FDA sounds alarm on dangers of antacid drugs


In a shockingly rare example of the FDA actually doing its job, a report was issued on Tuesday cautioning against the prolonged use of a class of acid stopping drugs called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Who knows, maybe someone at the FDA read my series on heartburn and GERD, especially this article and this one detailing the dangers of acid stopping drugs?

This is a really big deal. PPIs are one of the most popular classes of drugs prescribed. Doctors wrote 114 million prescriptions for them last year. Americans spend $5.1 billion on Nexium, the most popular PPI, alone.

The FDA report cautions against high doses or prolonged use of PPIs, because they’ve been shown to increase the risk of infection, bone fractures and dementia.

But the danger doesn’t stop there. As I pointed out in my series, all acid stopping drugs (not just PPIs) inhibit nutrient absorption, promote bacterial overgrowth, reduce resistance to infection and increase the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad the FDA finally issued this warning. But I can’t help wondering how someone who has been taking a PPI for 20 years is going to feel about it. If I were one of those people, I’d be incredibly angry. Especially because researchers who studied these drugs before they were approved by the FDA years ago sounded a similar warning.

In fact, when the drugs were first approved, it was recommended that they be taken for no longer than six weeks because of these same concerns the FDA is only now warning us about! Looks like someone dropped the ball on that one, because it’s not at all uncommon to encounter people who’ve been on a PPI for two decades. After writing the GERD series, I heard from several people in that group.

So please forward this article to anyone you know who has been taking one of these dangerous drugs for any longer than six weeks. And believe me, you know one of these people. We all do. You may even be one of them.

If you or a loved one wants to get off these drugs and treat GERD naturally, the the series on my blog clearly explains how to do that.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Bill says

    Yes PPIs can cause these side effects, but long term acid reflux can lead to cancer (Barrett’s esophagus). All medications should be taken with knowledge of the risks and benefits. It is very easy to condemn a class of medications without the facts.

  2. Susan Rayette says

    At this point, I am furious that I was talked into taking PPI medications for over 24 years. I have been experiencing severe back, hip and leg pain for the last 12 years. I have spent a fortune on medications and treatment for these condones . Only by accident, while preparing for testing for nerve damage did I discover that the Nexium I was taking was the primary cause. I had to stop ( suddenly) taking the Nexium in order to take Diazapam for a procedure and the first night the symptoms reduced 50%! I was so shocked, amazed and angry! I tried to continue going cold turkey but only lasted about 2 weeks. Still working on getting off this medication. Without it I did not need 4-5 medications I was taking for pain.

    • lily says

      Susan, I took Nexium for years but it eventually caused a lot of problems. It took me 8 months to get off it because of the acid rebound effect. I now occasionally turn to famotidine at night or otc zantac. I watch what I eat and so far although I do get heartburn I handle it quite well without a ppi. It makes me angry that doctors just keep on prescribing this medicine without warnings and they do not recognize ‘acid rebound’. I have seen several gastro doctors that looked at me like I had 2 heads. Good luck with it you can do it and you will feel better in the long run.

  3. ricky says

    I had a viral infection in my stomach area, and Dr worried I could have ulcer so he prescribed Pantoprazole 40mg x 1per day as a “precaution”.
    He is a good Dr, but swore it was a mild drug and I’d hardly notice it as no side effects.
    First week only a few pains/soreness on left side and back. I wrote this off to having slept on that side for a several days straight.
    Next week I started having gas build ups and my stool became harder. I also had flashes in my right eye and mild headaches and a total loss of appetite.
    Then I developed an chronic pain on my right side and couldn’t sleep and had extreme fatigue. It felt as though I was getting the infection back. I’ve never felt worse.
    After readiing various patient reviews and government web sites it became clear to me that I should stop taking thiis drug.
    Bothers me that Dr and pharmacy info never mentioned side effects. I wouldve stopped two weeks ago had I been tolkd about this.

  4. B Wright says

    I have been on 40MG of prescription Omeprazole sine July 2014. I have been constantly tired, headaches, vision problems (changes), depressed, joint aches, feel out of touch (mental issues) and very dizzy. I just feel like I have been in a fog. I stopped taking this med about week ago…still feeling a bit strange but feeling a little better. How long does it take for this med to comletely exit your system? I am still taking Tagamet…is this the same type of medicine? Thank you.

  5. Bob Whaley says

    After years of only being able to sleep on my left side, and almost sitting up, plus having sudden expulsions of burning acids into my throat and lungs, I was prescribed time delay omeprazole twice a day. Since I am sensitive to many meds, I have only taken it at night prior to sleep. It has done wonders for my sleep, and improvement of my esophageal health. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed as having esophageal varices, which are varicose veins of the esophagus. These can rupture and hemorrhage. Fortunately, a hepatologist said that they appear to be blebs, simple skin folds, which are not dangerous. However, I am very cautious about stopping the action of a normal body function, such as the production of cholesterol, or stomach acid.
    Just before I began the omeprazole, I had a brain scan, which looked completely normal. 2 years later, I had a stroke. This time the scan showed 12 small blockages. Every time I have asked my PCP, she says that many people take them for decades, with no problems. However, it is very difficult to tie results back to the causative factors in many cases. My wife thinks that the omeprazole may have caused my strokes.

  6. says

    I have been on Nexium for 6 plus years. I am somewhat active as it ride horses with my husband and we team rope together. I will be 63 soon. Upon reading this website I find that all my “ailments” are quite common to Nexium. Approximately 6 months ago I awoke with my face swollen. It now does it every night with my eyes getting the brunt of the swelling. My doctors say that I am having a systemic reaction to something but we have tried several things (including no makeup) to no avail. Whatever it is it had happened every night for six months. I did received a steroid shot four days ago that have lessened the severity of the swelling. I have people even ask me when they see me if I have been stung by a bee. Do you think that the Nexium has anything to do with it. If I skip it one morning I have heartburn by that afternoon.

