How your antacid drug is making you sick (Part A)

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Note: this is the fourth article in a series about heartburn and GERD. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to read Part I, Part II and Part III before reading this article.

Believe it or not, stomach acid isn’t there just to punish you for eating Indian food. Acid is in the stomach because it’s supposed to be there. It is found in all vertebrates. And while it isn’t necessary for life, it is certainly required for health.

Most people have no idea how many vital roles stomach acid plays in our bodies. Such misunderstanding is perpetuated by drug companies who continue to insist that stomach acid is not essential. Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are taking acid suppressing drugs that not only fail to address the underlying causes of heartburn and GERD, but put them at risk of serious (and even life-threatening) conditions.

There are four primary consequences of acid stopping drugs:

  1. Increased bacterial overgrowth
  2. Impaired nutrient absorption
  3. Decreased resistance to infection
  4. Increased risk of cancer and other diseases

I had originally intended to cover all four of these issues in this article, but as I started to write I realized it would be far too long. So I will cover increased bacterial overgrowth and impaired nutrient absorption in this article, and decreased resistance to infection and increased risk of cancer and other diseases in the next article.

A stomach full of germs

We’re not going to spend much time on this here since the connection between low stomach acid and bacterial overgrowth was the focus of Part II and Part III.

To review, low stomach acid causes bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and other parts of the intestine. Bacterial overgrowth causes maldigestion of carbohydrates, which in turn produces gas. This gas increases the pressure in the stomach, causing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to malfunction. The malfunction of the LES allows acid from the stomach to enter the esophagus, thus producing the symptoms of heartburn and GERD.

Bacterial overgrowth has a number of other undesirable effects, including reducing nutrient absorption, increasing inflammation, and raising the risk of stomach cancer. Studies have confirmed that proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) can profoundly alter the gastrointestinal bacterial population by suppressing stomach acid. Researchers in Italy detected small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in 50% of patients using PPIs, compared to only 6% of healthy control subjects. The prevalence of SIBO increased after one year of treatment with PPIs.

Well-fed but undernourished

Stomach acid is a prerequisite to healthy digestion. The breakdown and absorption of nutrients occurs at an optimum rate only within a narrow range of acidity in the stomach. If there isn’t enough acid, the normal chemical reactions required to absorb nutrients is impaired. Over time this can lead to diseases such as anemia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, depression, and more.

Macronutrients

Stomach acid plays a key role in the digestion of protein, carbohydrates and fat. When food is eaten, the secretion of stomach acid (HCL) triggers the production of pepsin. Pepsin is the enzyme required to digest protein. If HCL levels are depressed, so are pepsin levels. As a result, proteins don’t get broken down into their component amino acids and peptides. This can lead to a deficiency of essential amino acids, which in turn may lead to chronic depression, anxiety and insomnia.

At the same time, proteins that escape digestion by pepsin may end up in the bloodstream. Since this is not supposed to happen, the body reacts to these proteins as if they were foreign invaders, causing allergic and autoimmune responses. I’ll discuss this more below.

Micronutrients

We can eat the most nutritious diet imaginable, packed with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, but if we aren’t absorbing those nutrients we won’t benefit from them.

As acid declines and the pH of the stomach increases, absorption of nutrients becomes impaired. Decades of research have confirmed that low stomach acid – whether it occurs on its own or as a result of using antacid drugs – reduces absorption of several key nutrients such as iron, B12, folate, calcium and zinc.

Iron

Iron deficiency causes chronic anemia, which means that the body’s tissues are literally starving for oxygen.

In one study, 35 of 40 people (80 percent) with chronic iron-deficiency anemia were found to have below normal acid secretion. Iron-deficiency anemia is a well-known consequence of surgical procedures that remove the regions of the stomach where acid is produced.

Researchers have found that inhibition of acid secretion by Tagamet, a popular acid stopping drug, resulted in a significant reduction of iron. At the same time, studies have shown that adding acid has improved iron absorption in patients with achlorydia (no stomach acid production).

B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is needed for normal nerve activity and brain function. B12 enters the body bound to animal-derived proteins. In order for use to absorb it, the vitamin molecules must first be separated from these proteins with the help of – you guessed it – stomach acid.

If stomach acid is low, B12 can’t be separated from its carrier proteins and thus won’t be absorbed. In one study of 359 people aged 69-79 years with serious atrophic gastritis, a disease characterized by low stomach acid, more than 50 percent had low vitamin B12 levels.

A number of studies have examined the negative effect of PPI therapy on B12 absorption. In a study on healthy subjects treated with 20 mg and 40 mg of Prilosec per day for two weeks, B12 absorption was reduced by 72% and 88% respectively.

Folate

Among other things, folate (folic acid) is vital for keeping the cardiovascular system healthy and for preventing certain birth defects. Low stomach acid levels can interfere with folate absorption by raising the pH in the small intestine. At the same time, when folate is given to achlorydric patients (with no stomach acid) along with an HCL supplement, absorption of the vitamin increases by 54 percent.

Both Tagamet and Zantac reduced folate absorption in another study, though the reduction in the Zantac group was not statistically significant. The overall reduction of folate absorption was sixteen percent. This modest reduction is probably not enough to harm a healthy person consuming adequate levels of folate, but it may cause problems in those with folate deficiency (relatively common) or other health problems.

Calcium

Calcium makes our bones and teeth strong and is responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of other functions in our body. The importance of stomach acid in the absorption of calcium has been known since the 1960s, when one group of researchers noted that some ulcer patients were barely absorbing any calcium at all (just 2 percent). When they investigated they found that these subjects had a high gastric pH (6.5) and very little stomach acid. However, when the researchers gave them HCL supplements, lowering the pH to 1, calcium absorption rose five-fold.

Zinc

Zinc takes part in several metabolic processes related to keeping cell membranes stable, forming new bone, immune defense, night vision, and tissue growth. In one controlled trial, Tagamet treatment reduced zinc absorption by about 50 percent. Another study found that Pepcid, which raises intragastric pH to over 5, had the same effect.

Although there is little systemic research on the absorption of other nutrients, there is good reason to believe that low acid levels may also effect levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and niacin (vitamin B3). Theoretically, the absorption of any nutrient that is bound to protein will be inhibited (PDF).

In Part B of this article I will explain how acid stopping drugs decrease our resistance to infection and increase our risk of stomach cancer and other diseases.

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Comments Join the Conversation

      • Amanda Morales says

        So for someone like me who has been on ppi’s long term and was just diagnosed with h. Pylori with esophagitis and erosive gastritis and just got done the triple therapy antibiotic treatment for it… would it be smart to just stop ppi’s? I do still have some acid reflux going in. And they continue to treat me with the ppi’s. I also have been low on b12 and recently needed 2 b12 injections. Should I stop ppi treatment and let stomach acid return to normal?

        • Terry says

          Hi Amanda,

          I was prescribed (off handily) Omeprazole PPI by a locum doctor for acid reflux and a suspected Stomach ulcer. I was to take them for 6 weeks, but was handed a prescription for 12 weeks and was told to come back if I needed more. Strange I thought, but reading this article and going by my experience I now understand why. Two weeks into the course my stomach pain had gone, great, I thought, but I still had 4 weeks left to go, after another two weeks I started to feel unwell in general. I was bloated most of the day and had diarrhoea. I didn’t know what to think. I thought I was getting better. Over the next few days I noticed my urine was cloudy, my kidneys ached and I had a sore throat. I don’t know why, but something made me feel like the Omeprazole was the problem and found this site. After viewing this article I went to my doctor. He agreed that I should stop taking the Omeprazole. That was about two weeks ago. My symptoms didn’t go away at first and my stomach upset got a bit worse in the first few days, but I can happily say that for the first time in ages I feel normal. I changed my diet slightly, made sure I ate as early as I can and cut down on alcohol. I have more energy and my digestive system seems to have returned to normal. Based on this I think a lot of people could do with trying methods like diet changes etc. Stomach Acid is immensely important, otherwise why would we be made to have it? I found that not eating breakfast or eating my breakfast too late made me reflux. I ate breakfast within 20 minutes of waking up, even though I didn’t want to, but its cured my reflex (hopefully). I realise that everyone is different, but I hope you can over come this problem. And as always…discuss with your GP before doing anything.

