The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Heartburn Medicine Addictive?

Last year over 80 million prescriptions were dispensed for powerful acid-suppressing drugs such as Aciphex, Nexium, omeprazole, Prevacid and Protonix. That doesn’t even count the millions of doses of Prilosec OTC that were purchased without a doctor’s supervision.
This makes these proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) among the most popular pills in the pharmacy. One might conclude that Americans suffer a lot of bellyaches. That’s hardly any wonder, given how we eat on the run and indulge in so much fast food.

There may be another more insidious reason for the huge number of PPI prescriptions dispensed each year. These medicines might be considered “addicting.” No one is getting high on Nexium or Prilosec. But when such medications are stopped, people often suffer serious rebound hyperacidity.

Many physicians have assumed that people who suffer heartburn or reflux would naturally experience a return of their symptoms when they stopped a PPI. But an innovative new study from Denmark suggests a different explanation (Gastroenterology, July, 2009).

Researchers randomly assigned 120 healthy volunteers to receive either a PPI (Nexium) or a look-alike placebo. After eight weeks on the acid-suppressing drug, a placebo was substituted without the subjects’ knowledge. Heartburn symptoms were evaluated in both groups.

The people who had taken Nexium for two months suffered significant heartburn, indigestion and acid regurgitation after they were switched to placebo. The investigators concluded: “PPI therapy for 8 weeks induces acid-related symptoms in healthy volunteers after withdrawal.”

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise to readers of The People’s Pharmacy. Many have shared stories like this: “I started taking Prilosec in the 90s. I now take Prevacid every day. Without it, I had heartburn so bad I thought I was having a heart attack.”

Another reader reported: “I’ve had exactly the same problem with Protonix and Nexium. I’ve tried to go off Protonix three times but I suffer terrible burning in my stomach. My doctor just says, ‘Maybe you need it.’ But I know there are side effects, and I’d like to find another way to take care of my stomach problems.”

An editorial comment on the Danish study suggests that the indiscriminate use of PPI medications could aggravate the very symptoms that these drugs are supposed to treat and lead to an increased requirement for long-term therapy.

Although some patients must take acid-suppressing drugs to prevent damage to the esophagus, there are growing concerns about long-term use of such medicines. Some research indicates that prolonged use may lead to an increased risk of pneumonia, weakened bones and vitamin B12 deficiency (American Journal of Gastroenterology, March, 2009).

For an in-depth review of the benefits and risks of acid-suppressing drugs and a discussion of alternative approaches for indigestion, readers may wish to consult Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. It is available in libraries, bookstores and online at Doctors should warn patients about the difficulties of discontinuing PPI therapy before they hand out new prescriptions for these drugs.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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The more I know the less I know…. It’s known that habit forming is a product of the solution….it’s similar to smoking and drinking……the effects do more damage than the original solution…. Stop! ask the ???? If the answers are full of disclaimers Ask some more!

I was on a off name brand Acid Reducer because when I was about 12 I could go days without eating because my stomach would hurt so bad and it would feel as if my body was shutting down on me from the pain, my grandfather had an acid reducer due to the fact that he gets horrible heart burn so he gave me one and it helped me eat and made me feel a hundred times better.

Now, 7 years later, I decided to stop taking them because I was taking them twice a day one when I got up and one when I laid down for the night but it seemed to be making me more sick than I was before, now I’m worried because it still seems like every time I eat I end up not feeling well and I have been wondering if its due to taking the medicine for so long or if it could all be myself making me sick just thinking about it. Seeing that I’m not the only one that has had these issues makes me feel a little better about it.

I have some serious issues with my stomach – heartburn, gerds and acid reflux, every meal was guaranteed pain. My doctor gave me everything available on the market to help me out. For a period I took Omeprezole, but the symptoms didn’t get away, it didn’t have a good effect on me, I suppose it’s not strong enough.
By now, the medicine that best helped me is Nexium. After taking it, all my discomfort and pains go away, it’s such a relief. I have a good insurance so buying Nexium isn’t that a problem for me. I will continue taking Nexium as long as there is no other better drug for my problems.

LC – Me too! Seven miserable days on protinix! I had drive me to the ER heartburn on it. I tried so hard to stick it out for what they think is esolphagilitis…no scope, so how could they really know.
Now it’s been two or three weeks and I’m finally feeling a wee bit better. I was also on prilosec before the protonix for two weeks, but the dosing — 40 mgs — of protonix did me in.
I should have stayed with the prilosec and weaned myself off. But now, I fear I’m doing myself more damage. The prilosec caused severe heartburn too.
I also have raspy voice. I’m on the induction diet for the most part, but it’s SO hard.
These comments have made me feel better.

