Why is it so hard to get off your heartburn drug?

Don’t be surprised when you have a hard time kicking your PPI (proton pump inhibitor) habit. In fact, I’ve heard Nexium called “Purple Crack for seniors” at 50 cents a pop. All kidding aside, there’s a scientific reason why it’s so difficult to wean yourself off these drugs. Just ask the scientists from Copenhagen University…

These guys studied the effects of PPIs on 120 healthy volunteers. Just to be clear, these volunteers did not have acid reflux or any other gastrointestinal disorder. Nor had they ever taken a PPI prior to the study.

The researchers divided the healthy patients into two groups. One group got a placebo for 12 weeks. The other group got 40 mg per day of esomeprazole (the PPI in Nexium) for eight weeks followed by a placebo for four weeks.

During the washout phase (during weeks nine through 12), 44 percent of the patients who took the PPI experienced a “clinically relevant acid-related” symptom compared to only 15 percent of the placebo group.

That means, after they stopped taking the darned drug, almost half of these healthy folks experienced acid reflux, heartburn, or dyspepsia for the first time in their lives!

You see, when the patients stopped taking the acid-suppressant, their bodies went into withdrawal and panicked. It started to over-produce a hormone that stimulates stomach acid. Then, voila, instant acid reflux…even though you’ve never had it in your life!

The study’s authors called it a “rebound acid hyper-secretion.” In their report, they said “These results justify the speculation that PPI dependency could be one of the explanations for the rapidly and continuously increasing use of PPIs.”

As I said…no wonder Nexium is called “Purple Crack.” And you tell me that drug companies don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Ri-i-i-i-i-ght.

About the author


Nationally acclaimed as America’s “Nutrition Physician,” Dr. Spreen has been helping people stay healthy and disease-free as a private doctor, published author, and noted researcher.

In addition to his role as a Senior Member of the prestigious Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Spreen also coaches diving at the international and Olympic levels. NorthStar Nutritionals is proud to have Dr. Spreen as our Chief Research Advisor.

Dr. Spreen also writes the Guide to Good Health.

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