The People's Perspective on Medicine

Heartburn Drugs Are Hard to Stop

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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Digestive Disorders
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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.

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.

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 .

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!

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?

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.

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!

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 :-)

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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?

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,
-e

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?

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. :(

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 :-(

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.

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.

Way to go badnice! I admire your perseverance.

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!

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?

Restless leg syndrom is caused by insufficient magnesium.

How did you do it?

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…

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.

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!

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

When you first started the baking soda, did you remain on the PPI for a while? Or did you replace the PPI with the baking soda? I have heard good things about this remedy but not sure how to go about starting it.

cold brew coffee – I call it coffee “essence” I heard about this years ago from some older friends of my mom who could not drink regular coffee anymore as it was too acidic for them. I tried making it and enjoyed it.
You can make your own coffee “essence” or coffee concentrate using the
method of this recipe:
8-10 tablespoons of coarse ground coffee to 4-5 cups of room temp water… steep in a covered pitcher [ non-metallic ] for 12 to 24 hours at room temp, then filter and store concentrate in a glass jar in fridge.
You would add 1-2 parts concentrate to 4 parts hot water & then heat further in microwave [ if needed ] to make regular strength coffee. I take out the amount of concentrate I want to use the next morning the night before so it it
is not ice cold when I use it to make coffee.
This coffee concentrate, added to hot water, makes coffee with a consistently mellow, fresh brewed flavor; the concentrate does not contain those elements in hot-water processed coffee that are responsible for bitter or acrid overtones. It is free of sediment and keeps fresh tasting for several weeks if refrigerated.
If the acidity of brewed coffee does not affect you then you may not wanted to bother making this, but it is good to know about and I don’t mind making it. I make enough to last me 4 days or so and then I make more. I use a coffee press – I have quite a large one – and it makes quick work of this.

Hi
I have now been off PPI’s for a week with no significant reflux.
I am having coconut milk several times a day but the biggest help has been slippery elm powder! Look it up! It is amazing. Good luck to you all, keeping my fingers crossed for us all.

Hi
I have just found this forum as I was researching problems with Proton Pump inhibitors. I have a hiatus hernia, I have taken them for over two years and had no idea the problems they can cause until I read an article in a newspaper about hip fractures! I have suffered for months and months with terrible muscles pains in my arms, legs and hips, which I read is another problem. When I had mentioned my pains to my Doctor, she never said Lansopazole could be the problem!
I want to get off them! But it is so confusing, should I take Aloe Vera,coconut milk DGL (what is DGL?) digestive enzymes? Any advice would be great.

In all the articles I have read on your website I do not see anyone complaining about the REFLUX coming up with such force that it causes ASPIRATION! (Only the nurse hinted at this)
I could deal with the stomach discomfort but not aspirating especially when asleep. I am not an obese person and watch my diet but when I tried to get off the PPI’s the Reflux was frightening!
I am looking into the new TIF surgery! Have you heard of it?
Thank you.

Please review my comment on hiatal hernia surgery I sent earlier. My hernia is back after four months. 4% of hiatal hernia repairs fail. I started having acid reflux and other symptoms, and an upper GI clearly shows a new hernia.
Hope you will follow up with your surgeon.

I had a hiatal hernia first diagnosed in 1985. The hernia finally started to affect my breathing so I had surgery at Duke Medical in Durham, NC in June 2011. The hernia was gone in late August, 2011, but reappeared in November, 2011. So now I have the same acid reflux as prior to the surgery, and I’m back on Prevacid.
For the record, the three months following the surgery were awful. There was continuous nausea. I lived off mashed potatoes and other mostly liquid food. I lost a lot of weight, but it was a miserable time. All for nothing since the hernia is there again, only smaller…
I’m going to try the suggestions of other who have acid reflux.

I read about serving a handful of almonds to dinner guests after a meal to help with digestion. I tried it for myself and it worked immediately for moderate acid reflux. I read in People’s Pharmacy about coconut milk and I’ve been using that for more severe reflux. It works well.
I have been cautioned about constipation, but so far, no problem. I don’t use coconut milk every day. I have managed to never have to use the PPI’s.

