Q. Your advice on getting off acid-suppressing drugs (PPIs) makes it clear you’ve never experienced rebound reflux. I am a nurse, and I take omeprazole, lansoprazole or whatever other PPI I can get.

I just laughed at your suggestion that “gradual tapering might be beneficial.” Rebound reflux is unlike any heartburn you’ve ever experienced; it is much worse than reflux before PPIs. Nothing touches it, not antacids, not water, not milk, nothing. It is the most fierce, insistent pain you can imagine. The only thing that stops it is taking another PPI pill.

I have tried tapering but I can never get much past a day before I need more. Tums and Rolaids have absolutely no effect. Someone needs to look into this and try to figure out how those of us who were prescribed Prilosec and other PPIs 15 years ago can stop taking them. It’s the one medication you will NEVER forget to take!

A. Gastroenterologists disagree about the difficulty of stopping an acid suppressing drug such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec) and rabeprazole (Aciphex). A Danish study (Gastroenterology, Jul. 2009) found that people without heartburn experienced distressing reflux after stopping proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Other specialists, however, are skeptical (Editorial, American Journal of Gastroenterology, Jul. 2010). Suggestions for stopping PPIs with ginger, DGL and probiotics can be found at PeoplesPharmacy.com. You will also find helpful hints for this in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. Difficulty stopping a medication is a common problem that is discussed in our new book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

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  1. Ozone

    I was on Prilosec 20mg for 9 years, then it went up to 40mg. Then I went to Nexium. I would often need to take Pepcid Complete (Acid reducer + H2 blocker). I can’t count the number of times I experienced esophageal regurgitation. I thought that was how I was going to die some day in my sleep. But then I woke up one morning and read news on how these medications are likely to cause dementia in prolonged use. I haven’t had to take a PPI since.

    I went through extreme withdrawal in the form of scalding hot burning on my esophagus. I researched like a mad man to find a solution. I had to quit drinking coffee, milk, high carbs, sugars, and spicy or tomato based foods. And I had to eat no later than 6 PM. This was great but still super suffering. So then I read about drinking a lot of water, but it warned to take small sips instead of gulping because the water, in large volumes, can push the acid back up toward the esophagus. This was the silver bullet I was looking for! I drink approximately 2 to 3 liters of water a day now and I’ve been extremely careful to only take one or two very small sips at a time.

    It has been over 5 weeks since I’ve taken a PPI and I feel incredible. I have on maybe 10 different occasions had to take a Pepcid complete, but I’m getting better and better. My brain is working like it did years ago and my energy level is way up. I’ve even been able to alter my diet to being less strict, but I have not cut back on water.

    Good luck to any sufferers out there wanting to get off these extremely addictive medications.

    • Ozone

      I wanted to add, that even when I discovered water being helpful, I still suffered, but not as bad. I’m able to cool down the esophagus with the water and relieve the symptoms quickly. And it’s also important to drink it at room temperature. If you are strong and do not quit, you can get through it. Also, I do not suffer from regurgitation in my sleep.

  2. Debbie

    I have been on previcid 30 mg for 6 yrs. I have his tal hernia and gerd I have been suffering with severe pain in stomach for about 3 yrs that Drs don’t know why. I been suffering from severe ibs-d for 2 yrs , vitamin deficiencys , anemia , stomach spasms , severe volcanic gas that don’t move , burning intestines , and burning skin and much more , so horrible had no life. The Drs just try to give more and more meds and they make me feel I’m doing this too myself. Well , as of August 19th I threw the Prevacid in the garbage and decided to substituted for a good probiotic. I take 2 a day . I immediately take 1 upon waking with water and wait 1 1/2 hrs before breakfast. I changed my diet . I have to say I have not had any stomach pain or any other symptoms for a month. I feel Human and normal again which is such a great feeling. Just thought I would share my experience with Prevacid .

