Safe Substitutes for OTC Digestive Meds (Pepto-Bismol, Prilosec, Pepcid, Nexium….)

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Safe and effective alternatives for over-the-counter digestive medications that may be risky to health over the long term.

Many of you have emailed thanking me for a recent article on safe alternatives for over-the-counter painkillers, so I thought I would outline a few suggestions for nontoxic substitutes for OTC digestive meds too!

These safe remedies really work! They are especially helpful for children who get a nervous stomach at the start of the school year or before an important test.

Those of you who do presentations for a living and get butterflies beforehand can benefit from these formulations as well!

Most critically, however, these suggestions are important for those that take over-the-counter digestive drugs almost every day for a range of issues including GERD, heartburn, gas & bloating, or indigestion.

OTC Digestive Drugs Pose Health Risks

Taking these drugs on a regular basis for years on end can be devastating to health.

For example, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec and Prevacid are linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer. (1)

In another example, Zantac has been linked to increased risk of stomach and intestinal cancers, liver damage and liver disease, esophageal cancer, and bladder cancer, causing it to be pulled from the market. (2, 3)

Even seemingly safer pharmaceuticals may be problematic. For example, my grandfather used to pop a few Tums after every single meal for many years. He suffered from near-constant heartburn despite being a healthy weight with no excess abdominal fat.

Even as a teen, I wondered if this dependence on antacids contributed to the colorectal cancer that eventually took his life. These vivid memories encouraged me to avoid the use of these drugs for myself and my own family.

Fortunately, there are a number of nontoxic remedies to consider that work amazingly well for fast and effective relief. I outline the ones I’ve used successfully below.

Upset Stomach, Heartburn or Indigestion

Drugs people commonly run to the pharmacy to pick up when upset stomach, heartburn, or indigestion strike include:

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Tums
  • Rolaids
  • Alka-Seltzer

If the stomach issues are caused by an inability to digest fats in general or a restaurant meal that contained hidden (rancid) vegetable oils, traditional herbal bitters can be of immense help.

This is the brand of bitters I recommend and use.

For nonspecific indigestion or heartburn, this clinically proven capsule formula for upset stomach works wonders.

Gas and Bloating

Gas and bloating that causes uncomfortable pressure in the abdominal area is another extremely common condition today.

Common OTC medications that people depend on for gas/bloating include:

  • Mylicon (babies)
  • Gas-X
  • Lactaid
  • Imodium
  • Beano

Resolving gas in babies can be tricky, as their still developing digestion is particularly sensitive.

I used this safe liquid herbal formula for my babies with great results.

For older children and adults, this clinically proven anti-gas formulation containing peppermint leaf, fennel, lemon balm, and caraway is extremely effective.

Eat Something You Didn’t Mean to Eat?

For situations where you might have inadvertently eaten gluten or something similar that may cause inflammatory symptoms for you later, digestive enzymes can help (this brand and this brand are excellent).

It might be wise for those who are extremely sensitive to consider carrying some at all times much like a person allergic to bees would carry an epi-pen.

Another option is to treat accidental consumption of a food you are sensitive to like a case of food poisoning.

In this situation, using activated charcoal powder is an excellent alternative. This very fine, black powder blocks toxins from damaging tissues. It then quickly escorts them out of the body via the excretory system. I take a couple of capsules with a glass of water, and this has never failed to do the trick!

Stomach Detox

For those times when you don’t need a specific remedy but feel that your stomach could use a “reset”, I suggest trying this gentle digestive detox formulation containing gastroprotective herbs, electrolytes, and prebiotics.

It is suggested to use one envelope per day for 7 days straight to soothe the stomach by gently helping restore gut balance while promoting adequate hydration.

You can also use it only as needed. One of my children likes to mix the powder in a bit of water after breakfast and before school on stressful days.


(1) Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may cause gastric cancer – clinical consequences

(2) Heartburn drugs and cancer risk

(3) FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) from the Market

Safe Substitutes for OTC Digestive Meds (Pepto-Bismol, Prilosec, Pepcid, Nexium….) is written by Sarah Pope for


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