    • Suni says

      Dear Bonnie, why don’t you try 1 -2 tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar diluted in one glass of water. It should instantly alleviate the heartburn and GERD symptoms. Vinegar and lemon, although acidic turn alkaline as soon as they touch the stomach. I try to drink this twice a day, but don’t always. I’ve not had a heartburn ever since.

      • DorrieL says

        You can get barretts esophagus without symptoms. What is the solution. If I stop taking Dexilant I get hoarse with flu like symptoms in a matter of days.

  7. Nadine McCracken says

    I have been taking Omeprazole (Prilosec) since 1999–that’s 15 YEARS!!!. It all started by a doctor telling me I needed to start taking the drug for the GERD I was experiencing. One week turned into i month. One month turned into several months, then into several years!! Now almost 20 years later, and I am medical mess. I have so many things wrong with my body now. From severe joint pain, to IBS, to bone loss and a fracture,to a scale weight loss, but a very huge abdominal area, to my body being totally alien to me at age 57. I have asked doctors for years if what was wrong with me could be because of the use of the PPI and not any doctor has said that I needed to come off the omeprazole In fact, a couple of the doctors increased my usage of the PPI. I have asked and asked, I have begged for a doctor to help me come off this medication.No doctor eith can or will help me!!! I have tried my self, but I get acid reflux (GERD) so bad that I need to go to the hospital!! I NEED HELP!!

    • lily says

      Nadine, It is very difficult to get off a ppi so a lot of patience is involved. After 11 years on a PPI I am now free but it took me a long time to get off it. If you are serious about getting off it you will have to be vigilent with your diet. You don’t say how much omeprazole you are on but you can open the pills and take out some of the granules to start reducing. I counted every granule and then took out so many per pill. You can obtain empty pills at the vitamin stores and make your own meds. Do it slowly. It took me almost a year to get off the omeprazole and I still have some issues now and it has been 4 months since I stopped taking it. You will get ‘acid rebound’ every time you reduce it but it is worth trying. Do some research into products that can help you as you go. If you need any more input send another e-mail to this site and I will get it. Good luck – lily

      • Nadine McCracken says

        In reply to Lily–Thank you for your input. I am so worried about all the reports on the PPI’s and Ibuprofen. I am having so many symptoms that I believe are from the use of the PPI’s. I do want very much to come off of them. You said you could give me some more information on how to come off of them. I would appreciate any info you can give me. Thank you.

        • lily says

          Hi Nadine, Have you done any research on stopping the PPI. I am no medical professional so I can only give you my own experience. I was like a sheep going to the slaughter and trusted the doctors. I went to the emergency room with bad pains in my chest so they treated me as if I was having a heart attack. I was having very bad heartburn on and off but I didn’t relate it to taking Advil which the doctor told me to take for hand pain. I ended up having an endoscopy and the Gastro doctor just said ‘keep on taking the PPI’. So I kept on taking it and my GP kept on giving it. I thought I had to take it for life!!!! NOT!!! Fast forward 10 years. I was taking 40mgs nexium but started to have chest pain difficulty swallowing and all the symptoms I started with. Something my GP mentioned after having many visits and tests resonated with me. He told me that Nexium can mirror the exact symptoms it is trying to cure. At that point I started to research and found several websites where other people were having similar problems. I also went to see a Gastro doctor who again wasn’t much help at all. He gave me omeprazole 20mgs to switch to. Oh no I found it awful to drop the dosage from 40mgs of nexium to 20mgs omeprazole. I was sick for 3 weeks but I didn’t give up. I did learn that was ‘Acid rebound” Eventually around the 9 week mark I started to feel somewhat better. So, I decided to start cutting down the dosage myself. I took some empty pill shells and counted the little balls in the omeprazole and cut them by one quarter. I stayed there until I re-balanced again because when stopping the PPI or reducing acid rebound can be very real. it will be worse than when you just started with acid reflux. I also tried a product called ‘Acid Ease’ and I bought some DGL and took that before meals and whenever I needed it. You can look those up too and see if they might work for you. All told it took me around a year to get off the PPI. I still have some issues but I watch what I eat and avoid the triggers. Sometimes the heartburn comes out of the blue and then I either take a Zantac or some famotidine. Sometimes I get it day after day and then I can go for weeks without it. So I just never know. What does your doctor say about it? Have you had an endoscopy? did he tell you, you can get off the PPI. I have found that the doctors are not much help. You are the only one that knows your own body. Digestive Issues are so different for every person and the doctors can only generalize or they just blow you off which I feel is what happened to me twice. I hope you succeed in your quest.

  8. Lou-Ann Lyne says

    Well I Just came across this article while researching side effects for my dog who’s been taking acid reflux meds. Not a happy camper because I’ve been on these medications for almost twenty years. I have suffered from acid reflux for years due to taking too much ibuprofen which has destroyed my stomach. I have had bone density tests and so far I’m fine. Now what do I do?? So sick of all this stuff!!!!

    • lily says

      Lou-ann, I read your post so I am replying to you because I had the same sort of thing happen to me. I took Advil for a long time for pain in my hands. I tore my stomach up and was put on a PPI. That was 11 years ago. Last year I became sick again due to Gastritis caused by the PPI. I started to do a lot of research and began to realize I should not have been taking the PPI for so long. To cut a long story short. I began to reduce the PPI gradually. I still had acid rebound every time I reduced but I stuck with it and a year later I am PPI free and feeling a lot better. Oh yes I still have some issues with heart burn and not feeling very well. I try and stick with a GERD diet and either take over the counter ant-acids or famotidine when it is really necessary. I now have more good days than bad.

