How Your Antacid Drug Is Making You Sick (Part B) | Chris Kresser
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How Your Antacid Drug Is Making You Sick (Part B)

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

In the last article, we discussed the first two of four primary consequences of taking acid stopping drugs:

  1. Bacterial overgrowth
  2. Impaired nutrient absorption

In this article we’ll cover the remaining two consequences:

  1. Decreased resistance to infection
  2. Increased risk of cancer and other diseases
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Our First Line of Defense

The mouth, esophagus and intestines are home to between 400-1,000 species of bacteria. However, a healthy stomach is normally almost completely sterile. Why? Because stomach acid kills bacteria.

In fact, that’s one of it’s most important roles: to provide a two-way barrier that protects the stomach from pathogenic bacteria.

First, stomach acid prevents harmful bacteria that may be present in the food or liquid we consume or the air we breathe from entering the intestine. At the same time, stomach acid also prevents normal bacteria from the intestines to move into the stomach and esophagus, where they could cause problems.

The low pH (high acid) environment of the stomach is one of the major non-specific defense mechanisms of the body. When the pH of the stomach is 3 or lower, the normal between-meal “resting” level, bacteria don’t last more than fifteen minutes. But as the pH rises to 5 or more, many bacterial species can avoid the acid treatment and begin to thrive.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens when you take acid stopping drugs. Both Tagamet and Zantac significantly raise the pH of the stomach from about 1 to 2 before treatment to 5.5 to 6.5 after, respectively.

Prilosec and other PPIs are even worse. Just one of these pills is capable of reducing stomach acid secretion by 90 to 95 percent for the better part of a day. Taking higher or more frequent doses of PPIs, as is often recommended, produces a state of achlorydia (virtually no stomach acid). In a study of ten healthy men aged 22 to 55 years, a 20 or 40 mg dose of Prilosec reduced stomach acid levels to near-zero.

A stomach without much acid is in many ways a perfect environment to harbor pathogenic bacteria. It’s dark, warm, moist, and full of nutrients.

Most of the time these bacteria won’t kill us – at least not right away. But some of them can. People who have a gastric pH high enough to promote bacterial overgrowth are more vulnerable to serious bacterial infections.

A recent systematic review of gastric acid-suppressive drugs suggested that they do in fact increase susceptibility to infections (PDF). The author found evidence that using acid stopping drugs can increase your chances of contracting the following nasty bugs:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Cholera
  • Listeria
  • Giardia
  • C. Difficile

Other studies have found that acid stopping drugs also increase the risk for:

Not only do acid stopping drugs increase our susceptibility to infection, they weaken our immune system’s ability to fight off infections once we have them. In vitro studies have shown that PPIs impair nuetrophil function, decrease adhesion to endothelial cells, reduce bactericidal killing of microbes, and inhibit neutrophil phagocytosis and phagolysosome acidification.

A Gateway to Other Serious Diseases

As we discussed in the first article in this series, a decline in acid secretion with age has been well documented. As recently as 1996, a British physician noted that age-related stomach acid decline is due to a loss of the cells that produce the acid. This condition is called atrophic gastritis.

In particular relevance to our discussion here, atrophic gastritis (a condition where stomach acid is very low) is associated with a wide range of serious disorders that go far beyond the stomach and esophagus. These include:

  • Stomach cancer
  • Allergies
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Skin diseases, including forms of acne, dermatitis, eczema, and urticaria
  • Gall bladder disease (gallstones)
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid arthritis and Graves disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease (CD), Ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 1 diabetes

And let’s not forget that low stomach acid can cause heartburn and GERD!

In the interest of keeping this article from becoming a book, I’m going to focus on just a few of the disorders on the list above.

Stomach Cancer

Atrophic gastritis is a major risk factor for stomach cancer. H. pylori is the leading cause of atrophic gastritis. Acid suppressing drugs worsen H. pylori infections and increase rates of infection.

Therefore, it’s not a huge leap to suspect that acid suppressing drugs increase the risk of stomach cancer in those infected with H. pylori (which, as we saw in Part III, is one in two people).

In a recent editorial, Julie Parsonnet, M.D. of Standford University Medical School writes:

In principle, current [acid suppressing drug] therapies might be advancing the cancer clock by converting relatively benign gastric inflammation into a more destructive, premalignant process.

One way PPIs increase the risk of cancer is by inducing hypergastrinemia, a condition of above-normal secretion of the hormone gastrin. This is a potentially serious condition that has been linked to adenocarcinoma – a form of stomach cancer.

Taking a standard 20 mg daily dose of Prilosec typically results in up to a three-to-fourfold increase in gastrin levels. In people whose heartburn fails to respond to the standard dose, long-term treatment with doses as high as 40 or 60 mg has produced gastrin levels as much as tenfold above normal.

Another theory of what causes stomach cancer involves elevated concentration of nitrites in the gastric fluid.

In a healthy stomach, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) removes nitrite from gastric juice by converting it to nitric oxide. However, this process is dependent upon the pH of the stomach being less than 4. As I discussed earlier in this article, most common acid stopping medications have no trouble increasing the pH of the stomach to 6 or even higher.