Hi Ann, thank you so much for sharing. I am now trying to get off nexium and don’t know the path to follow. I have been on some sort of PPI’s or H2Bs for the last 20+ years. About 5 years ago I became a diabetic (I don’t eat much meat and weigh 123 lbs). I became horribly constipated and Dr. recommended miralax and glycolax and all the other laxes you can imagine. My stomach was just torn.
So I took myself off librax, night time nexium and night time pepcid plus the six a day motilium. I now only take one nexium a day. Can you please tell me how I can kick this one a day nexium habit? I tried the last eight days altering with pepcid but broke down and took nexium after seven days. I was dizzy, shaking and horrible heartburn. your assistance will be greatly appreciated. In friendship, Shashi

I was protonix for 6 days. I couldn’t stand the side effects so I called to find out if I could stop. The answer was “yes.” I stopped and felt like I was recovering fine but on the 13th day out I had the worst burn sensation in my stomach I ever felt. It was like I drank battery acid. I went running for the Zantac for a day and the feeling still returned. I then reached for the protonix.
I was miserable and was switched over to aciphex. Went to Dr. yesterday and he said to get off the aciphex and just take zantac two times a day. There should be no acid rebound. That was for those who had been taking it longer. Based upon my own experience, rebound can happen in shorter periods of time. I took zantac today. I have my doubts but RH’s experience gives me some hope.

I took nexium and then prilosec for 5 yrs bf I heard they were horrible to take and they cause reflux, but there is a way to get off them and get rid of reflux! When I started I had to take half pills every day then every other day and finally not at all, when I tried to stop suddenly I had horrible reflux and withdrawals like headaches and dizziness. I also drank 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar 2 times a day with meals, dgl licorice chewables are good too they taste gross but get rid of heartburn, but the most important thing I took were probiotics they help lot!!!
You have to get multi probiotics that have at least a billion, you can get them from walmart usually start with one in the morning and 1 at night after symptoms ease just take 1 in the morning.
I hope this helps, I’ve been off all ppi’s for 2 years now I do have occasional heartburn like a normal person does but that’s hardly ever. I also lost 50lbs I think the ppi’s made me gain over the 5 yrs I was on them. good luck

My family physician and Allergist believe that my chronic cough is due to year-round allergies. My allergist prescribed a PPI for a two-week period, stating that although he didn’t think acid reflux was causing my chronic cough, my insurance company would not pay for the [appropriate] additional allergy and sinus testing without having first tried the PPI.
The PPI did nothing for my chronic cough. Instead, I now suffer from acid reflux which I had never experienced before. The reflux issue started the day after I stopped taking the PPI and has now continued daily for three weeks, making it difficult to sleep through the night and difficult to sit for long periods at work.
I’m disgusted and furious at this turn of events. Why do physicians keep allowing insurance companies to dictate which tests are, and are not, medically appropriate and necessary?

Please don’t give up on organic ACV. Instead, put some baking soda in it, maybe up to a tsp. This will help reduce the strong acidity when swallowing it.
In fact, this is the latest recommended way to use ACV. Much easier all way around on the system and still works.
Good Luck

Several months ago I read your post about how you were going about getting off prilosec. I also wanted to somehow get myself off of prilosec (I wrote my story last August on this site.) Anyway I started doing the same thing that you did and I have been doing fine. I am just starting the three day cycle of two pills and one day off. I have been wondering how things were going with you.
Are you completely off prilosec now? Are you having any problems? So far I have had no problems except a couple of times feeling some heartburn after eating pizza, so I took a couple of tums and that worked. Thanks for your post because I am thrilled to be getting off this stuff. I should never have been prescribed prilosec in the first place. MK

Hi RH, I am from UAE and I have symptoms exactly like yours. I was on Aciphex for 6 weeks and been off it for a month now. I have to take a Gaviscon after every little meal, if not my right side of my throat feels like it is on fire. This happens within only one hour of eating anything! You’re a senior now that you quit PPIs in November. I was wondering if you still have the throat burn? Has it increased on decreased? How are you managing this currently? I am seriously concerned about the state I am in now. This brings on the anxiety attacks which only seems to make my GERD worse.

Did anyone hear the radio show where a lady said she made a tea with persimmons and other ingredients and got immediate relief from heartburn? I don’t remember the recipe, but if someone does, would you please send it in. It was very convincing and now I really need it and would like to try it! Thanks.
2 quarts water
2/3 c fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
Bring this to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer 30 min.
Strain and add 1/2 c honey and 1/2 fresh persimmon , washed and sliced. You can substitute 1/2 c dried persimmon if fresh is not available,.
Refrigerate this tea. It keeps up to a week.
The dose is small, a shotglass (about 2 oz) before each meal.

Try two heaping tablespoonfuls of sauerkraut as needed, it usually shows results within three or four minutes..

C.W., I was told by a pharmacist that if you cut the pills open that they will no longer work. They have a special coating on them. I want desperately to stop taking the Omeprazole because it has shut down all or most of the acid in my stomach and I am having problems digesting my food. I am suffering from trapped gas as a result of it. I am taking digestive enzymes and ginger capsules to help.
I tried to stop cold turkey and started back taking Famotidine (Pepcid). About 6 days later I had the worst acid storm. It felt like my stomach was on fire. It also burned my esophagus and left me hoarse for a few days. I cannot get anyone, Pharmacist, Doctor or Nurse practitioner to tell me how to wean myself safely off of this medication. I have not heard of anyone successfully coming off of this drug. Please let me know how things are going with you. M.C.

