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How to Put Out the Fire of Heartburn Naturally

Updated on December 14, 2012

Home Remedies Recommended by Mayo Clinic

In the 21st Century, effective home remedies are recommended even by long time professional institutions of medicine like the famous Mayo Clinic. Their web pages list dozens of conditions and illnesses that can be treated or prevented, at least in part, but home remedies. A standard caution when using such reference materials is to remember that in cases of severe physical symptoms, one is best advised to consult a licensed health practitioner quickly. If you have ever watched the television show House and cable TV shows centering on actual hospital emergency rooms, you have seen that the same set of symptoms can look like a range of different physical conditions and illnesses.

With that caution in mind, it is useful to access the home-remedy and alternative medical recommendations of the Mayo Clinic and your local university. Some examples of the latter are the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the College of Medicine and Public Health at The Ohio State University. The State University of New York at Buffalo, Montana Integrated Medicine in Bozeman, the Bowman Gray School fo Medicine of Wake Forest University in Winston-Sale North Carolina, and the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, among others, have all examined effective home remedies for a number of conditions. One of them is heartburn (also referenced as acid reflux and Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disorder or GERD).


As people age, they may experience the onset or exacerbation of heartburn, because the gastric system may create smaller amounts of digestive acid than in younger years. In this case, the digestive system is not producing too much acid, it's producing too little.

Further, the aging process can result in physical conditions that increase the chances of heartburn, but which are preventable, as seen below. In younger adults and even children, a variety of circumstances may cause the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux.

Lower Esophageal Sphincter [LES]

Foods and beverages can relax the muscle or interfere with the function of the LES.
Foods and beverages can relax the muscle or interfere with the function of the LES.


  • Eating too fast. One study in a South Carolinauniversity hospital looked at the time spent by hospital interns and residents on eating a single type of meal: a turkey burger, an order of french fries, and a cola drink. It was found that among this group of males and females, some ate the meal in just 5 minutes and others took 30 minutes. These two subgroups were compared and the comparison showed that the fast eaters experienced heartburn significantly more often than the slow eaters. This is a caution that can be remembered and put to use by individuals that rush through a drive-thru window to eat quickly between appointments; and for youth that rush home, eat quickly, and rush off to sports practices. In my own martial arts classes,

In several years of instruction, I found that younger children more often than other students suffered heartburn, upset stomachs, and even vomiting from eating large quantities of greasy fast food very quickly before class. In my opinion, it would have been better to have waited the 45 minutes of class and eaten afterward, provided that the children received a nutritious snack after school or in their after school enrichment programs.

  • Overeating. The stomach can and does expand to hold its contents, but extreme overeating can place pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES, the muscular closing between the esophagus and the stomach), allowing food and acid to back up into the esophagus and even the throat.
  • Eating certain foods: food “triggers.” If you can determine which foods and beverages cause heartburn for you m then be sure to avoid them. Triggers can be different individuals. Some food triggers fore heartburn we often hear about are fatty foods, fried foods; caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint (all act a drug on the LES); garlic, and onions. At the same time, garlic and onions are known for their ability to lower blood pressure over time, so we see that certain foods can produce positive and negative health effects in different individuals or at different times in the same person. If you have difficulty connecting specific foods with episodes of heartburn, keep a food diary for a week and note on it the times you suffer from heartburn. Look at the foods you ate during the day before each episode and try to establish a pattern connected with particular food and beverage intake. Alcohol especially may present a problem in that, as a depressant, it may cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and allow acids to travel the wrong way.
  • Eating right before sleep. Lying down after a meal can result in heartburn. Ideally, two or three hours should separate your last meal of the day and bedtime. In addition, taking a nap right after lunch can also be a problem. Awaking suddenly to a throat full of bad-tasting, burning acid is most unpleasant. Eating while lying down can cause similar problems, as well as fatal choking.

The corset was likely a cause of heartburn.
The corset was likely a cause of heartburn.
The bras of 1900 were likely not much healthier.
The bras of 1900 were likely not much healthier.


