Some people call it heartburn. Others call it acid indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux. Whatever label you put on the condition… it can be miserable. But the good news is, there are many quick, natural remedies that may help you get rid of heartburn for good.
Which Heartburn Symptoms Should I Look Out For?
Heartburn symptoms can get so bad that they make it hard to sleep. They can also make it hard to get through the day without experiencing discomfort. Symptoms often include a burning feeling in the chest. It usually occurs right after you eat.
There are several other heartburn symptoms as well. These symptoms include trouble swallowing and burning in the throat. Many people also have a sour taste or feeling of acidity at the back of the throat. They may feel that food is sticking to the back of the throat.1
Which Are Some Easy Natural Remedies for Heartburn
There are many things you can try at home to help get rid of heartburn. If you are experiencing heartburn symptoms on a regular basis, talk to your doctor – he or she will know how best to address your unique medical needs.
In the meantime, you can also try some of these natural ways to find relief. There is solid scientific evidence that these natural remedies could reduce heartburn symptoms – but be sure to speak with your doctor before making any changes.
Lay Off the Soda
You already know that drinking too much soda isn’t good for your health. But soda could also increase the risk of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.2 Research shows that carbonated beverages weaken the esophageal sphincter.3
Carbonated beverages contain a gas known as carbon dioxide. This gas not only makes you belch, but it also increases the amount of acid that gets into the esophageal tube.4 Instead of soda, try drinking a glass of water or ginger tea instead.
Watch What You Eat
One of the reasons people feel a sensation of acidity is because they overeat. This leads to problems with the esophageal sphincter, a muscle that separates the esophageal tube from the stomach.
The esophageal sphincter should close after you swallow. If it doesn’t, that can lead to an acidic liquid backing up into the esophageal tube from the stomach. This liquid is hydrochloric acid. People with chronic heartburn experience this problem on a regular basis.5
Research shows people tend to experience reflux symptoms after they eat large meals.6 The larger the meal, the worse their symptoms can become.7
Cut Down on Carbs
There are a lot of foods high in carbohydrates – including vegetables, fruits, bread, and many others. Carbs are important because they help the body get enough glucose. This is a substance the body uses for energy.8
But when you have too many carbohydrates in your diet, that can lead to a buildup of gas.
This can lead to problems such as bloating and heartburn.9 Research suggests following a low-carb diet could help relieve symptoms of reflux.10
Don’t ever change your diet without first talking to your doctor. But if he or she agrees that reducing carbs may help reduce your heartburn symptoms, give it a try.
Research indicates chewing gum could help cut down on the acidity in the esophagus.11 The gum itself doesn’t appear to reduce symptoms – but the act of chewing it increases saliva production. Saliva could help clear acid out of the esophageal tube.12
Try Aloe Vera
Some people believe the juice from the aloe vera plant can help soothe the digestive system. This, in turn, could reduce heartburn discomfort.13
Mix Baking Soda With Water
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can provide temporary heartburn relief. It neutralizes stomach acidity in much the same way as calcium carbonate. This is the ingredient found in antacids. Mixing a half a teaspoon of baking soda in a half a cup of water might just do the trick.14
Reduce Your Intake of Alcohol
If you drink alcohol on a regular basis, that could make your heartburn worse. It increases the amount of acid your stomach produces. It also relaxes the esophageal sphincter.15 This is a bad combination, as you’ve already seen.
If you drink wine or beer instead of water, you might be at a higher risk of suffering heartburn symptoms.16,17
Reduce Your Coffee Intake
A lot of people like a morning cup of coffee – but like alcohol, coffee could weaken the esophageal sphincter.18 It appears decaffeinated coffee poses less of a risk than caffeinated coffee.19
Eat a Healthy Diet
If you start a diet and lose weight, there’s a chance you could prevent heartburn. Going on a diet could help relieve pain and other symptoms associated with the condition.20 Losing weight could also help relieve intra-abdominal pressure. This can cause the esophageal sphincter to stay open.21
Eat at Least Three Hours Before Bedtime
Some people like to eat large meals at night. But if you do this too close to bedtime, that could lead to problems with digestion. This is especially true if you tend to eat fatty foods.22
Change Your Sleep Position
Speaking of sleep, did you know that your sleep position could play a role in your heartburn symptoms? Research indicates that raising the head of your bed could help reduce those symptoms.23
It also appears that sleeping on the right side of your body may increase symptoms – so try sleeping on your left side. Doing so may help your esophageal sphincter stay above stomach level. This means acid can’t get into the esophageal tube.
