The People's Perspective on Medicine

PPI Side Effects Continue to Scare Us To Death

PPI side effects keep accumulating. The latest news relates to liver damage. Will these acid-suppressing drugs attract the FDA's attention any time soon?
Illustration of sick human liver with cancer isolated

Have you ever met people who have a hard time admitting they might have made a mistake? Such individuals defend their decisions and actions no matter what the consequences. It feels to us as if the Food and Drug Administration is a lot like that. The agency has a hard time reversing course. Once the FDA declares a class of drugs safe for over-the-counter use, it seemingly hates to admit there’s a problem. Such appears to be the case with serious PPI side effects.

New PPI Side Effects:

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are among the most popular drugs in the drug store. You may not recognize generic names like dexlansoprazole, esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole and rabeprazole. The brand names, however, are almost household words: Aciphex, Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix. Millions of people swallow such pills every day.

PPIs and Liver Disease:

A study utilizing a mouse model suggests that these powerful acid-suppressing drugs may increase liver inflammation and liver disease (Nature Communications, Oct. 10, 2017). This may be a particular problem for people who drink a lot of alcohol.

PPIs are very effective at blocking stomach acid secretion. As a result, the balance of microbes in the intestines changes, and that can affect liver health. With reduced stomach acid, bacteria in the Enterococcus genus flourish. They can migrate to the liver and cause inflammation and damage.

The researchers analyzed stool samples from human subjects. These were alcoholics who were at risk for liver damage. The individuals who were taking proton pump inhibitors had higher levels of Enterococcus in their stool samples. They also seemed to be more vulnerable to alcohol-induced liver disease.

Learn to Love Your Liver:

Americans pretty much take their livers for granted…until something goes wrong. The French, on the other hand, love their livers. They are quite concerned about maintaining healthy livers, even though they do drink a lot of wine.

Without a healthy liver you are in very big trouble. Sadly, liver disease is increasing at an alarming rate. Obesity plays a big role. Fatty liver disease is a serious problem that results from the obesity epidemic. Alcohol abuse leads to cirrhosis of the liver. It too is a killer.

The idea that changing the bacterial balance in the gut with PPIs might affect the liver worries us. The lead author of the research is Bernd Schnabl, MD. He told the University of California San Diego Health Communications Department:

“Our stomachs produce gastric acid to kill ingested microbes, and taking a medication to suppress gastric acid secretion can change the composition of the gut microbiome. Since we found previously that the gut microbiome — the communities of bacteria and other microbes living there — can influence liver disease risk, we wondered what effect gastric acid suppression might have on the progression of chronic liver disease. We found that the absence of gastric acid promotes growth of Enterococcus bacteria in the intestines and translocation to the liver, where they exacerbate inflammation and worsen chronic liver disease.”

“Our findings indicate that the recent rise in use of gastric acid-suppressing medications might have contributed to the increased incidence of chronic liver disease. Although obesity and alcohol use predispose a person to acid reflux requiring antacid medication, many patients with chronic liver disease take gastric acid suppressive medications without appropriate indication. We believe clinicians should consider withholding medications that suppress gastric acid unless there is a strong medical indication.”

Other PPI Side Effects:

Changing the Gut Microbiome:

Dr. Schnabl is not the only researcher to discover that PPI side effects include changing the bacterial balance in the intestinal tract. Dutch investigators reported the following (Gut, May, 2016) :

“The differences between PPI users and non-users observed in this study are consistently associated with changes towards a less healthy gut microbiome. These differences are in line with known changes that predispose to C. difficile infections and can potentially explain the increased risk of enteric infections in PPI users. On a population level, the effects of PPI are more prominent than the effects of antibiotics or other commonly used drugs.”

Learn more about the disrupted microbiome at this link:

“Do Heartburn Drugs Disturb Bacterial Balance in the GI Tract?”

Kidney Disease:

All this bad news comes on top of prior research suggesting that proton pump inhibitors may increase the risk for kidney disease. Here is an article on this topic:

“Can PPI Heartburn Drugs Harm Kidneys Without Early Symptoms?”