  3. Allie
    new hartford, ny

    I know this is old, but I had to add my two cents. This statement, “Gastroenterologists disagree about the difficulty of stopping an acid suppressing drug such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec) and rabeprazole (Aciphex). ,” made me so angry! Of course they disagree… it’s their bread and butter! I thought I was dying when I came off omeprazole. Nothing made me feel better…I woke up with a burn in my stomach, went to bed doubled over with that same burning, as well as feeling full all the time… I hardly ate, and no matter what i did eat, I still felt awful!

    What finally helped, after weeks on the internet trying to find alternatives to ppis (I just didn’t want to be on them anymore after all I’d read about the long term effects) was Mastic Gum and DGL.

    Not only did they alleviate my symptoms quickly (they did not dissipate immediately but they lessened to at least bearability right away) and then within a month I was back to normal. These natural remedies actually heal our stomachs, not turn off the acid we actually need to digest food!

    You can get off these things… just google mastic gum and dgl. Good luck to everyone!

    • Angie
      Eros, LA

      I was recently diagnosed with EERD and placed on Prilosec. It really is working but I am having horrible headaches. I have a history of migraines, and the meds seem to cause a constant headache. Is the mastic gum still helping you? Does it just lessen your symptoms or is it working as well as the meds? Also, where do you purchase the product?

  4. yvonne

    I have been on PPI’s for 13 years. First prevacid then now on Protonix 40 mg.
    I never had heartburn but had sour stomach issues. Just 10 days ago I decided to quit the Protonix 40 mg cold turkey. For 10 days I was totally fine, then came the terror. I started with acid reflux, then massive heartburn, the severe chest burning, then felt like I could not breathe. I immediately took a Protonix and within an hour the feeling began to subside. Today I am slightly better, but still feel ill. I cannot believe that I NEVER HAD HEARTBURN, and now attempting to get off the PPI has caused this. I will try the Fuji apples and yogurt, and can only hope nothing else has been caused by the use of the heavy PPI’s.
    Thanx to all for your input. I am hopeful I will beat this. I wonder if one can take a pill every other day to wean off the meds? My Doctor will say no for sure. Any advice?
    Good Luck to all sufferers out there.

  5. SBaker
    Bristol TN

    I suffered horrible GERD-like symptoms for years after I was pregnant with my son. I’d see a doctor, I’d be prescribed Prevacid for a week or two and I’d feel better. But in a day or two after finishing a round of the medication the symptoms would always come back. Over and over again and again. Doctor after doctor and always the same thing. It wasn’t until I had a gallbladder attack and subsequent Cholecystectomy, I was told my GERD symptoms should go away. A month later and I was back in my doctor’s office complaining that the heartburn, slow emptying of my stomach and burping (both dry and liquid) had returned, painfully.
    I was scheduled for a Upper-GI Endoscopy. What they found was advanced Barrets Esophagus and I was told I’d have to take Prevacid 30Mg every day for the rest of my life! Not what I wanted to hear but at least it was more of an answer than I’d gotten in twenty years.
    For years that worked wonders! I was GERD symptom free and felt great. Then about 5yrs later, it seems to have just stopped working. All the painful symptoms are back again. So, now I’m trying a few mixes of OTC drugs as well as Prevacid. I’ve decided to try 15mg in the morning along with two doses of Zantac and another 15mg at night. I honestly haven’t felt any change at all and its depressing!