  9. Leslie Ellen Mercer says

    I had been taking Omeprazole since 2005. After feeling chronic fatigue for 3 years which I thought was just related to my fibromyalgia I looked up Ferritin(storage iron). Mine was borderline low(10-11) and found that that means I had early anemia. My hemoglobin was normal! The ferritin is found on an iron panel. I faxed my results to a hematologist who confirmed my suspicion. I saw a Medscape article that states Proton pump inhibitors are linked to malaborption. The hematologist diagnosed me. I’ve been taking prescribed iron and will need IV iron he says since the oral iron isn’t increasing my ferritin levels much. My GI thinks I might have gastritis( likely from all the iron I’ve been ingesting three times a day).Waiting for blood results to see if my fat soluble vitamins(ADEK) are being absorbed. The GI didn’t believe that my Omeprazole could be causing the malabsorption! I asked him what you don’t believe Medscape?!(a medical site)I am avoiding all proton pump inhibitors and am taking Pepcid AC maximum. Leslie Mercer RN

    • Leslie Ellen Mercer says

      Sorry. Clarification the Medscape article relates to the long term chronic use of proton pump inhibitors.

  10. Lauren says

    So glad I’ve had these type of forums to look at! Doctor prescribed me Nexium on Monday for GERD and for some reason I googled this name before getting the script filled…. After the stories I’ve read here and on other sites I think I’ll just do everything I can naturally to try and cure my reflux…. Thanks to all those who have posted their stories!

  11. Dwight Hooper says

    It has been over a decade since I’ve used PPI meds. After nervous system symptoms among others, I went to a longevity clinic physician that suggested I try betaine HCL with pepsin and to gradually work the dose up to the level needed to stop heartburn and dyspepsia. In short, it worked. Reflux stopped. I know on no studies on the topic but it use has been around for at least 40 years. The name that pops on this topic is Dr. Wright who has or had a clinic in western Washington state.
    By the way, PPI meds do not stop reflux they only change it nature and make it more mutagenic not less. Indeed, esophageal cancer rates have gone up since the advent of
    acid reducing drugs and PPI meds (acid blocking drugs). Bile can be refluxed all the way up into the esophagus and will be in solution if the stomach isn’t at it normal highly acidic state. And against inflamed tissues, bile can be mutagenic as I understand it.

    Also high dose melatonin has some modest level of research indicating it is quite helpful in the context of chronic heartburn. Do a Pubmed search on this point.

    I’ll also suggest an old school internet look at the largely dead usenet group “alt.support.heartburn” as it has one denizen that
    follows what I just suggested. Be patient and sort thru the chaff and side comments for the nuggets.

  12. JG says

    I have been back and forth from the ER, Doctor’s office and GI’s office. I was prescribed 40 mg Omeprazole which I’m taking twice a day and Ondansetron 4mg for Nausea. This has been going on since end of August. I was having severe left chest and back pain. Completed a CT Scan, Endoscopy and an Ultra-sound. The Endoscopy revealed mild heart-burn and the ultra-sound came back with nothing. However, the CT Scan said thickening in last part of stomach, antrum. The chest pain and back pain has lessened but I’m extremely nauseated especially in the evenings. I’m not getting a lot of sleep and feeling fatigued. None of the doctor’s can tell me what’s going on. Any advice or insight would be appreciated. I do not feel like myself and have not been for a month and half. Thank you

    • says

      I have received many posts from the Chris Kresser Website which were copied to me and they all pertain to patients who suffer from GERD (Gastro Esophagal Reflux Disease) aka Hyperacidity. In almost all cases PPI drugs had been prescribed and the results have been a disaster with some patients reporting severe after effects including Cardiac problems.

      I have been helping literally hundreds of patients including Babies who suffer from this same problem with a few Homeopathic Remedies which are absolutely safe to use even over long periods and which have CURED patients in a few weeks.

      You can read the reports of patients by visiting my Website and doing a search for GERD on the Home page.

      If you wish to consult me (free of charge) you may address your post to my website:


      • Gill says

        I have a condition called Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia & have taken a ppi for many years and also iron tablets. I get severe itching which keeps me awake, I have tried Lansoprasole, Omeprasole & Pantoprazole but they all cause itching. Has anyone else found a ppi that doesn’t cause itching?

        • Lin says

          I have same problem. I took Omeprazole for 2 weeks and had severe itching so my doctor told me to change to Famotidine. Now the itching is better but still happens sometimes. I wonder why antacid med makes me itchy. I don’t know if I should quit Famotidine too.

        • Michael says

          I’ve been on PPI’s for 15 years. I developed severe itching after a couple of years, but found I could take a Claritin with my PPI and prevent the itching. I know there’s risks with all medications, but my quality of life has been much better since beginning this regimen.

    • Tracey says


      I can relate! After six months of 40mg of Protonix once daily, I now have elevated liver enzymes, shaky feelings, bad headaches, difficulty swallowing, numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, and a dry mouth. I have felt sick everyday! Looked up the side effects, and I had the majority of them. Yes, I have stopped taking that daily pill, and now using only natural products for relief, and I can honestly say that I feel much better!
      Wishing you the best!