More PPI Side Effects:

As if kidney and liver disease were not enough, here is a list of other potential PPI complications:

Scary PPI Side Effects:

• Infections (pneumonia, Clostridium difficile, aka C. diff)

• Heart attacks and vascular calcification

• Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease

• Malabsorption of nutrients (calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12)

• Weakened bones, osteopenia, osteoporosis, fractures

• Blood disorder (thrombocytopenia, anemia, iron deficiency)

PPI Side Effects and Early Death:

As scary as the PPI side effects listed above may be, the ultimate adverse reaction is death. An epidemiological study published in BMJ (July 4, 2017) was titled:

“Risk of Death Among Users of Proton Pump Inhibitors:

A Longitudinal Observational Cohort Study of United States Veterans.”

The investigators conclude:

“This study provides insights into the excess risk of death associated with PPI use. In a large primary cohort of new users of acid suppression therapy followed for a median of 5.71 years, we show a significant association between PPI use and risk of all-cause mortality. Risk was increased among those with no documented medical indications for PPI use and with prolonged duration of use…

“PPI are widely used by millions of people for indications and durations that were never tested or approved; they are available over the counter (without prescription) in several countries and generally perceived as safe class of therapeutics. They are often overprescribed, rarely deprescribed and frequently started inappropriately during a hospital stay, and their use extended for long-term duration without appropriate medical indication.

“…we consistently found a significant association between PPI use and increased risk of death. The consistency of study findings in our report and the growing body of evidence in the literature showing a host of adverse events associated with PPI use are compelling, and because of the high prevalence of PPI use, it may have public health implications. Exercising pharmacovigilance and limiting PPI use to instances and durations where it is medically indicated may be warranted.”

The investigators who carried out the liver studies also recommend that clinicians reserve PPI-type drugs for people who absolutely must suppress stomach acid.
[Nature Communications, Oct. 10, 2017]


Despite all the worrisome PPI side effects described above, never stop a PPI without medical supervision. And never stop a PPI suddenly. Rebound hyperacidity can be horrific. You can learn about horrible heartburn from PPI withdrawal at this link.

Where’s the FDA?

Imagine the FDA’s outrage if a dietary supplement or herb were linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney or liver disease. There almost assuredly would be immediate regulatory action. Go back and read the list of PPI side effects. These are not trivial complications. Some are life threatening. And yet the FDA seems uninterested in alerting the public to such adverse reactions. Remember, PPIs are 1) readily available in pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, quickie marts and other convenience stores and 2) it is not easy to stop PPIs after you have taken them for several weeks.

Do you think the FDA should do anything about the growing list of serious PPI side effects? We would love to get your feedback in the comment section below.

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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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I took Prilosec twice a day for 17 years. Just forgetting my morning pill I’d have horrible reflux pain in my esophagus. And terrible heart burn.
My doctor gave me refills every 90 days. He never said you need to stop.
My doctor checked my kidney function and it was ok.
But I have lost 3” in height.
It was on Tv that it caused so many problems. So I slowly quit.
I used Ranitidine to help.
But I have read any drug with dine at the end contributes to Alztimers.

Dan W.

When I learned about the side effects of these PPI’s I knew I didn’t want to take them any more. So I researched nutritional means of controlling the heartburn. I was surprised to learn that eating almonds when you have heartburn is highly effective. And as a bonus, these nuts are a health food that have no undesirable side effects. As soon as I stopped taking Zegarid, I had horrible rebound acidity. I ate seven almonds and the discomfort was entirely eliminated in just a couple of minutes. I no longer take Zegarid and when I get a case of heartburn, I just eat almonds. It works every time.

Blocking stomach acid too much causes digestive problems. Often the gastric issue is diet related, and a healthy diet usually solves problem. And avoid/limit highly processed foods, as they are nutrient deficient, regardless of label info. Also poor nutrition will lead to numerous illnesses, especially when combined with alcohol abuse. And although multi-vitamin/mineral supplements help, they don’t replace nutrient dense foods. Anyway, just my two cents worth.

I have read countless warnings regarding PPIs and all the horrible things that can happen to you. I have severe reflux together with LPR. I have tried for four years to control this painful disease with as little medication as possible and diet. I am at a point where my life quality is diminishing with no relief. Sometimes it becomes necessary to take a medication even though it might have serious side effects. There are many, many medications that help people who would otherwise be very ill, and they all have potential side effects, some including cancer. Why are so many web sites dedicated to trumpeting the horrors of PPIs?

It seems obvious that the FDA should take another look at this class of drugs. Also, many people including me are probably not clear on the difference between PPIs and antacids like Tums or Rolaids. What is safe to take for isolated episodes of heartburn or indigestion?