          • nickole says

            Hi, I too was told I have hp pylori. I’ve done a lot of research. Apparently most of us have it, when its over production is when it becames a problem. I would not take antibiotics or antiacids. I’m taking mastic gum, Manuka honey, colloidal silver 500pp 3x a day,LOTS and LOTs of cabbage juice with lemon, cucumber, aloe juice, celery. Eating very lite, lots of fruits and veggies. Have been on all this stuff for a week, and surp
            Surprise, no more heartburn!! Gona try pine nut oil too. Gonna stay on this diet for a couple months and see how it gose so far feeling GREAT!!!

            • Dance & Wellness Coach G. says

              I strongly agree from own experience. Stay away from Antibiotics, too, as they kill other “good bacteria” disturbing the pH balance thus creating new problemsI just went to the Dr. today because I finally recognize the issue after ignoring it for about 6 months. I know exactly what caused the problem:
              Over 20 years ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux receiving acid blockers, threat of surgery, etc. and fixed it by simply adjusting my diet.
              Ever since then I had been eating a fairly healthy, balanced diet in order to maintain energy levels I needed for teaching dancing and working out.
              Then two years ago I moved in with friends for 9 months waiting for a short sale house. I adjusted to their household and started eating almost vegan. Even though their diet was organic it was unbalanced. All carbs, not enough protein. The first thing I noticed about 6 months into it, that my muscle definition and tone decreased significantly. The following year I got sick thus exercising even less and my diet worsened.: I ate more processed, high carb foods, still low protein as I had gotten accustomed to that change. The initial illness and it’s radical treatment with a series of potent antibiotics (infection from a spider bite) in combination with the stress from it, no exercise and poor diet caused me to age visibly at an alarming rate within just a year. (Loss of elasticity of skin and facial muscles, decreased eye sight, acid reflux, spider and varicose veins, you name it.)
              Bottom line: As the article indicates: diet is a key factor in eliminating the problem. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, your pH balance, your nutrient absorb-ability, etc. are already out off whack.
              I have an issue with self discipline, so today I am eating pie, but will start over tomorrow: First I will alter my diet, drink chamomile tea (soothes inflamed lining) and take pro-biotics . Also I am planning on changing my sleep patterns and adding more thorough stretching to my dancing, which will decrease stress levels. All of the above will help absorb-ability of nutrients, minerals and vitamins which will boost my endorphin production and hormone balance. As a result I will feel more energetic and healthier, which will help me with a more positive overall view of things. My body, which is designed to do so, might recover on it’s own once again…

        • nickole says

          Most of time the problem is an under production of acid, and not tye other way as one may think. I’m also taking HCL. Changed my diet as I mentioned above, and so far feeling great. No anicids.

        • nickole says

          Most of time the problem is an under production of acid, and not tye other way as one may think. I’m also taking HCL. Changed my diet as I mentioned above.

    • says

      I can say with certainty that my ability to digest food and my bone strength have gone down significantly after using ppi’s and gelusil etc. thanks for the article.

    • Meghan says

      What is your diet Like? I am curious because I have been on aciphex for 3 years now and so far its been the best medicine I have used. I am really interested in not taken meds forever!!

  1. says

    I’ve been following this series with keen interest; thanks! As a result of reading the first couple of installments, I rashly (boldly?) went off my Prilosec OTC regimen of 18 months’ duration, and after a couple of slightly difficult days, have had no significant heartburn.
    Both on the PPI and still occasionally off it, however, I do have stomach pains (which sometimes translate into scary “chest pains” in the middle of the night) that are helped by antigas meds (like dimethicone). Do you suppose the story is as simple as “Ingest anything that creates IAP, and you will need to tamp down abdominal gas to keep the LES closed”?
    (By the way, in my comment on Part 1, I mentioned planning to get an upper endoscopy. I’m now thinking of scrapping that part of the plan. :-)

    • Chris Kresser says

      Eve,

      Congratulations! It certainly sounds like your pain and heartburn are being caused by gas. As I mentioned in the previous articles, that is probably caused by maldigestion of carbohydrate. What is your carb intake like at present? I’ll be writing more about how to treat GERD naturally soon, but in the meantime I’d recommend a period of strict carbohydrate restriction, HCL w/pepsin and a high quality probiotic (foods are best, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, etc.). Smaller meals can also be helpful as you make the adjustment.

    • malihai says

      I take offense to your saying Indian food causes acid problems. There are millions of Americans who do not eat Indian food and still have the problems. There are millions of Indians who eat there food and do not have the problem. I don’t know if you wrote it in jest or meant it seriously.
      malihai.

  2. says

    On an average day my carb intake is probably below 50 grams, often well below. I haven’t seen a consistent pattern, to be honest. Some of the worst pain was during a week when I was trying out some intermittent fasting and sticking to eating small amounts of high-quality fats. But then, as admitted in the earlier thread, I do like the occasional drink!  It sounds like I’m going to have to eliminate the gin martinis and scotches, or at least track them carefully to see how they contribute, and experiment with probiotics and HCL/pepsin supplementation if the improvement doesn’t continue.  Thanks again.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Consuming liquid during meals dilutes the concentration of stomach acid, impairing digestion. It’s best not to drink liquid during meals for that reason – especially water. A few sips of wine probably won’t hurt.

      • Ginny says

        Ok, so don’t drink water with meals. But how about overall water consumption taken correctly – as in 1 hour before a meal and 2 to 3 hours after a meal? I used to get most of my daily water intake (I’m not even kidding) from Pepsi (caffeine + sugar) and coffee/juice/milk. Yet Pepsi never caused heartburn, only milk and coffee (or just plain water when and if I ever drank it) did.

        I heard it argued that taking in insufficient amounts of water can reduce the overall amount of stomach acid since the acid contains water. Is that correct? That’s what the author of “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” says.

        Also, someone said that the content of chlorine in the water may also be responsible for heartburn. I’m wondering if that’s true, since Pepsi never caused heartburn, but water – not even a full 8 ounces – still to this day causes heartburn. I avoid it even though I know I should drink it.

        Will you point me to a link where I can gain some better understanding here?

        Thanks!

  3. Todd S. says

    This is a fantastic series of articles.  I’d like to print them out and give them to my father, if you don’t mind.  He’s type 1 diabetic and has been on PPI’s for years now.
    My own experiences with GERD (or, as I called it “chronic heartburn” since I never went to get diagnosed) fall in-line exactly with what you have described in this series.  Most notably, the food causes of my heartburn as I found through my own experiments of eliminating certain foods: sugars, starches, and grains.  Wheat and sugar being the two biggest culprits for me.
    A few months ago I embarked on a paleo-esque plan à la Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint”.  Within 72 hours of eliminating grains and sugars from my diet, my heartburn that kept me up 3-4 hours per night was gone.  Completely.
    Now, I’ve heard of not drinking during meals to improve digestion.  How long is it recommended to wait after the meal before drinking?  Also, I have a habit of mixing a bit of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drinking it.  Not necessarily at meal time, but just throughout the day.  I actually like the taste and find it quite refreshing.  What impact would this have on my stomach acid production?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Hi Todd,

      Please feel free to print the articles and give them to your father. That’s what this blog is all about! Thank you for asking, though.

      I wouldn’t drink much liquid for 1-2 hours after eating, to give the stomach a chance to empty. The exception would be hot herbal teas that promote digestion, like fennel and peppermint.

      Apple cider vinegar is an old home remedy for indigestion. I’m planning on mentioning it in the upcoming treatment article. I think a small amount before meals, mixed with some warm or room temperature water, can be helpful.

      • Sheila says

        Bacterial overgrowth in throat; tongue/throat/burning pain for 4 months. Taking Prilosec, probiotic, sinus rinse, Allegra, scrapping tongue with vinegar. No thrush. No heartburn. Small burping often. Lipoma on right Side of abdomen. Bacteria seen in throat. Ent says allergies- right side limited opening (old sinus surgery scaring). Ct scan said no sinusites.constipation often. Passed from doctor to doctor. Dentist sees mouth is fine, drainage and bacteria in throat area. Visable Bacteria will move to tongue in some days. Tip of tongue always bothersome. Nothing visable. Often bloated. Often use gasx. Add menaoouse. Tried eating nothing, changing foods, stopping meds, taking others. Thoughts? Not stomach pain, it’s felt in mouth. And bacteria overgrowth seen in throat. I’ve had blood work done. Only bilirubin flagged. Have not seen a gastro doctor. Plan to next week. But feel like I’m brushed off by many doctors. I believe because they just don’t know what to do. Had oral swab done. (After being treated for thrush for a 6 weeks- found didn’t have it) – bacterial overgrowth. Hurts & depressing. Always feel mouth/tongue hurt- burning sensation. On one has suggested antibiotics.