Therefore, it’s entirely plausible that acid stopping medications increase the risk of stomach cancer by at least two distinct mechanisms.

Gastric and Duodenal Ulcers

An estimated 90% of duodenal (intestinal) and 65% of gastric ulcers are caused by H. pylori. It is also recognized that the initial H. pylori infection probably only takes place when the acidity of the stomach is decreased. In a human inoculation experiment, infection could not be established unless the pH of the stomach was raised (thus lowering the acidity) by use of histamine antagonists.

By lowering stomach acid and increasing stomach pH, acid suppressing drugs increase the risk of H. pylori infection and subsequent development of duodenal or gastric ulcers.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Adenosine is a key mediator of inflammation in the digestive tract, and high extracellular levels of adenosine suppress and resolve chronic inflammation in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Chronic use of PPIs has been shown to decrease extracellular concentration of adenosine, resulting in an increase in inflammation in the digestive tract. Therefore, it is possible that long-term use of acid stopping medications may predispose people to developing serious inflammatory bowel disorders.

It has become increasingly well established that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is caused at least in part by small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). It is also well known that acid suppressing drugs contribute to bacterial overgrowth, as I explained in Part II and Part III. It makes perfect sense, then, that chronic use of acid suppressing drugs could contribute to the development of IBS in those that didn’t previously have it, and worsen the condition in those already affected.

Depression, Anxiety and Mood Disorders

While there is no specific research (that I am aware of) linking acid suppressing drugs to depression or mood disorders, a basic understanding of the relationship between protein digestion and mental health suggests that there may be a connection.

During the ingestion of food stomach acid secretion triggers the release of pepsin. Pepsin is the enzyme responsible for breaking down protein into its component amino acids and peptides (two or more linked amino acids). Essential amino acids are called “essential” because we cannot manufacture them in our bodies. We must get them from food.

If pepsin is deficient, the proteins we eat won’t be broken down into these essential amino acid and peptide components. Since many of these essential amino acids, such as phenylalanine and tryptophan, play a crucial role in mental and behavioral health, low stomach acid may predispose people towards developing depression, anxiety or mood disorders.

Autoimmune Diseases

Low stomach acid and consequent bacterial overgrowth cause the intestine to become permeable, allowing undigested proteins to find their way into the bloodstream. This condition is often referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”. Salzman and colleagues have shown that both transcellular and paracellular intestinal permeability are substantially increased in atrophic gastritis sufferers compared to control patients.

When undigested proteins end up in the bloodstream, they are considered as “foreign” by the immune system. The resulting immune response is similar to what happens when the body mobilizes its defenses (i.e. T cells, B cells and antibodies) to eradicate a viral or bacterial infection.

This type of immune response against proteins we eat contributes to food allergies. A similar mechanism that is not fully understood predisposes people with a leaky gut to develop more serious autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, Graves disease, and inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

The connection between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and low stomach acid in particular has been well established in the literature. Examining the stomach contents of 45 RA patients, Swedish researchers found that 16 (36 percent) had virtually no stomach acid. Those people who had suffered from RA the longest had the least acid. A group of Italian researchers also found that people with RA have an extremely high rate of atrophic gastritis associated with low stomach acid when compared with normal individuals.

Asthma

In the last ten years, more than four hundred scientific articles concerned with the connection between asthma and gastric acidity have been published. One of the most common features of asthma, in addition to wheezing, is gastroesophageal reflux.

It is estimated that between up to 80 percent of people with asthma also have GERD. Compared with healthy people, those with asthma also have significantly more reflux episodes and more acid-induced irritation of their esophageal lining.

When acid gets into the windpipe, there is a tenfold drop in the ability of the lungs to take in and breathe out air. Physicians who are aware of this association have begun prescribing acid stopping drugs to asthma patients suffering from GERD. While these drugs may provide temporary symptomatic relief, they do not address the underlying cause of the LES dysfunction that permitted acid into the esophagus in the first place.

In fact, there is every reason to believe that acid suppressing drugs make the underlying problem (too little stomach acid and overgrowth of bacteria) worse, thus perpetuating and exacerbating the condition.

Conclusion

As we have seen in the previous articles in the series, heartburn and GERD are caused by too little – and not too much – stomach acid. Unfortunately, insufficient stomach acid is also associated with bacterial overgrowth, impaired nutrient absorption, decreased resistance to infection, and increased risk of stomach cancer, ulcers, IBS and other digestive disorders, depression and mood disorders, autoimmune disease, and asthma.

Chronic use of acid stopping medication dramatically reduces stomach acid, thus increasing the risk of all of these conditions. What’s more, acid suppressing medications not only do not address the underlying cause of heartburn and GERD, they make it worse.

Is the temporary symptom relief these drugs provide worth the risk? That’s something only you can decide. I hope the information I’ve provided here can help you make an educated decision.

In the next and final article of the series, I will present a plan for getting rid of heartburn and GERD once and for all without drugs.

