heartburn remedies

Medicine against heartburn is the most prescribed medicine in America. About 40% of Americans suffer from acid reflux. Many cure their condition with long-term use of antacids which are proven to have serious health effects. Here are 15 effective remedies how to relieve heartburn without drugs.

What is heart burn

Heartburn is a burning pain that can be felt behind your breast bone. It can be so intense that the patient sometimes believes to have a heart attack. It can be accompanied with stomach acid reaching your mouth, especially when you bend over or lie down.
Heartburn usually occurs after we eat. Food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. Between the esophagus and the stomach exists a muscular valve that should close after you have eaten. In the case of heartburn this valve (lower esophageal sphincter-LES) closes only partially or not at all, allowing stomach acid to enter the esophagus. This condition is also called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Acid build up results in a burning chest pain called heartburn.
Heartburn on a regular basis can lead to serious injuries of the esophagus (irritation, bleeding, narrowing of the tube, esophageal cancer), bronchitis and asthma and tooth enamel erosion contributing to cavities formation.

Relieve heartburn the natural way

Although there are many over the counter drugs available against heartburn it is advisable to relive heartburn with one of these natural remedies first. Long-term use of antacids are linked to serious health conditions and worsening of heartburn symptoms.

These remedies can be very effective but you have to try out which one works best for you. We are all unique individuals and what works for somebody doesn’t have to work for you. Often a combination of these remedies will work.

  • Chewing gum

    chewing gum against heartburnPhoto credit: Mentos Chewing Gum by Richard Foo TH

    According to a British study chewing sugar-free gum can alleviate symptoms of acid reflux. Chewing gum increases saliva flow, lowering the acidity of stomach acid in the esophagus. This way you literally dilute and flush the stomach acid from your esophagus.

    • How to use it: Chew on a sugar-free gum for half an hour after eating for best results.
  • Baking soda

    baking soda against heartburnPhoto credit: Baking Soda by Artizone, on Flickr

    Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is an old known remedy against heartburn. Baking soda resolved in water is alkaline which helps to reduce the acidity of stomach acid. When less acidic, the stomach acid is less likely to flow back into your esophagus giving you much needed relieve.

    • How to use it: If you get heart burn after a heavier meal take one teaspoon of baking soda and resolve in a cup of warm water. Don’t drink this mixture immediately after you have finished your meal but wait for half an hour to get your digestion going first.
      If you experience heartburn for a longer period of time try to take 1/2 a teaspoon in one glass of water every two hours until you feel relieve. You can drink this mixture half an hour before mealtime to prevent acid build up. You shouldn’t take more than 7 doses in a 24 hour period. Baking soda contains lot of sodium (salt), which causes water retention. This puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. That’s  why baking soda is best avoided by people who should be on a low sodium diet. Because of water retention it is also best avoided by pregnant women to avoid worsening of swelling, which many pregnant women experience in late pregnancy.
  • DGL Licorice

    licoricePhoto credit: broken licorice by banger1977

    Licorice is a plant which root has been used for centuries for various conditions, heartburn being one of them. It is important that when taking licorice the product must have licorice root extracts to be effective. Forget about the licorice sold as candy, since they usually don’t contain any liquorice at all.
    To prevent heartburn get a herbal supplement sold in pharmacies – DGL Licorice. These do contain licorice root extracts without glycyrrhizic acid, a compound in licorice which has been linked to serious metabolic complications. Due to little research it is unclear if this supplement helps against heartburn because of the licorice root exrtact or because you have to chew a lot on licorice which gets your saliva production going, neutralizing your stomach acid in the process.

    • How to use it: Take DGL-Licorice tablets with less then 1-2% of glycyrrhizic acid. Use them as prescribed on the label. Licorice is unsafe in pregnancy since high consumption can lead to early delivery. It is also best avoided by women who are breast-feeding.
  • Aloe Vera juice aloe vera plantPhoto credit:Making Aloe Vera Dessert by ER and Jenny
    Aloe Vera contains many nutrients and is believed to help with heartburn by soothing the lining of your esophagus that is irritated and burned from stomach acid. Aloe Vera gel is used to help with skin burns and is belived to have the same effect on internal burns when taken orally as a juice. Aloe Vera is also a laxative. That’s why it’s also used orally to help with constipation.

    • How to use it: If you have an attack of heartburn simply take 1 cup (2-3 fl.oz.) of aloe vera juice.
      If you have chronic heartburn or want to prevent it take 1 cup (2-3 fl.oz.) of aloe vera juice 20-30 minutes before mealtime. You can take up to 3 cups a day. Start with one cup gradually increasing the dose to prevent diarrhea.
  • Slippery elm

    slippery elmPhoto credit:Slippery Elm by Kent McFarland

    Slippery elm is a well known remedy for soar throat. The bark of the slippery elm tree produces mucilage, a thick and gluey substance, that forms a protective layer, soothing irritations on the esophagus from stomach acid. Similar to Aloe Vera juice. As a heartburn remedy it is sold in powder or capsules.