        • Shannon Scalio says

          I’m sorry to hear your having all these problems you should have your whole digestive system checked for a possible blockage. If that doesn’t come to anything I would get mchecked for lupus.

        • Rosemarie says

          Have you tried a technique called oil-pulling? Sounds kooky, but when I have had serious inflammation issues in my mouth, I have been able to get well by doing this. It is simple but profound: you swish coconut oil in your mouth for 20-30 minutes and then spit it in the trash. Even our medical plan is now recommending it. I believe if you could try this for a few weeks you would see improvement.

          • Jackie says

            Oil pulling is briliant, when I do this as part of my morning routine, it definitely makes a difference. I always start my mornings with a pint of warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, turmeric powder and root ginger. My doctor has just prescribed Gavison, an antacid for what we think is heartburn, but after doing some research, I’m going to take raw apple cider vinegar (2 tablespoons) 10 minutes before each meal and not drink any liquid until an hour after my meals. Will avoid wheat, dairy and sugar, not sure about grains, maybe I should switch to Paleo type eating. Thank you so much for all the brilliant sharing and information. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates was so wise…

    • Glynis says

      Can you comment on the rebound of acid after stopping ppi’s. If we assume that long term ppi use may result in bacterial overgrowth, does the excess of rebound kill the bacteria or should we take antibiotic to do so? Also, how to protect the lower esophagus while recovering from ppi influences?

    • Glynis says

      Another question or two. When you stop ppi’s after several years of treatment, does the les actually recover and start to function properly again? If so, how long might it take to transition back to normal? How risky is the acid reflux experience during this transition for Barretts cells?

  4. Tom says

    I may have missed it, but I did not see something else worth mentioning about GERD.
     
    In some (many) people, the valve between the esophagus and stomach does not close properly or quickly enough. This causes stomach acids to enter the esophagus and cause the burning discomfort.
     
    This problem can be dealt with by some yogic practices, by paying attention to that area, and also by not going to be or lying down with food in the stomach.
     
    If you get a bad case of GERD in the middle of the night, often it is due to food in the stomach not being able to drain out. Just sit up for a while and it will leave the stomach and the GERD incident will be over.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Tom,

      The entire series is about why the LES malfunctions: because of excess carbohydrates and low stomach acid.

      • Marcus Kool says

        Hi Chris,
        My wife has this problem for over 20 years.
        Can you give a reference to how to cure LES malfunctions?
        Thanks very much
        Marcus

  5. Tom says

    Chris:

    I did not make my point clearly, sorry.

    What I am saying is that yoga and the other techniques mentioned can help with this problem in the way that resting, elevating, and using ice on a sprained toe can help with that problem.

    Yoga may not be the bottom line on GERD, but it can help alleviate an instance of the problem and the awareness can make people better understand what is triggering the problem.

    Also, thanks for this series and your blog in general. They are very good.

  6. Donna says

    Chris, I am beside myself and don’t know what to do.  My 89 year old uncle is ailing and I believe it is due to Prilosec.  He was complaining of occasional heartburn several months ago so his doctor put him on Prilosec 40mg. in a.m. and Pepcid in p.m.  Over the last few weeks he has been having severe stomach pains, ie. burning to the point that he has gone to the ER.  What do they do…endoscopy…which showed nothing.  Hence, more prilosec, carafate, and dilaudid. He has lost weight over the this time because he can barely eat without being in pain.  He drinks a lot of milk (whole milk) thinking that it miight help, but, of course, it doesn’t and his arthritis, whether rheumatoid or osteo seems to be much worse. He lies down most of the time because he is so weak and his joints hurt so bad when he’s up.  Prior to all of this, he could outwalk me at the grocery store. I have always been skeptical of long term antacids. I’m also aware that as we age, we tend to produce less stomach acid anyway. So now that acid production in my uncle is virtually stopped, it’s no wonder he’s getting very sick.  But how do I convince him (you know, old people believe everything their doctor’s say without question and I question everything)and his doctor that he’s killing him albeit unintentionally? I’m having a real hard time just standing by watching this happen to an otherwise relatively healthy man.  HELP, PLEASE! 

    • Chris Kresser says

      Donna: I empathize with your plight, but unfortunately I don’t have an easy answer. The best we can do is educate and inform, but from there people have to make their own choices. You could try getting him a copy of Dr. Wright’s book called Why Stomach Acid is Good For You. He’s an M.D., so perhaps your uncle would take it more seriously.

  7. Jacquelyn Jones says

    I am a 60 year old female that has suffered with restless legs syndrome and upper airways resistance syndrome for decades. Even though I have never told them that I have heartburn, doctors insist that I have GERD. Recently, I gave in and stated taking Protonix. I have unintentional weight loss (due to early satiety) at a rate of one pound a week and have lost over 10% of my body weight. Since starting taking proton inhibitor I feel as if my body isn’t receiving any nutrition. (I have been checked for cancer). Thanks for the article on proton inhibitors because I now have a reason to review the effects of this prescription with my doctors.

  8. says

    Hi, I was referred to you by my boss, a Dept Chair. who is a total vegan etc. Have had GI problems for years, including a GI bleed in the 80″s. I understand your reasoning for limiting the PPI’s but especially among the elderly on blood thinners,etc, there is a problem with bleeds.. My main question concerns abnormal “giant” cells in the small intestine, with a hx of IBS, GI bleed,diabetes, et al. The area referenced has caused discomfort for two months now. That is with and without PPI, tagamet, pain med, etc. Thyroid is low normal, on metformin. Have asked for B12, internist sees no need. I understand there is now a correlation of brain to bowel, and would a hx of inc. fluids, cord compression, and s/p surg for same contribute to this ongoing bowel irritation?? I realize there is alot in here but it is the correlation of brain, bowel I am most interested in. Thanks for any insight. PElden

  9. Brett says

    Not sure if you’re still monitoring this post from 2010, but I was hoping you could give me your opinion on a related issue. I have been diagnosed with cholinergic urticaria (heat induced hives), and have been taking Zantac and Zyrtec daily to control that condition for between 6-7 years. This article has caused me some concern, because for the last 6 months I have been dealing with serious dry mouth issues, dermatitis, and an overgrowth of facial and scalp yeast. My dermatologist gave me both oral and cream-based ketoconazole, which helps, but the problem comes right back once I stop taking the keto. Based on your article, it seems like the problem may be related to the fact that I’ve taken Zantac for so many years. The problem, obviously, is that if I stop taking Zantac, the heat-induced hives come right back. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated.

  10. Stephen Lonefeather says

    Is it correct that if I take methylcobalimin in place of cyanocobalimin that my body will not need to separate the cyanide from the good stuff. If this is correct then why bother to take the poisonous cyanide type B12 and why aren’t you promoting that change??

  11. says

    I’ve found sprinkling citric acid on my meals seems to prevent some excessive gas and nausea after eating breakfast. Chris – is adding HCl much better than adding citric acid? Thanks Candice

  12. daniel dunkley says

    am wondering if taking a product called carbgest would help, as this product is designed to help digest carbohydrates

  13. Diane panrucker says

    Hi Chris I have had a gastric bypass and I have been told I have to take vitamins iron and calcim twice aday is there anything I can take without taking 3 different pills

  14. Tony Cooper says

    What alternative to surgery is there for someone who has no LES at all, which was confirmed years ago by an upper GI? When I’m not taking my Nexium, I’m miserable with frequent gastric issues, regardless the food I eat.

  15. Doug S. says

    “In one study, 35 of 40 people (80 percent)”

    Er… that would be 87.5%, I believe.

    Reading my way through this series of posts, but it seems helpful so far. I’m hoping to avoid taking Prilosec for the rest of my life – I’m sure there’s a better solution.