      • Donna5 says

        I’ve been on omeprazole 40mg for almost 3 years now. GI and Primary said I had IBS and GERD. I moved last year to Baton Rouge and last month my primary Dr asked why I was taking this? He suggested I stopped. I was complaining about severe fatigue, bone pain in my shin and knees and numbness, tingling feeling. I recently had vitamin defiency test and B12 was at the low normal side so just told to take otc supplement. Saw a neuro the other day and he thought I was crazy basically explaining this pain. Nobody could or would figure it out. My fingers hurt, wrist and basically achy all over. It started about 5 weeks ago to where I had to stop going to the gym. I’ve stopped taking as of today. I was only taking if needed but after reading and researching I see I’m not alone……and I’m not crazy….

        • Donna5 says

          Oh and I have had the majority of the other side effects. Black stool, water stool, red dot that appears and disappears….list goes on and on….

  13. Tara says

    I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus nearly 3 years ago. Let me start with telling you, I’m not what you would call a “good patient.” I was prescribed 40mg/day of omaprazole and would not take it. 2 years later, a follow up endoscopy revealed no change in the Barrett’s and when the doctor asked about the meds, I told him I never started taking it. He scolded me and insisted I start. I revealed to him that my father had just died at 58 years old and that he had bottles of this same drug (taking it until the day he died) and I even more so now was not going to take it. Four weeks ago, I had a follow up and the Dr pleaded with me to start taking it , talked of the horrors of esophageal cancer and I finally gave in.
    Two weeks later, while playing in my adult soccer game I was stricken with terrible chest pain. I tried to power through it but after 40 minutes, came off the field. My heart was racing and just wouldn’t slow down. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me and had been experiencing the most terrible muscle cramps, mostly in my feet, toes and hands for a few weeks at that point but didn’t make the connection. I drive to the ER, was still in Tachycardia and to rule out a cardiac event, they tested my CK levels. They revealed that cardiac muscle CK was not the problem, but my overall CK levels were 2231. Normal is 0-160ish. I was diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis. The Doctors were stumped because I didn’t fit the “classic” Rhabdo patient. The 3rd day in the hospital (I’ve at that point received constant IV fluids, some magnesium and pain meds) the doctor reviewed my medication and said she believes it may have been the omaprazole. I wasn’t sold and when I was released from the hospital, I called my gastroenterologist office and spoke to a nurse. I told her my adverse reactions were Rhabdo and hair loss. She quickly said hair loss is a known side effect but Rhabdo…she put me in hold and came back to reveal, yes actually Rhabdo is a rare side effect to PPIs.
    Had I not been playing soccer, how long would this have gone? Before my father died, it started with Tachycardia, severe muscle cramps and then organ failure.
    It’s not a stretch to think a father and daughter have the same sensitivities to drugs.
    What a horrible, uneccessary way to die.
    If these drugs are going to be pushed, there needs to be better and more specific monitoring in place.

    -a very sad daughter

  14. laura says

    i have been on nexium for 12 yrs. i have since needed nissen fundoplication because just the meds weren’t working and i am a professional singer with major throat problems. after the nissen surgery (2yrs ago) i have been able to control the acid along with…Nexium…tried going off of it, but as soon as i tried, the acid flies right back up again. so, i asked my GI dr how i try weaning off of it because I have been getting infections every 2 months it seems. I usually dont’ get sick often, but it just seems that any little bit of stress – i’m sick. Even taking vitamins, drinking green shakes packed with protein powder, probiotics, every kind of suppliment you can think of………makes no difference it seems. I am so frustrated because no doctors have really told me it can supress the immune system. i’m figuring this out myself! I am not taking nexium every other day for 6wks to see if it can be done. My diet must be strick or I feel acid in my throat – if i eat before bed, dont have the bed raised and do this on the day i DON’T take the pill. I’m just sick of the whole thing at this point and pray I can get off of this once and for all. Any feedback is greatly appreciated! thanks! :)

    • says

      I have received many posts from the Chris Kresser Website which were copied to me and they all pertain to patients who suffer from GERD (Gastro Esophagal Reflux Disease) aka Hyperacidity. In almost all cases PPI drugs had been prescribed and the results have been a disaster with some patients reporting severe after effects including Cardiac problems.

      I have been helping literally hundreds of patients including Babies who suffer from this same problem with a few Homeopathic Remedies which are absolutely safe to use even over long periods and which have CURED patients in a few weeks.

      You can read the reports of patients by visiting my Website and doing a search for GERD on the Home page.

      If you wish to consult me (free of charge) you may address your post to my website:


  15. says

    My pf has been so bad I could hardly walk curtailing my dogs desire for long hikes around the neighborhood! Stretches have been out of the question. Icing only helps temporarily. I have also been experiencing pain and constriction in my hands as well. I am a print artist using carving tools and the pain has curtailed my art output over the last year. I finally put feet & hands together after seeing a wonderful chiropractor. She asked me my health history. I have been on a daily dose of Nexium (40 mg) for sixteen years! How’s that for self abuse! Anyway, she commented that all Proton-Pump Inhibitors like Nexium cause magnesium deficiency, the results causing soft tissue inflammation and constriction due to tissue calcium build-up. I gradually came to understand that without proper amounts of magnesium, calcium leaches into soft tissue and cannot be dissolved and eliminated. The soft tissue in my hands and feet cannot move easily and properly because of calcium deposit build-up~ just like appliances in your home! This build-up is referred to as adhesions or sometimes scar tissue. I immediate quit using Nexium. I haven’t touched it in a week. I supplemented my diet with magnesium glycinate (800 mg per day) and soak my feet and hands in Epsom Salts with contains large amounts of magnesium sulfate which is highly absorbent. This has reduced the pain almost 90%. Also, when I feel like symptoms of GURD are coming on (regurgitation) I take an extra magnesium tablet. Within five minutes, no more symptoms. Had I known all of this sixteen years ago, I would never had taken Nexium. My medical doctor has been oblivious. Foot and hand specialists wanted to operate! So glad I said no two years ago. Feeling much better now. I am a male, age 61 and felt like I was 91. I am 200 lbs. and eat too many carbs and sugar. I changed my diet to more meat and veggies and less dairy and grain about a month ago. I’m already feeling much better and losing a few pounds! YAY! My dog likes the new me also!