What are the pros and cons of taking baking soda and water for reflux. Old, tried and trued solution on the side of the baking soda box. Bee

My 91-year-old mother has severe acid reflux and was diagnosed with GERD and Barrett’s esophagus syndrome. She has been taking a spectrum of PPI medications for over 30 years. A life-long athlete and avid tennis player, she played tennis up until two weeks after her 90th birthday when she suddenly suffered a compression fracture from “severe” osteoporosis that had never been diagnosed. Her decline over the past year has been heartbreaking. I blame the PPIs.

I would be quicker to blame the fact that she’s a 91-year old woman…

After being on PPI’s for several years, I began to experience difficulty walking short distances before my legs wore out.
Since I have spinal disease and had numerous ruptured discs , I suspected the problem was in my spine. The symptoms got worse and soon I had to use a wheelchair to shop. This went on for about 6 mos.
Then I had an insurance issue with my PPI prescription and ran out of the meds. Soon, the strength returned to my legs and I was mobile again!
After investigating the side effects of these meds, I suspected that the weakness was due to insufficient magnesium. I also developed osteopenia & osteoporosis.
My niece suggested that I try unfiltered, unpasteurized cider vinegar for my reflux. It worked wonders and now I rarely need it.
I thank you both for your tireless work informing the public regarding the unsafe medications.
I’ve also stopped taking sertraline as a result of your recent coverage of SSRI’s. I’ve stopped having drenching night sweats since then!
Thank you so much!
Liberty Lake, Wa

After suffering from severe heartburn for a number of years, my doctor put me on PPIs when they were still rarely used, in the mid ’80’s, and my initial prescription had limited duration. They helped – the heartburn ceased – but the heartburn returned immediately when I stopped. The doctor obtained permission from Kaiser Permanente in California (my healthcare provider then) to continue the medication long term. I have been taking omeprazole ever since with no observable damage to liver, kidneys, or g-tract. Though I no longer live in California, I have blood work every six months and remain in excellent health.

If you have chronic heartburn, like I did, you may have an underlying food allergy. See a naturpathic MD and get a food allergy test. I was on a PPIs for nearly 15 years, until I started having troubling side effects and started looking for alternatives. Best thing I ever did was to give up almost all dairy and take dairy enzymes when needed. For what is now very occasional heartburn, I take Zantac, which does not have the side effects seen in PPI use.

I haven’t checked lately, but the packaging used to say ” Do not take this medication more than 14 days.” I took Zantac for a while, until I read Peoples Pharmacy articles that convinced me that your stomach knows what it needs. I gradually worked myself off the pills over a three week period. I also am aware of my eating habits. Try to slow down and take small bites. Watching TV and eating is the worst. Good Luck with quitting.

I have been given 40mg PPI to take once a day, with refills for 12 months. I open the capsule and divided one every day in half and take one a day. Have had three EGD’s for Cryo Therapy to burn the tissue on an ulcer. My need one more treatment. Than I my look at Vit k1 or K2 to repair any damage to my other organs.


I’ll stop barely short of calling the FDA – IDIOTS – because I find so many things they do shocking! We the American public are there guinea pigs for testing drugs!!!!!

I took 4 months of weaning myself off at least 10 years of use of PPI’s ironically I’ve had higher than normal liver enzymes in that 10 year period. After my first year off them I finally had NORMAL liver enzymes on my annual physical! Now I know why!

What is the effect of these horrendous drugs that are prescribed for infants and toddlers and the parents refuse to stop them????

This is just more evidence of how much influence pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers wield at the FDA. In reality, these are civil servants ill-equipped to deal with the powerful lobbyists these corporations employ.

Peppermint Tea is a wonderful panacea for digestive issues. Aloe and Slippery Elm are also worth considering for support plus healing. PPI’s have there place but depending on them too much can only lead to unpleasant issues.

So you make your choice: Unbearable stomach and esophageal pain (I had ulcerations to the point of not being able to swallow bread) and food, acid and bile coming up into your mouth and nearly choking you or causing you to vomit or you take a PPI. I have been on Nexium for several years now and have had NO side effects ever! I believe (and my doctor believes) that Nexium healed the ulcerations. You ‘pay your nickel and you take your ride’ – you choose the danger of PPI’s or you face the danger of cancerous lesions. I’m certain I would have been in much more serious gastric trouble without PPIs. Not ALL medicine is bad. I remember a time when the ‘authorities’ said that coffee would ‘kill’ you. Take your pick.