  16. Finn says

    What about magnesium and the absorption of other mineral salts being suppressed? I got terrible headaches when I took Nexium and other PPIs for gastritis a few years ago (a biopsy supposedly ruled out H Pylori), the doc switched me to Zantac and the headaches came back. He said that two different meds couldn’t cause the same symptoms. I stopped the meds and healed my gastritis through diet, and no-alcohol (wine and champagne seemed to really irritate my stomach). And no more headaches.

    Then when I was pregnant a year or so later I started getting headaches again, a midwife suggested I start getting more mineral salts from soup broths and this naturally salty bottled spring water you get in France. Well I needed 4 bottles of this water a day to keep the headaches at bay, I eventually found a chelated mineral supplement that worked instead. And once I stopped breast-feeding I was able to stop the supplements. This mineral salts cure for headaches led me to suspect a link with the antacid drugs.

    I’m now on the Gaps diet that I initially started to heal chronic urinary and kidney infections and hopefully food allergies, namely gluten. On hot days I still find I need an electrolyte drink for headaches. I now dilute himalayan crystal salts in water with some lemon (I hope I’m not taking too much salt).

    I wonder if there are other bacteria or yeasts that cause gastritis and GERD symptoms? Like Candida for example? I find its the candida type diet in combination with GAPS that helps settle my acid stomach symptoms the quickest. For example, if I’ve cheated on GAPS with a little bit of starch (some rice crackers or a tiny bit of sugar) and had wine with dinner a few days in a row my stomach can get a bit acidy again. Lots of homemade chicken broth and some raw vegetables really sorts me out quickly. I had acid stomach issues on the GAPS intro diet when I was eating a lot of boiled meat and cooked vegetables and found that I needed some raw alkaline veggies to feel better.

    • M says

      Finn,

      How did you solve your gastritis through diet. What exactly you avoided and what you included in your diet? Will Bone-broth, Gelatin supplements help? I was diagnosed with antral gastritis few months ago and was prescribed a month-long Nexium course. Even after completing it, am still experiencing issues on and off.

  17. Michelle Rosner says

    Hi Chris –

    I’ve been following your website for a quite while now and recommend your heartburn/gerd section to anyone who even mentions that they have it to me…family members, customers, co-workers, friends, you name it! Now I have a question and I hope you might be willing to answer it. I agree with the logic that acid production reduces as you become older. So the question is, my newborn obviously has some issues with sleeping flat on his back after being the hospital for a week and a half after delivery with a feeding tube down him. I thought that he was adjusting to home life but now it seems to be pretty persistent to me. As of today I am putting a wedge under him so he is elevated like I would be in the bed for acid reflux…it seems to let him sleep a little more calmly? I keep reading on baby forums that he might have acid reflux and the doctors put the baby on medicine. Obviously I am skeptical of acid reducers and was wondering if you had an opinion on what the culprit might be and how to fix for the long term or if you know what medicine it is the doctors would prescribe him in advance. I appreciate any input you may have.

    Thanks,
    Michelle

    • Michelle Rosner says

      Of course we are breastfeeding and I have to supplement with Neosure for preemies because he is a ferocious eater since they sent him home. thanks.

    • Chris Kresser says

      In infants reflux is most often due to sensitivity to something mom is eating. Try removing dairy and gluten first; if that doesn’t help, soy, citrus, nightshades, onions, garlic and beans are other common culprits.

  18. Rob Bell says

    Hi Chris, I have found these articles of great importance to me. I have been taking Prevacid for almost 25 years when I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia. I would love to stop taking Previcid. I eat a primal. diet exclusively for almost 4 months and have lost 30 lbs and 9 inches of belly fat and feel great and for me there is no other way to eat now. I have tried to stop taking Previcid for a day or two but heartburn comes on very quickly and I have to take it again for relief. Is there anything I can do to stop taking the Previcid? I know there is surgery to do the repair but it sounds like even if I get the surgery the symptoms could return from taking the drug for so long?

    • harold says

      Rob: I had the surgery you are referring to and it worked for about 9 years. I am now back at square one. If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t. Just my opinion.

  19. Y.M. says

    I feared antacids long before reading your articles because it just seemed common-sense to me: restricting stomach acids=poor absorption of nutrients.

    I’ve been reading further into this to know the exact mechanisms because I wanted to be able to defend my positions against scrutiny, and unfortunately I’ve found just the opposite:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8568113 (Hypochlorhydria from short-term omeprazole treatment does not inhibit intestinal absorption of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium or zinc from food in humans.)

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1852094 (Calcium absorption in elderly subjects on high- and low-fiber diets: effect of gastric acidity. – “We conclude that, in humans, the reduction in calcium absorption with high fiber intake is unaffected by gastric pH.”)

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6707197 (An evaluation of the importance of gastric acid secretion in the absorption of dietary calcium.- ” A large dose of cimetidine, which markedly reduced gastric acid secretion, had no effect on calcium absorption in normal subjects, and an achlorhydric patient with pernicious anemia absorbed calcium normally.”)

    I’m not sure why these results are the way they are, but maybe anemia is the cause of mal-absorption, not low stomach acid? What do you think?

  20. Shelly says

    I just read all of your articles last night. I’ve had problems with ibs in the past and was diagnosed with GERD in November. I still cant get it under control. I had an upper endoscopy and they didn’t find anything. I’m taking dexilant, another ppi. My stomach is still a mess. My doctor had me try nexium and Prilosec and they did nothing. I have more nausea and bloating where the esophagus and stomach meet up than I do the heartburn. They first diagnosed me when i would wake up in the middle of the night and cough up a small piece of food. After a couple nights of this I found it odd and called my dr. It is now March and I’m still struggling. I know that stress and anxiety can worsen GERD symptoms and I’m having a lot of that now. Do you have any suggestions? Foods to avoid? Foods I should eat often? I’m really at a loss.

  21. says

    Dear Shelly – while my problems have not been as great as yours, I’ve had a lot of success alleviating both IBS and low acid stomach issues (similar symptooms to you) by adding lemon juice/citric acid to my food and eating yogurt and home made kim chee. I believe there are better solutions than citric acid, but that is all that I could get my hands on. Also, limiting consumption of food in the evening and cutting out carbohydrates and dried fruit as well as working out which other food irritate my bowel and not eating them. .

    I suggest you read other articles on this site as much of the advice seems to interact to provide a more wholistic solution. I subscribe to the newsletter and find that very good.

    Good luck! :-) C

  22. Ernest Barberio says

    Hi! I’m just getting off of acifex and starting Hcl tabs. My question is ” how long does the average person have to continue taking these tabs. I have been on Acifex for about two years.

  23. Rachel says

    Your take on this issue has been incredibly eye-opening – thank you. I had been on various PPIs for upwards of ten years after being one of the early diagnosed cases of eosinophilic esophagitis. I could tell my body wasn’t getting nutrients, despite the large amounts of natural vitamins I was taking and eating extremely healthy. After reading your revolutionary articles, which made perfect sense to me, I went off my PPI, started taking 1-2 pepsin + HCL tablets with heavy meals, and added a licorice supplement. My reflux was bad for a little while, but better after a few weeks. However, my stomach must still be very damaged because every time I eat green leafy vegetables or more than a small portion of food, I am violently sick within about 10-15 minutes. Afterward I feel ok. When that happens, I notice I haven’t digested meals from as much as a day prior and my acid levels are next to nothing. Do you have any suggestions? Should I be taking more than one-two HCL pills? Is this intolerance to raw veggies normal? Thank you!!

    • Mike says

      Raw legumes are notoriously hard to digest for people with low acid, or stomach problems in general. Try chewing them very well, or better yet supplement them with short chain ones like rutabegas, celery root, etc. I’m no expert, but it sounds like you have the right idea and just need to modify the diet a bit.

      • Rachel says

        Thank you for your response! I’ll have to look into short chain veggies. Thankfully, I’ve actually been fine the past few times I’ve tried eating salads, since I make sure to take plenty of HCL and chew thoroughly like you said. I’ve also been taking probiotics and drinking a ton of kombucha that I brew at home, which seem to help a lot. Gluten definitely seems to trigger “heart burn” again, but I certainly don’t miss my antacid prescription at ALL :)

  24. Farshad says

    What should someone who has acid do for relief if you are discouraging taking antacids? I agree with what you have said but also would like a solution to dealing with the discomfort of severe acid reflux etc. Thank you.

  25. says

    Sir Good Day,

    Im suffering with my GERD,
    I already read your article and I’m convinced
    and I already stop taking my PPI’s and antacids, I don’t wanna be dependent on it.
    but I can’t determine exactly what food I should eat.
    I think I will be healed fast if I have guidelines what to eat.
    I can’t determine which veggies or fruits has a low carb.
    I also want to know how much hours of sleep I need.
    How much water I should drink every day.
    Should I take vitamins?
    Is it okay I’ll eat chicken, chicken liver and fish?

    I’m Kenneth from the Philippines.

    Hope you’ll help me with this illness Sir.

    Thank You. Godbless.

  26. Eddie says

    I have a friend with GERD and a duodenal ulcer. She’s been prescribed a couple of different medicines to reduce her stomach acid to cure the ulcer. I can’t find any info anywhere that contradicts this treatment plan.

    I’m currently thinking that she should take the medicine until the ulcer is healed, then work on building up her stomach acid? Any thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Eddie

  27. LisaJayne says

    I wonder if anyone can please help? Any advice would be hugely appreciated.
    I am coming up to 7 weeks pregnant with my first child and have developed indigestion which manifests mainly as a feeling of constantly having food stuck in my throat. Before becoming pregnant I already had some digestion issues (although not indigestion) for which I was taking swedish bitters and 2 Now Foods super digestive enzymes before each meal as well as Biokult probiotics after meals. I am still taking the probiotics but the digestive enzymes and swedish bitters arent approved as safe in pregnancy so to be on the safe side I have cut them out.
    I read that apple cider vinegar could help so have just started taking 2 tablespoons in a glass of water before meals, thus far it seems to have provided only minimal relief although I am still hopeful it could help as I only started this with my evening meal yesterday so its early days. Does anyone please have any other suggestions for how I could overcome this? Either through diet or natural remedies, I dont want to take anything over the counter/prescription.
    Before being pregnant I was following a primal diet fairly strictly approx 90%. In the last 2 weeks I have had to relax this due to nausea – Im still trying to stay away from grains but have been eating some potatoes and a little white rice.
    Any advice either from Chris or any followers would be hugely appreciated!

    • RES says

      While I have no idea how this may or may not impact a pregnancy, I personally stopped taking apple cider vinegar in favor of hydrochloric acid capsules. The ACV was nasty, didn’t help much, and it can start to erode your teeth. And I would consider HCl to still be in the natural remedy category. Avoiding white potatoes might be a good idea to try as well, since nightshades can be difficult to digest? Also, peppermint essential oil can really knock out nausea either topically or via hard candy! Or ginger tea.
      One caution, though – if you really feel like food is getting STUCK, you could have an esophageal scar tissue build-up causing a blockage. I struggled with this for years until I had an emergency upper endoscopy to remove the scarring. Not to scare you or anything, but it could be worth bringing up with your doctor!
      *Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Contact a healthcare professional.

  28. Jamison says

    You should try probiotic foods with every meal and also try to eat some raw food with every meal (to get live enzymes). Steak and salad should cause you less problems than steak and cooked green beans, for example. A few pickles or raw sauerkraut with every meal should do the trick. it has to be pickles that are naturally fermented in a salt brine though, not in vinegar. and the sauerkraut must be raw too – a good handful, ideally with some cooking fat drizzled over it. Probiotic foods are full of enzymes to help you digest your food, in addition to having way more probiotics than even the highest grade therapeutic dosage.

  29. Rebecca says

    Do you have any recommendations of doctors like yourself..? I wish I could find one that really does the research before prescribing medications. I have had reflux since I was 8 years old. I’m now assist 30. Been on highest dose of pantaprazole I could be on and finally quit. I tested positive for the beginning antigens for h-pylori and decided after reading the comments second under the last article that I am going to continue with probiotics, enzymes, licorice root abd a low carb diet before I go in and eradicate ALL my gut flora… :-\

  30. RES says

    Unfortunately, unless you find an independent holistic doctor, conventional healthcare professionals just plain aren’t allowed to prescribe anything except dangerous sponsored drugs from Big Pharma. One, this pays their salary. Two, they aren’t taught anything else in med school (nutrition comprises maybe one brief class lesson of their entire 8-year program). Three, the FDA closely regulates everything and their official position is that nothing from nature can alleviate let alone cure any ailment, since nothing from nature can be patented. So a doctor can say, “eat more veggies” or “avoid salt”, but never ever could he say, without fear of a SWAT team swooping in, “eat more tomatoes since lycopene can help prevent cancer.”
    This is why I personally have been managing my own health for years now, even curing my 10-year chronic acid reflux via this site! It sounds like you’re doing all the right stuff to be on the road to recovery, though. Is it not working yet, or not as well as you’d like?

    • Rebecca says

      I grew up in the midwest, on a midwestern diet (corn, meat, potatoes & pasta) under two parents who worked in the medical field and are on many drugs themselves. (Important to note that my mom had a sucessful stem cell transplant in 2005 that cured her leukemia – so some modern medicine is needed.) It’s just disappointing and eye opening when you learn that everything you thought was right – isn’t – and the people in the medical field & your own government aren’t trustworthy. I have been reading endlessly and started taking supplements, including pre-natal vitamins, vitamin D, DCL, omega 3 fish oil, enzymes & Florastor. I just ordered HCL + Pepsin & Gentian – so I’m hoping that will help. I also plan on adopting the SCD diet in hopes that my dad, who also has ulcerative colitis and acid reflux, will do the same. However, will all of this help when I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia? Or was the hernia a result from the years of reflux and can be eventually fixed? I also have suffered from IBS and mild asthma since my teenage years. This website has been a BLESSING to me and I have encouraged so many others to visit it as well!

  31. misty says

    I am in a health crisis right now and need some advice. Long story short, I had a myriad of tests done earlier this year. Colonoscopy revealed possible crohns as I had ulcers in my small intestine and evidence of scaring. No treatment plan was set up the dr was concerned that side effects may be worse then symptoms. I have been doing ok until a few weeks ago. I started hurting in my upper left back like many times and started taking prevacid. Seemed to help for a few days and then started having bad belching and lower abdominal tenderness and pain. I feel so sick all over and my whole back feels inflammed from my gut. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I went back to the dr and she started me on dexilant and bentyl. This just made things worse it seemed. Went off of that and the only thing that has seemed to help is aloe vera juice stomach formula. I can’t eat everything seems to bloat me and I just feel sick. The upper back pain is what is really uncomfortable and my lower intestines keep making loud noises! Any advice.

  32. Cor Van Pelt says

    Good day,
    By accident,or fortune,I came accross this website. Iwas looking for an answer to my question: Do medications restrict the body to absorb nutrients from food?

    I asked this question because my wife of 51 years has Parkinsons disease. She is on several medications. She appears to become weaker almost by the week. She is tired all the time. My thinking is that the body(not the brain),can’t heal itself if we poison it with several foreign pharmaceutical
    poisons.Am I totally wrong in my assumption??

    Any ideas out there?
    Cor Van Pelt.
    Alberta.
    Canada.

    • Ginny says

      To Cor Van Pelt:

      On your computer, type in: Terry Wahls.com. She is a medical doctor who over came advancing MS. Also search for Dr. David Perlmutter. He is a neurologist who specializes in treating neurological diseases like PD, which my mother has also. She has improved somewhat on the Paleo-based diet (Paul and Shou Ching Jaminet’s Perfect health Diet). And she’s only been on it for about 3 weeks now.

      To answer your question, I would say that you wife needs to stop eating harmful foods first (like grains, vegetable oils, legumes, peanuts, sugar, and all refined foods), then possibly she will be improved enough that her doctor can take her off some of her medications. Good luck to you!

  33. Steph says

    Dear Chris,

    I’ve been on the maximum does of Prevacid for 8 years due to GERD along with Elavil (7 years) because my gastro specialist told me that I have a hypersensitive esophagus (the PH test (BRAVO) came back normal two times hence hypersensitive esophagus). I started having horrible problems with acid reflux 8 years ago due to extreme stress while living in a foreign country which was why my gatro specialist put me on Prevacid. But now the stress is completely gone and I feel great. My GERD isn’t even close to as bad as it use to be, but I’m still on Prevacid although I’m finally completely off of Elavil because it wasn’t doing anything. Furthermore, I was recently off of Prevacid for 10 days for a Ph test and menometry (esophagus motility study), and noticed little difference with my acid reflux when I was off the medication except a slight burning in the afternoons and very early mornings (5-6am). Most of my acid reflux occurs at night shortly after I go to bed, and I sleep on a reclining chair. Usually I have acid reflux at night when I’m trying to sleep on the days when I’m upset about something or very excited about something good that has happened. It’s very annoying. Also, I was recently diagnosed with Gastroparesis and just started a diet for this condition and am eating 5 to 6 small meals a day. I had a PH test performed last week and was completely off of Prevacid and my PH test came back normal. In fact, I have less stomach acid than a normal stomach usually has. I am wondering, after reading your articles, if my problem now is with the Prevacid (I also take extra strength Gaviscon almost daily) and low stomach acid levels along with the Gastroparesis rather than heartburn or GERD? Is it possible for me to gradually wean off of Prevacid and normalize my stomach?

  34. Steve says

    I’ve been reading all these comments with interest.

    Three times this year I was doubled over in pain after eating particularly fatty foods and drinking a lot of lager – turns out that it was air stuck inside me that didn’t want to come out. It was agony for about 45 minutes each time, and then I’d be free!

    After seeing the doctors in February, and being tested negative for gallstones (apart from a teeny one), I was given Omeprazole, which I never took. I was fine all Summer, and then at the end of October, I had another painful experience – went to the doctors and was told to take my Omeprazole.

    I did this for 7 days, and felt extremely unwell, so stopped. I carried on with my normal unhealthy diet, and began to burp lots, more than I ever have. This carried on until I got a pain in my chest. I was checked at A&E for heart problems, and sent away with Gaviscon which cooled it down.

    The GP then suggested I take the full course of Omeprazole, but I took it for 3 days and felt terrible. It stopped my headaches when eating, but I was full of air! It also made me really over-excited and I was very very happy. Then I started feeling really unwell. So I stopped after 3 days and researched what the medicine’s side effects were.

    The GP gave me another style PPI, but I don’t want to take them. I’ve been off Omeprazole now for three days, and the huge headaches I got have come back when eating, even an apple or a yoghurt.

    Now I understand it was most likely acid rebound reflux – for a problem that I didn’t have in the first place!!

    I’m trying to just eat healthy fruit and veg, supplemented by lots of ginger tea, gallons of water and Gaviscon if it really feels like its burning. I also took my first DGL tablet this morning, and haven’t been burping apart from straight after meals. I can also now go to the toilet regularly!

    Do you think the headaches will ever stop? I imagine they are just caused by a massive amount of acid being released when I start eating, but they can be really painful, go on for a long time and be so intense I feel light headed.

  35. harry fisher says

    im taking preaciid through a feeding tube.
    I have c a d but never had any acid reflex problems
    im on clopedogrel dilitiazem simvastim and baby asprin
    I asked my doctor why im on preacid she said this what the doctor in the hospital put me on
    this has beem over a year ago
    do you know of any reason im could still be on any antacid thank you

  36. illy says

    Hi!
    I had endoscopy twice. The first showed small ulcer and mild gastritis. Then I’d been taking Omeprazole for 4 months. Then I had second endoscopy that showed no ulcer but still ongoing mild gastritis and a small hernia. So I was again prescribed with high dose PPI’s for another 12 weeks slowly reducing the dose towards the end of period.
    I had the same symptoms as you described in your article. Especially gas production that bothers me a lot. And later on pain again has started developing in my stomach on the left side. It’s been almost 12 weeks and I take lower dose now but how can I be sure it that helps if I don’t feel very well? Should I stop taking them? Should | ask my GP for another endoscopy?
    I am only 24 years old. Please advise :(

  37. says

    Neil Meiskey
    JANUARY 21, 2014 AT 8:00 PM

    I have been diagnosed with Barret’s esophagus a few years ago. 10-12 years ago I had such bad GERD that my esophagus scared almost closed to the point I choked a lot when I ate. Incidentally I never felt heartburn at all until AFTER my esophagus was stretched. After I was “stretched”, I was put on Prilosec with the assumption I would have to be stretched every few years. I was about 52 at that time. Later I was switched to Nexium to “heal” the erosion and scarring. I never did have to get the second stretch done. I am now 64 and still on Nexium and really want to be off it. About 6 months ago I went basically Paleo, not perfect but 80-90%. Generally I feel better and lost a few pounds (I am very active and weight gain is a small problem, not a major one for me). When I mention to my specialists I want to go off the Nexium they suggest not due to the Barrets being a pre-cancerous condition. I REALLY want to stop taking Nexium but am a bit scared due to the Barrets. What say you folks and Chris, am I still a viable candidate to get off this stuff? If so how can I go about it? Thanks.

    Neil

    Reply
    Neil Meiskey
    JANUARY 21, 2014 AT 8:02 PM

    Forgot to mention I do no dairy, have been lactose intolerant since my earl 20′s.

    Neil

    • harold says

      Neil: If you get an answer from Chris that give’s you a natural direction or path, let me know thanks. I am in the same boat.

  38. Allison Butler says

    I have IBS and a wheat intolerance and have recently stopped taking Omeprazole after being on it for approx 6 years. I am just about coping with the IBS by taking Colofac (rantazine had no effect), but have been feeling very low with cold symptoms for around 6 months continuously. I assume my immune system is low and I’m lacking nutrients due to the long term use of Omeprazole. So, my question is, if I take multi vitamins, how long should it be before I start feeling myself again?

  39. Ellen Mccormick says

    Why have you never mentioned Genetically modified organisms in our food and the increase in stomach and gastrointestinal diseases since they were introduced into our food system back in 1994-1996? Many of these problems, and I have read all these comments and articles, have been relieved by getting off of GMOs and off of meats that might have eaten GMOs and sometimes with your other suggestions. It appears that 50% of children at this point have acide reflux. This isn’t normal and it’s coming from our food and from the pesticide driven agriculture we currently have in this country. The medical profession knows nothing about nutrition so it would be understandable that they can’t solve this problem with their drugs. Many people with GERDS, Celiac , etc. have been cured just by eating the right foods and certainly eliminating GMOs. Good Luck.

  40. Nada says

    Chris, I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. It all makes sense to me. I’ve been putting pieces of the puzzle together in my head but you just confirmed it and gave me a more detailed description of what is going on.

    I feel that most doctors I see about any health issue, avoid the root cause of my problems and symptoms. It’s getting really really annoying, because what are doctors for.

    NOW I KNOW THAT SOMEONE CARES ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY LOOK INTO THE MATTER AND I’M SO GRATEFUL TO HAVE COME ACROSS YOUR ARTICLES.

    Thank you so much, again. We’re all in this together, and we will be cured in the correct way.

  41. Ginny says

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a class-action suit against these companies who make PPI’s and the doctors who prescribe them. At the very least, MD’s are being derelict in their duty to their patients by prescribing them, except in certain rare cases. When will they learn? How many times do we have to see the “wonder drugs” of yester-year now being advertised by the law firm of {insert favorite law office here} before WE learn not to trust our doctors implicitly? Let the buyer beware. We all need to do our homework before ingesting ANYTHING. I’m not saying all drugs are bad, but there are some really bad drugs that should have been pulled off the market ages ago. PPI’s are just one example.

    • Rachel says

      I agree with you completely. At the very least, doctors need to stop prescribing them like candy and actually READ the usage restrictions!! Even the advertisements and commercials say in the fine print, “not to be used for more than __ days” … which is usually around the two week timeframe. I was taking these things, under my doctor’s implicit instruction, for TEN YEARS. Thankfully I’m done now and slowly healing (no thanks to any doctor except Chris Kresser), but who knows the long-term damage that was done.

  42. Julie says

    My 5 month old son was just discharged from a brief hospital stay with GI doctor stating he has Esophageal Candidiasis caused by Zantac. He also had Lymphoid Nodular Hyperplasia and Neutropenia. It seems there is something causing these things and I am spending many sleepless nights trying to figure it out myself. Could it be the Zantac? He is exclusively breastfed at this time and I have suspected food intolerances in the past. I am continuing a strict elimination diet but he still seems to be in much pain after eating (1-2 hours), has blood in stools and rashes on body (at times). Any advice is so appreicated!