    • says

      I have received many posts from the Chris Kresser Website which were copied to me and they all pertain to patients who suffer from GERD (Gastro Esophagal Reflux Disease) aka Hyperacidity. In almost all cases PPI drugs had been prescribed and the results have been a disaster with some patients reporting severe after effects including Cardiac problems.

      I have been helping literally hundreds of patients including Babies who suffer from this same problem with a few Homeopathic Remedies which are absolutely safe to use even over long periods and which have CURED patients in a few weeks.

      You can read the reports of patients by visiting my Website and doing a search for GERD on the Home page.

      If you wish to consult me (free of charge) you may address your post to my website:


  16. Daniel Hudson says

    I have been on Nexium 40mg twice daily for 20 years +. I noticed over the last few years my concentration has declined, chest and abdomen pain, which I seen a heart doctor about and received a clean bill of health on that. I have pain in the hip/leg area, shoulders and still feeling nausea after taking this medicine this whole time, Having bowel problems diverticulosis, IBS and a nervous stomach is the whole reason I am taking Nexium. What would be my first step to get off this? It seems that is does more harm than good.

    • says

      I have received many posts from the Chris Kresser Website which were copied to me and they all pertain to patients who suffer from GERD (Gastro Esophagal Reflux Disease) aka Hyperacidity. In almost all cases PPI drugs had been prescribed and the results have been a disaster with some patients reporting severe after effects including Cardiac problems.

      I have been helping literally hundreds of patients including Babies who suffer from this same problem with a few Homeopathic Remedies which are absolutely safe to use even over long periods and which have CURED patients in a few weeks.

      You can read the reports of patients by visiting my Website and doing a search for GERD on the Home page.

      If you wish to consult me (free of charge) you may address your post to my website:


  17. says

    I have a hiatus hernia with acid reflux. I an 60 yrs. old been on Nexium for 25 yrs. the only thing that stops the pain in my chest and back. Never had a problem. Also take probiotics. Only way I can have a normal life.

    • Charley says

      Nexium has only been on the market since 2001 so you people that swear you’ve been on it 15, 20 and 25 yrs are wrong. I used to work as a pharma rep for AstraZeneca, the company that makes Nexium and even though I was a cardiovascular rep, I recall the launch of the product.

  18. Nicki says

    I’ve been prescribed both a PPI and H2 blocker for gerd symptoms. I have a hiatus hernia and was found to be positive for h.pylori bacteria (which was treated with a 14 day course of antibiotics, etc). Once treated for h.pylori, I was prescribed omeprazole (40mg daily), and about month later, was also prescribed (by a separate doctor..my gastroenterologist) ranitidine (300mg) H2 blocker for a month. After the 30 days on the ranitidine, I decided I didn’t want to be taking such strong medicine, so I stopped that one (about a week ago)…

    My physician told me (at the onset of this exercise) that I needed to take omeprazole 40mg daily for 3 months to see any improvement. I didn’t feel comfortable with this, but eventually started taking the medicine, and have now been on it for 10 weeks. I would like to ‘stop’ but have been reading it’s important to wean from it, versus a cold turkey stop. Can you give any advice here? I was really disappointed when I returned to my internist last week, and was advised that I need to stay on omeprazole “forever” ?!?!?! and not to worry about the side effects as long as I’m taking Vitamin D and getting exercise.

    I’ve read your series of articles and they make a lot of sense to me. I’d prefer NOT to take these medicines, and would prefer to take your approach. I just need to figure out the best way to taper off on the omeprazole.

    Thanks for any light you shed on this!

  19. Kurt says

    I’ve been on PPIs for over 10 years and specifically Nexium for a little over a year now. I deeply appreciate seeing the comments of others expressing symptoms of possible side effects to these drugs. I’ve been back to my doctor many times about things like dizziness, vomiting, chest pain, joint pain, just to name a few over the years never thinking of possible side effects from drugs. What I’m not seeing in these comments though, is any kind of discussion of the risks of NOT taking them. I’ve tried lesser amounts of PPI and I rapidly develop esophagitis, which can be uncomfortable. Having recently had ablation therapy to clear the damage done by years of GERD, not to mention several mucosal resections to remove displastic cells – some of which have been high-grade, I feel like I can’t be without PPIs. For me, the side effects are worth my being able to keep my esophagus. I’m not sure what the alternatives are to prevent Barrett’s cells or worse. We’ve tried just about everything over the years and find that maximum doses of a PPI seem to be the only things that keep my esophagus clear – which is monitored by endoscopy every 3 months.

    Are there some of us that just have to live with those side effects if we develop worse symptoms from not taking them? I feel like that’s my reality, but I don’t really know. My doctor is a specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and I have complete faith in his treatment plan for me. However, we have never discussed drug side effects, only the effects of me not taking them at the recommended doses.

  20. Robelle says

    I have been told that low acid and high acid produce the same symptoms. By taking antacids we are lowering our acid levels even more, opening up the door for H.Pylori bacteria ulcers. It was suggested to me to do a simple at home test to see if I had high or low acid reflux. When you are having symptoms of reflux, drink an 8 oz glass of water with 1 Tbl spoon of cider vinegar. If your symptoms are alleviated you have low acid and need to look into HCL tabs to increase the acid in your stomach for adequate digestion. If your symptoms worsen you would benefit from an antacid medication. I try to drink 1-2 glasses of cider vinegar daily and it has helped my reflux greatly.

