The natural heartburn remedies that you’re about to read about are, in my opinion, much better for you than the PPIs, H2 blockers, or Antacids commercially available or prescribed, because most of them actually support your body in working properly and maintaining good health. The “unnatural” options (drugs) prevent your body from doing it’s job and ultimately, contribute to ill health.
Certain medications may quell the discomfort, but they can have long-term side effects, create dependency, are hard on your system, and often times aren’t even necessary for occasional acid reflux. It may be awhile of trial and error when using natural remedies to find what works best to treat your heartburn, but in the long run, it’s well worth it.
What Causes Heartburn?
After food passes through your esophagus into your stomach, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes, preventing food or acid to move back up.
Acid reflux occurs when the LES relaxes inappropriately, allowing acid from your stomach to flow (reflux) backward into your esophagus. But it’s important to understand that acid reflux is not a disease caused by excessive acid production in your stomach; instead, it’s a symptom more commonly related to:
- Hiatal hernia1
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection (H. pylori bacteria is thought to affect more than half of the world’s population, and has been identified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization2)
While these two conditions are unrelated, many who have a hiatal hernia also have H. pylori, which causes a chronic low-level inflammation of your stomach lining that can result in an ulcer and associated symptoms. If you have a hiatal hernia, physical therapy on the area may work and many chiropractors are skilled in this adjustment.
The hypothesis that H. pylori infection is responsible, or at least a major factor, for producing the symptoms of acid reflux stems from the work done by Dr. Barry Marshall, an Australian physician, during the early 1980s.
Your Heartburn May Be a Drug Side Effect
Besides these underlying conditions, you should know that certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can also cause heartburn. Common culprits include anxiety medications and antidepressants, antibiotics, blood pressure medications, nitroglycerin, osteoporosis drugs, and pain relievers.
Your First Line of Treatment – Unprocessed Foods and Probiotics
Ultimately, the answer to heartburn and acid indigestion is to restore your natural gastric balance and function. Eating large amounts of processed foods and sugars is one of the best preventative natural heartburn remedies as it will upset the bacterial balance in your stomach and intestine. Instead, you’ll want to eat a lot of vegetables and other high-quality, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. Also, eliminate food triggers from your diet. Common culprits here include caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine products.
Next, you need to make sure you’re getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet. This will help balance your bowel flora, which can help eliminate H. pylori bacteria naturally without resorting to antibiotics. It will also aid in proper digestion and assimilation of your food.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your probiotics from fermented foods. If you aren’t eating fermented foods, you most likely need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis. I highly recommend that you include a variety of cultured foods and beverages in your diet, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms.
Fermented foods you can easily make at home include:
- Fermented vegetables
- Cultured dairy, such as yoghurt, kefir, and sour cream
- Fish, such as mackerel and Swedish gravlax
Natural Heartburn Remedies – Including Acid Reflux
If you’re already suffering from heartburn, here’s a list of effective natural heartburn remedies. In most cases, you will already have the ingredients somewhere in your home.
Apple Cider Vinegar – More Acid Please!
When you have acid burning your esophagus, it seems quite counter-intuitive to ingest even more acid. In many cases though, acid reflux is caused by having not enough acid in your stomach, rather than having too much, as those who advertise over-the-counter or prescription “acid blockers” imply (although that can also be the case, among other factors.)
It is the presence of acid that tells your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to tighten and close off. If you don’t produce enough acid, your LES is going to think it’s no big deal to loosen up for a little bit. Then of course, you get a reflux of acid into your esophagus. If you think this may be your case, try drinking some pure, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to see if this prevents your reflux, or cuts it off.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is the best vinegar choice, in my opinion. I would also prefer an unfiltered brand like Bragg’s because you’ll get the added benefits of the probiotics it contains.
So, you can help your health and many times get rid of heartburn. The ACV trick for heartburn is used by many people.
You will need…
-3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
-6 to 8 ounces of fresh, or soda water
Mix 3 teaspoons, or up to 1 tablespoon, of apple cider vinegar into 6-8 ounces of fresh water, and drink. Alternatively, you can use soda water with ice which in my opinion, is much nicer. You can do this before each meal (probably the most effective,) before bedtime, or 2-3 times during the day. If you feel is worsens your reflux, do not continue to ingest it. Too much may also contribute to the problem.
Soothe your stomach with Aloe Juice
Aloe is a plant used to soothe burns, and people often think of using it to help something like sunburn, but it can do more than that. We include it among our natural heartburn remedies too because it reduces inflammation. This means when your tummy starts getting irritated and inflamed, or your esophagus is getting eaten away at, a nice glass of aloe vera juice may be just the thing to help calm it down.
You will need…
-1/2 cup aloe vera juice
Drink a ½ cup of aloe juice, cool or room temperature, before meals. Keep in mind that aloe can act as a laxative, so unless you’re looking to fit in a few extra bathroom Sudoku puzzles, look for a brand that has the laxative component removed.
Eat a banana or an apple
Bananas contain natural antacids that can act as a buffer against acid reflux. If you want to try out the simplest home remedies for heartburn first, try letting a few bananas ripen up nicely and eating one every day. Another option is to try an apple a day. Slice one up and eat it a couple of hours before bedtime to relieve or prevent discomfort.
Ginger root Tea
Ginger root can help ease up a number of stomach woes, from nausea to acid reflux. Sipping a cup of fresh tea about 20 minutes before a meal can help calm down your tummy and act as an acid buffer.
You will need…
-3 quarter sized slices of gingerroot
-2 cups of water
Slice up 3 quarter sized pieces of ginger root and simmer gently in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger pieces, or leave them in, pour into a glass, and drink all of it about 20 minutes before a meal.
