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Jane's Blog Acid Reflux: Getting Off Omeprazole is Difficult But Not Impossible

Posted by Jane Jansen on

Digestion is important because your body needs nutrients from food and drink to work properly and stay healthy. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water are nutrients. Your digestive system breaks nutrients into parts small enough for your body to absorb and use for energy, growth, and cell repair. It even helps process medications!

Since 70% of the body's immune system dwells in the digestive tract, maintaining digestive health is crucial to the body's overall well-being.

Acid reflux is also known as heartburn, GERD and acid indigestion. It happens when some of the stomach contents (including food & stomach acid) go back up into the esophagus sometimes as far as the mouth and often a factor for developing Barrett’s Esophagus. At the entrance to your stomach there is a valve/muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter, which closes as soon as food passes through it. If it doesn't close all the way or if it opens too often, acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus.

Hiatal hernias can be a common contributing factor. They occur when the lower esophageal sphincter and the upper part of your stomach protrudes above the diaphragm. Without the diaphragm for support the esophageal valve is more likely to open or inadequately close, allowing stomach contents to escape into the esophagus causing irritation and inflammation.

Acid reflux typically causes a burning pain/discomfort in the lower chest area, often after eating. Although not everyone experiences symptoms called silent reflux.

Millions of Americans are prescribed by their doctor proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Omeprazol to treat heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. The drugs also are available over the counter under brand names that include Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium. They decrease acid production however they also decrease absorption of important nutrients. PPIs have also been found to decrease absorption of medications too.

A 2017 study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that long-term use of PPI’s carries an increased risk of death.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and author of the study states "When we compared patients taking H2 blockers (such as Zantac) with those taking PPIs for one to two years, we found those on PPIs had a 50 percent increased risk of dying over the next five years. People have the idea that PPIs are very safe because they are readily available, but there are real risks to taking these drugs, particularly for long periods of time." Other recent studies have linked PPIs to a range of potential health risks including kidney disease, stomach infections, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures, and dementia.

In order to come off of PPI’s you need to first figure out why you had acid reflux in the first place. There are numerous contributing factors to developing this chronic condition. Diet, food allergies, medications, obesity, stress / anxiety, hiatal hernia, constipation, overuse of antibiotics or antacids, bad eating habits, lack of digestive enzymes &/or probiotics and yes even lack of acid can be factors.

Next you need to get the healing process going by rectifying any of the contributing factors and giving the body the tools with which to repair. Once that process has begun then you can begin to wean off the PPIs very slowly. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you want to succeed you need to have patience, particularly if you have been on them for more than a couple of months.

The longer you have been on PPIs the slower you will probably have to go!

The problem is it can be hard to stop using acid inhibitors (PPIs) due to rebound hyperactivity, a phenomenon where after using a PPI for as little as 2 months, when you stop them suddenly, the stomach produces more stomach acid than prior to using the drugs.  

Dr. Shoshana J. Herzig of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston says, “Studies have shown that once you’re on them, it’s hard to stop taking them, it’s almost like an addiction. PPIs work by blocking the production of acid in the stomach, but the stomach revs up production of acid-making cells. You get excess growth of those cells in the stomach, so when you unblock production, you have more of the acid-making machinery.”

To begin the weaning process you to stop taking omeprazole 1 x a week and continue your regular dose as usual. Do this for 1-2 weeks. If no symptoms occur then stop 2 days a week, spaced apart, and then keep weaning slowly at the pace your body can handle until you are completely off. If symptoms increase, GO Slower!  Some doctors are suggesting substituting Zantac (an H2 blocker) for the omeprazole on the days you are stopping as it is easier to wean off later on. H2 blockers target a substance called histamine so your stomach makes less acid.