I had been on Prilosec for many years when I started to notice that I was having problems with numbness in my hands and feet. I know that proton pump inhibitors interfere with the absorption of essential B vitamins necessary for nerve health and I realized it was time to try to get off this drug.
In the past I stopped cold turkey and had rebound symptoms, so this time I decided to take my time with it. I started with a three day cycle of two whole pills, one half pill for a month. Then I cut it to a cycle of one whole pill, two half pills for a month. Then another month of only half pills each day. Now I am on three day cycle of two half pills, one day off. So far it is working. I have not had trouble with heartburn (provided I eat healthy and above all avoid fried foods). My ultimate goal is to be off of this medicine entirely if I can.

I had a scope two months ago and was found to have a slight hiatal hernia and an esophagal stricture – no esophagitis or inflammation though thankfully. I have never suffered from intense GERD – no acid backing up and only experiencing some burning-like symptoms since my weight has gone up over the last few years (gotta love getting to 40!).
It was some swallowing\stricture issues that really prompted me going to the gastro initially. In any case, they slightly widened my esophagus and my gastro told me to use Prilosec OTC once a day regardless as the situation that caused the stricture is related to the hernia structural defect and the acid splashback can often be sub-clinical (i.e. I won’t feel it, but it could cause the scarring just the same around the stricture).
Needless to say, all these potential long term effects of the PPIs have me concerned, but the idea of my esophagus being damaged is not real comforting either. The idea of some of these other remedial approaches are fine (though I had minimal success with the apple-almonds-sugarless gum approaches I had read about here at this site), but if the potential for damage is sub-clinical, I don’t know if those approaches are actually doing anything or not.
For now I am taking the OTC for 2 days and off 1 and working up to full time usage. I don’t know that there is really much choice with my condition, but I don’t like the idea of taking these things for the next 40 years.

I’ve already spoken far too much on this site, but I do want to share the following.
Went to see a naturopath today. He confirmed what I had already guessed — that while the apple cider vinegar did wonders to my tummy (I really felt good taking it), its acidity exacerbated the inflammation in my esophagus and eventually caused the pain in my throat.
Tricky, hey?!
The pain has come and gone. I’ve actually experienced 2 or 3 days in a row when I had no symptoms whatsoever, not in my belly, not in my chest, not in my throat. The danger with that is that then I’d start thinking, great, I can reintroduce this and that food in my diet. WRONG! Each time, this approach has caused my symptoms to flare up. The last time was some 10 days ago, when I went to a sushi bar… I took a tiny bit of wasabi — really, I swear!!! About 1/8 of a quarter teaspoon. Just enough, I thought, to give a bit of taste to the soya sauce. Though I only ate very little — I realized I had made a mistake after about 3 bites — my throat was very painful for 6 days after that.
After talking to the naturopath today, I realized that if I want to continue to stay off PPIs, I have no choice but to follow a strict GERD diet for at least 2 or 3 months: it will take at least that long for the stomach and throat to heal. I had already reached that conclusion a while back, but have had a hard time accepting not making any exceptions… But each time I’ve made an exception, I’ve experienced days of pain.
So… it’s not going to be easy, what with Christmas coming up. But I am determined to stay off Aciphex, so I’ll take it one day at a time. In the meantime, just want to let you know the naturopath told be DGL liquorice was a step in the right direction. To help the healing process, he’s prescribed a probiotic (HMF Forte 418) and a Gastric Complex with Gamma-Oryzanol and DGL dietary supplement. I bought them immediately, as I had already heard those mentions on various sites. I’ve also agreed to a blood test to discover what food allergies I may have. I’m suspecting dairy products, milk especially. It will be interesting to discover what else.
On the bright side — I no longer suffer from morning stuffiness or post-nasal drip. I’ve cut out so many foods from my diet, I don’t know what was causing it. But after years and years of living with that condition, it’s completely cleared. Another big improvement is that I don’t experience any asthma-like symptoms anymore. So there’s a good side to having modified my diet so radically.
But how am I going to get through Christmas without chocolate and all the wonderful goodies??? Maybe it will be the first time ever I won’t put on any weight during the holiday season…
That’s it. Just wanted to share the latest with those of you who are trying to find their own natural path to healing.
I still will be meeting with my GP on December 10.

Hi RH,
Happy later birthday! Thanks for all your information. I have been on prevacid for only two months. As you said going cold turkey is not the way to go. Maybe that is my mistakes here. My sore throat is exactly the same symptoms as yours. Feel like a lump and tight muscle pain.
Besides, I have lots of phlegm and coughing, I think it is probably the acid reflux back to the throat. I did not talk to my doctor about weaning it off. He wrote a prescription for a year. I never took any medication longer than a week in my life. I read lots of posts about the addiction about it. That is why I want to wean it off. All I cay say it is very tough. But I am still trying. I will keep you posted. take care.