    • lily says

      When you did the acid test with the vinegar were you still taking a PPI or were you off it. You didn’t mention that the vinegar must be raw acid cider vinegar with ‘the mother’ in it. ‘The Mother’ is the sediment in the raw vinegar. What measurements did you use?

  21. says

    In 2005 I discovered that Nat Phos 6x, the Biochemic Cell Salt will neutralise GERD and will replace all PPI drugs far more effectively. What is more, it does so in a few hours after taking a few tablets.

    I have shared this information with reference to many cases of GERD which were stabilized with the majority CURED on my Website:


    If you wish to discuss your problem with me you may do so, free of charge, on:


  22. lily says

    Wow I just stumbled across this website and I have been reading all the stories of people being on a PPI for a long time. I am one of those people. 10 years and different PPI’s nexium being the last one. I have done well on it for a long time but just have started again with the burning stomach and nausea. My GP actually mentioned that Nexium could contribute to the problem and he promptly put me on famotidine. I took it for 3 days and was so sick I almost went to the emergency room. Right away I went back to my security blanket Nexium. Maybe it would be a good idea to only take Nexium every other day and try to wean myself off it but I am afraid after being on the medicine for so long that I might get really sick again. The gastro doc I went to years ago did the endoscopy and just said ‘keep on taking the medicine’. He was no use at all and so my GP continues to give me the prescription. Any advice would be appreciated as I am unsure what to do. Where can I find more information about nexium?

  23. Erica says

    My husband has been on PPI for over 12 months Since he started taking it he complained of headaches but wasreally concerned he had a brain tumour as he was getting forgetful and unable to remember words. He said he could no longer do x word puzzles which he was excellent at. He has been back to the DR a few times complaining he thought he was getting dementia. Not once has the Dr tested him for B12 levels. Had his second follow up endoscopy last november there was still eveidence of GERD medication doubled and over xmas I was really concerned that he was losing it. He was asking me really bizare things and his language was all mixed up. Then something woderful happened He ran out and didn’t get his script filled. I had done some research and suggested he wait till we saw the Dr. He didn’t get back there and just refilled his script In the time he had stopped the medication he appeared to speak more fluently and understand things more easlily but when he restarted his script he was was again having difficulty with his speech and remembering things. He has stopped now and I have done a lot more research and am very concerned that permenant damage has not been done. The drug companies are certainly not going to do any research the are making so much out of these drugs. Who wants a perfect oesophagus at the compromise of a wrecked body I will be bringing as much evidence to the DR as I can and will be spreading the word. (I’m a nurse)

  24. Sunny Dayse says

    I have been on Nexium for several years. In that time frame, I’ve developed so many problems from chest pain to gastrointestinal issues (colitis), to skin, hearing and vision problems. I also have an increase in my arthritis pain. My doctor would treat the symptoms in some cases, tell me to live with the others. Not once did he mention discontinuing the Nexium even though that is the only medication I take. After reading a list of the side affects and long term use dangers, I’m furious! I am destroying my body for the sake of heartburn. How stupid is that? I will never take another “little purple pill” again. Oh and did I mention the outrageous price of this stuff?

    • lily says

      How did you manage to get off Nexium? I am struggling with awful feelings with and without it. I get pressure in my chest, a weird quivering feeling and general malaise. I am trying to do it slowly as I can’t just quit that hasn’t worked at all for me. I would love to hear how anyone gets off it and what their symptoms are besides the burning feeling.
      Thanks lily

      • edna says

        I did it gradually…first fantodine instead on drs prescription (like pepcid), then digestive enzymes, then green vegetable juices which I did myself (celery, cukes, ginger, some lemon juice)….my husband (formerly an internist) suggested a small sprinkling of MSG when to told him I never had symptoms after eating chinese food, no matter how late) and craved hot and sour soup.
        Now also veto and zinc carnosine since my last endoscopy which showed ulcerations again…but I have been symptom free…Oh cut out alcohol.

        Keep reading and keep trying.

  25. Charles Ronkon says

    I’m a 19 year old diabetic who has been on prevacid for two years then nexium for 7 from when I was 10… it started out with some stomach pain and a clean endoscopy. Now I have eosinophilic esophagitis, gastritis, acid reflux, broke my arm once and ankles 5 times, not to mention the sever stomach pain and daily liquid bowls. Along with sever adhd, and trouble with memory and clear though. It makes me very nervous being so young. I’ve been to what was supposed to be some of the best doctors to only be given the same PPI.. IT WAS recently I discovered what the real problem could be. Not to mention even after being of nexium for months I still have a lot of issues with low magnesium levels and it burns so bad threw iv treatment. I’ve suffered or years in and out of hospitals. And missed all of high school due to it.. what are some things I can read from you to maybe help my problems. I’m currently working with a lawyer as well for the wonderful affects of nexium not to mention my Dr prescribing it was getting money for prescribing nexium. It’s sad what they can do to us all with out even knowing the truth. Any reply would be greatly appreciated.

  26. Ann says

    When I accidentally learned of the problems with extended use of medium I was very concerned . First I took Prilosec due to avid reflux which would cause me to lose my voice. I wax a teacher so that was a real problem . Then my doctor prescribed nexium to repair the damage. I’ve been taking these drugs for 20 years . I 61 and feer the dementia factor . Any suggestions ? , I’ve stopped taking the nexium

  27. Maryna says

    I have been taking Nexiam 20mg for the past approximately 10 years for gastro reflux. Today I read an article regarding some side effects…..which gave me a shock, as I have all of the symptoms mentioned. I definitely need to stop taking Nexiam, but what else can I take for the gastro reflux and heartburn?

