fennel seeds

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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  1. Dr Richard
    Germany/Palm Beach

    Yesterday, at the end of a Craniosacral class, I demonstrated a visceral and trigger point technique for the Hiatal hernia. My patient tested postive and I demonstrated corrective measures for the inflamed tissues. In addition, I would now add the use of fennel seeds or fennel tea to support the treatments. Her condition did improve after five minutes of therapy.
    the good news she does not need surgery, no PPI’s and she can drink red wine and grapfruit juice without reflux. Dr. Richard from Wurselen-Aachen

  2. Roxane
    tempe az

    I would second the comments above. Could you explain how exactly to use the fennel seeds as a treatment for heartburn. Got off those horrific PPI’s 3 years ago after 9 years of use where they did more harm than good and really didn’t work despite the lifestyle changes. Turns out some of the reflux was base rather than acid so switched to a low acid diet and continued the lifestyle changes with much better control of GERD and LPR. Occasionally it flares up and during those times it would be nice to try the fennel. But exactly how? Love your podcasts and have listened for years.

  3. mary

    Have noticed a bowl of spices at the register of some Indian restaurants. A small spoon for people to take some and chew after dinner… Fennel is one of the seeds. Perhaps something to try before feel a need for medications? Just a thought.

  4. Liz

    I, too, took PPI’s for a long time – seven years, and after reading about the possible side effects, decided to wean myself off. It was not easy, but after almost a year, I could get through a day without too much discomfort. Unfortunately, the symptoms returned, I had an Upper Endoscopy, and the findings were Barretts, hiatial hernia and Scleroderma esophagus (diagnosed with Scleroderma 9 years earlier). Needless to say, I am back on the PPI’s and heartburn free.
    PLEASE don’t self diagnose like I did. Tell your doctor you want to get off the PPI and have a discussion if it is a good idea or not. In my case, it probably was not such a good idea.

  5. Bernadette Kologinczak

    If it is possible to help acid reflux problems by using natural means, such as fennel, why don’t doctors tell us to try these natural remedies, instead of immediately putting us on prescription meds that are known to have a rebound effect? We need to discuss natural remedies with our doctors, and find what will work best for our health.

  6. Rita

    Taking BetaineHCL with meals also helps with heartburn and is a better remedy to turn to than acid suppressing drugs. Very few people with GERD actually produce too much acid and probably have too little. The esophageal sphincter closes in reaction to high acid but many do not produce enough acid to cause closure. However any amount of acid will cause reflux symptoms and the stomach will always be more acidic than the esophagus.

  7. MR

    Fennel seeds — how many? do you just chew some? make fennel tea?
    The lack of any dosage guidance is endemic in your posts, making them perhaps less useful than they might be.
    True also of, for example, using listerine against dandruff — leave it on, wash it off, shampoo before or after, etc. none of this specified.

    • Caroline
      Clinton, Mississippi

      Doses or amounts not specified?

      Possibly because their lawyers have advised them not to do so.

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