Hi Faye,
Sorry to hear you’re doing so poorly. I wish I could help you; all I can do is share my experience and pass on whatever I’ve learned from others. But I think the long and short is we all have to find our own way — what works, what doesn’t. Remember also, I was on Aciphex for a total of 2 months only; if you’ve been on Prevacid for several months or years, it might be a lot more difficult. Not impossible — I’ve read several posters who were able to wean off PPIs after having been on them for a long time. But maybe going cold turkey is not the way to go.
Maybe you need to get off Prevacid very gradually: first lower the dose, then take it every other day, then every third day, etc. This is something you need to discuss with your doctor.
Like you, I still have a sore throat. It’s been going on for 2 weeks now, with a break of two wonderful days — last Friday and Saturday — when I had no symptoms whatsoever: no sore throat, no heartburn, nothing. Then on Sunday I spent the afternoon cooking and baking, and as it was my birthday, I allowed myself to eat a bowl of sweet potato soup (no cream or butter in there, just the yams & celery & onions & vegetable stock) and 2 small slices of banana bread for supper.
That’s it: that’s all I ate. An hour later, however, I felt acid reflux and some time after that, my sore throat came back. But it wasn’t just a sore throat: it felt like it was swollen, and the pain went all the way up into my ears. I drank several glasses of water, and gradually the pain subsided, but I still felt it on Monday and Tuesday. Today, it was okay. I can still feel there is something there, but it’s not painful as such.
What triggered the reflux? Was it the onion in the soup? I didn’t think it would be a problem, as it was cooked. Or was it the butter & buttermilk & sugar in the banana bread? I don’t know. All I know is that whatever I ate was enough to eventually cause all that pain. Or maybe it was the quantity.
I didn’t think I had eaten too much, but maybe it was much for that kind of food… Who knows. The lesson learned, though, is that next time I feel acid come up, I have to start drinking water immediately, not wait until there are symptoms.
One thing I’m investigating is whether the ACV is too acidic for my throat right now. As of today, therefore, I’m cutting it out from my diet.
So you see, Faye — I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t even have answers for me! It really is a matter of trial and error, and getting to know one’s body in whole new ways. I’ve made an appointment with my doctor for December 10 and will ask that he refer me to a gastroenterologist: given the pain in my throat, and the nature of that pain — very deep, and more like a muscle pain — I think it would be wise if I underwent a few tests. In the meantime, I’m going to keep on trying to learn how to keep the acid reflux symptoms under control. They’re pretty much under control in the chest and tummy; it’s the throat that’s the big concern now.
Keep the faith, Faye. From everything I’ve read so far, things might get worse before they get better. But if you keep at it, you might very well be able to achieve your goal! That’s my hope for you and for me.

Hi RH, I tried to get off my Prevacid 3 days ago. Now, I have a terribly sore throat, and also keep coughing at night. I tried all the methods that you mentioned here. I still feel terrible, I don’t know how long this will last. I have never felt this bad before I started using Prevacid. Any recommendations? Keep me posted.

Hello PC-Bob,
I’ve been struggling my way through this whole process, so I don’t know there is much to be admired… :-) I’m luckier than you in that I was on Aciphex only for a total of 2 months, so weaning off it wasn’t as bad as what you’ve been experiencing, I’m sure.
I haven’t undergone any tests as of yet, so I don’t have a full picture of my condition. I think that’s a necessary next step — after all, I might be playing with fire by not taking any medication. On the other hand, being prescribed a PPI on the basis of heartburn complaints is unacceptable to me, especially now that I know what a horrible drug it is.
Do give the ACV another try. I’ve gotten used to the taste, and it really does help. I’m still playing around with when is the best time to take it. Right before lunch and supper is working well for me.
I’m with MA — whenever my stomach doesn’t feel quite right, I chew a DGL tablet. I find it quite soothing. I also chew on a few almonds — that too helps.
Good for you for the weight loss! I’ve been working on that too. I’m very near my goal — 10 pounds as far as the doctor is concerned, 20 as far as I’m concerned. I think losing the weight helps a lot. Another thing that helps is eating my biggest meal at breakfast, and eating a very light supper. But we’re all different — that’s what seems to be working for me.
Don’t give up on trying to get off the PPI, PC-Bob. I’ve found several posters who have managed to get off it successfully even after having been on it for years. It isn’t easy, but it seems doable. Lowering the dosage over a long period of time is often mentioned. That, and of course major lifestyle and diet modifications.
All the best to you. RH.

