cut papaya

Popular heartburn medicines called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be great for alleviating symptoms. If a person decides it is time to stop taking one of these PPIs, however, the withdrawal can trigger rebound acidity. The resulting heartburn may be very difficult to manage, and some people find it next to impossible to discontinue a PPI. This reader reports that papaya enzymes made a big difference in this effort.

Getting Off Prilosec:

Q. I recently went off Prilosec after reading that such heartburn drugs can weaken bones and increase the risk for dementia. To ease the resulting reflux, I drank apple cider vinegar tea with a little honey after meals.

This worked wonders for a few weeks. I still had occasional heartburn and chewed an antacid a few times a day.

Papaya Enzyme Tablets:

My daughter gave me a bottle of papaya chewable tabs and I eat three each day. I’ve not had a bout of heartburn since.

After years of being on Prilosec, I’m happy to say I’ve been off it for three months and am almost completely heartburn free. I don’t need the apple cider tea, and I’ve also dropped 10 pounds since I’ve been serving myself smaller portions to avoid overeating.

A. Stopping acid-suppressing drugs like esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) can be challenging because of rebound hyperacidity. The resulting reflux symptoms are often painful and long lasting.

Papaya enzymes have a reputation for aiding digestion, but there has been little research on this approach. The same could be said of apple cider vinegar for heartburn.

Although many readers affirm that both approaches are helpful, we do not have solid scientific evidence to support these remedies. One product, GutsyGum, contains the antacid calcium carbonate plus licorice extract, papain (papaya enzyme) and apple cider vinegar. In one small study, GutsyGum eased heartburn symptoms better than placebo gum (Journal of Dietary Supplements, June, 2015).

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  1. nancy

    I have stopped the PPIs and find I don’t have indigestion as much but still have the burning throat and mouth and horrible bitter taste. Looking forward, as always, to overcoming this naturally. It just takes so long!

  2. Patricia

    I had tried to get off the Prilosec and Zantac regimen for several years. The natural routes just don’t work … apple cider vinegar in water, mustard, grated ginger in tea — those things caused me an instant flare of painful heartburn.

    The only thing that’s helping me is exercise. If I force myself to walk 3 to 4 miles every day, including uphill, my acid reflux is much reduced. I’ve never read any studies to show the effect of exercise on GERD or acid reflux, but I assure you, it’s worked for me.
    Good luck, everybody!

  3. Jodi

    Thank you for this article and the thoughts and opinions of other sufferers. I am a 5-year breast cancer survivor with chronic side effects from chemotherapy. Have disorders ranging from GERD, arthritis, disc disesase, and pain. So much so that I, of course, have been on several slews of medicated regimens. I recently ran out of my doctor-prescribed omeprazole. Ive been taking omeprazole for 4 months. Some months in the past I just did not take daily dosages and remembered perhaps going for a week or so without it with no recognized effects.

    The last 2 months I must have taken it routinely to have landed in the land of lunatics. The stomach pain I had experienced to begin was what precipitated my soliciting the doctor for help. Low and behold, I am in a full flare detox for 4 days now. I finally had the peace of mind to do research. Thank you for this site. I know my story is long but I’m hoping that my symptoms might help a fellow sufferer in a similar circumstance in need of relief. The true motive of my post is what I found to help soothe this eruption in my digestive system and ride out the battle. It’s a tea product I purchased in my hair salon. I know sounds crazy. It is filled with licorice and peppermint. Well, I wanted to share because it did allow me to feel better. Best wishes to all.

  4. Elizabeth

    This is very interesting. I would love to get off Nexium but I had Barretts & early dysplasia. This was eradicated with ablation. I am told there is no hope of getting off Nexium. I do not have heartburn but do have reflux. Nexium doesn’t do anything for reflux; Papaya does.
    Is there a chance I could be treated with just Papaya and diet modification?
    One doc told me my problem wasn’t caused by acid so PPI’S wouldn’t help me. I dont know how he concluded that but the Barretts & Dysplasia had to go. My last scope was clean.
    Is there hope?
    Also dear Teresa&Joe, so much info on FB promotes lemon for reflux & states that lemon becomes alkaline when ingested. Is ‘tis true? My docs never heard this & do not advise it.