  6. jt

    Hi I want to know, has any one experienced heart burn after taking prebiotic, so suffer with gerd have herniaso uncomfortable I have taken esumperzole for many years I now have binned my ppi and now take 1shot of bragg apple cider vinegar in morning 1shot in night its brill stops all heart burn 1sht=10ml vinegar 300/ml water works a treat hope this helps :-)

  7. KA

    I had stomach bloating after a trip I took. Tried few over the counter meds based on the doc recommendation, that did not work. Doctor did endoscopy found out I have Barrett’s Esophagus keep in mind that I never had GERD and occasionally like everyone else get a heartburn. Doc prescribed prilosec 20 mg, took it for 3 years, did endoscopy again, Barrett is gone.
    I decided to quit the prilosec, the first month I was ok, but after a month I now have heartburn daily that I can get a rid of with Zantac 75. This is not solution though.
    My advice is if you want to quit your meds, you need to work with your doctor. You need to do your homework and try to find a doc that will support you. Also, if you had GERD for a long time – a year or so- it would a good idea to do an endoscopy to see what’s in there.
    I also want to mention that those who quit and were ok for few days, that’s not reliable time to confirm that the person is cured, you need at least couple of months before you can say that GERD is gone. I am going back for another endoscopy in 3 months to see if quitting Prilosec brought back Barrett’s Esophagus or not.
    For those who tried Licorice, Baking soda, Ginger, Coconut water or milk, fugi apples, Almonds, Apple cider, HCL etc, low carb diet. I think that it is amazing that you found relief. I am going to try the licorice the only think I have not yet tried and will let you know if it works.
    Hope my experience helps.

  8. carole

    I have been on prilosec for over 8 yrs. I have many muscle problems… just quit cold turkey 6 days ago. Having acid reflux not too bad but muscles are tighter than ever and I am having anxiety. Is this a side of effect of quitting this drug??? How long till I start to feel better?

  9. Colette

    I was on PPI medications for 8 years.My Dr titrated down from 40 to 20 mgs of Pantoprazole over a period of 2 months – I was then told to stop. I developed *excruciating* pain in my hands, knees, shins and hips. I was told it was arthritis. No aspirin or any non steroidal pain med’s helped. I was in so much pain I would often just scream with the unbearable pain.
    After trying to think from when this intense pain had started I discovered it had started from the time I had come off the P.P.I. meds. I took a 20 mg dose of the Pantoprazole and within an hour the pain was gone! I have tried everything possible to try to come off the P.P.I’s but the horrendous body pain has seen me going back onto the P.P.I’s again. HELP! I don’t know how to stop this hellish situation I am now in.

  10. babyignatz

    Coincidentally I read this just as my nausea problems were resurfacing. I’d been taking various PPIs for years…. I asked my MD about problems quiting PPIs and she said not possible, but changed my prescription from pantoprozole (Protonix) to ranitidine. Terrible pain and heartburn ensued. I’m on vacation so now am taking my few remaining pantoprozoles and will try some of these suggestions when I get home. Does anyone have associated trouble with tongue discomfort?

  11. Aimee

    Thanks for that information. I have been trying to eat differently. For a probiotic, I have been making my own Kefir. I also drink Almond milk. I take the medicine every other day, and sometimes every two days. But, one of these days, I will try to go longer and see what happens.

  12. PJ

    Aimee, I too took Aciphex for a hiatal hernia, but noticed when I went on a restricted eating program that I could go without it and I also never had gas…. I eliminated dairy and wheat, and all grains and legumes for 6 months. Now I occasionally eat brown rice or corn, or gluten free grain products in small quantities without getting a reaction but.. If I eat a little too much, I get gas or an upset stomach. I feel better overall with no grains or legumes, but do eat beans or rice or rice pasta to save money about once a week.
    Check out The Paleo Solution for a possible explanation. But seriously, give it a try! Oh, I also take magnesium, chromium, cod liver oil, and probiotics to build up my system. My healthcare practitioner recommends adding those 4 things before you even start to take any of the foods away. I’ve even gotten my family eating this way most of the time and my husband is thinking clearer and my son’s sinuses and bowel movements are much better. The chromium helps to tap down gluten cravings on top of its other health benefits.

  13. se

    My doctor prescribed Nexium because he thought gerd was waking me in the night. I’d never really had a problem with heartburn. I was on Nexium for years and had a terrible time getting off. I switched to Prilosec for a while. Getting off all PPIs was incredibly difficult and I had massive heartburn. Then, I discovered that raw sauerkraut and coconut kefir cure heartburn effectively. It’s worth a try. Fermented foods have been shown to be effective for many ailments.

