harm blood vessels, heartburn, heart disease

People with serious acid reflux are trapped in a terrible dilemma. To control their uncomfortable symptoms, their doctors prescribe a powerful acid-suppressing drug such as dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), pantoprazole (Protonix) or rabeprazole (AcipHex). These drugs are proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. Even if a person’s symptoms are not unbearable, they may be told to take a PPI to protect themselves from Barrett’s esophagus or a rare but grave complication, esophageal cancer.

Side Effects of PPIs:

The trouble is that the PPIs have been racking up serious side effects for the last few decades. When omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid) were first introduced, doctors believed their side effects were extremely minor. But since then we have learned that people who take a PPI are more likely to break a hip (Annals of Epidemiology, Apr., 2014), suffer diarrhea due to a C diff overgrowth (Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, July, 2013), develop chronic kidney disease (JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb., 2016) or have a heart attack (PLoS ONE, June 10, 2015). No wonder many readers have become nervous about taking a PPI.

Resolving the Dilemma:

Q. I have severe acid reflux problems. For treatment, I use Pepcid Complete twice a day. I also use Gaviscon and DGL intermittently. I live in constant worry about whether any of these is a PPI.

I know DGL is natural, but would you please settle this once and for all: is Pepcid Complete or Gaviscon considered a PPI?

A. Neither Pepcid Complete nor Gaviscon is a PPI (proton pump inhibitor). PPI drugs such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) are very effective at healing ulcers and treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Over the past decade, however, scientists have discovered some disturbing side effects from PPIs. The list now includes strokes, heart attacks, kidney damage, dementia, weakened bones and infections.

Gaviscon contains the antacids aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate. Pepcid Complete has three different compounds to help control heartburn: famotidine, calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide.

Controlling Reflux without a PPI:

For other strategies to ease indigestion and control heartburn we are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders. DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) is a natural compound derived from licorice that can be helpful against heartburn. Other natural favorites for easing heartburn or reflux include ginger-persimmon tea or apple cider vinegar. Over-the-counter approaches include antacids such as Tums or Maalox, or a half-teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.

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  1. ebm
    Florida
    Reply

    Francine, perhaps eliminating wheat, corn, dairy from your diet
    for a month will give you relief. Worked for an elderly friend who had pain every night. The gluten free diet worked wonders for him.
    Trader Joe, Aldi have gluten free bread, Publix carries Canyon
    Bakeshop and Udis bread Udis is too sweet for my taste), these
    are more expensive but worth it if you must have bread in your
    life. Try it and see how you feel.

  2. Martin
    London UK
    Reply

    The version of Gaviscon sold in the UK does not have aluminium in incidentally, I can’t think why anyone actually wanting to help a patient would add aluminium in the US version, as it makes you feel terribly dopey and thick, which of course, will turn into a permanent condition of dementia with long term use.

  3. Alice
    NYC
    Reply

    One word: Iberogast. My gastroenterologist recommended it, and it saved my sanity and my life. I got off the PPI and can now eat almost anything I want!

  4. george
    florida
    Reply

    I belong to a newsletter free a person world known specialist on heart burn, to much acidity in your body and how to alkalize your body better through diet etc. Through a short quiz I was astonished foods groups with higher acidity than others. i jut started taking omega 7 with sun buckthorn, also spirulina, goji bery, and the amala berry is very good to alkaline your body properly and cut down on real acidity foods or in more moderation.

  5. CP
    Springfield, MO
    Reply

    Baking Soda is the best and simplest way to get rid of acid reflux. A half teaspoon of soda in a half glass of water. Stir and drink. It will stop the acid from coming up, and any belching.

  6. James
    East Texas
    Reply

    You are controlled by ads. Money is your purpose.

  7. Carole
    Sydney, NSW Australia
    Reply

    I have read somewhere, and don’t ask me where, cos I cannot remember, that drinking a teaspoon of vinegar (ACV or other) before every meal will cure acid reflux in a week.
    If you don’t have an acid enough stomach, lots of food fails to be fully digested, and worse, bacteria, yeast and fungi don’t get killed off and then go on to infest/infect your lower intestines. I suspect Nexium is a particular evil as lots of people with Candida seem to be on Nexium by any other name.

  8. Jean
    VA
    Reply

    Please try elevating the head of the bed for a non-medication solution or at least a help. My cousin finally consented to putting the lifts under the head of the bed and she has seen wonderful results.

  9. Nancy
    wi
    Reply

    I take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every morning with water and/or juice (non-acidic like cherry). I was able to get off Nexium in about a week or two. It’s been two years now. I am greatly relieved.