I had problems swallowing and began to lose my voice/ got very hoarse if i sang even 2 songs.(& I love to sing!) so I was referred to an ENT who did a scope and told me everything was normal– must be acid reflux and put me on a PPI.

Well, I was an RN by training so I read the box and the warnings scared me (it said “don’t take long term “, and here he is telling me to basically stay on it the rest of my life!)

Long story short, an Endocrinologist finally caught my toxic multinodular goiter when I began to have cardiac symptoms and the needle biopsy came back questionable. Fortunately the post surgery analysis was not cancer– but I wonder when it would have “switched” over if I had not had the surgery (and been VERY persistent that we had not addressed the underlying problem).

I had a worker’s comp knee injury and the clinic handed out advil/motrin every visit to take 600 mg 3x per day. they also handled out the ppi to take for stomach upset. I told them I did not need that as I did not have upset. but they insisted on giving it to me even after I told them I would not take it. I threw it away. thank God. I had enough problems with over prescribed advil. I still have knee pain but I am now taking “exercise” and knee rubs. the side effects of some of these medications are too scary.

I have been using PPI for at least 15 years. Tried to stop once and ended up on the floor thinking the pain was so bad I might be having a heart attack. I take 20 MG’s at night. I was trying everything everybody said and just couldn’t stand it. Went back and all is well.

The acid pain being gone does not mean “all is well.” Plan on taking 6 months or more to wean yourself. Drop the dosage every month. You really must get off this drug.

I have been taking prilosec and then the generic for well over 20 years. This has stopped all stomach problems. I tried a different medicine that was not supposed to cause any problems, however the cost of the prescription was high and the over the counter did nothing, so I am back on the generic prilosec. If any one has a solution that will enable me to stop the generic and change to a medicine that works, please let me know.

I have Barrett’s Esophagus and had very bad Gerd. I told my Gastrologist that I didn’t want to take PPI’s due to their side effects and he prescribed 20mg of Famotidine which is an H2 blocker and not a PPI. There are minor side effects associated with Famotidine, but they are not very common. Prior to taking Famotidine I was getting bad heartburn six to eight times a day, and after two weeks of taking it they totally stopped and I have had no heartburn in nine months. It amazes me that PPI’s such as Prilosec are recommended first by doctors and not Famotidine.

I like you was on a PPI for many many years; started back in the 70s with an ulcer; the 80s with Esophagitis. I stopped the PPI by taking Zantac, (ranitidine) in it’s place and after a month or two of horrible heartburn it was under control. Also you must put the acid back in your gut with foods like pickles and sauerkraut and take a probiotic. It all is working for me. Good luck.

PS. The ginger my 97 year old mom nibbles on is the dried and candied ginger you buy in the grocery store.

Interesting. My mother, now 97 was taking a lot of Tums, Prilosec, etc for upset stomach. Then she went through a period of dizzy spells and falling.

Now she takes dried ginger whenever she feels dizzy. It has been years since she felt the need to take Tums, Prilosec, etc.

Yes, PPI side effects continue to scare us to death, especially while on Warfrin. This interaction is often overlooked by cardiologists including gastroenterologists! One does not have to take it long term to affect the kidneys.

My 80-year-old husband, having been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, was on Warfarin when prescribed Omeprazole for stomach pain. After only three weeks of taking it, he plummeted to Stage 3 chronic kidney disease with a BUN of 34, Creatinine of 1.62 and GFR of only 44 (healthy range is over 60). Just months previously, his GFR was 66.

He unfortunately has had stomach pain for an entire year after taking four different blood thinners. His gastroenterologist just yesterday prescribed Zantac which seems like adding fuel to the fire at this point and is there more risk than benefit because Warfarin interacts with so many different things. I think we will go a more natural route at this point.

I referred your PPI articles to this doctor when I met him at my husband’s endoscopy last December, and now he wants to see me at his next appointment I know to convince me of the safety of PPIs. I’ll just send your most recent articles with my husband because the benefit simply does not outweigh the risk for us at this point!

So, the FDA should note that short term adverse events also can occur. Many people may need PPIs for serious problems, but I would think short term is safer the long term.

Yes, this is a problem the FDA should study, but the results take a long time. My sister shared with me a simple treatment for heartburn. I tried it and it worked very well, in about two weeks. Mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with enough honey or sugar so you can tolerate the sourness.