I have been taking 2 tablespoon of organic vinegar 1/4 teas. baking soda 1 cup of water mixed together three time a day for 5 days, off two days. I started the first of Jan. I have only taken two or maybe three Omeprozole. This has worked for me.

Only one other person here has mentioned gluten intolerance (Dru on October 18, 2011) which really surprises me, as it did Dru. I think this must be the most medically neglected condition of all — probably because it can’t be treated with drugs or surgery, but only by changing what you eat! And sometimes gluten intolerance/sensitivity won’t show up on medical tests for celiac disease, but it can still cause terrible heartburn. You can test yourself for it like I did, by avoiding wheat-based carbos for a few days and see if you feel better. My heartburn stopped and I ended up throwing out my Nexium.
Estimates of celiac disease and gluten intolerance run as high as 15% of the population, so it’s not a rare condition. Anybody with frequent heartburn or chronic digestive problems should rule it out by avoiding wheat-based foods for a few days. It ain’t rocket science!
People’s Pharmacy response: Anyone who truly suspects celiac disease should NOT stop gluten before testing, since that may interfere with an accurate diagnosis. After getting a celiac diagnosis, it is essential to be scrupulous about avoiding gluten, not only baked goods but in medications, soy sauce, etc.

I was on Prilosec for years until it no longer worked. I have to be careful what I take as I get Migraines. I then went on Nexium along with a group of vitamins. I do not take Nexium everyday, only when needed and it still works. I do use Tums.
The remedy I do use when it seems unbearable is a heating pad on my chest. It relieves the heartburn as well as any pain associated with it. It is not on the high setting.
The doctor has had tests performed to check on my status and so far everything is negative. I believe I would be considered a senior citizen at 67, but I have had this problem for many years.

It is true! And my mom in the nursing home has not had leg cramps- she drinks coconut water 5X a week. Also, my husband is drinking it to helps his heart…a FIB- just good all the way around-

Nancy,
How do you cold brew coffee ?

Nancy,
I read somewhere that coconut water helps with heartburn. I had such painful heartburn and reflux that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. I have been drinking about 2 cups of coconut water for 4 days and it is almost completely gone and this is still with my morning cup of coffee. But I was also advised that cold brewing my coffee would reduce the acidity and help even more.
I cannot believe the quick response that I had to the coconut water… I am waiting because it is almost unbelievable that something this good helped with the pain I was having. Also I noticed that my legs are not tired or they don’t get cramps at night, a friend said that might be the potassium in the coconut water… I am hooked!!!

NO, either one is good – Zico or Vita Coco. I am in Weight Watchers, and they are rated two points per container.

Nancy V:
Is one brand better than the other? I mean in terms of contents- sugar and other ingredients etc.

I buy coconut water through Amazon- subscribe and save method.
Also, I heard Costco has good prices….

Where do you buy coconut water? How much is it per can?

I still think Coconut water is the best cure for me. …. I drink one every morning when I get up, and then coffee after that. If gastritis raises its ugly head (like when I had to go on a liquid diet for my colonoscopy) I just drink more coconut water- settles it right down- no more meds…

taking nexium for gastritis and esophageal irritation. trying to go off of it.
every time I downsize the dose from 40mg a day to 30mg (open capsules and pour some out). after a few days the throat tingling, tightness returns.
anyone have this and how do you deal with it? warm or hot water was suggested but doesn’t seem to help.

Great info posted here. I worry about any type of prolonged drug use and it’s long term effects on our bodies. I think it’s worth attempting to ween off drugs and try some natural remedies in conjunction with medication. Will definitely look into apples as many have suggested above

Well, I’m nine days post-op after overnight hiatal hernia surgery and I feel GREAT. I have a lot of energy, great mood, NO HEARTBURN, a little difficulty swallowing anything but soft foods, but that will improve as I recuperate and, best of all, no more PPIs.
Of course, I don’t minimize surgery. It’s not for everyone, but it’s lot better than 20 years of Nexium, Protonix, Asiphex and the rest of them and the damage they did to my body, not to mention the desperate and failed attempts to wean myself off these drugs.
I had a great laparoscopic bariatric surgeon at the Buffalo General Hospital who really knows his stuff (he does about 300 of these surgeries a year), and I recommend no less than a highly experienced surgeon with many procedures under his/her belt and really good surgical equipment, including those high-end special cameras.
No more magnesium deficiency, no more osteopenia, no more Barrett’s esophagus (I hope), no more terrible problems caused by nutritional deficiencies and vitamin and mineral malabsorbtion!! — Pharmaceutical Guinea Pig No More.

