Acid reflux can be a temporary issue or a lifelong battle – but either way, but it can be an uncomfortable experience for your stomach and digestion. When it comes to an acid reflux remedy, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best for you.
So, if you want to learn how to naturally ease your acid reflux, you’ve come to the right place. There are so many natural options available to help soothe your symptoms and bring you heartburn relief – it’s all about finding what works best for you.
Acid Reflux Symptoms: The Basics
It is said that more than 60 million Americans experience reflux once a month – but what exactly happens in your stomach and esophagus when you feel that burn?
Gastroesophageal reflux, also commonly known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid flows up into your esophagus and reaches your esophageal lining. This happens when your esophageal sphincter – which normally closes off your esophagus from your stomach – becomes too relaxed.
Why Does Acid Reflux Burn?
Now, the hydrochloric acid that’s naturally part of your digestion process is harmless inside your stomach – but if it reaches your throat or your mouth, you will likely feel a burning sensation. This is a backwards function of the GI tract.
Experiencing heartburn symptoms means the sphincter between your esophagus and your stomach isn’t sealed tightly. This issue can be tested through a test called esophageal manometry1.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux
If you are hesitant to immediately treat your acid reflux and GERD symptoms with reflux medication, there are natural remedies you can try first that may help to ease your gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.
- Elevate Your Head: Sleeping with your head at a slight incline can allow gravity to help your esophageal sphincter stay fully closed at night. Try adding an extra pillow or two under your head as you sleep at night.2
- Change Your Sleeping Position: Switching to sleeping on your left side may help lessen heartburn symptoms and keep your stomach calm from symptoms of acid reflux while you sleep.3
- Get Active: In one medical study, obese people with moderate levels of physical activity showed a significant decrease in reflux symptoms.4 So, take that walk at lunch or after dinner to help ease reflux discomfort!
- Chew Gum: Chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal helps saliva production and digestion, which could lower the chance of hydrochloric acid finding its way into your esophagus. Be sure to choose mint-free gum, as mint can be an acid trigger. And make sure the gum is sugar-free, to prevent cavities.5
- Relax: Acid reflux is often triggered by emotional life events and physical exhaustion. Life stressors can negatively affect your stomach health, leading to acid reflux symptoms, so it is important to minimize these as much as you can.6
Smoking and Acid Reflux
Quitting smoking, or limiting your second hand smoke exposure, is one of the most direct ways to improve your gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.
Secondhand smoke, even in infants, can lead to gastroesophageal reflux symptoms that can interrupt sleep patterns and slow down development.7
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is prominent in regular smokers because it lowers saliva production. Ample saliva production helps keep hydrochloric acid from flowing up into your esophagus naturally, allowing relief from acid reflux.
Smoking also weakens your esophageal sphincter, affecting the function of your stomach and esophagus. This open channel between your stomach and your mouth causes sour or bitter tastes to occur – a symptom of reflux issues.8
Weight Loss and Weight Loss Surgery
Almost as a rule, weight loss can positively impact your acidic stomach symptoms and acid reflux occurrences.
Obesity is the leading cause of acid reflux. Fortunately, the reflux can be relieved if you change your diet, increase your exercise routine, and lose weight.9
If you’ve had bariatric surgery on your stomach for weight loss, you may experience acid reflux symptoms – even if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight.
As it turns out, certain surgeries, like the bariatric sleeve, actually increase pressure on the esophageal sphincter while minimizing the size of the stomach. Because of this, certain weight loss surgeries don’t help alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
As always, be sure to consult your doctor if you experience any of these issues – he or she will know what’s best for your unique medical needs.10
Are There Any “Quick Fix” Acid Reflux Remedies?
The short answer to this question is baking soda – but only as an occasional fix. If you’re experiencing acid reflux as an occasional problem (once a month or less), baking soda is a natural and inexpensive remedy.
Baking soda has an immediate chemical reaction with acid to neutralize it – which may be why it’s one of the most popular natural remedies available. Here’s what you need to know about baking soda for heartburn relief:
- Using store-bought baking soda, mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with a 4-ounce glass of water. Stir well.
- Slowly sip this mixture until it is gone, and only repeat after two hours if symptoms persist.
- Remember: just sip. Drinking this mixture too quickly can lead to gas and upset stomach.11
- Baking soda for reflux is not recommended for anyone on a low-sodium or no-salt diet.
- Only use this natural remedy occasionally.12
Reflux Solutions for Infants
Although acid reflux can be connected to bad habits and lifestyle choices we develop as adults, children and infants also can suffer from acidic stomach symptoms.
In infants, acidic reflux symptoms can show up as “spitting up.” Babies might signal they are feeling uncomfortable in their chest or stomach by arching their backs.
This happens occasionally because their digestive tract is still developing. Symptoms can be minimized by keeping the infant upright after eating to allow gravity to aid in digestion, and by temporarily removing dairy from their diet.13
As always, if you have any concerns about your child, including reflux, be sure to consult your pediatrician.
Are There Any Gentle Reflux Remedies for Children?
In children, reflux symptoms can appear as vomiting, food regurgitation, sinus issues, and a burning sensation in their chest just like an adult’s symptoms. The good news is, there are natural remedies that may help.
Try feeding your child smaller meals that contain alkaline foods. Also, make sure they don’t nap right after meals – and consider allowing them to chew sugar-free gum after they eat to encourage saliva production.14
What To Avoid Eating and Drinking for Acid Reflux
Your stomach is a major part of your digestive tract, and reflux symptoms may be minimized if you make some diet and lifestyle changes. Try eliminating these foods from your diet:
- Fried foods
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
- Heavily salted foods
- Large meals
Additionally, any type of meal or food choice can trigger gastroesophageal reflux once you lay down.15After eating, be sure to wait 2 hours before going to sleep, laying on the couch, or taking a nap.
As it turns out, drinking certain beverages can also activate your acid reflux symptoms and increase stomach acidity. Here are some of the beverages that can cause issues:
- Carbonated drinks18
- Citrus juices19
What Foods to Eat for Acid Reflux and Heartburn Relief
Because acid reflux often occurs after a meal, it is helpful to consume foods that counteract heartburn symptoms. With some research, you can find recipes that incorporate these foods – that way, you can minimize acid reflux symptoms and stomach acidity.20
- End your meal with alkaline fruits like bananas or melons.
- Make a habit of incorporating yogurt or oatmeal into your diet for at least one meal a day.
- Green vegetables — like spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts — are alkaline in nature.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a simple addition to any diet in tea or chewable form – and it’s one of the simplest reflux remedies.20
- Although there is little medical support for coconut oil, many people claim that drinking a tablespoon each day allows the esophagus to heal and treat reflux naturally.
- Aloe vera has soothing properties, and drinking it every day can help soothe your acidic esophagus.21
Relief From Acid Reflux
Although millions of adults experience occasional acid reflux, if you find the right acid reflux remedy, you don’t have to accept this discomfort as your norm. There are so many options to address these symptoms – including natural remedies and changes in diet or lifestyle.
With just a little detective work, and conversations with your doctor, you can take control of your acid reflux symptoms.