- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
9 Natural Remedies for Heartburn & Acid Reflux
Heartburn is something that most adults sometimes face in the course of their life. It’s an uncomfortable painful sensation right behind the breastbone, which oftentimes crawls up the throat. In fact, it is a symptom much more than a disease. This is triggered by a reflux of acid, which occurs when the lower oesophageal sphincter or LES- the ring of muscle that allows food into your stomach – loosens up when it should not. This results in acid from your stomach moving right back up your oesophagus, which then leads to the heartburn. Although it is possible to have a reflux without heartburn, it is impossible to have a heartburn without having an acid reflux. If you suffer from occasional heartburn, over-the-counter and prescription medications are available. However, changes in lifestyle and home remedies may be the best option for you when you suffer from chronic heartburn. Here are some few to help soothe your reflux.
1. A spoonful of baking soda
A spoonful of sodium bicarbonate, or teaspoon-full to be exact, can help you put an end to the burning, gnawing, sensation of heartburn triggered by acid reflux. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate as is commonly known, can relieve you from your heartburn because it is a base substance with a pH higher than 7.0. This can therefore neutralise and reduce the effects of the stomach acid. It means whenever your Lower Oesophageal Sphincter relaxes and acid comes up your throat, it’s not going cause any burning sensation.
2. How, what, and when
Be mindful of the way you eat and don’t take in big mouthfuls of food. Just take smaller bites and eat slowly, in order to give your stomach time to digest as well as not to give it an excuse to pump out excess acid. Moreover, as you’re probably aware that specific foods cause heartburn- usually foods high in acid like spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes etc. - you should stay away from these as best you can to ward off the reflux.
3. Soothe your stomach with aloe juice
Aloe is a plant used in relieving burns. Although many people also use it to relieve sunburns, it can actually do more than that. It can help with your heartburn too because it reduces inflammatory reaction. This means that whenever your stomach becomes inflamed and enlarged, or the acid in your stomach is eating away your oesophagus, a nice glass of aloe Vera juice may be just the thing to calm it down.
4. Drink ginger root tea
Ginger root can assist in easing off a number of stomach woes, from nausea to acid reflux. Having a cup of fresh Ginger tea about 20 minutes before a meal can help to soothe your tummy and serve as an acid buffer.
Mustard is also quiet helpful when you are having a heartburn or starting to feel a bout of heartburn sneaking up your throat. Mustard is an alkalizing food, which is full of minerals, and contains a weak acid in the form of vinegar. Because of its alkaline properties, it can assist in neutralising the acids, which may come creeping up your throat, and therefore counteract the pain caused by the reflux.
6. Chew gum
The Journal of Dental Research held a study which showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or reoccurring heartburn, experienced relief after chewing a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after eating. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva. This helps to dilute any acid, which may have accrued in your stomach after eating hence removing it much faster. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD. You can always apply that same school of thought to infrequent heartburn as well. The constant saliva that we swallow tends to make normal bouts of acid reflux painless.
7. Chin up (and do not lie down)
Heartburns usually get more serious during the night-time due to lying down as we sleep. Gravity then makes it easy for the digested contents of the stomach and acids to go back into your oesophagus. Try not to lie down 3-4 hours after eating, as lying down with a full stomach exerts more pressure on your Lower Oesophageal Sphincter and will increase the risk of acid sneaking through. Moreover, when you are sleeping, try to raise your head about 6 inches by placing bricks or books under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use a wedge-shaped pillow underneath your mattress - however, do not just stack up extra pillows as it’s easy to slip off whiles you sleep.
8. Acquire more acid
However, sometimes when you have acid burning your oesophagus, it may appear very counterintuitive to ingest even more acid. Although having too much acid in the stomach might be the cause of your reflux, just as, over-the-counter or acid blocking prescriptions suggest, oftentimes the reflux may be due to inadequate acid in your stomach. It is the acid, which tells the lower oesophageal sphincter to tighten and close off. If your stomach does not produce enough acid, your Lower Oesophageal Sphincter will loosen up. Then of course, you find acid refluxing into your oesophagus. If you're thinking this may be your case, try taking some pure, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to observe if this helps prevent your reflux, or cuts it off.
9. Track your triggers
It requires time, dedication, and energy, but checking what induces your heartburn may be what can ultimately end it. Instead of focusing too much on what you eat and over-depending on over-the-counter drugs to curb the acids, try to maintain a little food diary to take note of the food you eat, and the ones that set off your heartburn.