Hi PD, I have had Barretts for 9 years. Never had any GERD. Was found by Endoscopy after I had trouble swallowing. Would like to have the surgery done to repair the hiatal hernia I have in hopes of getting off this Nexium that now I have osteoporosis from being on so many years. If you are still on this forum would love to know how you are making out now?

I have a hiatal hernia, which is causing my heartburn. Before I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, I had heartburn everyday. I was not a heavy person, and I would not be able to eat most things without getting heartburn. It became especially bad at night when I was sleeping. I took tums on a continuous basis. When I went to the doctor and had an endoscopy done, that is when they saw the Hiatal hernia and said that was the reason I was having heartburn. I started with Aciphex, and am now on Omeprazole. I have not suffered since.
So, my question is: With someone who has a hiatal hernia which is causing the heartburn, how can I get relief without taking medication?
Thank you.

I am surely surprised that no one has mentioned gluten intolerance or possibly celiac disease as a cause for their reflux. CKM, who went on the low carb diet is essentially eliminating most of the gluten from the diet. With true celiac disease, however, eliminating 90% of the gluten from the diet is like being 90% pregnant – it’s not possible, because the damage continues even if the symptoms abate, and they may not.
Only 100% elimination will help cure the damage caused by celiac disease. On the other hand, if you have non-celiac gluten intolerance/sensitivity you may prevent progression to celiac disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases by eliminating gluten, and the odds are pretty darn good that your reflux problems will also be only a past memory.

I first tried peeling them , then decided to leave peel on, could tell no difference.

All the complicated advice! Not necessary. I was on Prilosec for 5 years for frequent heartburn – I had it every day before the drug. I attempted to get off it, tried several of the remedies above to no avail. For unrelated reasons (I read Gary Taubes after hearing his interview on this radio show) I started the low carb diet. Heartburn vanished almost immediately. No breads, cereals, pasta, rice or sweets. It’s easier than you think when you can eat all the meat, butter and eggs you want. As a bonus I lost a few pounds; I weigh 99 lbs down from 110. Read the book or listen to the podcast. You will be a believer.

YES, apples work…..have done it 2 yrs. when Dr. prescribed PPI…. I don’t like to take meds. I have to peel them; find honey crisp (in season right now) best, but others work, too.

I also was told by a south east asian woman. Any type of apples will work (I think the best are the ones used for baking), I peel them … they also work for bad breath . baking soda is used in Europe’s villages (old remedy), 1 tsp. in a 6-8onz. of water (not cold).

With the skin or do you peel them?
I find apples. gala – sometimes bother me.

Apples work for me, too! I’ve found that RED DELICIOUS apples work the best for me. This was suggested to me by my nurse-midwife 25 years ago, and I remembered it when I developed GERD 5 years later. I would love to know if apples help anyone else.

I weaned myself off Prilosec several years ago by using Aloe vera juice and taking probiotics….worked for me.

I tried stopping Prilosec but had horrible heartburn and gerd. I read all the replies about others stopping these meds. Where do you get pickled ginger and coconut water? What is HCL with pepsid? And DGL licorice tablets? Why do doctors keep prescribing these meds for us if they aren’t good for us?

I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, Dermatomyositis, 11 years ago. It weakens or destroys muscle. I have been on acid suppressing drugs, generic Zantac 150 all of that time. The doctor who put me on it was familiar with my disease and said the round muscles that closed off the stomach are to weak to restrain the acid. As they are impossible to exercise into better control the only thing I could do was keep the acid under control.
I am now technically in remission from the DM but the muscle weakness isn’t reversible. I am worried about the acid suppressing drugs not allowing me to get the full benefit of the nutrients I take in. I am currently having memory problems that scare me. I am just 61. I had an MRI to rule out the possibility of small strokes. I have a history of AFib and have three heart stents. Any suggestions?

