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How to Use Herbs and Diet to Get Off Prevacid Despite Withdrawal Symptoms

Q. I came off lansoprazole (Prevacid) over a year ago after taking it for four years for stomachaches. (I’d never had heartburn.) I stopped because I was suffering with muscle pains and couldn’t sleep.

Getting off was hard, but my doctor wants me to go back on these pills. Endoscopy shows an inflamed area on my esophagus and I have a hiatal hernia.

I’m scared to take them again but also scared not to! Do you have any advice on how to stop these pills without so much pain?

A. Strong acid suppressing drugs like lansoprazole and omeprazole can cause rebound hyperacidity when stopped suddenly. It is possible to wean off such drugs, as this reader describes:

“I used licorice root to help get myself off omeprazole. That drug sapped my body of magnesium and calcium. I lost numerous teeth and started to become arthritic. Then I eliminated dairy, sugar, white flour and saturated fats. My stomach problems ceased, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels came down and I lost about 40 pounds.”

Our Guide to Digestive Disorders contains other tips to help people get off these medicines, including a recipe for persimmon-ginger tea. Please discuss your plans with your doctor, so that she doesn’t assume you are taking the medication.

You may find some tips from other readers helpful. “Luke Skywalker” reported his experience:

I was prescribed Nexium when I first started suffering heartburn. This helped me most of the time but I wasn’t happy to keep taking them long term. I then looked further into the types of food I was eating. After discovering the acidity and alkaline levels in foods I then changed my diet to avoid most acidic foods. After noticing the effects after a few days I then started juicing high alkaline vegetables and drinking a cup in the morning and night before bed. Not only did I notice the reduction in acid reflux but also my energy levels increased.

“It blows my mind to think that this was all it told to resolve the systems of heartburn. Why aren’t the doctors suggesting this as a first alternative; do they even know the cause? If anyone out there wants to live a healthier life, try taking a closer look at your diet and try reducing your intake of acidic foods. It did wonders for me and I’m sure is the answer to the digestive problems most people suffer today. Search the internet for Alkaline and Acid food charts and you will be surprised. I think generally your diet should contain 70 – 80% alkaline & 20 -30% acidic foods. I first started out eliminating all acidic foods from my diet but now happy to add 20 – 30% acidic foods.”

Stella remarked, “I have to sing the praises of almond milk. I sip it for instant acid relief. It has twice the calcium, very low carbs and only 30 calories for the unsweetened. I take it in a travel mug with ice. I am only using a single tums when I go to sleep.”

Be sure to check the label on the almond milk you purchase if you intend it as a calcium source. We are not sure of the other beverage in Stella’s comparison, but almond milk is not naturally rich in this mineral. The calcium in it is mostly due to fortification.

And remember, our Guide to Digestive Disorders offers a wide variety of heartburn remedies and some suggestions about getting off powerful acid suppressing drugs. Here is a link to all our guides.

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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..
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