When you get heartburn, take a tablespoon of the mixture. Soon the heartburn will slow and stop. I realize this may be something people with diabetes could not use, but everyone with heartburn does not have diabetes. This home remedy could help a lot of people.

With a very active case of Crohn’s (22 years) and added diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis (1 year), I have lots of “gastric issues”. My gastroenterologist has tried to work with getting me off PPI’s but I have ended up in the ER due to epigastric pain so bad I thought I was having a heart attack. But, all the talk of the harm of PPI’s scare me. I take 40 mg. of Nexium twice a day – morning and at night. I feel like I have no choice but to take something. I don’t drink or smoke and I can’t eat acidic foods anyway. So what choice do long-term users with these issues have?
Love your site and columns. Read them every week and have used many of your home remedies for my husband.

I was on Nexium for 15 years with the blessing of 4 doctors including 2 gastroenterologists. About a year ago it was suggested that I take Ranitidine also as my acid reflux was starting to return even with the Nexium.

I found this concerning but the final straw happened when I ate a quesadilla made with fresh roasted green chile. I immediately had cramping and stomach pain and ended up on the floor pale and sweating and feeling intensely ill. My stomach and digestive track were highly inflamed. I weaned off the drugs and have been on a very slow journey back to health. My worst problem now is leaky gut and a systemic Candida Albicans infection which has altered my life. I can have no sugar or alcohol among other foods and have to take a ton of supplements. My DOM says my liver is still not functioning fully and I still have digestive issues.

I believe this is another case of drug manufacturers being allowed to advertise and sell drugs which have not been sufficiently tested by the FDA or third party testing. I first read cautionary warnings of these drugs more than a year ago, yet, the responsible agencies seem to have done nothing to put out a general warning or insist that manufacturers include warnings on labels or to doctors who are only too happy to prescribe them. Having patients tell doctors what drugs they want is the wrong way around; it should be doctors who recommend or prescribe drugs without pressure from misinformed patients who believe everything they see advertised, and drug makers anxious to make huge profits by “selling” to patients instead of doctors. Freedom of speech is one thing; freedom to deliberately misinform the public with the risk of serious health side-effects is another matter.

I agree Buffalo!

These drugs are prescribed very casually, with little thought given to their toxicity. People trust their doctors, perhaps too much. I know. My father was on omeprazole for years. Also statins.

We watched his creatinine levels go up and his kidneys fail. He died of kidney failure, an unknown disease in our family. He had no other lifestyle issues or previous illnesses that might had caused it. No connection was ever made by any doctor to his medications. But I make that connection and I wonder where were the studies and oversight that could prevent all this suffering?

Several months ago, my doc explained the side effects of PPI’s and told me I should get off the Nexium that I had been taking for over a year, and switch to Ranitidine. However, she didn’t warn me about the problems with suddenly stopping the PPI. These, as outlined in the article, were fierce. I got the guide offered here which helped a lot but it still was not a fun process. As I write this, there is a Walgreen ad for esomeprazole right next to the box.

Prescribed drugs to reduce bone loss eventually led to gerd…. which led to rx for Nexium. Then I learned that Nexium causes bone loss…..what’s wrong with this picture?!?

Against my doctors advice, I gradually weened myself off both drugs. I have learned better solutions for strengthening bones.

However, following breast cancer surgery, my oncologist’s first recommendation was a cancer preventive rx that causes bone loss. And his response to my concern was that I could take a proton pump rx! After my vehement objection, he prescribed Tamoxifen which is a tried and true drug that causes neither of the other two problems.

You have to be your own health advocate these days. Thank goodness for The People’s Pharmacy!!!

After reading your articles about the dangers of PPIs, I slowly weaned myself off Nexium. I am seventy. After over two years off of the medication, the gastroenterologist did a scope and found irritation and scaring in my esophagus, as well as a small hiatal hernia. (He showed me pictures, and scaring was easily visible.) He advised that continuing on my present course would obviously lead to more scaring and a narrowing of my esophagus in a very few years.

He said it would then require a “stretching” procedure. I was so pleased to be off the PPIs, although I did fight reflux most all the time. I lost weight, ate nothing for four hours before bed, ate small meals, raised the head of my bed, and used other suggestions I found here to help and took Rolaids a lot. Since the goal for me appears to be no reflux to prevent more scaring, I now take 15 mg. of over-the-counter Nexium. At least it’s not the previously prescribed 40 mg.