I was taking 40 Mg Nexium each morning and 20 mg Omeprozole each dinner time, and getting no relief. My gastroenterologist rxed 40 mg Nexium 2x/day. I had an irritation of the esophagus which threatened to become Barrett’s. I had to go off all my NSAIDs for 9 days for a test of my LES (lower esoph. sphincter) and suffered like the fires of hell, but after a week, the misery lessened.
I rejected the Nexium, used the Omeprozole sparingly with Prelief and calcium chewables, and finally discontinued all NSAIDs. I tried ginger, papaya tablets, but found fresh papaya and dried papaya help most, both before meals and between. I also use occasional Zantac and lots of chewables, but discomfort is much less and fleeting.
The side benefit of getting off the NSAIDs was losing nearly 20 lbs w/o trying, and keeping it off for two years now. My only problem is my very weak LES, which allows gas and gastric juice back up and causes a terrible cough and running nose. No solution for that except cough medicine. So, I say, if you can, suffer now for the benefit later!
People’s Pharmacy response: Carol, we assume that you mean acid-suppressing drugs rather than pain-relieving NSAIDs like ibuprofen that would cause digestive irritation. Congratulations on this successful strategy.

I’ve been taking omeprazole for the last 15 years–for the last 10 years it’s been 20 mg twice a day. I’ve tried a few times to stop taking it or to cut back to just 20 mg once a day, but always experienced severe reflux after just one day.
Recently, our local pharmacist suggested the following: take half the dosage of omeprazole that you normally take along with fomatidine. If you’re taking 20 mg of omeprazole just once a day, then cut to 10 mg and take with the fomatidine. Since I was taking omeprazole twice a day, I took 10 mg twice a day along with the fomatidine. Do this for two weeks. For the next two weeks, cut the omeprazole to every other day, while taking the fomatidine every day. After that, you should be able to manage your GERD with just the fomatidine.
A friend followed this routine and is now completely off omeprazole. I managed to cut the omeprazole completely for a week, but started have reflux again, so I’ve gone back to 10 mg every other day for the next week. I hope to be able to drop it completely after that. I’ve been supplementing the fomatine with DGL as needed.

yes, apples and almonds, both are used for acid reflex (an oriental lady told me and it worked for me).

I got off Prilosec using Prelief, regular Rolaids, and chewing gum.

I am amazed at the number of people that deal with reflux disorders for years at a time and continue to take medication after medication in search of relief. After dealing with what he thought was heartburn for a few months, a loved one was diagnosed with GERD.
Medication did not help (he was told it might take a few months to “kick in”) and he was worse. After 6 weeks, he insisted on an endoscopy and it turns out he had a tumor. By the time it was discovered he was stage 4. After chemo, radiation and surgery, he is cancer free now – but I shutter to think of the outcome if he believed that reflux is just one of those things you live with.
What he is living with is a change in eating habits due to partial gastrectomy and he does take medication to help with the decreased levels of digestive enzymes.

I stopped taking Protonix then Prevacid by eating an apple (I chose fuji), after eating. Also I snacked on almonds. My Doctor laughed but it worked for me.

Wean the meds and suck on a piece of dark chocolate. I was told I had “Silent Reflux”. Did the Nexium, said no way, not living like this and read about dark chocolate for coughs on this site. I will get phlegm in throat that won’t go anywhere. Sometimes, rarely get the heartburn, but I have my standby medicine… BAG OF HERSEY’S SPECIAL DARK CHOCOLATE KISSES. And it works…. Take one, SUCK on it and let it dissolve in your system. I know the great people here at The People’s Pharmacy can tell you that ingredient in the chocolate that is miracle worker.
People’s Pharmacy response: Theobromine has been tested (double-blind) against cough and shown to be effective; but chocolate is often included on the list of foods that can make heartburn worse. This may vary from one person to another, but keep it in mind.

Sometime back I inquired of you about Prevacid as I been taking it for 16 yrs. I gradually tapered it off & have been taking an enzyme formula with every meal & so far so good–a whole month has gone by since I started doing this. Also use titralac if I feel the occasional need. Used to be able to get them at all drugstores & now only CVS carries them & in fact the pharmacist had to order them for me.
One of the replies I got from you was that these PPI drugs can cause nerve problems. I had a Morton’s neuroma that I finally had to get removed from my foot & still have had problems-seems to me that nerve fibers are trying to come back from the stump. Have taken an herbal combo that I got from an herbal book that I have & it has helped. Could all this be from the Prevacid? It has sure made me wonder. Thanks for your help!!

