Nexium, a proton pump inhibitor, is a prescription medicine used to prevent heartburn and protect the esophagus from damage caused by acid reflux. The purple pill was responsible for $4.8 billion in consumer sales in 2008, according to Drug Topics magazine. Nexium users may experience various side effects from the drug, and choose to stop taking it. These include abdominal pain, diarrhea and headache. There are alternative methods for controlling acid reflux that may help you quit Nexium, leaving you with fewer reflux complications afterwards.
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Tell your doctor you’d like to be taken off the medicine, before stopping on your own. He will give you directions how to go about it. Never stop taking a prescription medicine on your own. This is for your own protection.
Begin reducing your dosage slowly, weaning yourself off the pills. For example, if you take two per day, reduce to only one daily and see how you feel; then one every-other-day, and so on, until you are off the medication. A study reported in the 1999 journal Gastroenterolgy described that withdrawing from PPIs causes acid rebound with the possibility of increasing the damaging symptoms of acid reflux. The symptoms may be even worse than before you started. The July 2009 issue of the same journal confirmed these findings stating that rebound acid hypersecretion may lead to a dependence on the drug.
Avoid all acid reflux trigger foods, suggests LifeExtension.org. They include: coffee; tea; caffeinated beverages; sodas; peppers; chocolate; hot, spicey foods; fast foods; foods high in animal fats; heavy sauces; food additives, such as MSG; tomatoes; white flour and white flour products; sugar; citrus fruits and juices; and oversized meals.
Reduce meal size by eating five to six small meals, daily. Smaller meals allow the stomach to digest food more easily. This will eliminate some of the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes reflux.
Eat foods that soothe the stomach and make digestion easy, recommends Dr. Theodore A. Baroody. He suggests in his book, “Alkalize or Die,” such foods as fresh fish, sweet potatoes, plantains, green vegetables, berries, bananas, whole grains, apples and honey.
Mix ½ tsp. of baking soda with 8 oz. of water and sip during the day, as you are withdrawing from the Nexium. You can safely use up to a total of 2 tsp. of baking soda daily, for a period of 7 days, recommends Baroody. Baking soda can raise blood pressure and your doctor may advise a different dosage than mentioned here. As you wean yourself off the Nexium, the baking soda will act to reduce and neutralize acids in your stomach, allowing you to quit the drug.
Add organic apple cider vinegar to your diet, slowly, to help control and manage acid reflux and improve your digestion, recommends Baroody. Start with a ½ tsp. at a time, mixed with a little water. Mix together and drink. It should not burn. Dribble a little on a salad or mix into foods. Increase the amount, up to 2 tbsp. at a time mixed with 8 oz. of water, twice daily. This is a wonderful and effective treatment for acid reflux. Although the apple cider vinegar is an acid, it helps stimulate stomach acids including bicarbonate from the pancreas, helping to neutralize acids and establish an alkaline-forming state in the system.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Life Extension.org: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Gastroenterology, Volume 137, Issue 1, Pages 80-87.e1 (July 2009): Evidence that Proton-Pump Inhibitor Therapy Induces Acid-Related Symptoms in Healthy Volunteers After Withdrawal of Therapy
- “Alkalize or Die”, Dr. Theodore A. Baroody, 1991
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: "Do PPIs have long-term side effects?"
- Mayo Clinic: Heartburn
- Earth Clinic Folk Remedies for GERD