Q. Tom Meyer: I’ve tried implementing your advice, Dr. Morstein, and so far I’m very pleased with the results. I’ve been taking slippery elm, marshmallow, turmeric, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, and aloe vera juice. I’ve also tried to cut back on eating extra-spicy foods. I took the supplements you suggested for about one week before attempting to cut down on the Prilosec OTC, and I am delighted to announce that I’ve been able to lower my daily dosage from 40 mg to 20 mg. Soon I would like to see if I can eliminate the medication altogether. Do you have any advice for how to do this safely and with as few side effects as possible?

A. Mona Morstein, ND: I’m glad to hear that the supplements are helping to ease your heartburn symptoms and that you’ve been able to reduce your daily dosage of Prilosec OTC. I’m also glad to hear that you’re not attempting to stop taking the medication all at once. The only way to get off Prilosec OTC and other proton-pump inhibitors is very slowly, as these drugs can initiate a rebound of stomach acidity that can actually hinder healing. Whenever I am taking someone off one of these medicines, I do so gradually so that the stomach has time to heal and I have time to find out what was causing the irritation in the first place. I would recommend you stay on your current 20 mg dosage of Prilosec OTC for a few more weeks and then move to the 10 mg dose for at least two weeks before stopping the medication entirely.

Although the supplements seem to be working for you, I think it would be useful for you to work with a naturopath to figure out exactly what is upsetting your stomach. That way you can be sure you’re doing what is necessary to heal your stomach and esophagus for good. To find a naturopathic physician near you, go to www.naturopathic.org and click on “Find Naturopathic Resources.”