A friend has had surgery to repair a hiatal hernia and no longer has any reflux. I’ve considered surgery also, but then there is the risk of surgery. What are people like me to do? I also do not want esophageal cancer from the constant reflux causing scaring.

What is the solution to getting off PPI’s? I’ve been taking it for years and NEED to stop. I tried stopping about 2 months ago by alternating PPI’s -H2 inhibitors -tums -baking soda and it didn’t work, my esophagus was almost always hurting, it was bad!

I’ve lost 20 lbs and on a LCHF diet. Should I seek a gastroenterologist now to find out if it’s even possible to get off them? I was also drinking and eating fermented foods. I began the PPI’s again just to stop the pain! Thank you for your informative article.

FDA should be more vigilant with PPI, ANTIBIOTICS, and all medications period

When the Dr can’t figure it out, it’s pips or antibiotics where does this pass the buck stop. People are getting sick from pill overdosing by Dr,s. We need to take our lives and health back, its now or we pay for it with worsening problems. Its easier to give a drug!!! We need more caring Drs. To most your just a number. How sad is that. We are supposed to trust them with our well being. That’s scary!

I had Barrett’s , advised to take PPI, but I gradually stopped it . Then I had to endoscopies and both Gastros wrote Rx for PPI ,s which I refused to take, Instead I went for acupuncture which stopped my pain at 1-2 am .

I take some Gaviscon but I am thinking to stop it also as I watch my diet carefully

I was prescribed the PPI omeprazole 40mg for the 6-month duration of my chemotherapy for colon cancer stage 3. I was not aware of all the issues that could arise from this drug. I was one of the gullible people who believed the government (the FDA) would have my best interest in mind and prior to my cancer was a healthy person. I never got sick from any colds, flu infections etc. so I never needed medication, prescribed or OTC. I was very nieve and clueless until I was told I had cancer. That’s when I started to look at what was going on out there in the pharmaceutical world and I was shocked. It wasn’t until after chemotherapy that I wanted to get off the omeprazole and found out by trial and error that I could not just stop the omeprazole but had to wean myself off over many weeks. I believe the FDA failed me and who are they suppose to protect? Us the consumers of pharmaceuticals or the producers of pharmaceuticals?

My father used generic Prilosec for many years on advice from the gastroenterologist. No doctor ever questioned whether he should remain on it or recommend shorter courses of treatment. He was put on it because he complained of heartburn.

Of course he would get terrible heartburn when he stopped taking it so he couldn’t stop using it without some help. He had “unexplained” kidney disease [no other risk factors] and as a consequence very low hemoglobin.

A bunch of other complications followed which shortened his life span. A PPI may be of use in certain situations but it was designed to be used for a few weeks at a time and then discontinued for a reason.

I take issue with the advice to always trust one’s physician(s) above all else. That would probably be great advice if we all had access to extremely competent and caring doctors who had time to actually consider individual patient’s needs and conditions. That is certainly not the case for me and for millions of others in the USA — especially in the *rural* areas where there are too few docs for the population being served. For the majority of us, the best defense is educating ourselves — which is only slightly less daunting than finding competent and caring medical professionals.

My doctor put me on a PPI since I had been suffering acid reflux for many years. I was only taking one pill a day for about 7-8 months. After reading about the possible long term side affects, I quit taking them. I changed my diet and eating habits a bit and have been able to rid myself of the problem. I still occasionally suffer from a flare-up, but nothing like before. I had never been one to rush to the doctor for every little ailment. After this episode, I trust big pharma less than ever and would seriously think twice about any further drug treatments for anything.

I have Barrett;s Syndrome and have been advised by my physician to take omeprazole every morning. I do not drink alcohol. I take melatonin with the omeprazole since I read on your site that it mitigates some of the side effects. My doctor says, take your chances by taking it or end up with esophageal cancer. What would you advise? It’s difficult to believe anyone these days.

Mary, Your doctor is the person you need to trust. You also need to ask your physician for data so you can evaluate how helpful PPIs are in preventing esophageal cancer. If they were 100% effective it would not be a question. Of course you would need to take a PPI.

There is some controversy about 1) how often Barrett’s Esophagus turns into cancer and 2) how effective PPIs are in preventing that very serious complication. Your doctor should be willing and able to provide you data so you can make a shared and informed decision going forward. There clearly are instances where a PPI is totally appropriate.