  28. says

    A friend directed me to this website as he was aware of my efforts to help patients who present GERD, all of whom have been taking PPI drugs for many years, which I read from some posts here, even go beyond 20 years.

    I am a Homeopath (not professional as I treat all patients free of charge). I live in Sri Lanka and am 84 years of age and drive daily to work. I have proved that Arnica 30 in the Wet dose which I have used since 1996 nightly has been responsible to maintain my life at the level that I enjoy today with BP <120/80 , Pulse 70 and normal Cholesterol and Triglycerides and No Diabetes or other ailments that are considered as normal at my advanced age.

    Getting back to GERD, the remedy I have prescribed to thousands of patients is Nat Phos 6x. The full title is Natrium Phosphoricum which is Sodium Phosphate, potentised to 6x or 10 to the power 6 (6X6X6X6X6X6) which is the equivalent of 1/1 Millionth of the salt. Nat Phos is one of a group of 12 Biochemic Cell Salts discovered about 150 years ago by Dr Schuessler and is available at any Health Food outlet in tablet form.

    Almost all patients who have used Nat Phos, many of whom were wedded to the PPI drugs for years have confirmed that they discovered almost instant relief and that within the hour their GERD was history.

    You can read more about my therapy if you do a Search for GERD on my website:


    I would also recommend that you spend a few minutes reading the account of Ed Kazmi who suffered from GERD for 26 years and in CURED.

    Link below:


  29. Julie Ann Bledsoe says

    This makes me furious. It helps a lot of things make sense though. I am a little late reading this but found your article after a google search stemming from curiosity after reading a post about the Amgen settlement today. I never had any issues until I got pneumonia at age 19 and wound up with adult onset asthma. From that point I was on a carousel of doctors and ever increasing drugs that lasted 10 years, took me from 118 lbs to 250 lbs and left my immune system shot. I always assumed my weak bones were from massive doses of corticosteroids but now I wonder. I had a bad atv accident and compound fractured my right arm in 2005. My bones were so weak they had to operate on my arm 3 times and it has 2 plates, 16 screws, a bone graft and is wired together with steel sutures. I do have a high hernia but since I changed to homeopathic medicine in 2009 I have no issues with GERD or asthma. I believe the asthma meds caused the gerd. I’ve gone into liver failure and have constant issues with infections. I’m allergic to almost every antibiotic and I take supplements everyday to help with nutrient absorption.

  30. Aloysius Alexis says

    Hi Chris, thanks a lot for your articles regarding GERD, I am 19 years old and I have been on omeprazole/rabeprazole for about 8 months. At one point of time, i recalled a doctor telling me to take 40mg omeprazole twice daily, which i did. Anyway, my stomach issues wasn’t solved. Instead, it just got worse and worse until I chanced upon your website and realized that my problem could be caused by low stomach acid instead.

    I have followed your methods: betaine hcl, gentian root, enzymes, probiotics. And I’m feeling much better, my stomach issues: bloating, nausea, reflux. have been dramatically reduced. I feel that i’m almost back to normal.

    My question now is I would like to ask if there is a chance that my long term medication of ppi for 8 months would have caused damage to my body that is irreversible?

    Once again, thank you and I wish to hear your reply.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I doubt it’s irreversible, especially at your age. Give it some time to get fully back to normal.

  31. Ismail Al Oraini says

    Thank you for your life saving article. I have started taking anti acid drugs in 11/2000. By mid 2005 I started feeling fatigue and disoriented. I visited doctors and run all kind of tests including MRI to the brain. No up normality was found and was diagnosed with depression and ended up with anti depression drugs that I took for couple of weeks only (I was not really convinced). In 10/2010 the same symptoms have become more intense plus occasional headaches and nick pain. The MRI revealed sever damage in my nick disks, the causes for fatigue and the disorientation remains undetermined until I read your article where you have mentioned that anti-acid drugs may increase the risk of dementia.

    My question now is that the health damage that was caused by prolong use of anti-acid drugs, the dementia in particular, is it reversible? Would it go away or improve when I stop taking anti-acid drugs?

    Thank you and hope to hear your input soon.

    • Chris Kresser says

      If the problems were caused by B12 deficiency, there’s no way to tell if they are reversible until you build up your B12 reserves again. Unfortunately, some B12 deficiency-caused neurological damage is irreversible.

  32. says

    Two of my patients, who are pharmacists, have told me that it is widely known that people are only supposed to be taking GERD/reflux meds for 6 weeks. They see the same people come back with the script over and over again, even though they know that that was not the intended protocol for these drugs. But as pharmacists, they can only educate the patients about the risks, since only a “Doctor” can alter their drug regimen. Bot made a big deal about the risk of osteopenia and fracture and stated that there is a LOT of evidence out there, with many lawsuits in the works and yet to come. The FDA is a day late (but NEVER a dollar short) once again.

  33. Robert Crone says

    Please help….

    I’ve been on PPI’s for approx. 20 years from the age of about 18. Initially for heartburn and indigestion, but latterly more and more symptoms have been added to the list. I’ve got raised ALT & AST liver enzimes, raised anti-nuclear antibodies, multiple food intolerences (YORK TEST), hypothyroidism, skin rashes, itching, headaches, stomach pain, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, very poor circulation, and the list goes on.

    I’ve had 3 endoscopies, pressure tests, liver scans, and much more. Everytime I’ve been to my GP he asked me to increase the dosage of PPI, at one point I was on 60mg of omeprazole.

