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. Don
    Cleveland, Ohio

    I started taking Protonix (20mg) when Protonix was first available for severe heartburn. It is the only medicine to stop heartburn for me. Several years ago, I started to split the pill in half (10 mg) and it still did the job of stopping heartburn. After a few years, I split the pill in quarters (5 mg), and most of the time it does the job, but occasionally I would need an extra quarter that day.

    I then thought that since 5 mg. is not much I will stop taking Protonix altogether. Wrong! I started to have severe heartburn again. So, I went back to 5 mg. and have been taking this dosage for about 12 years. I am 82 years old and being on Protonix for many years have not caused me any health problems as long as I am taking 5 mg. I hope this will help those people who are thinking about getting off of Protonix “cold turkey.”

  2. Helen

    I was doing so good tapering off omprazole. Iwent all the way down from 40 mg to 10mg. Then out of the blue I started to have hip pain with throw up. I was so discouraged I went back up to 20mg. I know it is the omeprazole or else I wouldnt have throwups. I know its my body reacting because I have been on omeprazole for 10 years. Has anyone have this happen to them.

  3. Steve

    I was able to stop taking Protonix (40 mg) now for 3 weeks. I’ve been on it for about 10 years! I believe the key was to start taking a good Probiotic 2 months before attempting to stop. I also took the Protonix, every other day for two weeks. I’ve had some rebound, but not as bad as last time I tried to stop and had to go back on after a week. Things that have helped me are Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Take 1 Tablespoon in a “tall” glass of water before meals and at bed time. DGL. Zantac and Gaviscon. Good luck all and God Bless! This can be beat!

  4. cassie

    I have been having issues with acid rebound (I think?) for several months now. I got back on the omeprazole after about 2 months of unbearable discomfort. I am now back on 40 mg, and although I do feel more able to function I am not well.

    Does anyone know of any doctors or experts or resources I could reach out to for help? My doctors aren’t taking the possibility of rebound seriously, as they think it might be something else.. but I believe it is all due to the drug.

    Before going into more testing etc. I want to be sure I have investigated this possibility further! It seems as if it’s spot on symptoms of getting off of ppi’s.

    • Deborah
      United States

      Hi Cassie, are you still trying to get off the acid meds? I am taking Pantoprazole 40 MG per day. I skipped today’s dose. I was going to try to take it every other day gradually increasing the days between. Not sure if that is best, or reducing the dose. Anyway, I have found a lot of ideas on line. The key is to taper off slowly. I an hoping to beat this drug.

    • Rahul

      Dear All,
      My case will help you all,please share.

      I was diagnosed with Gerd, Esophagitis Grade B,Mild Gastritis and H Pylori during endoscopy.
      My health past profile was with no health problems and do not have any habits as alcohol, smoke etc except good tasty food.

      I was given PPI and other drugs to cure H Pylori,which ultimately treated it but after prescribed dose of PPI finished,I stopped taking it.Here the issues started. I started getting regular and severe heartburn after meals and chest was keeping warm whole day. Doctor was clueless. Being 30 age I developed so many thoughts of cancer etc.
      After searching vigorously to get off PPI on net, I got a solution to reduce the dosage and delay the intake of PPI. I started taking it only once a day,than once in 2 days than once in 3 days etc. Point to consider is that watch the effect if heartburn if you are not able to handle than take PPI.It will take some time but this is the way out. Today it is a 25th day without any PPI and I thing acid rebound is gone.Though I be strict with my food and excersice still.
      Hope this may help you all.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

    • acid reflux too
      United States

      Protonix and PPI’s in general cause bone and joint problems. You are having a side effect to you Protonix. PPI’s if you research cause B-12 and Magnesium deficiencies. If you received a paper from your Pharmacist who gave you your prescription, it has the side effects listed.

  7. 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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