354 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. I ‘m glad to learn more about taking anti acid medication for I’ve been taking a high dosage of prolisec, protonic, zantac, pepcid for more than 3 years now and I just stop it for I’m not feeling any better anyway, so what I’m taing as of now is the natural cure sufflement witch is, Aloe cure and I will see if it will help me, for I’m scared of all the Anti acid that my Dr’s had prescriving me and it’s higher dossage and I’m already going to be 70 and I’ m 4″8 and 86 lbs I just cant gain weight for I’m very stricked about my diet, staying away from fatty food mostlyall what I’m eating is loe fat food, staying away from all dairy.food, spicy food, deef fried food, red meat and pork, to make it short I’m avoiding all the food that is bad for acid reflux especially sugary food I love nuts especially peanuts, but then I found out that it is bad for acid reflux too so I really don’t know what to do I’m confused, but your article give me Idea that I really have to stop taking anti acid medication . Thank U very much

  2. My son is now 2 1/2, at 6 weeks old he was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia and severe acid reflux. At first he was prescribed Zantac in liquid form. When that was not strong enough to keep acid down his pediatric ENT Dr prescribed Prilosec, against his pediatrician’s plan of action. It did keep his acid down long enough for his Larynx to form and he was off all meds by 6 months old. Fast forward to a year old and months of chronic constipation, now at 2 1/2 its the same thing. All the while pediatrician after pediatrician have said Miralax is the answer to his constipation. I don’t believe it is, and he will not drink it disguised in anything. He seems to be exhibiting signs of gluten intolerance with the constipation and discoloration of his stool. I don’t know what to do and no MD will help other than suggesting Miralax. I wish I knew then what I know now, but hopefully find a way to restore his health. Are there any diets or options you can suggest to help restore his gut health after prolonged infant use of antacid medications?

  3. relax don’t panic in whatever u do and definitely never abuse any medication use it as a last resort let the body get use to the ailment. When used too much even good beneficial things become bad for u. Don’t panic eat don’t panic excercise ie walk for too long don’t panic burp ie don’t burp too much and definitely don’t let it become a habit. Acid reflux is not just one thing so it gets confusing and we panic well I do anyway but it’s always the same also I’ve realised my stomach is always tense it’s like I’m keeping it tense and that isn’t how it’s suppose to be so when I relax my acid reflux/indigestion symptoms relax a little. It’s hard but I think the best way to overcome it is to get use to it… If we are sensitive then we will be sensitive to all illnesses and it’s OK to get a little scared but it isn’t worth it because it’s just a vicious cycle we keep going through and we need to learn to break this circle. Anyway what’s helped me is a family friend gave me some 150mg ranitidine which I took for about a month or 2 and I boiled ginger in water and sipped the harsh but amazing drink every time my reflux was unbearable and it helped so much I could sleep my stomach wouldn’t be tense anymore I found my relaxant. ginger is great for acid reflux etc give it a try it may help 🙂 i had it for about 6 years only recently started treating it before that my GP said it was in my head or was just anxiety Nope it was acid reflux which was causing my anxiety. As soon as I took the first ranitidine it helped a lot cleared my brain fog I started to think clearly again. don’t abuse the meds just find the best times that suit ur schedule and the diet is most important cut down on stuff u are addicted to and stop completely things like spicy food fried junk food chocolates and having large servings, have smaller servings spread out through the day. Well that’s what I had to do and it gets better don’t worry 🙂

  4. Calling out this article. I was on losec for about 15 years off and on..20mg per day from the age of 35 to 50ish. I never had muscle problems of any kind or any of the other symptoms people complain about. I have bad anxiety, but have had that forever since a youth. I now only take ratinidine..I find it has worse side effects than losec but is suppose to be easier on you than losec. Who knows. I also exercise heavily every day..and drink a coffee a day plus i drink.

    • I took Prilosec for a good 20 years. Docs kept prescribing it. I was worried about long term affects & was told I had nothing to worry about. About 3 years ago I started feeling very sick. Felt like I was dying of cancer or some horrible disease plus had bad joint & muscle pain & awful fatigue.Had multiple blood tests and everything came back normal. Docs made me feel like it was all in my head. Told me I needed to take antidepressants. If I was depressed it was due to feeling terrible 24/7. I took a antidepressant for about 2 months & found myself thinking of suicide. Depression is not my problem. I asked my doctor if it could be Prilosec & was told no let’s try a different antidepressant. Since then I have been researching Prilosec & found my problem. Stopped Prilosec 4 months ago and am feeling better. The first two months I felt like I was going through heroin withdrawals. It was awful. Thought I was dying! Then came terrible heart burn which I still have. Working on my diet now.

      • Same here! Took it for years. Because my doctor said I had Barrets esophagus (due to steroid use to treat UC). I had no idea it actually makes everything worse yet the GI docs still hand it out like candy. Come to find out it makes UC AND GERD worse, not to mention the withdrawal.

    • Try to eat smaller meals 5 instead of 3. Chew enough because than you mix the food with saliva , this is necessary. The more you chew , the more saliva is mixed , the lesser your stomach needs to make stomach acid!

    • Well it’s been four years, I don’t think we are going to get that final article. This has all been a long drawn out click bait scheme. It is a shame that he got so many people’s hopes up just to make money off the clicks. But it might well work, we just have to take what info we have and try to make it work.

    • Have you checked that your symptoms are too little stomach acid not too little. I went to a fabulous naturopath in Canada and she told me that the symptoms for both high stomach acid and low stomach are the same. Taking omprazole when one has low stomach acid makes it worse.

  5. I have been coughing for years and in the last year or so my voice keeps changing when J talk too long. Have to keep coughing to clear my throat. The past few weeks I have a sore area inside my throat. I went to the doctor a week ago and she couldn’t see down far enough. So she suggested I try Lansoprazole for a few weeks to see if that would help. I took them for 5 days and by yesterday the heartburn got way worse. So did not take one this morning. Prior to this I didn’t notice heartburn but felt I had reflux. I’ve tried Apple cider vinegar with water. Sometimes that helped other times it seemed to make it worse. The back of my throat is not a normal pink colour but yellow looking. Which I think is very unhealthy looking.

  6. I’ve been on PPI’S for 26 years because I have Barretts and GERD. I want to get off of prilosec but I’ve tried before and had horrible heart burn and can’t eat anything. Please help me I know I have a very bad gutty stomach and have a horrible time having BM.

    • If you were good on ppi don’t change. It is normal that you have heart burn. If you have GERD don’t change medication. Don’t take ACV because it is not working for everyone. The only thing you can do is spreading your meals instead of 3 times a day , small meals 5 times a day. And very important , you need to chew enough on your meal ( 10 to 20 times) because than there is enough saliva which include the enzymes for your stomach!

  7. I have been diagnosed with mast cell disease and Zantac is the only thing that allows me to lead a normal life. Do you think using digestive enzymes and probiotics will help allay the ill effects of the Zantac?

  8. How do I get the next article my doc wants to put me on these pills and I don’t want to take them.

    • Ask your doctor for a gastrin blood test. You have to be free of the PPI’s for 2 weeks prior to the test but it will tell you whether you have high acid or low acid. If you have low acid ask your doc why you need to take PPI’s when you have low acid. If its high then you can justify taking the PPI’s to lower the acid. You can also test your PH of the stomach acid with litmus testers. Good luck.

    • Great question – as I’m a sufferer of barratts oesophagus. I started with acid reflux years ago after my mum left home so I mainly due to stress related issues and now I’m older and slightly overweight. I was never told if it was due to less acid or excess just told to keep taking omeprazole 1x20mg every day. To which I’m not taking and have been quite acidic lately – feel like I need to take another tablet now actually 🙁
      Not sure what to do for the best.

    • Eric if you have high stomach acid then indeed your doc may prescribe and you may need PPI’s. You need to find out what your stomach acid is high or low..

  9. Misinformation is rife on this website. Have you no shame?! The evidence that red meat causes cancer is far stronger than the evidence that PPI’s cause cancer, yet you voraciously reject the latter while embracing and promoting the latter.

    This site isn’t scientific at all, the author clearly starts with whatever position he believes/wants to be true on any given number of topics and then cherry picks, omits and misrepresents studies as it suits.

    • well if there is a correlation between red meat causing cancer and also PPI use….doesn’t that just show further how necessary it is to have enzymes working properly in digestive system?

    • Are you even clicking on all the scientific study links he has posted in these articles? There is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence here and you can find so much more using google scholar yourself.

      Not to even mention how much sense it all makes if you have experienced some of these issues he talks about and researched them for yourself.

    • I have had atrophic gastritis twice the first time 10 years ago I also had campylobacter. I have been on omeprozale (Losec) for 10 years. I have just had a gastroscopy to be reveled I have erosive gastritis and atrophic gasritis. I am also B12 deficient. My GP said “Oh you have too much acid” my specialist said that gastritis and B12 deficiency point to too little acid. The biopsy came back with Reflux oesophagitis. They also removed 6 polyps. I asked my doctor for a gastrin test to prove his statement and I have received the results today and I have low stomach acid. I had been off PPI’s for several weeks when the test was done. I have stayed off the PPI’s. I am treating this with diet and am just going to start eating sauerkraut as this helps the stomach. I am starting to feel so much better. As my father died from oesphagael carcinoma I am concerned by this misconception. So Matt I clearly do not share your views on this. There are times when I have had to have zinc and folic acid supplements and my blood tests are pointing to borderline Iron deficiency. I cannot ignore the personal evidence.

      • I do not understand that the gastritis is a cause of your low stomach acid. Mostly gastritis is a cause of to much stomach acid or infection. Your low level of B12 can be a result of your gastritis. And if you have reflux oesaphagitis , this is mostly result of to much stomach acid. Here in Belgium in the university hospital they don’t treat low stomach acid or I your low stomach acid must be a result of another disease. Take attention that mostly to much stomach acid lead to problems and the biggest risk is damage the mucus lining of your stomach and esophagus which can lead to bleeding , wounds and even cancer!

        • Hi Rudi You are posting this on Chris Kresser’s website blog. Have you read the articles that he has written regarding stomach acid and causes for gastritis etc. Here is a piece for you information. It might be good for you to read these articles.
          “In this first article I will present evidence demonstrating that, contrary to popular belief, heartburn and GERD are caused by too little (not too much) stomach acid. In the second article I’ll explain exactly how low stomach acid causes heartburn, GERD and other digestive conditions. In the third article I’ll discuss the important roles stomach acid plays in maintaining health and preventing disease, and the danger long-term use of acid suppressing drugs presents. In the final article, I’ll present simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can eliminate heartburn and GERD once and for all.”