  14. shell

    I think it’s fine to stay on the PPI when you begin with the natural things. Good luck and keep us posted.

  15. CMc

    Thank you all for your ideas and success stories. You’ve given me some hope. I’ll get some coconut water and DGL tomorrow. Is it better to stay on the PPI when you first start these?

  16. Eric H.

    I took ppi’s (mostly prilosec) for over 5 years. I was able to quit in less than a week.
    Raw, organic, apple cider vinegar. Yes, I know, its “counter-intuitive”….but it works. I didn’t think it would, but it did. Take 1-2 tablespoons after you eat something and 1 before sleeping. Acid reflux and heartburn problems both solved in 3 days max.
    It also helps a lot to go into the primal diet (grass fed or free-range meats, never grain fed), nuts, fruits, raw or steamed veggies. NEVER anything with wheat or flour or any type of grains in it. No beer. Red wine occasionally as a treat. I went from having to take 40-60mg of prilosec a day to taking none at all within 3 days. Try it. If it doesn’t work, then go back to your expensive ppi’s and live your life enslaved to Big Pharma.
    It will work though. I wouldn’t be here taking the trouble to write this if it didn’t work for me.
    Good luck,

  17. DS

    Dear TV,
    Where was tumor located and was laparascopy procedure performed before other treatments? Recently I was diagnosed stage 3-c (tumor located at junction where esophagus meets stomach) and must undergo laparascopy. I am eager for treatments (chemo etc.) but dismayed at slow pace of consultations and tests. How much pain and difficulty in swallowing did your family member experience before being treated? How long did it take until the swallowing returned to normal or there was improvement?

  18. Curt

    Hi Badnice:
    You are my inspiration…. just not so sure I can be as tough. I was also wondering how you were able to sleep with all that pain?
    Anyway, I am having similar issues trying desperately to get off of Protonix. For the past 4 years I have had digestive issues (mostly bloating and IBS). A few months ago I saw my PCP about it. I asked if it could be H-Pylori. She said maybe and gave me antibiotics and 80mg of Protonix. After 2 weeks I stopped the ppi and within 4 days developed severe nausea and stomach pain.
    I tried Tagament and Pepcid to no avail. After 2 weeks ran back to the PPI. However, this time I tried 40mg. It did not work until I was back to the 80 mg. A few weeks later I tried again to cut down … same horrible nausea and pain. After seeing 3 Dr’s and by this time developing extreme anxiety from the pain it was decided it must be all in my head! They gave me Xanax and Klonopin for the anxiety and a new script for Protonix.
    Being sure this all was not psychosomatic I tried to wean off both drugs at the same time. BAD IDEA! I was in so much pain I thought I was going to die. My plan now is to take the 80mgs of Protonix… wean off the Benzos and then start a plan to get off the PPI. Any help will certainly be appreciated. :(