Maintain Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is important for addressing any infectious component. Once your vitamin D levels are optimized, you’re also going to optimize your production of about 200 antimicrobial peptides that will help your body eradicate any infection that shouldn’t be there. For this reason it should be considered along with other natural heartburn remedies.
You can increase your vitamin D levels through appropriate amounts of sun exposure, or through the use of a safe tanning bed. If neither of those are available, you can take an oral vitamin D3 supplement; just remember to also increase your vitamin K2 intake.
Slippery elm coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines, and contains antioxidants that can help address inflammatory bowel conditions. It also stimulates nerve endings in your gastrointestinal tract. This helps increase mucus secretion, which protects your gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.
The University of Maryland Medical Center provides the following adult dosing recommendations:
Tea: Pour 2 cups boiling water over 4 g (roughly 2 tablespoons) of powdered bark, then steep for 3 – 5 minutes. Drink 3 times per day.
Tincture: 5 mL 3 times per day.
Capsules: 400 – 500 mg 3 – 4 times daily for 4 – 8 weeks. Take with a full glass of water.
Lozenges: follow dosing instructions on label.
Avoid Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can set you up for terrible reflux. The nicotine and alcohol both work to weaken your LES, making it that much easier for stomach contents and acid to splash up into your esophagus. Alcohol is also going to irritate your stomach in general. The solution? Quit smoking, and drink less (if at all.) Doing both will improve your health overall, in addition to relieving acid reflux.
Mustard is an alkalizing food that is full of minerals, and contains a weak acid in the form of vinegar. Consuming mustard straight, while it may make you grimace at first, may ultimately end up making your smile. Because of its alkaline properties, it will help neutralize the acid that may come creeping up your throat, and therefore may neutralize the pain of acid reflux. It seems to be the most helpful if you’re feeling a bout of heartburn creeping up, or if it’s happening right now.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of good quality yellow mustard
Muster up some courage, and just take that little sucker straight.
Snack on Almonds
Here’s one of those natural heartburn remedies from Reader’s Digest. Eat some almonds after every meal, every snack, every time you ingest something basically. Try to track down organic almonds if possible. These tasty nuts do something to seemingly neutralize the juices in your stomach, relieving and preventing some instances of heartburn.
You will need…
-3 to 4 almonds
Directly after every meal, every snack, basically every time you ingest something, eat 3-4 almonds afterwards. There’s no need to eat more, unless of course you want to munch on some more, but keep in mind that in excess some people have found almonds trigger heartburn, kind of like how they help tension headaches but can trigger migraines.
Having a spot of chamomile tea about ½ – 1 hour before you plan on going to sleep can help reduce inflammation in your stomach, and possibly balance out the acidity levels as well. It also does wonders for relieving stress, which can trigger acid reflux, and will help you sleep through the night as well. You can use instant chamomile tea, or you can easily make your own fresh.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon dried chamomile flower petals
-1 cup of boiling water
-Honey or lemon (optional)
Boil one cup of water in a cooking pot, and then reduce the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile petals, and let them simmer for 45 seconds. Remove from heat and let the petals soak for another minute or two before straining them. Pour the tea into a mug, and add a bit of honey or lemon if you wish.
The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, experienced relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva.
Any acid that has built up in the gut is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD. It is possible that the same school of thought could be applied to occasional heartburn as well. It’s our regular saliva that we swallow that actually makes normal bouts of reflux here and there completely painless.
You will need…
-1 piece of sugar-free gum
After a meal, pop in a piece of sugar-free gum and chew for 30 minutes to help ward off heartburn.
A spoonful of baking soda
A spoonful of sodium bicarbonate, or teaspoon-full to be exact, can help put an end to the gnawing, burning, sensation of heartburn caused by acid reflux. Baking soda, as sodium bicarbonate is more commonly known, can help your reflux and in turn help your heartburn because it is a base substance. It has a pH higher than 7.0, and therefore neutralizes stomach acid.
It’s non-toxic and actually can be helpful for some people as a supplement as it allows athletes to train harder and longer.
It’s not my preferred way of dealing with acid reflux, as it lowers stomach acid levels. Stomach acid is important for a healthy gut and reducing it continually can lead to other unwanted health issues. But in those extreme situations, where none of the above options have worked, it’s the perfect solution and one of the best natural heartburn remedies.
You will need…
-1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of baking soda
-a glass of fresh water
Mix either a ½ teaspoon or 1 single teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water that is no more than 8 ounces. Give it a good stir and drink all of the mixture. You can repeat this as needed but should not exceed seven ½ teaspoon doses in a 24 hour period. Also, avoid using this as a remedy for more than a week straight, as it is high in salt and can have side effects such as swelling or nausea.
Tips for Good Eating Habits
Watch how you eat: Don’t swallow giant mouthfuls of food. Take smaller bites and eat slowly, allowing your stomach time to digest and without giving it an excuse to pump out excess acid.
Watch what you eat: You’re probably aware that specific foods trigger heartburn, usually foods high in acid (tomatoes or citrus fruits, for example,) or spicy foods. Avoid these as best you can to ward off
Watch when you eat: Don’t eat within 3-4 hours before bed. Lying down puts more pressure on your LES and increases the likelihood of acid sneaking through.
Tips for Good Sleeping Habits
Heartburn tends to get worse at night, thanks to the fact that you’re lying down when you sleep. Gravity works against you, and it’s easier for the digested contents of your stomach to back up into your esophagus, along with acid.
Try elevating your head about 6 inches when you sleep by placing bricks, books, or blocks under the legs at the head of your bed. You could also try a wedge-shaped pillow under your mattress, but don’t simply pile up extra pillows as it’s easy to slip off of them at night. Don’t lie down within 3-4 hours after eating, because lying down with a full stomach makes stomach contents press harder against your lower esophageal sphincter.
Here’s something a little different: