Natural home remedies for heartburn
Heartburn isn’t pretty and is very painful. And sometimes the symptoms are similar to a heart attack.
As long as you are sure that you are not dealing with a heart condition, then these natural home remedies for heartburn should help.
What is heartburn?
When stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, you feel a burning pain. Large meals as well as certain foods can lead to heartburn. You’re more likely to have heartburn if you’re pregnant, overweight or a smoker, or if you have a condition called hiatal hernia. (Here are eight things your doctor wants you to know about your heartburn.)
Some medications, including aspirin, certain antibiotics and some antidepressants and sedatives, may aggravate heartburn. Try some of these natural home remedies for heartburn to relieve your symptoms.
What you can do for heartburn
- Water will wash the acid back down your esophagus into your stomach. As soon as you feel the telltale flicker of heartburn, drink a 250 mL glass of water.
- Saliva helps neutralize stomach acid. So chew a piece of sugarless gum, suck on a candy or daydream about juicy steaks or buttery lobster—whatever it takes to get you to generate and swallow extra saliva.
- Baking soda is alkaline, so it neutralizes stomach acid. Mix a half-teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of lemon juice in a half-cup of warm water. Don’t drink the baking soda by itself. You need the lemon juice to dispel some of the gas baking soda creates in the stomach when it comes in contact with stomach acid—there have been cases where baking soda produced such a rapid internal reaction that it ruptured the stomach.
- Vegetable juices, like that from carrots, cucumbers, radishes, or beets, can help to tame the acid in the stomach due to their alkaline nature. Feel free to add a pinch of salt and pepper for flavour. If juicing vegetables is inconvenient or strange to you, just eat some raw vegetables.
- Sit upright, no matter how terrible you feel. Gravity is a powerful force, and if you’re standing, the earth’s pull helps keep acid in your stomach. Avoid bending over after a meal, and definitely don’t lie down.
- Time cures all, right? If nighttime heartburn plagues you, eat meals at least two to three hours before you turn in. The added time will give acid levels a chance to decrease before you lie down.
- Elevate the head of your bed 10 to 15 centimetres with large wooden blocks. When you’re tilted at an angle while sleeping, gravity helps keep acid in the stomach.
- Try sleeping on your left side. When you lie on your left side, the stomach hangs down and fluids pool along the greater curvature, away from the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the thick ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus and keeps stomach acid where it belongs. Pooled fluids stay farther away from the esophagus.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals to minimize the production of stomach acid. And avoid eating too much in one sitting; doing so can force open the LES. (This is how to change the way you eat.)
- Quit smoking, if you haven’t done so already. Research shows that smoking relaxes the LES.
Natural home remedies for heartburn are not always complicated
- Gingerroot as a tea can help. To make a heartburn-easing tea, add 1 teaspoon of freshly grated gingerroot to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, and drink. Long used to quell the nausea caused by motion sickness, ginger also helps to relax the muscles that line the walls of the esophagus, so stomach acid doesn’t get pushed upward.
- Anise, caraway, or fennel seed teas can also ease the burn, according to herbalists. Add 2 teaspoons of any of them to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink.
- Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, prescribe teas made of crushed cinnamon or cardamom to cool the heat of heartburn. Add 1 teaspoon of either crushed or powdered herb to 1 cup boiling water, steep, strain and drink.
- Marshmallow root is one of the oldest remedies known for heartburn. It produces a gooey, starchy substance called mucilage, which coats and protects the mucous membranes of your esophagus—just what you need when you feel like it’s on fire. Stir 1 teaspoon powdered marshmallow root into 1 cup water and sip it. Drink three or four cups a day.
- Slippery elm should sooth your body, too. Add one teaspoon of the powder to a cup of hot water, and drink a few cups throughout the day.
- A form of licorice called DGL also provides heartburn-soothing mucilage. Take two or three chewable wafers three times daily on an empty stomach.