  5. TMC

    Chewable papaya tablets are the “Magic” medicine at our house. Grand kids come in with an upset tummy, take 1 or 2 tablets, and all better!!!! It’s even helped with a “headache” a time or two. Although the headaches are usually caused by too much sunshine/heat or wrestling/playing around, it usually gets them to settle down a little bit, till the “headache” passes. And gets them to drink more water because you can’t take “medicine” without washing it down with a sip of water!! RIGHT? :) :)

  6. Nancy Kimberlain
    Spartanburg, SC

    Thank you, thank you for the papaya enzyme recommendation. I have been taking omeprazole for about 20 years and when I tried to stop, always had to go back to the medicine.

    I take 4 papaya enzyme tables and have started eating papaya fruit. Can you take more than 4 of the tablets per day? I feel a lot better and am happy to have something to help me get off the omeprazole. Too many bad effects with these medicines.

    Check our Voltaren tablets and write about it. I read where this may be something for cancer. I have had breast cancer and my doctor told me not to take the voltaren tablets as they were to hard on your stomach and he did not want me to take them with my cancer meds. I enjoy reading your reports each week. Thank
    you again.

    • Patricia

      Even walking a little more every day has really helped me. I still struggle with heartburn, but it’s much, much better.

  7. KT

    After years of intense heartburn, and upper endoscopy that showed acid damage, and a prescribed regimen of Nexium (twice a day) I read about the damage caused by being on Nexium.

    Originally, a gastro. Dr. told me I may need to be on Nexium for life. Five years later, my general Dr. warned me its side effects and urged me to get off of it, but said it would be very difficult to stop.I tried licorice tablets & tums, avoided coffee & alcohol & spicy foods – but none of this helped much.

    I read about papaya enzymes (here) and bought some tablets. About 8 months ago I started this regime that has worked!!!

    1 – Never eat until you’re stuffed
    2 – Gradually wean off of Nexium : From 2/day to 1/day to 1/every other day to 1/every 3rd day to 1 every 4th day, etc. This step takes months
    3 – While weaning off of Nexium, take one licorice tablet in the morning and a papaya enzyme tablet after dinner (do not exceed recommended doses, but if allowed, take papaya enzymes after any large meal)
    4 – Take Tums (or similar product) on occasion if needed.
    5 – After 8 months, I am completely off Nexium, with no pain throughout the weaning process. I continue to take papaya enzyme tablets. They work!!!

  8. Barbara

    This Gutsy Gum sounds great. But where can I buy It? Barbara

  9. Ralph

    I’m curious how apple cider vinegar which I seem to remember is an acid aids in gastric reflux. Does anyone know the science here?

  10. MARIE
    No Carolina

    Recently I stopped taking Omeprozole because I thought it was causing a monthly loose bowel session. I found that was the cause and have not had a loose bowel since. I am going to try the Papaya for help with my occasional heartburn. I was taking the Omeprazole for many years and never realized it caused the bowel reaction

  11. Chris

    Is there any problem with taking papaya enzymes and heart meds?

    • Terry Graedon

      We are not aware of any problem with this combination.

  12. Thomas
    Portland, Oregon

    I began decreasing the bothersome heartburn by reducing the Prilosec pills (taken for years) to one tablet every other day, then to one tablet every other two days. At the same time I minimized the amount of daily coffee (from fresh ground beans) I consumed each day, I added fresh buttermilk to my diet, and an occasional helping of sauerkraut and lastly prepared a small bowl of low fat, plain yogurt with fresh berries for breakfast. The addition of the probiotics made an amazing difference. I now longer have heart burn. Best of luck, it worked for me.

  13. fran

    I started using almonds for heartburn when I stopped nexium. I had found the recommendation on an IBS newsletter I receive. I just eat a few and it actually works!

  14. Diane

    Chewing gum helps my heartburn but the gum one buys today is almost all chemicals and I’m not sure where to find some without any flavoring. The point of chewing gun is the increased saliva one swallows, so perhaps someone can come up with another answer.

    • Sue

      Try Glee Gum. You can buy it online unflavored.