  • Flat sleep position. Lying flat in bad may allow digestive acids to back up into your esophagus. Try elevating the head of the bed form six to nine inches. This places gravity in your control, allowing it to keep digestive acids down in the digestive tract where they can be of most service. You can raise the head of the bed by using anything solid, like bricks or blocks of wood, to prop up the legs at the head of the bed..Large wedge-shaped pillows may be available in your area or by mail order as well. In addition, a larger wedge that can be placed under your mattress is available from medical supply stores and larger drug stores.
  • Overweight or obesity. Supporting too much weight is connected with dozens of health problems, including heartburn. Maintaining a healthy weight proportionate to one's height is helpful in many ways, including the prevention of heartburn. Extra weight applies pressure on the abdomen and digestive system, pushing the stomach upwards and resulting in acid back-up reaching the esophagus in an unpleasant burning. This can be so dramatic that it wakes one up at night with a sensation of acid and fire. If you decide to lose weight, do so in a gradual manner that eliminates no more than 2 pounds per week. Consult with a nutritionist, dietitian, or physician if you need assistance in setting weight loss goals and designing healthy menus for your life.
  • Ill-fitting clothing. Attire that is too tight, especially bras and waistbands can apply excess pressure on the stomach, abdomen, and digestive system in the same manner as extra body weight. In fact, tight clothing can sometimes cause more pressure than overweight. The squeezing effect of clothing that is too tight can affect the LES and cause acids to back up into the esophagus. If you hear a group of women at lunch saying that they want to unhook their bras, they may be suffering from heartburn.

My own heartburn experience with the tight waistband of a work uniform confirms this; I cut out the extremely heavy, strong elastic and replaced it with a strength more appropriate in the same length.

  • Tobacco products. Tobacco is increasingly shown to be connected with a wider range of health problems. Smoking, specifically, interferes with the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter to function well.



I had a Ginger-Peach tea at Panera Bread Co. recently that was tasty and helped with digestion as well.


Stress can exacerbate already troublesome heartburn symptoms, even when effective home remedies are followed. If stress is a problem for you and you see that stress in your life results in heartburn or increases its frequency, than try some of these alternative treatments:

  • Relaxation and breathing exercises
  • Light exercise: Walking or biking short distances. Heavy exercise can increase or cause heartburn.
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Massage or acupressure
  • Biofeedback
  • Aromatherapy

Other Remedies

Some acquaintances have begun ingesting a tablespoon of cider vinegar daily for health benefits, including heartburn and some have experienced relief form this. Others have ingested a solution of warm water and two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to alleviate the burning sensation in the throat and esophagus, with some satisfaction. I don't know whether either of these methods would help others.

A final remedy that has produced positive results is ginger, recommended by the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. You can add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to hot water, steep 10 minutes, strain out the ginger, and drink the tea. The ginger taken regularly tends to help the LES stay closed. Bastyr has found also that a Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause heartburn in some people and can be easily alleviated with injection and/or diet.


Be aware of the contents/ingredients of and the side effects attached to medicines for acid reflux and heartburn. Some prescribed and over the counter (OTC) medicines may cause side effects you will not enjoy and which may even alarm you. People can react differently to the same medication.

For example, in an isolated case of heartburn I experienced, the medication Prevacid (Lansoprazole) eliminated all symptoms the first day I used it; the second time I took the medication a week later, it did not alleviate symptoms, but instead caused depression. Fortunately, the heartburn passed on its own. However, this experience made me aware of some of the feelings that clients with depression feel.

Prevacid blocks acid formation in the stomach, so for those that have too little acid, this medication may not be the correct one to use. Depression is not a listed side effect of this OTC medication, but in my case, it occurred (all things being equal and no other medications involved). If you have questions, ask your health practitioner.

Some OTC drugs advertise that you can take them preventively before meals. However, these compounds may nor be effective for everyone, may cause unwanted side effects, or the body may develop a tolerance to them that would decrease their effectiveness.

If home remedies, alternative procedures, and OTC preparations do not alleviate your heartburn symptoms, see your medical practitioner for assistance. You may be suffering from a condition other than heartburn.


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