I have used PPIs for several years until I read your article about kidney involvement. I have a small cyst on my kidney that is being monitored. I stopped using PPIs and the cyst shrunk. My stomach problems became worse however so I did away with eating animal products and my stomach issues went away. We are victims of big Ag and theFDAs regulations. We need to listen to our bodies and take as few medications as possible. Diet is the primary healing agent. Thanks for your very helpful information. Ann

I took PPI’s for several years and always had pressure and pain in the upper half of my digestive system (and lots of BIG burping). I told my gastro doc and he just nodded. After reading articles on People’s Pharmacy last year, I gradually took myself off all the stomach medicine I had been taking. Voila! The pressure and pain disappeared!

I saw my doctor again about 6 months later and told him the happy news. He said “a lot of people have that problem with PPI’s”. Shocked, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” He said he thought I needed to be on the medicine. Let me just say that my gastro symptoms are nearly gone WITHOUT the medicine. I take an excellent probiotic and I think that helps.

Not sure if this is related however my mother who had a lumpectomy due to early detection of breast cancer passed because it matasized. While in hospital, the doctors put her on many medications including PPI. She stayed on this drug for 16 years. I feel this drug compromised her liver causing her early detection to spread to stage four cancer. When she passed , her liver was extremely enlarged.

Joan B. — I was on Prilosec for six years and no doctor ever checked to see if I still needed it. Eventually, it destroyed my gallbladder and I had to have the gallbladder removed. Haven’t seen this side effect mentioned, but the gastroenterologists know about it.

From what I have learned the hard way it appears to me this is all true about PPI’s. Where I really have concern is the doctors that prescribe the PPI’s because of GERD and other nasty problems with the stomach. Case in point. I was diagnosed with GERD a number of years ago. I was put on Nexium. Took it religiously as prescribed. There was never a follow up scheduled with the GI doctor and I felt like my family doctor would allow me on it forever if I did not force the reduction myself.

I slowly withdrew and started to take other meds that were not classified as PPI’s. Before too long I started to experience GERD again and eventually went back to the GI doctor with an inflamed esophagus and ulcers in the stomach. The GI doc put me on twice the dose of Nexium. That scared me and after six months I requested another Endoscopy and found that ulcers and esophagus looked much better. We discussed the PPI’s only because I initiated the discussion. I cut the dose in half and after several months I felt good with no signs of GERD. After another 4 months and no negative signs of any GERD or pain I decided to take the meds ever other day and still feel no effects of the GERD or esophagus irritation. The problem arises is I can’t see inside the stomach or the esophagus. No further visits were scheduled by the GI doctor and no advice was ever given on how to get off of the PPI’s completely. Seems to me there is a disconnect with the doctors. The Doctor’s prescribe the PPI’s for just cause, but they do not seem to get involved with an active program of monitoring and a goal to get you off of them longer than what is needed. I would like to see a more active program of follow up visits with the GI doctor and discussions on how best to slowly get off these meds so a person can get off of them effectively.

I’ve found from past experience that a slow taper is absolutely mandatory. Very few people I met with GERD problems that have been put on a PPI have a plan on how to get off of them. Don’t the doctors need a more active program with their patients how to taper off the PPI’s? The taper is not easy and there are never recommendations made on to titrate off of these medications. Fortunately, I’m involved with my own health, but how many people just do what the doc says and never gives it much more thought. Then eventually the FDA allows the PPI meds sold over the counter and they can do serious harm to a person.

In my humble opinion, I do not feel the docs or the FDA are doing an effective job. Then last but not least – it is up to a patient to become educated and do some research on their own. How many patients actually read the literature that is given out with a prescription or better yet how many follow up and do their own research to learn about the detrimental effects of medicines like PPI’s?

I wonder whether similar side effects occur with other gastric reflux medications such as Pepcid or Zantac or even habitual use of Tums. Has any study included these other medications, and if so, what were the findings?

this article should alert everyone who uses these medications! I had no idea of the degree of harm although when I’ve used PPIs I could tell something would go seriously wrong with my gut so I switched to baking soda and a low carb high fat moderate protein diet and now currently have very little if any reflux. Gut health, in my opinion, is key to overall health. I have learned so much from your articles and radio show. Thank you and keep us informed!!!

I switched to Ranitidine a few years ago and take 20 mg a day, sometimes I need another one in the afternoon, but would love to get off of these totally. I’m now using a probiotic as well, eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and very little fried food. Have had IBS issues for many years and acid reflux, but want to stop taking these. How does baking soda help with heartburn/acid problems? Will a magnesium supplement help?

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