The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Help Acid Reflux Without a PPI

As the list of PPI side effects has grown longer and scarier, readers are hoping to find a way to control heartburn symptoms without taking a PPI.
Cardiac pain. Mature woman holds her heart

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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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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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.

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.

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!

iberogast is easily found in the US.

My grandmother (I am 88) used to press on her chest and say, ” I believe I better have a dose of ‘sody’ (baking soda).” She would put a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water, and her heartburn was cured.

Try it before any of these “nowadays” cures!

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.

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.

You are controlled by ads. Money is your purpose.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

That is what I figured out as well. I tried to stop taking them and was fine for a while but started getting that globus feeling again. I am hypothyroid, and autoimmune disease causes low stomach acid so I guess I am in it for the long haul.

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

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.

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.

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.

Cindy, I second that! Almonds have always worked for me. They’re such an easy remedy. No measuring or mixing, just pop a few. I eat 4-5, slowly, and the heartburn is gone.

The papaya enzyme chewable tablets are great too. I’ve gotten them at health food and organic grocery stores.

These are both simple and effective remedies. And more appealing than vinegar.

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.

Stomach problems are so hard to deal with, and as far as I am concerned, even harder for doctors to figure out or even believe. I have even had a doctor shrug and tell me “I guess you will have to wait it out”. I have had GERD for over 20 years. I have undergone scoping down to my stomach and several medications/doctors. The acid has caused inflammation/wheezing in my bronchial tubes, pain in my throat like I had something stuck, pain in my stomach, poor digestion and so much more. I have figured out my triggers. Have no problem with spicy stuff or acidic stuff. My problem is sugary foods and drinks. I do not digest certain foods well at all, and they are things I love to eat like raw carrots, corn, and lettuce. I have found these wonderful and yummy papaya chewable supplements that aid in digestion, and they seem to really help the digestion problems but sometimes I just flat out have to give my stomach a rest, and skip a meal, and drink broth and tea so everything can make it’s way out of my stomach.

I have managed to deal with my GERD by avoiding my triggers and chug a little baking soda water if I happen to overdo it. I wish you the best of luck. You are not crazy even when those “lazy” doctors look at you like you are. It is their fault for not being able to do their job. I believe that too often doctors go by the book on both figuring out the problem or giving medicine to help it. Unfortunately, there is nobody out there that came with an owner’s manual, and the rigidity of their beliefs in their books leads them sometimes to be very ineffective in real life cases.

It really takes a special doctor to listen to their patients and realize that people don’t match lists in medical books. See if you can find a way to fix the hernia. Then figure out your trigger foods. Also, just a suggestion: I have had to eat gluten-free for several years, which corrected constant diarrhea. I didn’t do it because of that reason either. That was an unintended benefit. Gluten bothers everyone differently. I learned this by attending seminars with other gluten-sensitive people. In my case it was affecting my entire nervous system so badly they thought I had MS. I didn’t, and it took a lot of money to prove that, when it was all diet-related.

If you have stomach issues, though, I would highly recommend you try a gluten-free diet. I’ve heard a lot of people pooh-pooh it as a tasteless and extremely restrictive diet. I want to tell you, I am a foodie; I eat out all the time. I feel like I have plenty of options (that also depends on the severity of the allergy or sensitivity). I enjoy pretty much everything that everyone else does. The one exception being baked goods, and there are places I have found that offer very yummy baked goods that I can eat so I don’t feel deprived.

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