  15. danindenver
    Denver, CO

    I suffered from chronic heartburn for decades. As I got older, I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. I perceived that I was overdosing on soda pop and one day, in a fit of obstinance, I stopped drinking Pepsi for about 3 years. Then my family discovered the low-carb diet fad. I tried it during a family vacation. By the end of my vacation, I noticed that I no longer had symptoms of indigestion. I threw away the balance of my bulk purchase of Pepcid AC and I rarely ever feel the need for it.

    Today, I don’t abstain from sugar, but I’ve cut out pretty much all rice, potatoes, pasta, and Italian food, in general. I rarely have soda pop.

    Living in Colorado, I eat lots of jalapenoes. I don’t know why doctors think chilies cause heartburn. It doesn’t for me. And I have mostly decaf coffee – lots of it.

    If I feel that I’m overloading on carbs, I eat an apple and I’m fine.

    I like carbs, but they don’t like me.

  16. SGH

    I’m in the process of tapering off Prilosec. It was my Dr.’s idea! Thank you for printing all the helpful ideas in this and other articles re getting off of PPI’s.

  17. William
    Comano Island WA.

    Three Ounces of Carrot juice after a big meal will take care of the rebound acidity! Even processed juice works. If you can’t get the luice eat a small whole carrot.

  18. Rzzycat

    I got off PPIs with Betaine HCl with Pepsin. It took a while to do so. I learned that thyroid disease can make it seem like you have too much acid when in fact you have low stomach acid. I am much happier without taking these drugs and feel like I am getting more nutrition out of what I eat. I barely need to use the Betaine now, there is very little reflux and if there is, just a little ACV with some apple juice and it’s all good.

  19. Kathryn

    I finally got off Prilosec after 20 years. I had tried previously but was not successful until after suffering another fracture decided I had to get off it. Dr. Michael Greger’s supplied the answer – dehydrated strawberries. They also help heal Barrett’s esophagus. They worked so well that I make a strawberry tincture which I take every day now. I also have a papaya tree which has been fruiting often this winter, so that may have helped also. I am so glad be done with the Prilosec after all these years.

  20. Kat

    I keep candied ginger on hand in case I get indigestion. I find chewing a piece or two (about the size of a quarter) usually does the trick. Or good old baking soda in water also helps. Doesn’t taste the best, but also helps. Of course, not overeating is the first defense against indigestion. I also take a good probiotic daily, which has also helped with a flatulance problem I was having.

  21. Doris
    North Carolina

    Four to five months ago I started to get acid reflux every day. First stopped drinking coffee and that helped a lot. Then started taking Tums and that also helped somewhat. Never took any PPIs. Then began taking papaya chewable tablets. The acid reflux now is only occasional. Whenever it does rear it’s ugly head, I chew on the papaya tablets and they solve the problem.

  22. Luis

    Papaya is incredibly easy to grow. The tree will not get large; you can plant them sort of close together (you need a male and female plant close for them to bear fruit)–and is practically self caring. In about two years after planting seeds, you will have a plentiful supply of yummy fruit.

    • Bob
      South Carolina

      How do you tell the difference between a male and female papaya seed? Will it grow in the south east region of the U.S.?

  23. Steve
    Right Coast, US

    Vinegar (any kind) is the cure for reflux. I got off PPIs 10 years ago and I’m 99.9% cured of my reflux. I did a fairly complete comment about it a year or two ago on this site, below another article. I’ll try to find it and link / repost.

  24. Conie

    I find Calcium carbonate to be very constipating.

    • Carrie

      I tried the vinegar cure and ended up in the ER with the worst heartburn ever. My doctor said: “Do I have to show you again how much acid erosion there was in your esophagus when you had your endoscopy last month? Vinegar is pure acetic acid. What were you thinking?”

      I had to stop taking Nexium because it caused a serious heart arrhythmia after about five or six year. I taper off using papaya tablets and still use them, That plus avoiding my food triggers for heartburn works very well for me. But vinegar…not so much.

      • Steve
        Right Coast, USA

        You could have fixed that situation with some antacid, which would have been faster and cheaper than a trip to the ER. I never had a heartburn problem, just reflux.

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