          My gastro said that gastritis and B12 are associated with low stomach acid not high stomach acid. I have had a gastrin test and I have low/normal stomach acid. Why would I take omeprazole when I was on it for 10 years and got gastritis and also oesphagusitis. I feel much better not taking it and I have had no pain or heartburn since getting off it. If the doctors can convince me that I need to lower the acid in my stomach even further then I will take the medication. The reason the acid is coming up and “burning” the oesphagus is due to LES sphinkter. I think the gastritis is due to taking methotrexate. I also had polyps removed at the same time. There are some doctors that say its too much acid some say not enough…. The medical profession can’t agree on this so we are not going to get it right in a discussion. Every person is different. If the acid in the stomach is high then maybe that person should be tested for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. I will keep monitoring everything and will discuss with the specialist when I see him….

          • I had to comment here, because you mentioned you are taking Methotrexate, which my mother was put on for RA. It is a wicked drug in itself. Caused her blood sugar to go off, I had to test her sugar every day, and it also made her puffy all over. I am off Omeprazole again, but am taking 150 mg of Rantinidine, twice a day, even though I am drinking flax powder in water, and it helps, but not enough, not yet. And my belly is burning as I write this, because I put off taking my pill till just a bit ago. Ate my lunch, and boom! Burning. What are we to do, live on water and pablum?

            • Hi Julie
              Yes the methotrexate is dreadful stuff and I no longer take it. Even though I have gastritis and oesophagitis I don’t take anything. I control it with diet. Very bland and sometimes frustrating but absolutely worth it. Good luck I hope yuo get through the issues and become pain free.

      • Hi, is it like a nagging pain in the upper right part of the stomach? Does the middle of your stomach, just under the breasts bone feel tender- like? Does it pain? Does the burning get worst after a meal? And radiates into your back? Do you get chills, too? What about nausea? Sensitive to smells?
        I have all these. Trying to trace and connect symptoms.
        The doctor said that I have polyps, fatty liver and mild GERD.

      • I too like everyone else have been suffering from stomach problems after years on & off rennie. I have ended up with chest pains and was admitted for angina. Turned out I had a good heart and clear arteries but I have to had such a scare I packed up smoking cold turkey. Then the anxiety started cos I have to was sent home from hospital with statin and blood pressure meds. After 2 mths I have thought why am I taking these when my heart is falling off OK and after seeing the doc stopped taking them along with the omeprazole for the acid. For the first week I felt great then the acid started again. I went to the doctors and he suggested endoscopy after what I had been through I declined and he just gave me more omeprazole. However I soon realised I had stopped having acid but the bloating stomach pains and farting had now become an issue. I went back to the doctors and saw a nurse practitioner she stopped the omeprazole and put me on ranitidine a form of zantac so that she could take h. Pylori tests. She is very thorough and I expect to get results tomorrow. But omg what hell I have had on the zantac. Nausia diorhea pains burping bloating farting. I thought I would die this morning but after a glass of water. One exploding fart and burp I felt much better. I really hope I do have h. Pylori so I can can get on the food diet to cure myself & after hearing reports on this condition I thank you all for sharing because you have given me a boost today to fight on thank you all x Jane

    • Matt you have chosen to believe that red meat causes cancer. I have chosen to believe that PPI’s make my condition worse. Both those views could be rubbish who knows…. We will all believe or do what we think is best for us. Regardless. For the record I don’t red meat either. I also believe that wheat and dairy can cause issues with some people. Doesn’t mean every person that has it is going to get an intolerance. We are all different..

  10. Hi there I was diagnosed with barratts oesophagus in 2012 and told to have 20mg omeprazole every day. I was on them for a few years and started with IBS then pains around gallbladder / liver. I now don’t take them every day only when If I feel acid. My GP keeps advising me to take them every day but after reading articles like yours I’m unsure what to do for the best. Can you advise ?

  11. Chriss, I feel really grateful for these articles, I feel really relieved and helped by them…

    I feel really curious about the final article, since I am not sure what I should do…

    Radovan

    • Yes thanks Chris it’s all very interesting and has helped me make the choose to not take ppi,s even tho my doctor said there ok and told me to carry on.. personally I’m going to stick to no alcohol. Healthy diet, no fats and sugars ect. Since my last blog I’ve been diagnosed with polymyalgia and put on steroids to try to reset my immune system as it’s an autoimmune disease that I’m convinced was brought on by ppi,s.. ive been in severe pain for 3 months and never want to go thrue that again, ive no proof it was ppi but i wouldnt go back on them again and would advise anyone to only take them short term and change life style instead. Looking forward to last atricle

    • I have stopped using Prilosec and starting using essential oils from Doterra. I use the Digest Zen roller over my stomach area and chew the Digest Tabs. I am going to order the Digest Zen softgels next. I have been on Prilosec for years because I was suffering and nothing I tried worked. Thank-You so much for your articles and try essential oils!!! They work and are all natural and healthy!