I have been following your journey and I must say I TRULY admire you! I am currently on omeprazoloe generic, for the last 2-3 years. My doctor told me the last time I saw him to stay on it for now. I started on Protonix in 1999. They checked me every way from Sunday, too, and finally using the endocope found I had a small ulcer, a hiatal hernia and eventually, at my insistence, they found I had the H. Pylori bacteria, too.
My dad had ulcers and terrible stomach pains for years before he died. I suspected the H. Pylori was the cause. I was right, in my case. However, they left me on various acid reducers. I tried twice to get off omeprazole and both times were disasters! I had my doctor change my prescription from one 40 Mg capsule once a day to two 20 Mg a day. Then I only took one a day of those. My stomach handled that well, so after a year, maybe, I tried stopping cold turkey. That didn’t work, either.
When I asked about a rebound effect I was told there was no such thing. So now I’m wondering if I cut down to only 10 Mg a day if that would still give me good control while allowing me to wean off some more. I am at the point of wanting to try the ACV route, again. I tried it once, but the taste was pure yucky and I didn’t give it enough time to really work. I guess I didn’t really believe that it would work. After all, there are so many remedies out there, and which ones do you believe?
I have printed out all of your posts and will keep them handy, as I try, ONCE MORE, to get off this stuff! I have been able to lose about half the weight I wanted to, since reducing the dosage, so maybe now I can finally lose the rest of it, too. As a result of taking omeprazole I have been taking B12 sublingual tablets, 2500 Mcg per day, before taking my morning meds. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but my mind SEEMS to be clearer, now. Thank you for reporting your results! I will continue to watch for developments.

Hi Faye, I am doing very well. Not perfect — there are times when I feel some mild discomfort. But it is mild, and almost every time I’m able to figure out why I am experiencing the discomfort in the first place: ate too fast, ate too late, ate something I shouldn’t have… A couple of weeks ago for instance, I thought I’d try 1/2 tomato for lunch, an an orange for supper. Sure enough, I had symptoms: but I was watching out for them, so I knew immediately not to continue the experience, and the discomfort didn’t last long.
One negative change is that I started experiencing a sore throat about a week ago. At first I thought it was a cold, but it felt different. So I checked and sure enough, a sore throat is a common GERD symptom. I also read somewhere that a sore throat is a sign that the GERD has progressed. So of course, I’ve been a little concerned. But I’ve upped my water intake (to dilute the acid), gargle and make sure I eat only small meals, and it seems to be doing the trick.
I do intend to contact my doctor to ask a referral with a specialist and maybe undergo a few tests. But as far as the medication is concerned, I’ll try everything I can think off NOT to have to take it.
So in my case, it really boils down to following a strict diet. I have to admit I sometime feel a bit sorry for myself — I watch with envy people enjoying their food without having to worry about pain! But I’m still hoping this is just a phase I have to go through, and that there will come a time when I too will be able to enjoy a martini with my meal, or a chocolate treat, whatever. Still, I’m grateful there is an alternative to the medication.
I hope this helps, Faye. I was quite apprehensive when I first got off the PPI, but so far I haven’t experienced a truly painful episode. As I said, it’s just been a few episodes of mild discomfort, but I was able to control that quite easily. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will be the same for you. I wish you all the best in your attempts to get off your PPI. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m still taking this one day at a time, so I’m always looking to hear about other people’s experiences, and am open to share my own.

After seeing the comments I continued weaning off Prevacid. I took it every other day for about two months, now I’m at every third day. In about 2 weeks after I get back from vacation I’m going to every fourth day for about a month then every fifth day. This seems to be working for me. I figure try different things and stick with what will work for you and your situation. But I should be clear I never had GERD in the first place so that might be making a difference.
I do use Tums but not as often and I’m willing to back off a bit if it seems to be too much.
Good luck

Here’s my update, I am doing really really good! And I’m so happy, I haven’t been on any acid reducers at all in a week and a half! And I feel better now then when I was on prilosec and Zantac, I have started to chew dgl tabs when start to feel any stomach upset or acid and it goes away in a minute it’s so great:)
I did have trouble for the first 2 weeks and I’m glad I stuck with it, I’m losing weight and no more headaches from the prilosec is the best part. Everyone who is trying still keep it up u can feel better naturally just give ur stomach time to adjust and heal. Good luck:)

I am wondering how you are doing now after weaning off ppi. I want to get it off them too.

Hi, I’ve been reading through all the posts, and I have been dealing with gastritis or gerd its called for about 4 yrs now, it started about 5 months after having my son. When I 1st started to feel this I thought it was my heart, went to the doc and found out it was gerd and was put on previcd and then nexium a yr later.
Then one day the doc told me I should be healed and just wasn’t going to prescribe anymore nexium for me so take otc acid reducers as needed. Well as soon as I got off it I had horrible rebound and went and bought the otc prilosec, that helped me a lot but sometimes I would still get heartburn. So about 3 weeks ago I was reading about the fact the acid reducers mask symptoms and don’t cure you at all and you have it forever, I want to get better and not be on meds forever.
I researched a lot and found four things to help cure the gerd for good, this is what I’m trying and it IS helping me:
1. apple cider vinegar the organic from whole foods with the mother, I mix honey a small bit of water and 1 tsp acv before every meal.
2. a good digestive enzyme I take complete gest 1 before every meal.
3. 2 probiotics every morning with breakfast.
4. I have the dgl licorice but it tastes so horrible like black licorice I can’t stomach it, but I read it helps a great deal as it is a natural acid reducer and soothes the stomach lining.
I’ve been doing 1 through 3 for 2 week and 3 days along with slowly cutting down on prilosec, I started taking only 1/2 a pill once a day and 3 days ago I went to 1/2 every other day. I did have slight symptoms a couple days after reducing but then my body adjusted and I feel good most of the time, I’m sure 4 yrs of this isn’t going to be resolved in just a couple weeks so I’m sure I’ve got a lot of healing to do and it will prob take months to go back to normal, but I’m sure it will happen. I also have found that chewing gum after meal helps me to digest and have very little discomfort.
I hope this all helps everyone, there are natural cures, but the fact is that they take much longer and more effort then just popping a pill every day. But I recommend taking the time to cure yourself, a lot of times when acid reflux appears it’s your body lacking something and most of the time it’s digestive enzymes from all the processed foods we eat, a lot of us also do not have the good healthy bacteria in our gut that’s what probiotics help to replenish. good luck to all!!!