    Recently I got myself tested for food intolerance as I was desperate to get to the bottom of this. I was intolerant to milk, eggs, chicken, wheat, gluten, and lots more. Since I stopped these foods the heartburn has stopped for the first time in 20 years, I’ve added HCL with pepsin and good bacteria to my diet also.

    I’m so angry that this has dragged on for 20 years.. I’m feeling a little better now, but need my Doctor to get me referred to get to the root of the cause.

    I’m hopeful i can get these issues resolved but I’m struggling with my Doctor. Can you advise a way forward for me.


  34. says

    congratulations for your web site.
    i have worked as a scientist for more than 40 years…and seen first hand the damage that long term use of nexium drugs and alike can do to humans.
    after 6 weeks of usage,……switching to a good complex of “”good probiotics”” will cure you.
    god bles
    dr david
    ps. soon…we will have a web site to help anyone with their case of acidity…etc with no cost.

    • lily says

      I would really appreciate any help I can get to get off nexium but can’t do it cold turkey. When you say ‘good probiotics’ what does that mean. How can I start to get off nexium and what shall I expect. I have tried but always go back to it however I think it is nexium that is making me sick at the moment. My doctor did mention that nexium can mirror the symptoms that it is supposed to cure. Help! Thanks Lily

    • Hassan says

      I have frequent heartburn
      I have BPH
      High cholesterol, my doctor prescribed, but I like to avoid conventional meds

    • Christine says

      Which combination of good probiotics do you recommend? I’ve been taking Culturelle and would like to stop the Nexium if I could get more relief.

      Thank you

  35. says

    I was prescribed Nexium and Pantoloc after being diagnosed with what they considered to be GERD, even though my symptoms did not really match.  I tried them both, maybe a total of a few months, but thankfully I stopped because neither really did anything.  It’s a shame that these pills are prescribed as if they actually solve the problem when all they do at best is temporarily mask the symptoms.  The more I learn about the “health” system the more I feel that we are alone to figure things out for ourselves.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Yes, we should always be our own advocates. On the other hand, there are practitioners working outside of the conventional medical system that have a more sophisticated understanding of functional medicine and promoting health than many doctors. You could try consulting one of them.

  36. Arthur Remes says

    Thanks for your wonderful website.
    I have two questions which I would be grateful to have you answer.
    The first: My chiropractor says it is a bad idea to take fish oil with food because it decreases the absorption of other nutrients. He says it should be taken between meals. iS that correct, in your opinion? I’ve never seen this discussed.
    The second question I have is where on the FDA website it says that Prilosec, etc. increase the possibility of dementia. It seems to mention dementia being cited as a possible risk factor for fracture, but not as a result of taking the drug.  I may have misread it.
    I hope you have the time to answer.

  37. Konnie says

    I’ve been taking Protonix for 2 years for a hiatal hernia.   It has worked wonderfully to eliminate most GERD symptoms.  However,  in the two years I was hospitalized for 5 days for a bacterial infection in my colon and last week had to have my appendix out.  Last year I suffered a vertebrae compression fracture just from on strong cough!   I am a 50 year old female, in otherwise good health.

    Hearing this news is rather eye opening as I have been given no warnings from either my internist or my gastroenterologist about issues related to long term use of Protonix.  Guess I’ll make a Dr. appt. tomorrow.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I hope you have an open-minded doctor. Many are unaware of the risks, even though the scientific literature is very clear on the increased risk of infection that comes with PPIs. Maybe you could print out some of the studies I linked to from my articles on the risks of acid-stopping drugs, particularly the ones related to infections. You might want to read the GERD series and try some of the suggestions. Check out the comments on each article. You’ll see many reports of dramatic improvements from people who have tried the low-carb approach with HCL. Good luck.

      • Nicky says

        I totally agree with you Chris but if I show any proof of what PPis do they claim it to be BS so what is one to do sit there for an half hour arguing with the Doctors who will not back down from what they believe?
        They have totally NO use for anything natural.

  38. MollyMurr says

    I was on Nexium for nearly 10 years because I would wake up at night breathing in acid.  I finally self-diagnosed myself with sleep apnea.   My doctor still encouraged me to take Nexium for my occasional heartburn.
    Then I got test results back from my yearly physical that showed I was anemic.  This was odd.  My doctor gave me iron supplements to take.  I started investigating side effects of Nexium and found one site that claimed it caused anemia because the stomach needs acid to get at the iron in foods and supplements.  After taking iron for a few months (still on Nexium) and not having my blood test numbers change, I decided to stop Nexium.  I’ve been using Zantac for the past month.  I have had more heartburn, but it hasn’t been bad, and I know that it could be “reactive” from stopping the Nexium.

    More importantly, my energy levels have been higher, and I just went for another blood test today that I’m sure will show normal to high iron levels.  I feel like I actually may have too much iron now, based on some other symptoms, but the test will tell.  I really *should* have too much iron in my system, when I’m taking an iron pill every day.
    My mother in law used Nexium for a month and became anemic.  She went off Nexium and the anemia went away.  Why don’t our doctors know this?
    My goal is to be off Zantac as well.  Thank you for the excellent articles.

    • Melissa R Epperley says

      My son who is almost 4 was diagnosed with reflux when he was 2 weeks old his pediatrician prescribed him rantidine 5 ml twice a day well about 5 months later our pharmacicst informed me that the Dr prescribed him 5 times the amount twice a day too much. I did some research on rantidine and overdose symptoms and they weres severe hallucinations and severe stomach cramps. Now my child has some learning g and behavior disabilities wondering if it could be from overdosage for the long could be the cause.

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