  19. arc8iablue

    Like many of the GERD sufferers here, I have a hiatal hernia -I believe I was born with mine, as I have always had stomach issues, even as a child, that caused vomiting after certain activities. As an adult I started to experience some heartburn issues but it wasn’t until I got a sharp pain in my gut that doubled me over that I sought treatment for what I and my doctor suspected was an ulcer. An endoscopy revealed no ulcer but instead the hernia and I was put on aciphex first then switched to prilosec.
    After my second divorce I lost 20 lbs and found I didn’t need the prilosec at all, but a couple of years later I complained to my doctor about excessive belching (I internalize all my stress to my gut -causing a lot of bloating- and my job causes me a lot of stress!) and she diagnosed me with GAD, put me back on prilosec and added lexapro to deal with the anxiety. The lexapro just made me want to lay in bed and cry so I quit that right away but now I’m stuck on prilosec. Almost 2 years ago I went vegan, which at first and for a long time made me feel much better but even after losing 30 lbs (again- I had gained back what I lost earlier) I can’t get off the prilosec. I also have IBS, which before being vegan resulted in mostly constipation, during which time I also discovered I’m lactose intolerant.
    After being vegan, I was very regular for a long time but now the IBS is causing me a lot of diarrhea instead. I suspect I have developed a gluten intolerance but when researching the diarrhea issue found I may also have an intolerance to FODMAPs which includes wheat but also several fruits and vegetables, which is problematic since I don’t eat meat or dairy -I’ve seen several people on this forum recommend apples, but especially if I am at work an eating an apple will just blow me up -might as well hook up an air hose to my navel! I’m sure the prilosec is the cause of all this, along with the more frequent migraines I have had (likely magnesium deficiency brought on by the prilosec) I’m interested in trying some of the other suggestions posted here to get me through the terrible rebound heartburn I know I will have when I try to get off this drug.
    Has anyone had any problems with aloe vera juice? started that last week but it doesn’t seem to help. And what is DGL? Right now I feel like I can’t eat ANYTHING and my gut is just one great big hungry ball of sensitivity and inflammation :-(

    • Dan

      Hi there, just checking in, knowing this is an old post. We’re you ever able to wean off the ppi medication through the rebound period? Hope all is well.

  20. newzev

    Hi Badnice,
    I am amazed you stopped the proponix cold turkey. I’m not so sure I can do that.
    I was on aciphex from 2003 for Gerd. Then on proponix twice a day for at least a year. I noticed a drop in height of a couple of inches over the years. Dr. ordered a bone density scan, which they don’t often do for guys like myself. My spine shows no calcium loss, but I now have ostepenia of the neck of my hip bones. My doctor said the ostepenia results were meaningless since my spine is fine. He said the results were comparing me to a 35 year old woman and since I am a 59 year old guy the results were meaningless and not to lose any sleep over it.
    In any case I want to also stop the proponix as it does result in hip fractures (so I have read). I have a hiatal hernia meaning my sphincter at the top of my stomach is not stopping food from entering the esophagus. Judging from the comments above and my gi doctor, having an operation in my case is not advisable.
    My doctor suggested I stop taking a baby aspirin every day and take it every other day as the aspirin stays in your system and you don’t need it every day.
    My wife likes Greek yogurt which has lots of probiotics. so I will attempt to have it more often
    I will try not to eat within 2 hrs of going to bed.
    Things I will try to stop: tomatoes, caffeine, not sure about the dark chocolate which I love.
    I will try to add the following based on the comments above:
    I think I will try the coconut water that everyone is raving about.
    I will eat more apples especially Fuji and more almonds.
    Not sure if I should try DGL tablets, slippery elm powder.
    I think it may be best to taper off the proponix. Up to last week I was taking two tablets of proponix one in morning one at night. I stopped cold turkey a few days ago but I am starting to feel heart burn. Not certain the best way to wean myself off. I guess going down to one a day then one every other day, or 3/4 a tablet every day, then 1/2 a tablet a day then 1/4 tablet a day might make some sense.

  21. NBF

    Way to go badnice! I admire your perseverance.