Here’s an update after two full weeks off Aciphex.
Nothing — I have had no painful symptoms whatsoever. On a couple of occasions I felt very, very mild symptoms — slight heaviness in the chest for instance after eating a meal much too fast. But I drank lots of water and took some apple cider vinegar (diluted in water), burped out the heaviness, and that was it.
This is a completely different experience from the first time I tried getting off Aciphex. I think what I had to learn in between is how important it is to avoid the trigger foods. The first time around, I had three major episodes in about a week that sent me running back to taking the PPI. First I ate a beat salad with raw onions, and was sick for two days after that. Then I drank a diet coke, and was sick for another two days. But what sent running to the pharmacy for a PPI refill was going out for supper and having a martini and sushi with plenty of wasabi, and experiencing scary pain for another two days.
I’ve been much smarter the second time around. I allow absolutely no exceptions in my GERD diet, except maybe a couple of cups of decaf coffee a week. But that’s it. And I think that’s the trick to successfully weaning yourself off PPIs. I haven’t taken the apple cider vinegar pills for a week now; and I take DGL pills only if I feel a little queasiness in my stomach. On the whole, however, the only thing I’ve been taking regularly is 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar a couple of hours before going to bed. Nothing else, not even Gaviscon or Tums.
Initially, I thought I’d stick to my strict Gerd diet for about a month. Not wanting to take any chances, I’ve decided to continue until the end of November — that’s another full two months from now. After that, I’ll try to slowly reintegrate at least some of the (for now forbidden) foods into my diet, such as tomatoes and citrus fruit. The rest, I’ll have to take it one step at a time. There are two food categories though I’m banning forever: carbonated drinks, and raw onions. I think I should add wasabi on this “forever forbidden” list, but I’m not quiet willing to do so just yet… :-)
The way I see it, there are two main issues. One, is how to get off PPIs; the second, how to live with Gerd. I think my experience would have been much easier if my doctor had first talked to me about the Gerd diet before prescribing the Aciphex. As I mentioned in another post, my symptoms AFTER getting off Aciphex the first time around were much, much worse than anything I had ever experienced before ever taking this drug. If anything, taking the medication set me back a few months. On the other hand, the pain induced by PPI withdrawal was so scary it forced me to take major steps towards healing myself.
I’m thinking the reason why so many doctors prescribe PPIs is because they’re assuming many of their patients don’t want to change their diets. And based on everything I’ve read on the Internet so far, they might very well be right. Indeed, I’ve read far too many people write something to the effect that, “with this wonder-drug, PPI, I can eat and drink everything and anything I want.” Which is great — if you want to become dependant on PPIs and suffer the long-term consequences. I would much rather learn how to modify my diet so I can live symptom-free AND drug-free. This said, if, once I’m completely over the PPI withdrawal, I can find ways to enjoy a bit of chocolate or a martini at least once in a while, I’ll be very happy! If not… I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
For now, I just wanted to say I think it is possible to get off PPIs with a minimum of physical discomfort: you just have to be very strict regarding what you eat. It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.

I forgot to mention three things regarding my quest to live pain-free AND PPI-free:
1) I now drink camomille at least twice a day.
2) I make sure I don’t exercise for at least two hours after a meal. Walking is okay, but working at the gym or bicycling is not; for that, I make sure I wait a couple of hours.
3) I’ve eliminated stomach crunches from my gym routine, as I’ve read in several places they promote reflux. I’ll try again in a month or two, to see if they trigger anything. For now, though, and until I’ve got this thing under control, I completely avoid them.

