to a point I couldn’t take and I decided to go to hospital.. As I sneaked out of the house so not to wake my wife although I had left a note saying where I was going, I noticed she had blocked me in and there is no way I’m leaving her the keys to the audi.. so I was in a dilemma.

    I decided to forget about the hospital and resorted to drinking a full large bottle of gaviscon thinking (well at least I’ll sleep) and crept upstairs, put a cushion under my stomach and laid flat..I went out like a light!!

    To my suprise I awoke with no pain and went down stairs and had my usual breakfast of coffee and a cigarette.. 9am came and no pain..2pm came and no pain..9 years later and drug free I still have no pain…My doctors are puzzled

  24. maud

    I have been taking this medication since Oct 2010 after having an operation that took away ⅔ of my stomach. I take Naproxen for back and joint problems so I was prescribed Omeprazole to protect my stomach . Bit concerned now.

    • caroline
      Cornwall, UK

      Maude, can you let me know how you get on?
      I take Omeprazole plus Naproxen, as I’m in pain after spinal fusion. Been on them for two years and am a bit worried. Please let me kniw if you find an alternative to omeprazole.

  25. Lindsey

    I started on omapraze three years ago when I was diagnosed with a Haetus Hernia
    They didn’t suit me so GP changed it to Nexium 20
    These were great i could eat almost anything I wanted with no ill effect
    After a while I started to have serious memory lapses suffering confusion lethargy
    Mood swings
    I’ve realised that it’s more than likely the Nexi are a contribury factor

  26. Maria

    I have been on them for about 20 years and can’t get off them I am trying again this is day 2 felt it a we bit today took two gaviscon it helped but wait see how the recast of the week goes fingers crossed

  27. Laural

    Wow, came on to find help. I stopped my pantoprozole 4 days ago after hearing the latest reports . Just spent all afternoon spitting, throwing up, battling burning indigestion, bile in my throat….awful. I have been proud that I am still quite active and ” healthy” until now. Reading how ppi’s can lower magnesium levels in the body too. Wondering if that has any relationship to my lower levels of D. I heard that magnesium. And D are co related?
    Anyways, I am stopping this cold turkey and now I am wondering what is in store for me? More episodes during the next hours, days, weeks?!

    • Dee

      I quit cold turkey 3 weeks ago and I’m still having terrible heartburn, though it’s not everyday now. I’m hoping this settles down soon. I was interested on how you were doing.

    • Catharine
      Ontario, Canada

      I just weaned myself off Pantoprazole after 4 mths of gastritis. I have been off Meds for 1 week but am still very nauseated and pain in bowels. How long does should this pain last.

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