  43. harold says

    I have suffered with barretts esophagus for 25 years. I have been on some form of antacid for 20 of those years. I had surgery to repair my hiatal hernia and restrict acid reflux. The surgery was a temporary fix. In the last several months my body is starting to reject the antacids. I suffer from severe gas, bloating and bowel problems, along with stomach pain. I have mild dysplasia and have been told by my doctors that my only course of treatment is reduction of acid. I am sick most of the time and can never get a good nights rest. I want to try another course of treatment but have the seed of fear that was planted in me by my doctors, that is I abandon the antacids I will most likely get cancer. I am 70 years old and aside from the barretts in good health. I am open to any suggestion. HELP

  44. Zarate says

    i havent had a chance to read through all of the comments yet, because at the moment i am in pain, and in that “desperate” mode to find out whats wrong with me. i have been taking omeprazole and ranitidine daily for quite some time now for my acid reflux, and it was helping for quite some time. i was able to pretty much eat whatever i wanted. but recently i had the flu, and i had the symptoms for a very long time, but when the flu was starting to die down, i got heartburn and indigestion, bloating, worse than ever! i thought it was just a simple episode but its been going on for 1 1/2 months now. its really messing with my quality of life, and others are starting to notice it too now. anyways, do you think i should stop taking omeprazole and just take the ranitidine? perhaps im taking too much and thats causing bacteria to build up in my stomach? i need something to help the acid reflux part, but i need the bloating and constant nausea to go away. i really only feel better when i eat, but only for a little while then it hurts again. I have a dr. appointment next week, but im looking for any advice to help ease my mind till then. thank you!

    • nada says

      if i were you i would try to wean myself off of the drugs and find other ways to deal with the symptoms. those drugs only mask the symptoms and do not treat the underlying problem. doctors just want to make money. they dont care about you. try probiotics to build the good bacteria in your stomach again. it might take some time. id also do what kris suggested in his last article for his suggested treatment. wish you the best of luck. alot of us are in the same boat

      • harold says

        thanks for the input. I believe that Chris has the answer, and it is my intent to try his products and methods. FYI be careful of individual who are selling erbs etc , and I’m not referring to Chris. I got a hold of a chiropractor who put me on a regiment of enzimes and I though I was going to die. Good luck.

          • harold says

            The enzymes where for digestion. He gave me 4 different kinds and instructed me to take approximately 15 of the tablets a day. I think he overdosed me. It was bad. I am going to try Chris’s suggestion’s soon.

    • Rachel says

      I’m so sorry – your symptoms sound horrible! But as someone who followed Chris’s protocol to the letter after 10 years of prescription PPIs, I am a completely different (healthy!!) person almost a year later, and it’s 100% worth the discomfort. It WILL get better as your stomach heals itself. I was nauseous for two solid weeks, could hardly eat, my stomach was paralyzed and unable to digest anything. But I am completely better now and have never once missed my prescriptions. Not to mention I can absorb essential vitamins/minerals now. The PPIs were slowly but surely killing me. Now I can’t necessarily eat whatever I want … sadly, gluten is a thing of the past. I was probably always allergic (if you read Chris’s articles, gluten can be a major acid reflux trigger!) but my body was so damaged that the PPIs masked the problem.

      I’m no doctor, so this isn’t medical advice, but this is what worked for ME while I went cold-turkey from PPIs. For nausea, suck on hard peppermint candies constantly. They really work. Try ginger tea. Or go straight to the source and rub some peppermint essential oil or a blend like DoTerra’s DigestZen right on your midsection. For internal healing, take the licorice supplements like Chris suggested. For bloating, drink aloe vera juice or take some charcoal tablets. Gaia’s herbal gas/bloating tea could also help. And if you do anything, be sure to take HCl pills with Pepsin before/during meals. My stomach was so damaged it couldn’t do anything – I would vomit up meals from days prior because I literally filled my stomach to the brim – zero digestion was happening. The HCl aids digestion while the stomach learns to function again. Probiotics and enzymes can help, but start slowly – my stomach didn’t handle them well at first and gave me more nausea on top of everything.

      Whatever you do, though, realize that continuing to take the medication is only delaying serious health consequences down the road. Cancer from going OFF the medicine is just a scare-tactic by doctors eager to keep people sick and drugged up. As long as you eat pure organic whole foods, take care of yourself, and give your body the tools it needs to heal itself, your body can do the rest. Best of luck.

      • nada says

        Rachel, Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to write that comment. I know it wasnt for me but IT TRULY BENEFITED ME A LOT. Thank you so much. I hope youre open to answering questions I may have for you.

      • nada says

        Since I was only on PPI’s for 3-6 months (cant recall lol) I dont think its that bad and Im angry I was put on them because my situation wasnt that bad to begin with. If anything, i think it made my nausea worse. Its good to know that the “cancer” thing is just a scare tactic because I was starting to get really worried about that. Anyway, when you say organic foods, what are you specifically referring to? I mean, do you still eat bread, cereal, sugar, etc?

        Right now, I have started taking probiotics, started the HCL with Pepsin (only 1-2 pills is what I can handle right now) when I eat a meal high in protein. I used to be vitamin d deficient, my level was super low, i think the PPIs prevented my body from properly absorbing nutrients. But since Ive been off them my level is now in the normal range, THANK GOD!!! Right now I am a little low in Potassium though. I dont know what more I can do to get it up…I eat a banana every morning.

        So I guess my question for you is, what kinds of foods do you eat? Just fruits and veggies? What do you avoid? And lastly, did you consume fermented foods like Kefir as Chris suggested? I cant have those since most of them have dairy in them. Yup, I suddenly became lactose intolerant…

        You and Chris are lifesavers.

        • says

          I’m so glad to hear that was helpful! Sometimes I worry I’m rambling or sharing TMI :)

          I was pretty angry, too. Thank goodness you were only on PPIs for a few months! Even the commercials say, “never take this medication for more than 14 days, or else”. You’re right though, while on PPIs your body doesn’t absorb nutrients much at all. Scary.

          For me, healing myself meant going far past just the PPIs. It took me a looooong time to find all the hidden health dangers. Anything I once assumed was “safe” I thoroughly researched. Sadly, none of it was even close to safe. And foods that are commonly demonized are actually essential to health, like eggs and real butter! I do eat lots of organic fruits/vegetables, plus the occasional fermented kombucha (I’m allergic to dairy, so no kefir for me either :). I limit my sugar intake and drink water almost exclusively. I buy hormone-free, organic, free-range meats. I eat good fats like fish oils, coconut oil, avocados, butter. I’m now off gluten, which was really the only time I still needed the HCl so I’m basically off that as well.

          But I also avoid GMOs, processed foods, and toxic chemicals like my life depends on it (which it does). I eat as “clean” as I can possibly can. That also includes anything that touches my skin, such as cleaning products and personal care products like makeup or shampoo. Even air fresheners have scary neurotoxic ingredients! http://www.EWG.org is an invaluable resource for looking up product safety. I also never take any drugs if I can help it, except natural supplements and vitamins made from whole-foods. I cook all my own food, and only use the stovetop or oven for heat. At the risk of sounding conspirital, this country is in the business of keeping people sick for profit. Look at any other country and they’ve rigorously banned countless substances that Americans, on the other hand, are encouraged to eat or slather on our skin. “FDA approved!” But I digress.

          I fully admit my lifestyle is expensive and might sound extreme. It is. But I’d much prefer to “pay the farmer now than pay the doctor later”. And I feel so much healthier than I ever have, so it’s worth it! So anyway. I hope this mega-long post provides some help :)

      • Ginny says

        Rachel,

        I like the most current idea that wheat itself, or some not yet identified protein in it, is the problem, not necessarily gluten, except in the case of celiac sprue. Even if the wheat is organic and non-GMO, it still has anti-nutrients that make digestion more difficult, causing gas which causes the LES to open, allowing reflux. Where doctors MISdiagnose (which leads to wrong treatment and new health problems requiring yet more drugs) is in considering stomach acid the bad guy. It’s not. As the article says the stomach must have enough acid to kill bacteria, for one, before it causes problems in the small intestines. I find that drinking about 2 ounces of very dry red wine daily helps my digestion as well as salads with vinegar base.