Pat, regarding methods for eliminating PPIs.
My doctor prescribed Aciphex in early July. I took it for about 3 weeks but after I realized all the negative short and long-term effects of this drug, I stopped taking it cold turkey. However, I experienced such horrible rebound pains — I had never experienced anything like that BEFORE I started taking the drug — I caved in and had my prescription refilled. The pain was gone about 4 days after I started taking the drug again.
While on the drug, I spent a lot of time surfing the Net, learning everything I could about acid reflux and trying to understand how I could stop taking Aciphex and not feel pain. This is how I discovered how hundreds of people swear by apple cider vinegar (ACV). I was skeptical at first, but as I kept reading how many people were helped by this, I decided to give it a try.
I waited until I had finished my one-month prescription; I took my last pill on Saturday, September 12. It’s only been 5 days therefore, but so far, so good. This is how I’m doing it:
1) I follow a strict GERD diet. And by strict, I do mean strict. For me, this means: no onion, no garlic, no tomatoes or tomato products, no citrus fruit, no fatty foods, no fried foods, no spicy foods (no wasabi!!!), no red meats, no coffee or black tea (even decafeinated), no chocolate, no mints or peppermints, and no, absolutely no carbonated drinks (not even carbonated water). I think that’s about it as far as the foods I don’t eat. As for foods I do eat, I make sure I eat at least an apple a day.
2) I make sure I chew slowly and thoroughly, and don’t overeat. Also, I don’t eat anything past 7 p.m. ( I go to bed around 11 p.m.)
3) Twenty minutes before each meal, I take one DGL pill (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), bought at a local health store. I read on several sites that DGL helps soothe the stomach.
4) With my meals, I take an ACV tablet, also bought at a local health store.
5) A couple of hours before going to bed, I drink a tall glass of water in which I’ve added one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar; the first time I added two tablespoons, but I found it was too much. On day 3 of quitting Aciphex, I also drank a glass around 3 a.m., and then again around 7 a.m., as I was experiencing some pain: the pain disappeared. I don’t like the taste of this concoction, but it’s not too gross. The important thing is that it works. Not only does it relieve the pressure and kill the pain, but it also diminishes the phlegm considerably. As a result, I’ve been sleeping a lot better.
The consensus seems to be that one should only be taking organic ACV. So far, I’ve used the ACV I bought at the local grocery store, but I think I will go organic, now that I know that ACV does work for me.
The plan for now is to continue this strict diet for at least another month. If I can go pain-free and symptom-free for that period of time, then I’ll consider slowly reintroducing at least some of the “forbidden” foods in my diet, like the tomatoes, the citrus fruit, etc. But carbonated drinks are out for good. I’ll have to take it one day at a time, I’m sure.
As I said, I’m only on day 5 of quitting Aciphex, so it might be too early to cry victory. I’ll report back in a couple of weeks. Good luck on exploring what works for you.

I heard the news of PPI this morning on NPR. I knew there was some issue about going off Prevacid (PPI); rebound. I was found to have a small ulcer probably from actonel. So they put me on Prevacid then they found H. pylori and treated me for that. After all of that they told me I no longer had an ulcer and to stop the Prevacid.
Within two weeks I had lots of gas and had to watch what I eat small meals and nothing that generates any acid i.e. tomatoes. I call the gastro PA and want to understand why this is happening. She’s telling me there is no rebound and the gas is due to drinking from a bottle as it can give you gas; you swallow air.
I’m nearly 60 years old I have been drinking from bottles for a long time without gas. I was not happy she could not tell me why I now seem to have acid reflux when I didn’t have it before. All she tells me is the gastro has been taking it for years and there is no problem taking it long term. That to me was no answer.
I don’t want to take any medication I don’t have to and Prevacid is not cheap. I did read up on this rebound issue and have been taking the Prevacid every other day trying to get off this stuff. Now that I know I’m not crazy and was right all along I will wean off even more. I hope this works I already have osteoporosis I don’t need more complications where that is concerned.
If anyone has the method they used to eliminate the PPIs I and I’m sure others here would like to know your method.

I’ve been on Omeprazole for a very long time. After reading these comments, I wonder if I can safely attempt to stop on my own? Will Gaviscon help or hurt the process? I inadvertently left the omemprazole home during a week long trip and suffered awfully until I returned to a drugstore for OTC brand. It’s scary to know this medication has such a profound impact on my well being!

I assumed it was reflux, but I wanted to make sure because it was such an uncomfortable and scary feeling. They did an EKG which was fine, and started giving me nitro to see if the pain would go away, which it didn’t. They did blood work to test for elevated cardiac enzymes and all my cardiac enzymes were elevated! They thought I might be having a heart attack, so I was admitted and had an angiogram the next day to see if there was any blockage and everything was fine there too.