I have to agree with the person who submitted this question. I have been on PPIs for 6-7 years, and have tried to get off them several times over the past two. Once I thought I had beat it, and was off the PPI for about a month, but still depending on Maalox, Tums, Alka-Seltzer, enzymes, probiotics, and DGL to get through a few days. Just when I though I may never take the PPI again, the Maalox/Tums/Alka-Seltzer routine quit working, and the reflux was back with a vengeance.
I gave up, simply because I’m tired of being so miserable. The reflux was controlling my life. I’m now taking the PPI everyday, but I continue to be afraid of what this medication is doing to my body long term. I would give anything to get off this medication!

I was on Protonix for many years; before that I used to call myself the heartburn queen of the world. Once I encountered the donut hole and went thru it twice, I began to replace as many name brand medications as possible with OTC items. Protonix was one of the first to go. Particularly after there were no more samples to be had from the doctor.
I went to Prevacid, OTC, and it was fine. BTW, I changed nothing but the statin; dropped lipitor altogether. Then I began decreasing the number of days per week that I took the medication, starting with stopping it on Saturdays. It took several months, but now I take nothing, have no heartburn. It took six to eight months, there were times I had to add back the one I skipped, but the work was well worth it. I think it is important to eat acidic foods, such as veggies, to elicit an alkaline response from the body. I also eat pickled foods, especially sauerkraut, with no ill effects.
My heartburn was so bad I could not go anywhere without tums, did experience rebound heartburn then, but not while tapering off. You can but try, my experience may or may not match yours.

After a long regimine of NSAIDS for chronic pain, I developed chronic GERD. When my GI doctor found out, she made me stop the Ibuprofen and prescribed 20mg of Famotidine at bedtime. No more reflux.
Before that, I was trying one tablespoon of vinegar (apple or wine types) 2-3 times daily. That helped a lot. Same concept about getting MORE acid into the system. Many meds kill the natural flora in our stomach.

Good info….thanks.

MJM, I use the things you suggest but have not been able to get off Prevacid. One year I had reduced it significantly. But all I have to do is get some irritant like a cold and it gets worse again. I don’t like the use of acid suppressants but I can’t let the reflux take over. Oddly enough I seldom get heartburn. I didn’t have it prior to the diagnosis but I get it now sometimes. I guess the doctors don’t know what else to do either.
PG

At what point did you quit taking the Prilosec? Was it gradual? If so, what was the schedule for stopping the Prilosec? Thanks.

I would recommend eating a few slices of pickled ginger, the kind that is used as a palate cleanser when eating sushi. Ginger has a soothing effect on the stomach, and besides, tastes good.

It appears that some people can get off these drugs easier than others.
After 3 weeks I went off for a colonscopy for 2 days and had horrible rebound. I am back on but do want to get off, since the pills are causing me cramps and not helping that much. But I think it is going to be rather difficult.
It is all very well the gastros disagree about the difficulty of getting off but they are not the ones experiencing the rebound, and not everyone does I gather.
More needs to be done. hcl is not for everyone.

My reflux was so severe that I thought I would never be off meds but used old remedy of baking soda in water for several weeks and have been off meds for years now. Only use the baking soda occasionally when I have a flare up. This remedy really works since my Dr. told me I had one of the worst cases he had ever seen.

I have been on these proton pump inhibitors since they came out. I tried desperately to get off them and could not w/o terrible heartburn. I have a hiatal hernia and finally took myself to an EXCELLENT bariatric surgeon and am scheduled for surgery. Why? The drugs cause anemia, an apparent magnesium deficiency (if you want to see the awful consequences of that, look it up on Google) and serious bone density problems.
In all the years I have been on this stuff, my GI docs recommend a blood test, magnesium or calcium or zinc supplements or even an upper scope to see what was going on because I had no symptoms that would appear to call for testing. When I did ask for a scope, I had Barrett’s esophagus and an ulcer, so I guess the PPIs didn’t prevent acid production as much as he or I had thought.
The point is that these drugs are not neutral in their effect. They have serious side effects that don’t show up as acute problems, but as chronic problems. Magnesium deficiency alone, which I now know is provoked by PPIs, has many, many possible effects from depression to muscle pain and way beyond.