  10. Bonnie
    Washington State
    Reply

    To control my heartburn, I buy ginger mints at Trader Joe’s and take one or two before or after I eat. I also sometimes eat a ginger cookie for mild symptoms. I have also taken ginger capsules. The ginger mints are handy to have in my purse.

  11. Juanita
    Texas
    Reply

    I used PPIs for almost 10 years (mostly aciphex). I decided to try one TBS apple cider vinegar mixed in 6 oz water with one TBS honey once per day. It completely stopped my GERD. What also works just as well is one TBS lemon juice in 6 oz water with 1/2 tsp baking soda. I have not needed PPIs or any type of antacid for over one year.

    I am so glad to have found out this remedy so I don’t have to wrorry about the side effects of PPIs.

  12. John
    Houston
    Reply

    As for reflux and heartburn I have had success eating raw almonds.Eat 6 either before or after a meal to control acid reflux.I keep a jar bedside in case of a flare up.

  13. Carol Kroll
    Reply

    The apple Cider Vinegar cure caused me a trip to the ER, where my doctor asked why I would take vinegar (which is pure acetic acid)? Although it felt like a heart attack, it was the vinegar. I also tried DGL licorice. At first it worked well, but after four or five days I began to have daily diarrhea. The culprit, for me, was the licorice. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t work for you. I’m off all prescription meds for GERD (daily heartburn), and avoid trigger foods as much as I can. If I do eat just a small amount of a trigger food,, I usually am all right. I also rely on generic Rolaids (calcium and magnesium) when I need to, but I only use one or two at the most, and not every day. This has worked for me for seven years. I had to stop taking Prilosec and/or Nexium because after four years of taking them, I developed a very serious heart arrhythmia, which my cardiologist said was likely from my heart not getting enough magnesium (a side effect of PPIs). Taking extra magnesium, he said, wouldn’t work. I had to get off the PPI. I feel a lot better now than when I took PPIs anyway. My food digests better.

  14. Mary
    Chicago Area
    Reply

    Sometimes a lack of stomach acid has the same symptoms as too much acid. In my 40’s, I had a “lump in the throat” feeling and went to a gastroenterology doctor who suggested medications for acid reflux. I declined & researched natural remedies: DGL, marshmallow root, eliminating tomato & citrus (also strawberries & most fruits) and an alkaline diet. All these helped intermittently. During my years of research, I read about adding hydrochloric acid (HCl), and if after taking a capsule, my stomach didn’t burn (signaling too much), then I was probably deficient (as are most older adults). I supplemented with 1-2 HCl capsules (650mg per capsule) with each meal, and boosted my stomach acid over a year or so. I now take a digestive enzyme that includes 200 mg Betaine HCl with just my largest meal of the day, and I have no more “lump in the throat” feeling. If your doctor says it’s acid reflux, ask to have an acid test done on your stomach acid rather than just relying on your symptoms. The side effects of the drugs are not worth the risk of a mis-diagnosis.

  15. txcaver
    USA
    Reply

    When might be the best time to take apple cider vinegar and or baking soda morning night noon??

    • Patricia
      Spartanburg SC
      Reply

      I never had the lump, cannot swallow at times n now wheezing after I had a Tonsillectomy. Yes I’ve had Acid Reflux for years and have taken 40 mg a day but after the Tonsillectomy my Acid Reflux is so serious now. I didn’t even know Acid Reflux could cause these kinds of issues. Thanks gonna get my Dr to do that test n try n go on these Meds . My Meds do not help at all with the lump, cannot swallow at times n the wheezing.

  16. Ellie
    Chapel Hill NC
    Reply

    A very effective relief for heartburn, which I experience from time to time, is turmeric. I learned that from one of your programs. I keep it in my medicine closet for when I need it during the night. Please include it in your recommendations.

  17. Cindy
    Reply

    I learned from your website the value of almonds to stop heartburn. I carry them everywhere. They work for me every time. I noticed you don’t mention them as often in your list of alternative things to help heart burn. I kept several of your columns from 2014 on this subject.

  18. Francine
    Buffalo
    Reply

    I have been on so many these drugs for 4 years and had scopes twice this past year in my throat and still have acid reflux I have hiatal hernia and really can’t digest my food and no one Dr. will help after 6 Dr. they think I am crazy I cry every night I vomit have consent constipation, diarrhea but really don’t know what else to do . Still looking for help I have tried Seltzer water, and apple cider vinegar.

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