Heartburn is an unfortunate but all-too-common experience that virtually everyone has experienced at some point. Heartburn involves acidic sensations felt in the stomach and esophagus caused by a range of digestive issues and lifestyle choices. You may feel like you’ve tried it all – but have you tried baking soda for heartburn?
With a parade of prescription and home remedies to choose from for heartburn relief, it’s hard to know what option is best. One of the simplest natural remedies for heartburn is baking soda mixed with water. Baking soda neutralizes acid in your stomach and can bring relief from heartburn.
While it’s true that baking soda is a great natural acidity neutralizer that’s readily available, how much should you take? How should you consume baking soda for heartburn, and when?
Let’s take a look at some of your options – as well as the reason acid reflux occurs in the first place.
What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
Chances are, you’ve felt it: that sensation of burning in your chest and throat after eating a big meal. It’s called heartburn, and it’s quite uncomfortable. Hearburn occurs when acid from your stomach backs up into your esophagus.
This can lead to:
- A bitter or sour taste in your mouth
- Stomach upset
Now, this backward acidic flow happens when your lower esophageal sphincter (or LES) becomes too relaxed. As a result, it doesn’t fully seal your stomach acid off from your esophagus lining. Over time, the presence of stomach acid in your esophagus causes a burning sensation to occur.1
Why is Baking Soda Effective for Heartburn?
Commonly found in most home kitchens, baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) helps neutralize acid. When baking soda comes in contact with hydrochloric acid, an immediate chemical reaction results. This chemical reaction neutralizes the acid into a byproduct, like sodium (salt) or carbon dioxide (gas). And your stomach acid is comprised of hydrochloric acid, which helps break down what you eat.
When drinking water is mixed with baking soda for heartburn, it neutralizes the acidic reflux in your body (i.e. the volcano) and brings relief to your chest and stomach.2
Need to Know: Using Sodium Bicarbonate to Treat Acid Reflux
When you’re suffering from heartburn, you want to relieve the symptoms quickly. While that’s understandable, you also want safe relief. If baking soda is used as a remedy occasionally, it is a natural and effective solution for acid indigestion.
Here are some important things to remember:
- To treat heartburn with baking soda, mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a 4-ounce glass of water and sip. If needed, this can be repeated every two hours.
- If you consume sodium bicarbonate too quickly, gas or diarrhea can occur. Sip slowly.
- Baking soda is intended as a short-term, occasional remedy for symptoms of heartburn. Over time, ingesting sodium bicarbonate can be harmful to your kidneys, heart, and liver.
- Baking soda is not recommended for people who follow a low-salt diet, as it is high in sodium.3,4
What to Avoid When You Have Acid Reflux Symptoms
What triggers heartburn in one person might not in another – but there are several peer-reviewed medical studies that point to a few consistent triggers. These include:
- Citrus fruits (especially when eaten on an empty stomach)
- Tomato-based foods
- Large meals
- Coffee and tea
- High-fat or fried foods5
Additionally, smoking is another major factor for heartburn. Smoking cigarettes weakens the ability of your esophageal sphincter to stay closed, and it lowers your saliva production. Both of these things can result in heartburn.
There is good news – quitting smoking can reverse these effects on your body and can allow your esophageal sphincter to function correctly again.6
Does Lemon Water Really Help Acid Reflux?
Lemon juice added to a glass of water is a simple remedy for acid reflux… but does it work? Now, lemons are acidic by nature – but when their juice is digested in small amounts mixed with water, their pH levels become beneficial to healing acid in your stomach.7
As it turns out, lemon juice is extremely high in disease-fighting vitamin C. Unfortunately, there is little research available to prove that lemons are a remedy for heartburn relief. Lemon juice may, however, help with:
- Weight loss
- Minimizing bacterial growth
- Boosting your immune system8
Natural Remedies for Acidic Symptoms
If you are seeking long-term, natural solutions for heartburn, there are some things you can do to lower or eliminate acid reflux symptoms.9
Lose Weight: Higher instances of heartburn are directly linked to obesity. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce your heartburn symptoms.
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed: It is proven that staying upright for at least 3 hours after eating can help minimize bloating and lower acid levels in your esophagus. This means you should avoid late-night meals and post-meal naps.10
Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal increases saliva production and the frequency of swallowing – two things that may help keep that burning sensation from hydrochloric acid at bay.11
Drink Your Aloe: Aloe vera might be famous for soothing sunburn and other skin irritations, but drinking aloe vera juice daily as part of your hydration routine for as little as two weeks may help reduce heartburn symptoms and help soothe gut discomfort.12
Heartburn During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can change a woman’s PH levels, and heartburn during pregnancy is a common complaint. As it turns out, there are two reasons for this issue.
First, the rise in a pregnant woman’s progesterone levels can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and stomach acid to flow backward. Second, the final trimester brings a rapidly growing fetus, which applies pressure on the stomach and intestines inside the mother’s body.13
A 2016 Danish study showed licorice and ginger tea as excellent natural alternatives for alleviating nausea and bloating in pregnant women. These teas can be consumed as is, or as the active ingredients in certain natural supplements.14
Don’t Ignore Heartburn
While heartburn is a relatively simple annoyance that can easily be relieved with baking soda, it is not to be taken lightly or ignored. Be to consult your doctor if you’re concerned about your own heartburn symptoms – he or she will know what’s best for your unique medical needs.
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