  12. Chris, I can’t wait for your final article. Please make it soon. I am struggling with GERD ever since being diagnosed with SIBO. I eat only carrot, hamburgers, chicken. I take a digestive enzyme Similase Lipo and HCL. My GERD is getting worse causing me to need to increase my dose to 1944 mg. at each meal. I am not using any OTC or prescription drugs for the problem. I hope you have some advice on what I can do to get over this.

  13. Over the past year I had episodes of feeling fevered. I had body aches, (skin, muscles, bones…etc) and generalized fatigue. These episodes increased in frequency to the point where it was a daily event. I changed jobs (night shift ER nurse to 8 hour day shift nurse) thinking my body was just becoming run down. Depression was setting in as I felt more helpless, nothing was improving this horrible feeling. About a month ago I went to bed insanely early because I hurt so bad, I actually cried in frustration thinking I probably had acquired an autoimmune disorder or worse yet, a doctor would tell me I had “fibromyalgia”. Any nurse, especially an ER nurse, will tell you we don’t believe in this description of symptoms, it often accompanies very weak personalities, When I got up the next day, (a full night’s rest would always guarantee me a few hours of freedom from the pain) I started researching both of my medications, Atenolol and Zantac. I assumed if anything was the culprit it would be Atenolol as it was my newest drug. I found no correlation between my symptoms and the listed adverse effects of Atenolol. Then, I started researching Zantac, and thinking it couldn’t possibly be this medication, it’s an OTC, therefore safe. In one article, one tiny line in hundreds of paragraphs, I found the possible side effect of “myalgia”. This was all I needed to read, I immediately stopped taking Zantac and noticed in 2 days an immediate improvement of my symptoms. It has now been almost a month since I stopped taking Zantac, and I can say I’ve had approximately 98% resolution of all symptoms. I feel fantastic, and I am SO relieved that my case was resolved so swiftly. Today I found this article which so clearly explains why I was feeling SO poorly, like death was around the corner. This experience will give me new empathy for my patients with autoimmune disorders and undiagnosed diseases. Thank-you for offering this research, it has given me validation and a much clearer understanding of what was happening to my body.

    • Hi karen,
      I am also taking atenolol and zintac for last 2 years and around 3-4 months before i also started feeling tired with pain al over my body specially back and knee pain, is this might be due to zintac? Can i stop it without teplacing it with some other medicine?
      Thanks

      • Zantac, or Rantinidine, does not do that. It only reduces excess acid, it is not an acid blocker like Omeprazole. I would blame the Atenalol, which you must be taking for either blood pressure or heart, or both.

  14. I have a hiatal hernia and have experimented with omeprazole 20m pd for the past 5 years- my conclusion is thus:

    Long term use say over 30 days causes bloating and digestive problems- I simply can’t process my food when taking this stuff and overeat to compensate. I didn’t realise the damage this drug was causing me- we need stomach acid to break our food down and PPI are a lazy and crude method of intervention for acid reflux.

    For digestion I use vinegar cider, slippery elm, mastika and digestive enzymes and have to avoid lactose and other related foods, and without doubt PPIs screw up digestion if taken before any of the above. They’ve caused me intercostal muscle issues which have referred pain effects elsewhere in my torso and stomach swelling.

    I would only (if at all now) ever take PPI in short doses ( 3- 5 days) or before or after alcohol, which I have now stopped – so I am not planning on drinking alcohol or taking PPI for a couple of months and will watch the results.

    • PPI’s are bad for your health. Read the label. You should not take them for more than two weeks. Recent studies raise very serious issues: dementia and kidney failure are associated with people over 74 who take them. A forty percent increase over a five years period of dementia in seniors. I went back to H2 blockers and melatonin. check melatonin out as a solution. It works.

    • I was on a ppi for hiatus hernia and told to take it indefinitely . After 3 months I gradually developed chronic and debilitating pain in both shoulders both knees and both hips. Currently I’m being tested for autoimmune disease s including rheumatoid arthritis I’m convinced it’s due to the ppi, my doctor won’t have it but I’ve stopped taking them changed my diet and lifestyle and feel lots better with no gerd or heartburn so it can be done. I’ve still got severe joint pain but wished I never taken ppi in first place or just been aware of all the information that I’ve found on internet and taken them just to clear my ulcers which took just 3 weeks then stopped. Ppi are a quick easy fix so people can carry on eating to excess thers always a price to pay for this sort of treatment. Ditch the drug and chznge yo lifestyle. Tom m is an idiot.

      • I have exactly the same pain you described. I quit my protonix for a week and felt better. But then I could feel the acid in throat come back. You mentioned you replaced with other medications. What are the other meds that you take to protect your stomach and esophagus.

    • Hey Matt I am intrigued with your post regarding intercostal muscle issue caused as a result of prolonged ppi use. Can you possibly expand on the symptoms a bit for me. What exactly had you been experiencing?

