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Fennel Seeds Help Overcome Heartburn Drug Withdrawal

One reader found that eating fennel seeds could ease the rebound acidity that makes quitting a PPI drug like omeprazole so difficult.

We hear often from people who have had difficulty discontinuing a proton pump inhibitor drug such as omeprazole, esomeprazole or lansoprazole. These acid-suppressing drugs are widely prescribed for stomach pain, though they are properly designated only for treating GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Such medications are extremely effective at shutting down acid production. But the entire time that a person takes such a drug, the body is struggling to overcome the acid suppression. This can lead to ferocious rebound hyperacidity once a person stops taking the medicine. We love hearing about clever remedies that can help people get past the weeks of heartburn that may result, so we were pleased to receive this testimonial:

Q. I saw a letter from a reader who was unable to come off proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). You already published the solution.

Fennel Seeds to Ease Off PPIs:

Several years ago a reader wrote about her success getting off the medicine by taking fennel seeds. I had the same problem and tried the fennel seeds.

I was also able to come off PPIs. For the past three years, I’ve been drug free with only occasional mild heartburn symptoms. I hope you will continue to recommend this to readers who don’t know how to stop esomeprazole and similar medicines.

A. People who take acid-suppressing drugs like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec) or pantoprazole (Protonix) for more than a few weeks risk acid rebound when they stop. One woman shared her experience:

“I’d been taking omeprazole but forgot to take it with me when I traveled to California for two weeks. One day my whole chest was on fire. I saw a local pharmacist and he said it was because I stopped the omeprazole and I was experiencing rebound hyperacidity.”

Strategies for Stopping a PPI:

There are several strategies for weaning off PPIs. One involves gradually reducing the dose of drug while drinking fennel seed tea or taking fennel seed capsules. Other readers report success sipping a persimmon-ginger-cinnamon punch. For more details about these and other natural ways to control heartburn we are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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