        I find it embarrassing to be part of “health” care (I’m a nurse) that perpetuates sickness and disease with the very drugs/treatments given to help! Let the buyer beware. It’s good to question the medical status quo when they not only don’t provide the right answers, they actually harm us while supposedly trying to help us. I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained here, namely, our diet is to blame; but now that we’ve made changes, we’ve found out our new diet is much tastier than the old one, not to mention the old problems are disappearing. Seek and ye shall find.

        I hope that doctors and nurses will pay attention to the new paradigm and get on board soon!

        • Rachel says

          Ginny,

          Thank you for your comment! I’m sure you have a very interesting perspective on all this, coming from the medical field. Especially since the natural movement has been rapidly gaining momentum recently as more and more people realize the dangers in mass-medicating! Obviously this site was life-changing for me, but even other dietary changes I’ve made have healed SO many underlying health issues. I’m glad to hear you’re experiencing the same!

          I actually had to stop eating gluten because I became violently allergic/intolerant soon after stopping my PPI medication. This remained a mystery to me up until last week, when I learned that Candida overgrowth (which my stomach conditions were perfect for) can sometimes manifest itself as a gluten intolerance. I’ll spare you the glorious details, but it appears my body can’t tell the difference between Candida and gluten, as their makeups are similar, and the ensuing immune response led to the allergy. So there’s a chance if I go on the painfully restrictive Candida-killing diet, I might be able to eat gluten again. We’ll see!

  45. harold hammell says

    It sounds like all of us who are dealing with Gerds or barretts have the same issue’s and no answers. We are put on PPI’s or some form of antacids to reduce acid reflux and protect our esophagus. Then we end up with all the gastrointestinal side effects(gas,bloat,diarrhea,abdominal pain,nausea, and the list goes on. If that wasn’t bad enough. It dosent cure anything. So now you ask what is the answer. I wish I knew. I am trying to get off all the meds, and going L-natural with digestive aids and vitamins. My Barretts has gotten worse with all the drugs and my quality of life has diminished considerably, so I have nothing to loose. Yes I have the seed of fear that was planted by my gastro guy about cancer, and trust me I don’t want it, but I feel like a dog who has spent 25 years chasing its tail. If you have a better suggestion let me know. thanks

  46. Jo gayle says

    I have ulcers and take ppi for 2 yrs. I tried everthing to get off the meds but nothing I tried stop the pain like the pip. Diet, b12, multiple bits nothing. What can I do other than the ppi?

  47. Ed says

    Been taking PPI in the morning 40mg and a blocker at night 40mg for over a month now. A week ago I started feeling sore in my upper back. Still feels sore and doesn’t respond to aspirin or alieve. Could the soreness be related to the meds?

    • harold says

      Ed: I had the same thing and it was on my right side just below my shoulder blade. I am off the PPI’s and the pain is gone. You have got to get away from the antacids as much as possible. I am convinced that diet and the proper enzymes are the answer. Do some research on this site and other’s and come up with your own answers. Good luck

      • Ed says

        Thanks Harold. I’m going to try to get off the PPI. I think the worst of course. Afraid my digestive issues have turned into cancer and moved to my lungs. Everything on the web related to upper and mid back soreness points to lung cancer. It’s been stressing me out. Hoping and praying getting off the PPI solves the issue.

        • harold says

          Ed: Worry dosent get you anywhere. Get those lungs checked out and take control of your life. Getting off the PPI’s is going to help with your digestion, but you will need to get on to some enzymes or probiotics to keep you off the antacids. I am not a doctor and still have issues myself, but after 25yrs of western medicine’s answer to my problems I have chosen a different direction. Good luck. You may want to take a look at a book called the makers diet. It is good stuff.

  48. Joyce says

    I have been on omaprazole for about 2 years. Quit cold turkey last week and I have not had heartburn but pain and crampinging in my lower abdomen. Is this normal or just another problem and not related?

    • Rachel says

      I’m not a doctor, but that doesn’t necessarily sound related to me … my dad was actually put on acid reflux drugs for years after complaining of lower back pain (which is ridiculous of his doctor). Later it turned out to be gallbladder problems and completely unrelated to acid production. I will say, though, when I went off my Prevacid cold turkey, I somehow developed a gluten allergy – which can trigger abdominal pain. Perhaps you could try an elimination diet to see if any foods are triggering it?

  49. Dale Bliss says

    I recently stopped taking Prilosec which I had been on for about 5 years. I had a blood test done last month which indicated that I was low in B12 but my iron was good. I have, for the past three weeks, started eating fermented food and taking water with Bragg’s ACV twice a day. I’m also supplementing with sublingual B12 drops (methyl) once a day. I’m trying to rebuild my friendly bacteria in my gut and hoping this improves my 3 conditions, mild arthritis in my knees, patches of psoriasis, and of course, heartburn! Already, my psoriasis is clearing up which I’ve had for the past 3 years and I no longer get cramps in my calf muscles at night! Do you think I’m doing all the right things? Oh, and my knees are feeling remarkably better! :)

    • Marcus Kool says

      Dr John Bergman wrote a book on how to REVERSE arthritis. You can also look at one of his videos on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uUgsGsPviY

      I like Dr Bergman a lot: he explains very well what is the CAUSE and how to cure. BTW: it happens often that when one physical problem is cured by removing the CAUSE, there are side effects: other problems go away “magically”.

  50. Ginny says

    Hope this helps those of you who want to stop taking your PPI’s:

    I’ve now been off Prevacid 30mg/day since late November last year, so almost 5 months now.

    At first I had rebound hyper acidity and I was pretty miserable. Then I learned about intermittent fasting and began skipping the next meal if the last one gave me heartburn. Usually breakfast made my stomach burn for hours. Fasting helped a great deal!

    Over time the heartburn lessened more and more. Nowadays, I rarely have heartburn! Nor does food sit in my stomach for hours on end like it did on the PPI. I find that avoiding grains/gluten and added sugars has helped the most. Plus adding fermented foods has really helped too.

    Besides the diet, quitting Prevacid was the best thing I’ve ever done. If you don’t have any contraindicated condition like Barrett’s esophagus or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, then give it a chance. Don’t give up after a few weeks. If you are like me, it WILL get better as time goes on. Keep tweaking your diet as you go, and you will get relief!

  51. Darlene Backscheider says

    The problem is if you aspirate in the middle of the night you could get aspiration pneumonia which could be dangerous for people who are elderly, someone with a weak immune system. I think that it might be necessary for some people to take some type of antacid or Proton Pump Inhibitors. A PPI turns off the acid pump in the body but an antacid just helps with the problem. That’s what a physician told me.

    • Ginny says

      Darlene,

      It IS necessary to take a PPI as long as you don’t change your diet.

      As for me, I haven’t had ONE episode of aspiration since eliminating gluten and dairy. Not one. I’ve been off Prevacid for 6 months now.

      Don’t believe everything doctors tell you, especially about drugs. IMHO, they are clueless, especially with regard to the big picture. They seem to believe what the drug reps tell them.

  52. Jeff says

    Hi, Chris,
    I got really sick last September and have seen some progress but still remain undiagnosed and symptomatic. One doctor has diagnosed me with Meniere’s. I had been on Lipitor 20 mg for about 8 years straight and had been on Omeprazole 20 mg for about 2 years straight for acid reflux, doctor’s orders. However my reflex was getting worse so I was switched to Dexilant at 60 mg for about 6 months and then Nexium at 80 mg for about 2 months. After getting extremely sick, since doctor’s could not figure out what was wrong with me, I quit both drugs. I developed severe difficulty breathing, post nasal drip, tinnitus, dizziness, anxiety, extreme fatigue, head and ear pressure, tingling in my hands and feet, and blurred vision. I read after stopping these two drugs that taking both of them together can increase their effect. Doctor never told me that, probably never knew. Anyway, I have been off them for awhile. I was found to be vitamin d deficient. I was wondering how long it takes to be off PPIs before the nutrient absorption goes back to normal and if there’s anything I can do to help it along the way, especially for us people who have been on them for years. Anyway advise you can give would be much appreciated. I sure would like to get better, assuming these drugs have anything to do with my problems..

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