      Thank you

      • The reason I ask is because I was on prevacid and losec for approximately 18 years before finally going off it. However I am now as well having intercostal issues as well

  15. Just so you all know, this is all garbage. Yeah stop taking anti acids so you can burn out the lining of your stomach and get ulcers and stomach bleeding. But hey, at lease you won’t get a virus..

    So unless you’re licking the pavement and making out with every person you meet, I’m 100% positive you’re fine to take your omeprazole. And the only real research shows that the drug shows increased risk of infection for elderly in hospitals. Reference? My pharmacist and my Doctor.

    And yes your stomach pH is suppose to be acidic, but your intestines have a very basic pH. You’re most likely feeling sick cause you’re not eating a balanced diet if you are experiencing nausea. And taking an anti acid can cause irritation cause again, yiu don’t have burning acid telling you your hungry.

    Please take care of your body and stop letting the risk of side effects control your life. Take your pills, feel better and live happier. Or don’t take them, live in misery and feel like garbage. I believe quality is way better than quantity. I’d rather live 60 great years than 90 just okay ones.

    • You’re an idiot! Stop spreading false information. The information in these articles share what many others studying this are finding. You’re a pharma pill pusher. You don’t even make sense in your comments.

    • “100% positive”, Tom M.??? Where is your sources to back up everything you’ve spotted off in your replies? Where’d you get your degree? There’s nothing wrong with people researching causes of GERD and side effects of drugs & making informed decisions themselves. Only a fool would take a drug without understanding the risk involved. I hope they put “Take your pills, feel better and live happier” on your tombstone when you die too young. Besides, I don’t think you payed attention the day they taught pH in chemistry class. Lol. So, go back under the pill-pushing rock you crawled out from under.

      • People, here in Europe. Ppi are the standard treatment for GERD.HCL is dangerous. It can even damage your stomach which can lead to cancer.I went due to GERD to a hospital in Ghent, Belgium, best university hospital in Belgium with top doctors. I told them that I did use hcl for GERD. Ok they say if you will damage your stomach and bowels go further with it. They say that h pylori loves to live in a high acid environment. So if you want to increase the risk with an increase of h pylori and cancer risk of your stomach go further with taking Hcl or pepsin supplememtation. Do you know that people can live without stomach? So stomach acid is just not needed. People don’t believe in to low acid stomach acid.it’s bullshit. I believe in doctors who continues have experience with GERD problems and these are gastro intestinal professional doctors.

    • Tom M each to his own. My doc told me the same as your doc. My specialist however had been in the job 30+ years and told me gastricit and B12 deficincy point to low stomach acid. So I had a stomach gastrin test done when I was not taking any PPIs or antacids. Came back low acid. I also gat gastritis and ulcerated stomach while on PPI’s. I have now come off them and feel heaps better and am enjoying life. If you are happy to take your PPI’s then maybe you really do need them as I am sure there are people out there that have high acid levels in their stomach. There is a place for PPI’s in society but not in my stomach thankyou. I would like to hear how you get on when you come off the PPI’s. If yuo don’t come off them it will be intersting to see what side effects you develope with time. There will come a time when your doctor will tell you to stop them as there is more information being made available as to the side effects imerging. All the best I hope all goes well for you Tom..

    • Well, Tom, aren’t you just a peach…lol. (sarcasm). I know personally that PPI’s and other acid blockers/reducers are not good for you…they don’t just lower acid, they influence and change body chemistry. I took zantac for 7 months and it has me caused awful muscle pain, joint pain, burning from head to toe and prostate issues. As a matter of fact, I just found out (from a blood test) that i carry a gene mutation MTHFR (which i also found out is pretty common) that makes it difficult for my body to convert and use B vitamins. This makes me susceptible to vitamin deficiencies and acid reducers are known to cause deficiencies by themselves so I can’t take them anymore. I am (with the help from a Naturopath) working on treating my GERD with natural remedies such as digestive enzymes, quality probiotics (not the cheap over the counter ones), slippery elm, DGL, ACV and changing my diet and lifestyle to eliminate my triggers. I think that having blind faith in anybody let alone any doctor is foolish. You need to advocate for yourself and ask questions and do research, and get copies of all of your blood tests etc. You are the best judge of your own health…if you suspect that a med is causing you discomfort or harm (especially if u didnt have it b4 taking it) then report that to your doc and politely yet firmly request that he/she assists you in either putting you on a different one or getting you off it if it’s not tx a serious condition….

  16. Wow! I have heard some of this before and have tried to get off of my Prilosoc. Of course, the “withdrawal” symptoms were unbearable, so I started taking them. Now I’ve read that these symptoms can take several weeks to several months before disappearing. Yikes! Wish all doctors were aware of this and stayed away from PPIs. No one ever told me I would become dependent on them and that taking them was actually harming me instead of helping.

    I have taken my last Prilosec. Hopefully, eating many small meals during the day will help with the acid reflux symptoms. But it sounds like it is going to be a long 3 months.

    • I am currently weaning off 20 mg of omeprazole. I started by cutting back 1/4 of the granules out of the capsule, then 1/2 out, and this week am down to leaving only 1/4 of the granules in the capsule. Stopping suddenly only brings on rebound, as your stomach over-produces acid to make up for what has been repressed. Doing it gradually like this, I have had no problems so far.

