Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Is Blocking Stomach Acid Bad?
Why do you say that proton pump inhibitors are safe only for short term use? If I discontinue them after a couple of weeks of being symptom-free, I must start over with a very troublesome stricture-like feeling in the upper esophagus and bloating.
Answer (Published 11/17/2006)

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs that block the secretion of stomach acid. They are used to relieve heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. They may also be recommended for treatment of esophageal inflammation (esophagitis) and esophageal ulcers due to acid reflux as well as the treatment of gastric inflammation and ulceration. Prilosec and Prevacid are two popular examples of PPIs.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Digestive Health - Digestive problems can be uncomfortable and impact your quality of life. Simple changes to your diet, lifestyle and supplement routines may help - learn more, and get your free, personalized vitamin recommendation today.

While PPIs work well on a temporary basis, I urge you to avoid long-term use. If you've used PPIs and had your symptoms return after you stop taking them, you see the problem - these drugs can cause a "rebound" effect in which your symptoms can come back worse than ever. This happens because your stomach secretes extra acid as a response to the fact that the drug is no longer preventing it from producing acid.

If you do take PPIs, do so under the supervision of your physician (even though Prilosec is available over-the-counter). You also should be aware that there's no discernible difference in effectiveness between the various PPIs available, including the inexpensive over-the-counter varieties and those available only by prescription. The only difference is usually dosage, and starting with the lowest effective dose is generally the best course.

Instead of long-term use of these drugs, I urge you to make the following lifestyle changes, which can help eliminate the need for medication all together:

  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid coffee and decaffeinated coffee. Drink chamomile tea instead.
  • Pay attention to the foods that make your stomach unhappy and avoid eating them.
  • Don't eat within two to three hours of bedtime, and avoid lying down after meals.
  • Put your bed on a slant by placing four to six inch wooden blocks under the bedposts at the head of the bed. Or use a foam wedge to lift your body from waist up. (Using pillows to prop yourself up won't help elevate your digestive tract.)
  • Learn and practice an effective stress reduction technique, such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, or biofeedback.
  • Lose weight. Excess weight can put pressure on your abdomen, which can push stomach acid upward. Losing even a few pounds can help.
  • Take deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) to soothe the esophageal lining. Chew two tablets slowly before each meal or between meals, or take one-half teaspoon of the powder before meals. Use DGL as long as you have symptoms.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here