I have tried numerous times to get off Prilosec; I am down to 1/2 once daily; every other way getting off did not work; more and more pain from rebound; Gaviscon makes a foamy blanket in the stomach similar to an oil slick on the ocean after a crash; it has aluminum and that scared me off, big time.
I ended up in hospital, and with a stent, because of gastritis and major acid rebound/reflux and hiatal hernia; the pain was horrid; had all the EKG’s etc. in dr office and since it did not get better, went to ER; they put me on nitro (made me sick and vomit) and did all kinds of tests; ALL kinds; They did an angio and found less than 40% blockage, which probably a lot of people have and don’t know it; nothing was going on and my heart was healthy; since I was still hurting, the doc sent me a big hospital in another town; MORE nitro, more nausea, etc.; everything was normal: blood tests, enzymes, angio, etc. but I still hurt; they went ahead and PUT IN A STENT and then messed me up when they knocked loose what cholesterol I DID have in that artery.
When I spoke with my doctors afterwards, they told me that I had a healthy heart and they usually never put in a stent for such a low % of build up , but…he said that I WAS HURTING so they went ahead, anyway; He told me that; I still was hurting!!! I left hurting; put on horrid lipitor/crestor and had memory problems on top of everything else; still was hurting; one day I could not take it any more; went to ER and the doc there said that he felt I had gastritis and possible ulceration in hiatal hernia; he put me on drip I.V. with some different acid suppressors and a high powered antibiotic; he came back in later and told me I would probably start to feel better and that he thought he got to the bottom of the problem; I NEVER HURT AGAIN, and I have a stent; and I have a record showing all the junk they did to me…. and now, insurance costs way up there because of that stupid stent; and it was acid reflux/rebound, gastritis and hiatal hernia with a raw spot. I still take prolosec; never without in my purse….

Yes, it’s definitely possible to get off of Prilosec. I took it for months (continuously, instead of the two-weeks-on regimen they suggest) because every time I stopped, the heartburn returned with a vengeance. When I read about the rebound effect, I stopped cold turkey and took Gaviscon if I needed it. I feel so much better now. When the heartburn gets bad, I take Gaviscon.

PPI was a part of my life for many years as the only alternative for Esophagitis. I also was taking Tums to help out. The (older) gastro doctor insisted I had esophagitis from too much acid. I had severe esophageal pain! How could I have had too much acid when I was taking PPI and using tums? My doctor did two Upper GIs in two years and proved no Barrets, and only mild inflammation.
I FINALLY put my thinking cap on, listed all my symptoms, pain between breasts, trouble swallowing, burning of stomach, rumbling of gases in stomach (as though it was fermenting), extreme amount of gas, rectal itching, etc. I had once heard wine fermenting in a barrel in a village in Greece and that’s the way my stomach/intestinal system sounded.
I had also had lots of antibiotics for a hard-to-get-rid-of sinus/ear infection several years ago. I had obviously killed all the good flora in my stomach!
What makes something ferment? Eureka! YEAST!! I did my research and then went to another (younger) doctor who had never heard of a systemic yeast infection. I convinced him to give me Diflucan and within 12 hours of the first pill my esophagus had stopped hurting/burning and I could swallow again with ease! 10 days of Diflucan and some acidophilus caps, some aloe vera juice to drink when my stomach burned and I now have a normal stomach, esophagus, and intestinal system for the first time in years. It took less than 3 weeks to accomplish this.
Bottom line: the gastro systems needs a balance of yeast AND acid in order to digest food properly. I now have that balance. I am sure my former Gastro doctor would think I am crazy but he can think whatever he wants to. He was wrong and had contributed for years to my problem and made things worse with the PPIs instead of helping me get better.
I took charge of my own health and in this case was very successful. I did not have Esophagitis only. I had a Systemic Yeast Infection. Just wanted to share my success story.
Note to editor: I will be happy share more of my experiences with anyone interested.

I started taking prilosec almost 3 yrs. ago when I complained to my doctor’s PA that I felt that I was swallowing an air bubble at times. She thought it had something to do with “gas” or reflux and told me to make an appt. for a scope because I had a family history of heartburn, and my father died of stomach cancer. I actually never had heartburn and didn’t realize what the side effects of prilosec were.
I had a scope a couple of months later (February) and the gastro doctor said I had a little stomach irritation and to take the prilosec until June or July and then stop, using Tums if I had any additional problem. He also never told me about the possible rebound effect. I stopped prilosec on July 1 and about a week later I had a couple incidents when I bent over and could feel the acid come up! This terrible feeling spread up my esophagus into my chest and throat area and was so intense I wound up going to the ER.
I assumed it was reflux, but I wanted to make sure because it was such an uncomfortable and scary feeling. They did an EKG which was fine, and started giving me nitro to see if the pain would go away, which it didn’t. They did bloodwork to test for elevated cardiac enzymes and all my cardiac enzymes were elevated! They thought I might be having a heart attack, so I was admitted and had an angiogram the next day to see if there was any blockage and everything was fine there too.
They released me the next day and I was told to follow up with a cardiologist, which I did. I eventually had a sonogram stress test, also a stress test with contrast and CT of my lungs! Everything came out great! They tell me they don’t know why my enzymes were elevated because acid reflux shouldn’t do that (although they did tell me that elevated enzymes are very dependable cardiac markers – if enzymes are elevated – usually something is going on with your heart. So did this intense heartburn I have affect my heart?
I never heard of anything like this before, but I wonder. It has been 2 yrs and I would love to get off prilosec, but am very afraid this will happen again. You always hear about the “rebound effect” but I would like to know – has anyone successfully gotten of a PPI and HOW did they do it? One more thing I didn’t mention. For a couple weeks after this intense heartburn, I experienced shortness of breath upon exertion, like walking up stairs or just taking a walk around the block. I’m sorry this is so long. There is actually more to the story. Any similar experiences anyone? MK

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