    • Don’t drop your anti acid because you read a bunch of “what ifs.” If you have constant stomach acid, you will burn out your stomach lining and once it’s gone it is gone. Don’t go to the hospital for stomach ulcers and bleeding because you read something on the internet and someone who probably never had this issue, wrote a lot of garbage saying it’s bad. And cutting cold turkey from anything is extremely harmful. Don’t be a slave to “what might happen.”

      • You should stay off boards like this one. Your comments are utter BS and what is helping to keep people dependent on drugs.

  17. So I started taking Prilosec almost 3 months ago when I was having weird chest pains from acid reflux right before I quit smoking. Shortly after I quit smoking my acid reflux intensified and my dr said I should take the 40mg for 3 months to help with a ulcer she thought I may have. My regular dr did a blood test a month later and did not show any sign of a ulcer. Now that I have 2 weeks later I have been going threw the weirdest things. I have developed super tight and sore leg muscles, feeling a bit foggy now and forget words or stumble sometimes when I am talking, could these be from the Prilosec possibly or could is be from when quit smoking still? This crap scares me. I am a fairly healthy person don’t drink or do drugs quit smoking over 3 months ago and still out of it from that but for the most part healthy

  18. In my opinion, as someone who has taken both acid reducers and PPI’s for about 20 odd years, they need to have rehab centers for us. Anyone who has tried to stop taking these drugs after taking them for so many years, almost always go back to them, because you are in a word, MISERABLE! I want to stop, and have tried. I have tried enzymes, vinegar, you name it, but I feel so rotten, I go back to the pill. I do only take 20 mg once a day, and my vitamin levels are fine.

    • Why are you acting like this is some type of addicting narcotic? Yeah you’re miserable cause over production of stomach acid is dangerous and can cause stomach bleeding. You’re blowing this out of proportion and people reading your post are going to get the wrong impression. And vinegar is acidic… Maybe take a chemistry course? You want to fix an acidic stomach, have a basic pH diet and no processed sugars. But most importantly, use your brain and stop getting info from a blog on the internet on life decisions….

        • Ray
          I think you should read and gain information before you accuse people who take the time to contribute to this site of being trolls, idiots, whatever. In fact, the person expressing concern about PPI’s is echoing the opinion of doctors writing for the Journal of the American Medical Association and its Neurology publication plus doctors in many other venues: based on a recent study showing a strong association between use of PPI’s and dementia and kidney disease. The doctors advise that PPI’s be used very cautiously. This cure may be worse than the disease.

        • People must understand when they whean of there medications. Off coarse symptoms returns. They forgot how bad they were before. That’s the reason why you take medicine. Yes? PPI are bad ? Who said that? If you look to people who takes medicine for high blood pressure. These medicines can also cause dementia and kidney disease. Of coarse many people take medicines and forgot what they need to do, change there lifestyle. Eath healthier, go outside moving, etc. of coarse if the professional doctors give you a medicine who can help you, in these case PPI, but you changed your lifestyle of course you can get many other diseases which not came from using PPI but from your lifestyle you didn’t change. You can see it as if you have continuous back pain by not doing enough excersises of not sitting well. Your doctor can prescribe to go to a chiropractor. But if you not change your lifestyle. The chiropractor cannot do more, even you will be more and more in pain. That’s the same for using a PPI and all other medications. When you try hcl and pepsin instead of PPI ok it will be maybe better. But the risk of stomach bleeding and damage will become greater. Why? You did’t change your lifestyle. Here in Belgium , best university hospital UZ Ghent, the gastro MD says you can use hcl and pepsin instead of PPI but take in mind that risk of stomach bleeding and ulcers, which are linked to great risk of stomach cancer will increase.

      • Tom Raw ACV is the only vinegar that is actually alkaline-forming to the body. All other vinegars (white, balsamic, red wine, etc) are acid-forming. It is important to mention people with acid reflux issues should take only raw ACV (with the mother)

        • Everyone should read Anthony Williams medical medium book. He recommends not taking ACV, as like you said its vinegar, he does say it’s the safest vinegar to use rather than White and regular vinegar. He also recommends not to have fermented foods either (as they aren’t living) – interesting as I’ve tried both fermented and ACV and my body has shown me it’s not the way forward, For the last few days I have been drinking celery juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. It apparently boosts the HCL levels in your stomach which is mainly the main cause of acid reflux. That celery helps digestion of other foods throughout the day. The celery contains sodium and certain minerals, I have been having it now for 4 days and feel amazing. I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

          • Hayley so pleased to hear you have found something that your body can heal with. We are all different. I have just started on taking Bentonite Clay and so far so good. I also eat salads with added celery everyday so maybe there is something in the celery.. Who knows. Look forward to hearing your progress report.

    • You are so right! I stopped cold turkey after an endoscopy that showed polyps in my upper stomach caused by too little acid allowing for bacterial growth. But it felt like a cat fight in my stomach and they were clawing to get out! So what did I do? Doubled my PPI dose and doubled my zantac dose for a few days just to be able to function. There have to be published guidelines at least to teach us to wean off without suffering and the knowledge on what to do next.

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