Before even attempting to decrease your PPI you need to:

  1. Change your eating habits and your diet. Don’t eat large meals or lie down right after a meal. Don’t woof down you meal, eat slowly and chew well. Don’t skip meals. Keep you meals light and preferably non-acidic, non-fatty, low in spice. Coffee is very acidic even if decaffeinated and tea or alcohol can be problematic too. Don't eat your evening meal too late and don’t snack after your evening meal. Don’t eat raw vegetables or fruits at night they are harder to digest
  2. Take Digest Gold (Enzymedica) with every meal helps to process foods appropriately and improve digestive function.
  3. Have regular easy bowel movements every day. If not constipation backs up the plumbing.
  4. Stress can be a significant contributor to acid production in the stomach. So learn relaxation techniques or try chamomile tea a few times a day to d-stress.
  5. Many medications such as Aspirin, ibuprofen, some blood pressure medications or medications for osteoporosis cause acid reflux. Natural solutions for them may be helpful to decrease the need for them.

Natural Remedies that can help:

Acid Soothe™ ( Enzymedica) contains enzymes, papaya leaf and other botanicals to support optimal digestion and ease symptoms associated with occasional gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Zinc carnosine is included to optimize the mucosal lining of the stomach, acting as a buffer to gastric acid.* Each capsule of Acid Soothe provides 10 mg of zinc carnosine. According to a recent clinical trial, researchers reported beneficial effects of zinc carnosine on gut integrity and repair with standard dosages of 37.5 mg daily. Amylase, lipase and cellulase enzymes work to enhance carbohydrate, fat and plant cell wall digestion. Marshmallow Root is known for its ability to relieve irritation of the mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal tract and to help normalize mucous secretions. Papaya leaf naturally contains papain, a proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzyme and has been studied for its soothing benefits and cleansing activity within the GI tract. It has a history of supporting the body’s natural digestive processes. Botanical ingredients such as Prickly Ash Bark and Gotu Kola provide additional support for the intestines. Prickly Ash Bark is known for aiding tissue during gastrointestinal distress, and Gotu Kola is uncommonly rich in B vitamins and potassium and is a natural diuretic. Acid Soothe contains Thera-blend™ enzymes. Thera-blend is an exclusive process that combines multiple strains of enzymes that work in specific pH levels, resulting in superior performance in the body. Recommended Use: One capsule or chewable tablet at the end of a meal or anytime digestive discomfort begins.

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic (Essential Formulas) is a prebiotic-probiotic-postbiotic formula carefully balanced and perfectly blended composition goes through a three-year fermentation process based on ancient Japanese traditions. Fermentation maximizes the natural health-promoting properties of each ingredient. The final result is an organic, living fusion that merges and encourages the evolution of your own exclusive internal good bacteria. This, in turn, supports a healthy immune system and digestion of crucial micronutrients that your body needs to thrive and flourish. Chew & swallow 1 capsule 2 x day or more often if needed.

Mastic Gum (Solaray) is a sticky substance derived from the Pistacia lentiscus tree. It has been found to be an effective alternative to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of gastritis, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and many types of intestinal inflammation. A study published in the March 2010 issue of "Phytomedicine" has antibacterial activity against H. pylori a primary causative agent for most gastric (stomach) and duodenal ulcers.

DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) (Enzymatic Therapy) stimulates and accelerates the natural protective factors in the digestive tract by increasing the number of mucus-secreting cells, improves the quality of mucus which acts as a protective coating against acids and enhances microcirculation in the gastrointestinal lining. One study found that 350 mg of chewable DGL taken along with aspirin reduced the occurrence of aspirin-induced gastrointestinal bleeding.  Other studies have actually shown DGL to be as effective as the pharmaceuticals Tagamet and Zantac for the treatment of peptic ulcers without the side effects. The glycyrrhizin compound found in licorice and associated with high blood pressure has been removed. Chew 1-2 tablets 15 minutes before meals and before bed or more often when needed.

If you are having difficulty getting off PPI’s schedule a Telephone or in-office wellness appointment with a Holistic Practitioner at the Tree of Life Wellness Center 508-336-4242. We are just one phone call away for total success!

Jane Jansen  Holistic Practitioner   Tree of Life Wellness Center

Host Holistic Healthline Radio

 


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