It sounds like your case is more severe, but I wanted to describe how I recently succeeded in getting off Prilosec. The first time I tried to taper off, I would skip a whole pill on certain days; that didn’t work. For the second try, I bought a pill cutter and started tapering VERY gradually: 3/4 of a pill every day for several weeks, then half for several weeks, then 1/3, then 1/4. At the end I was taking 1/4 pill every three days. I used DGL licorice before most meals and Tums as needed. Concurrently I cut down or eliminated coffee, chocolate, wine, spicy foods. I also usually, but not always, avoid starchy foods and large meals. I now can have those foods occasionally, but I always have Tums available.

..yes, it was “hell fire”… but the third time with Prerelief, DGL, Tums Ultra,..everything suggested..and I am in the fourth week of cold turkey withdrawal from @20years of Prilosec use…. a blood test showed blood/iron results way out of the normal range..”You must be bleeding somewhere… rush the endo and colonoscopy”… even tho the colonoscopy 12 months earlier had shown nothing…”results: an inflamed stomach… increase the Prilosec to two times a day…. take iron supplements”… well, the iron supplements brought the blood work up into the normal range… but no one but me seemed concerned about what cause the deficiency to begin with… until “I” happened to read the article about Prilosec and its effect on the body after long use: anemia, fatigue, breathlessness and low vitamin B12…. things have been rough and I am learning… but I am willing to deal with the rebound to garner the final results..better gastro/body health!

I had no problem quitting Prilosec last June after taking a 40mg tab every night for 8 years. Sometimes I need to take a (generic) Pepsid A/C or just a Tums if I eat my Mother-in Law’s delicious Italian cooking. Sadly, I did not gain the benefits of stopping Prilosec that I had read about herein, but it’s always a plus to stop taking a prescription drug if you don’t need it.

Coconut water! This is what helps me. I drink one box every morning. I am off all meds. When I had to fast for my colonoscopy, and drank coffee on a very empty stomach, well the acid attack returned, So, since I was allowed some clear juice, I drank coconut water…. and my stomach was soothed. Google coconut water for acid reflux, etc… lots of info on it. Love virgin coconut oil, too.

I went through this and agree it is pure hell. But I finally got help – real help and now I’m cured. This is what I did:
15 minutes before eating I would have a DGL licorice tablet.
With my meal I’d have two digestive enzymes and a probiotic tablet. All of these can be bought at the health food store.
I kept up this regimen for two months while continuing with with Prilosec. I also stopped drinking red wine, drank low acid coffee from Trader Joes, regulated my meals to three meals a day at about the same time, reduced the meal sizes and didn’t eat after dinner. — There is an article you can read on http://www.endfatigue.com — search acid reflux. It’s written by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum.
I still get an acid stomach once in a while, but I just take a DGL and it goes away.
Hope you try this. It worked for me and I was a bad case!

Concerning today’s article on Prilosec. My wife had been on prilosec for years and was diagnosed with anemia and was taking Iron suppl. She stopped it after it was on the news about interaction between prilosec and Plavix that she also takes, after 2 weeks her iron blood test were normal. She started taking Zantac 150 mg every morning, it works better than the Prilosec for her.

I was advised by 2 physicians to take HCL. (I use a HCL with Pepsin). I argued at first as to why would I add more acid, but finally tried it. I no longer needed PPI. I took HCL regularly for about one year. Now I only take it once in a while (4 times this last year). The idea is that one may not produce enough acid, especially in older people, and so the food does not digest like it should and comes up in the esophagus – refluxes.

I have been on Prilosec for a long time. My bone mass began to suffer, even with the Boniva I take monthly. I have always eaten breads, red meats,sauces, etc. I am going to give them up so I can get off Prilosec. Thank you Nancy D.

You can give up acid reflux medicine. I have been off all medicine since July. You must give up foods that trigger the reflux and never eat them again. The foods that I have given up are breads, dense food particularly red meats, onions, spices, tomato based products. I was taking omeprezale for at least 4 or 5 years. I’ve never felt better. Good luck!

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