  22. badnice

    Since most people seem to leave a message board once their problem has gone away, I thought that I would stop and post what I hope is a hopeful message for anyone trying to quit these drugs.
    I took Protonix 80 mg daily for about four years. At first things seemed to be more or less O.K. Then I noticed that if I did not get my prescription filled for a couple of days, I would get sick (severe nausea and heartburn). So… I was always relieved when I got them. Then I noticed that things like a little bit of coffee would make me feel pretty sick again–even on the Protonix. It got worse, to the point that even a few sips of coffee would make me very ill. A whole cup would send me into shock. I quite caffeine but things got so bad that I would go into shock, even without caffeine.
    All the while, my PC physician just prescribed anti nausea meds. When they didn’t help, she just added another. After a visit to the ER, I was referred back to my GI doc, who just dismissed everything and said it might be “neurological” (which I interpreted to mean “stress”). He gave me a prescription for a GI cocktail but my pharmacy didn’t even know how to make it.
    Realizing that I had been largely dismissed and abandoned by my doctors, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I researched PPI’s online and discovered the rebound issue. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to go off cold turkey but I no longer trusted my doctors to help me taper. So… I just quit. After a couple of days I got even sicker than I was before. I was incapacitated. But I kept reading message posts by others that kicked ’em and held on for the ride. It was awful. I tried every other remedy I could find but nothing relieved the awful grinding nausea and heartburn.
    It took about two months, but I can now safely say that I’ve kicked these pills. The nausea and heartburn have gone. I drink several cups of coffee now without any problems. I take no prescription medications. I take not OTC medications. I am free.
    Hang in there. IT CAN BE DONE!

  23. Ark

    I started taking coconut water as suggested by so many. It does help some in acid reflux. But I notice that it seems to cause restless leg syndrome (RLS). Does any one had similar problem? Any guidance or ideas for RLS?

    • Velda

      How did you do it?

    • Jay Ray

      Restless leg syndrom is caused by insufficient magnesium.

  24. Nancy

    I still say a morning drink of coconut water before my coffee has cured me. Zico in the box container ( approx 11 ounces) If it is a bad case of reflux, drink more for a couple of days…

  25. Elena

    My goodness – this forum is great!
    After being off work for 3 months – colonoscopy, endoscopy, barium enema, all clear (well benign diverticular polyps) and now left with vicious heartburn / reflux sort of symptoms. Also had a small fall and compressed my back so headed to Osteopath who asked how my stomach was – as the mid thorasics were really crunchy and that could have been some of the pain. Also, this pain could interfere with my digestion so I was relieved to notice that it is easing off a little BUT the gagging feeling in my mouth is still with me and am struggling a bit at work after lunchtime.
    My Osteopath is also a Naturopath and he has given me digestive enzymes and acidophilus to take with meals – I should also mention I have nasty oral thrush that has not cleared with two lots of Nystatin and a course of fluconazole! Now the Omeprazole I have been taking since this started has a side effect of thrush – not common and not likely according to my doc but….. is slowly getting better (very slowly) since I started the enzymes and acidophilus. So result there. Have now been off the Omeprazole for 5 days – and to be honest am living on the enzymes etc supplemented by Antacids (calcium carbonate) as well as Andrews Salt (magnesium carbonate) as well as sucking mints! Last night the pain was so bad I gave in and took an Omeprazole – wrong move – it did nothing at all and I had my back manipulated this morning and felt better.
    So glad to see it’s not just me. It is hard to come off them, you can feel worse for a while and cutting down did not work for me. Replacing with enzymes and acidophilus and supplemented by over the counter remedies seems to be the way forward. I just hope I haven’t set myself back by my moment of weakness / desperation this morning at 4am!
    Am looking for any guidance on how long this is likely to go on for? I’m hoping for as short as possible and away to stock up on apples. Thanks for all the hints here.

  26. Curt

    I have had severe acid reflux for years and would NOT take any medication (prescription) at all. Tried Tums and that didn’t really work – then I stumbled upon two things that work incredibly well EVERY TIME!!! Fuji Apples and / or about a cup of cooked spinach. That solves it each time it occurs. I have a good stash of apples around – I have found that Fuji is the best type of apple to use for this. I’ve tried many others but none have been effective as the Fuji.
    I hope this helps someone with severe problems. I have been doing this for about 3 years now and it has been an incredible find for me – I just won’t take any of the OTC drugs or prescription drugs for this because of all of the side effects.
    Good luck and please let me know if it helps!

  27. kw

    Thanks for the info., having surgery next week and was scared! This really helped, I’m more worried about the pain and recovery…

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