13 Natural Heartburn Home Remedies Everyone Should Know
Here are a few things you can do for heartburn relief that don't involve over-the-counter prescriptions.
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Are you suffering from heartburn?
Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): Acid reflux is the regurgitation of partially digested liquids or foods that have mixed with stomach acid. This acidic mix makes its way into your esophagus and throat where it causes irritation. Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen can push the contents of your stomach up into the esophagus, including obesity, and pregnancy. Occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about, but frequent heartburn can lead to chronic digestive disorders. How can you find relief? Here are some home remedies for heartburn to try.
One of the smartest home remedies for heartburn is gum, says Olivia Rose, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, Canada. “Chewing gum may help because it stimulates the production of saliva which can help neutralize your stomach acid,” she says. It also aids in the movement of your digestive tract, reducing the risk of stomach contents coming back up, Rose adds. Bear in mind that sugar and sugar-alcohol ingredients in gum can irritate some stomachs. Here are 8 medical reasons you shouldn’t ignore heartburn.
Drink a glass of water
One of the simplest fixes for heartburn may be the best. Drinking water helps keep food moving in your GI tract; hydration is also key for a well-functioning digestive system, says Rose.
Change your body position
If you’ve had a late-night meal, you might come home and head right to bed. In the future, move your meal time earlier, if possible. Ideally, you want a few hours between finishing and laying down. “If you still need to lie down, lie down on your left side and/or elevate your bed with a wedge by about four to six inches,” says Rose. These simple fixes can greatly reduce heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, making it one of the greatest home remedies for heartburn. These are the differences between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.
Practice deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing is one of the heartburn home remedies that anyone can do. Deep breathing exercises can reduce the amount of air swallowed and strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower esophageal sphincter, relieving some acid reflux symptoms. And the breathing exercises are unbelievably simple: just breathe in deeply, breathe out slowly. A study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2018 showed that diaphragmatic breathing (essentially “deep breathing” or “belly breathing”) reduced belching and other reflux symptoms.
Avoid foods that can cause heartburn
Common food culprits of heartburn include coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, fried foods, and acidic foods (like tomatoes), according to the NIDDK. Here are some other foods to avoid when you have acid reflux.
Eat a Mediterranean diet and avoid fatty meals
Meals based in the Mediterranean diet-style of eating helped reduce symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux (acid reflux that primarily irritates the throat) just as well as standard PPI medication therapy, according to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, making it one of the best home remedies for heartburn. The diet in the study was 90% plant-based and participants also drank alkaline water. Greasy, fatty foods, however, make acid reflux and heartburn more likely.
Lose weight and eat smaller meals
Obesity puts pressure on the abdomen, resulting in stomach contents being forced up the esophagus. Large, heavy meals also increase pressure on the abdomen and lead to acid reflux. Eating smaller meals and dropping a few pounds is one of the home remedies for heartburn that work, reports the NIDDK. These are the 12 foods that can make your heartburn worse.
Another reason to quit smoking: Tobacco weakens your lower esophageal sphincter, the set of muscles responsible for keeping stomach contents out of your esophagus. When this band of muscles becomes too weak, regurgitated food and stomach acid can easily make their way into your esophagus.
Sip liquid calcium
A go-to treatment for acute heartburn pain? Taking a tablespoon of liquid calcium/magnesium supplement. “Being more alkaline, this can neutralize acid, providing almost instant relief in most cases,” says Rose. Another option is plain yogurt, she says. Here are some other heartburn home remedies and GERD remedies to consider.
Find some licorice
If you’re worried an upcoming dinner will leave you feeling the burn, try DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), says Rose. “This is an extract of licorice root and my favorite herb to help acid reflux. It may also help protect the stomach lining from acid formation,” she says. DGL is typically an alternative to other antacids. It can also be used to help wean you off PPI medication. Take a dose 10 to 20 minutes before eating. Here are 9 silent signs your heartburn is actually allergies.
Calm the burn with tea
Warm tea can do more than just soothe the soul. Slippery elm and marshmallow tea can come in handy for heartburn. “These teas contain soothing properties that can coat the stomach and esophagus and reduce irritation of the mucosal tissue,” says Rose. ” You can find these two herbs in teas labeled “Throat Coat.” Chamomile tea is another throat-happy option.
Avoid: peppermint or vinegar
Some people may be tempted to drink peppermint tea, and while it has been used to aid digestion, it can aggravate heartburn, says Rose. (Peppermint oil may help as long as it is in enteric-coated capsules.) Similarly, people may use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a gastric soother, but, as Harvard Medical School points out, there’s a lack of evidence it can treat reflux. It can be helpful if symptoms stem from a lack of stomach acid and/or poor digestion, which can also result in reflux and similar symptoms.
Toss in ginger
Many herbs are known to ease your digestion. While technically a rhizome, ginger, is one delicious, centuries-old option for easing an easily triggered GI tract. At least most of the time: in some people, it can backfire and cause indigestion. No matter what you’re cooking up, chances are there’s an herb that complements it. Next, check out the 8 foods gut doctors try to never eat.
Excerpted from the book 21-Day Tummy Diet.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Definition & Facts for GER & GERD.”
- Olivia Rose, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, Canada
- Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: “Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Belching and Proton Pump Inhibitor Refractory Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms.”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for GER & GERD.”
- PLOS One: “Long-Term Benefits of Smoking Cessation on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Health-Related Quality of Life.”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Apple Cider Vinegar…for Heartburn?”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Herbal Remedies for Heartburn”
- JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery: “A Comparison of Alkaline Water and Mediterranean Diet vs Proton Pump Inhibition for Treatment of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux.”