person holding their stomach in pain, calm chronic diarrhea, IBS, low FODMAP diet

Q. I came off lansoprazole (Prevacid) over a year ago after taking it for four years for stomachaches. (I’d never had heartburn.) I stopped because I was suffering with muscle pains and couldn’t sleep.

Getting off was hard, but my doctor wants me to go back on these pills. Endoscopy shows an inflamed area on my esophagus and I have a hiatal hernia.

I’m scared to take them again but also scared not to! Do you have any advice on how to stop these pills without so much pain?

A. Strong acid suppressing drugs like lansoprazole and omeprazole can cause rebound hyperacidity when stopped suddenly. It is possible to wean off such drugs, as this reader describes:

“I used licorice root to help get myself off omeprazole. That drug sapped my body of magnesium and calcium. I lost numerous teeth and started to become arthritic. Then I eliminated dairy, sugar, white flour and saturated fats. My stomach problems ceased, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels came down and I lost about 40 pounds.”

Our Guide to Digestive Disorders contains other tips to help people get off these medicines, including a recipe for persimmon-ginger tea. Please discuss your plans with your doctor, so that she doesn’t assume you are taking the medication.

You may find some tips from other readers helpful. “Luke Skywalker” reported his experience:

I was prescribed Nexium when I first started suffering heartburn. This helped me most of the time but I wasn’t happy to keep taking them long term. I then looked further into the types of food I was eating. After discovering the acidity and alkaline levels in foods I then changed my diet to avoid most acidic foods. After noticing the effects after a few days I then started juicing high alkaline vegetables and drinking a cup in the morning and night before bed. Not only did I notice the reduction in acid reflux but also my energy levels increased.

“It blows my mind to think that this was all it told to resolve the systems of heartburn. Why aren’t the doctors suggesting this as a first alternative; do they even know the cause? If anyone out there wants to live a healthier life, try taking a closer look at your diet and try reducing your intake of acidic foods. It did wonders for me and I’m sure is the answer to the digestive problems most people suffer today. Search the internet for Alkaline and Acid food charts and you will be surprised. I think generally your diet should contain 70 – 80% alkaline & 20 -30% acidic foods. I first started out eliminating all acidic foods from my diet but now happy to add 20 – 30% acidic foods.”

Stella remarked, “I have to sing the praises of almond milk. I sip it for instant acid relief. It has twice the calcium, very low carbs and only 30 calories for the unsweetened. I take it in a travel mug with ice. I am only using a single tums when I go to sleep.”

Be sure to check the label on the almond milk you purchase if you intend it as a calcium source. We are not sure of the other beverage in Stella’s comparison, but almond milk is not naturally rich in this mineral. The calcium in it is mostly due to fortification.

And remember, our Guide to Digestive Disorders offers a wide variety of heartburn remedies and some suggestions about getting off powerful acid suppressing drugs. Here is a link to all our guides.

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  1. Corrine

    I’m been on a proton pump blocker (Prevacid) ever since my cancerous thyroid was removed. Due to retirement, a lower income and no insurance coverage on my Prevacid, my doctor suggested I take it only every other morning. I would like to get off of it altogether. Is there anyone in my situation who has any advice or info for me?

  2. Lois
    Newfoundland, Canada

    I have been on Prevacid, Losec eats for over 20 years with no side effects from the drugs. However my Dr is now saying the drug companies are now connecting kidney disease, dementia, and calcium loss with these drugs, and suggested I try to wean myself off them. I decided to take one every second day, but by day 6 I was so sick I had to go back on them, and even after a week back on them, I’m still miserable. Have nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, pains in my sides, tired, headaches, and just generally miserable. Also feeling agitated ! But surprisingly, no heartburn. Don’t know how long it will take before I’m back to feeling myself…thought it would be sooner since I’m back on the medication. Will try again when the timing is better, and may just eliminate one pill for the week, and then 2 etc. Will try taking the apple cider vinegar and see if that helps. However reading other people’s experiences makes me realize I am not unique in what I am feeling. That helps !!!

  3. ja

    I was in the hospital for a hip replacement. I was given percoset for pain. After about five days I developed an ulcer like pain. I stopped taking the percoset and have since tried milk of magnesia, mylanta, zantaz, and prilosec. None of these helped me. I was then prescribed nexium twice a day for one week and one a day after that. After about four days the pain was all gone. Then when I went down to once a day the pains all came back. Now after reading about nexium I want to go off of it. I never had any stomach problems before my surgery. I tried the ACV in water but couldn’t get it down. can you put it in juice? Any other suggestions? It has been five weeks since my surgery and I am suffering much more form the stomach problems then from the hip.

  4. hp

    I used to take Prilosec for months… then heard about taking apple cider vinegar. Started to taking that and my problems disappeared. I routinely take about a tablespoon every morning mixed with a small amount of water. I talked to my gastroenterologist about this which told me so many of his patients started using the vinegar and have found it helpful. He told me if it works, no harm using it.
    I also like the fact it is cheap and not a drug.

  5. H&BF

    We read in the Dallas Morning News 11/12/13 referring to the drugs, lansoprazole and omeprazole. My wife had an Endoscopy that showed an inflamed area of the esophagus and a possible hiatal hernia. Her doctor prescribed pantoprozole go be taken, one tablet in the morning. Is pantoprozole a safer drug for the same diagnosis than lansoprazole and omeprazole?
    Thanks for your relply.

  6. Liz M

    Re calcium in almond milk. It is hard to find one without calcium being added. As I take thyroid medication and you are not supposed to take calcium until four hours afterwards all the calcium fortification in milk/etc takes on a new aspect.

  7. ckm

    I was on Prilosec for many years and managed to wean myself off it by taking Pepcid AC daily…stil had some heartburn. Went in for an endoscopy and found I had Barretts. Now I’m afraid NOT to take prilosec.

  8. spm

    As a chemistry teacher, I am very curious to know where Luke Skywalker is finding all these “alkaline” foods. The only food that I am aware of that is basic (alkaline) is eggs; as far as I know ALL other foods are acidic, even if only slightly so, with the possible exception of pure oils which are neutral. I will definitely do as he suggests and search the internet for alkaline food charts, remembering not to believe everything that I read on the internet!

  9. CAW

    Just passed three month mark from stopping Aciphex. It was a long hard process but so worth it. I find that anything with yeast in it caused heartburn so have stopped all white processed flour products and trying to avoid all wheat and go gluten free. Gluten free products have improved in taste and this new way of eating really helps. Take a generic otc Tagamet before eating spicy foods etc. as a precaution. Works for about 8 hours so not losing a days worth of absorbing vitamins from food.

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