But when you sleep on the right side, the sphincter sits at or slightly below the stomach. That increases the chance that acid can leak into the esophagus.24 This can lead to the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn.
Stay Away from Raw Onions
According to one study, people who eat onions experience more heartburn symptoms than those who don’t.25 Onions can cause belching and other problems such as gastroesophageal reflux, due to the fact that they contain a lot of fermentable fiber. This can increase gas in the digestive system.26
Cut Back on Citrus Juices
Do you regularly experience acid reflux? If so, drinking orange and other citrus juices may not be such a great idea. The same goes for eating citrus fruits. In one study, researchers found that drinking orange or grapefruit juice made reflux symptoms worse for most participants.27
Limit Your Chocolate Intake
It may sound surprising to hear that chocolate is acidic – but science suggests it can contribute to heartburn symptoms. One study found that consuming as little as four ounces of chocolate syrup could cause problems.28
Another study consisted of two groups of people. One group drank a placebo, and the other drank a beverage containing chocolate. The people who drank the chocolate beverage had more acid than the placebo group.29
Steer Clear of Mint
You’ll find products containing mint nearly everywhere. It’s a staple ingredient in not only candy, but chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and many others. But mint could make heartburn symptoms worse.
A study found that people who consume large amounts of spearmint have worse reflux symptoms than those who don’t. Researchers believe that mint can irritate the esophageal tube.30
Which Foods Aid Digestion and Reduce Bloating?
There are a lot of foods you’ll need to avoid to reduce heartburn symptoms. But there are also foods that could help with digestion. Here are a few types of food that can help alleviate heartburn discomfort:
DGL is a licorice extract that’s missing a compound known as glycyrrhizin. According to one study, DGL helps produce mucus in the stomach and esophagus. This mucus acts as a barrier, making it hard for stomach acid to enter the esophageal tube.31,32 DGL does a better job of reducing reflux symptoms than many medications.33
Ginger helps digestion by removing food from the stomach faster.34 This can reduce your chances of suffering from stomach discomfort or heartburn. There’s a good chance you can find ginger tea at your local grocery store or health food store.
Fennel is a plant that is often used to bring added flavor to food. It’s high in fiber, which helps with digestion of meals.35 Fennel has also been shown to help relax digestive tract muscles. This reduces the chances of bloating, which can in turn ease indigestion and heartburn.36
Does Gut Bacteria Play a Role in Causing Heartburn?
The gastrointestinal tract (also known as the “gut”) is filled with bacteria. A lot of these microbes are harmful, of course – but there are others that are actually good for us. Too many harmful bacteria can actually contribute to heartburn symptoms.
You see, this “bad” bacteria can produce gas, causing the small intestine to expand. When this happens, that puts pressure on the stomach. Pressure causes the stomach to press against the lower esophageal sphincter – and this can cause acid to enter the esophagus.37
Are There Natural Remedies to Protect Good Gut Bacteria?
There are some natural remedies that could help reduce your symptoms. These include:
Herbs – In one study, researchers found that herbal remedies like oregano oil, Indian barberry root, and lemon balm oil worked well in protecting good gut bacteria.38
Probiotics – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They help balance the bad bacteria in your gut. Research shows that probiotics can encourage healthy bacteria to thrive, and can even ease bloating and digestive discomfort.39
Elemental diet – There is some evidence that an elemental diet (sometimes referred to as a “liquid diet”) may help maintain healthy gut bacteria levels.40 Be sure to consult with your physician before trying this, or before making any dietary changes.
Get Rid of Heartburn
As with any lifestyle changes, it’s important to first discuss your symptoms with your doctor. He or she will perform a thorough examination to determine the cause of your problem, as well as the best plans for treating your unique medical needs.
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