    • How to use it: Buy slippery elm powder or capsules and use according to the instructions on the label. It should be taken two hours before or after taking other medications since it can slow absorption of other drugs.
  • Marshmallow

    Marshmallow root can help with heartburn the same way as slippery elm. It also has a mucilage quality that puts a protective lining on the irritated esophagus and stomach, soothing heartburn in the process. It can be bought in capsules or as a powder.

    • How to use it: Take marshmallow root in capsules according to the instructions on the label. If you’re using the powder put one tablespoon in a big glass of water and leave over night. You will get a thick, sweet drink. Drink when you have heartburn. As with all plants that contain mucilage, marshmallow can interfere with absorption of other drugs. Take two hours before or after taking other medications.
  • Cider vinegar

    apple cider vinegarPhoto credit: Apple cider vinegar by merri

    Sometimes people get acid reflux because their stomach doesn’t produce enough stomach acid. The lower esophageal sphincter is triggered by the presence of stomach acid. If it detects a high amount of acid it will close preventing the acid to go up your esophagus. But if the level of acid is low the sphincter is going to relax causing  stomach juices to go up your food pipe causing heartburn. In this case, taking medicine or remedies that neutralize stomach acid is not going to help. Adding more acid can help with heartburn in this case. It is best to take natural organic cider vinegar to raise the acidity of your stomach juices.

    • How to use it: Mix one tablespoon of cider vinegar with one glass of water. Take this mix 2-3 times per day best before mealtime. If you feel that the heartburn is becoming worse stop taking cider vinegar.
  • Apple

    applesPhoto credit: Grandpa’s Apples by jon collier

    Some food produce an alkaline environment in the stomach, lowering the acidity of stomach juices and relieving heartburn as a result. Apples have such characteristics. In cases of mild heartburn they can help to sooth it.

    • How to use it: Buy a sweeter variety, like golden and red Delicious apple. Eat half an apple after every meal to sooth heartburn. You can eat a whole apple before you go to sleep if you have heartburn during the night. You can also drink a glass of freshly made apple juice after a meal. Sweeten it with honey to enhance the effect of the apple.
  • Banana

    bananasPhoto credit:Bananas by Steve Hopson

    Bananas are high in potassium which,  similar to apples, produces an alkaline environment in the stomach neutralizing stomach acid. It is important to use ripe bananas (with some brown spots) since they contain the highest amount of potassium. Also bananas help to form a protective layer in the stomach which helps with protecting our stomach from acids.

    • How to use it: Eat a banana when you feel heartburn.
  • Ginger tea

    ginger teaPhoto credit: Ginger Tea by Manogaran Nair

    Ginger tea is often used to aid digestion and reduce nausea and vomiting. It soothes the stomach by increasing the flow of gastric juices and is believed to relieve heartburn when used in small amounts. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center doses higher than 4 gr of ginger a day can cause heartburn. So don’t overdo it with ginger tea, 2-3 cups a day are enough.

    • How to use it: Grate a teaspoon of fresh ginger root in a cup. Pour boiling water over and let it infuse for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger. Sweeten with honey if you like. Take one small cup of ginger tea half an hour before every meal.
  • Mustard

    yellow mustardPhoto credit: Mustard by Jessica Spengler

    Mustard is an alkalizing food that contains some vinegar. As an alkaline food it neutralizes stomach acids making the gastric juices less acidic. It also slows down acid production in the stomach making it less likely that gastric juices will escape to the esophagus. This way mustard can bring immediate relieve during a heartburn episode.

    • How to use it: Take a teaspoon of plain yellow mustard during a heartburn episode to relieve symptoms.
  • Almonds

    almondPhoto credit: Close Up Of Woman Eating handful Of Almonds by Abd allah Foteih

    Almonds contain high amounts of oil and potassium, which both neutralize stomach acids. Although there is little research about almonds and heartburn, many people use it successfully as a home remedy for years.

    • How to use it: Eat 3-4 almonds after every meal. Chew them a little bit longer until they become like a paste in your mouth. This will increase the absorption of the oils from almonds. Almonds are very caloric so don’t eat much more than 3 or 4.
  • Chamomile tea

    chamomile teaPhoto credit: Healing Teas For Healthy Living by Ian Smith

    Chamomile tea is traditionally used to reduce cramps and inflammation. Chamomile contains mucilage which similar to slippery elm protects the lining of the esophagus and reduces inflammation in the stomach. That way chamomile can sooth the inflammation of the esophagus due to stomach acid irritation.

    • How to use it: Put a chamomile tea bag  in a cup and pour over hot water. Leave for 10 minutes. Take out the bag and drink about half an hour before mealtime or one hour before you go to sleep.You can also make fresh chamomile tea, which tends to be more intense in taste. Simply put a tabelspoon of dried chamomile flowers (Chamomillae flos) into a cup and pour hot water over it. Cover the cup with a small plate and leave for 10 minutes. Strain and drink.
  • Warm water with lemon juice

    lemonsSimilar to apple cider vinegar lemon juice can be taken to relieve heartburn. It will contribute to the formation of more gastric acids, which will cause the lower esophageal sphincter to close. That way stomach acid is not going to enter the food pipe anymore.

    • How to use it: Take the juice of half a lemon and put it in a glass of lukewarm water. Drink in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent heartburn. Drink a glass of lemon water when you feel acute heartburn.
  • Cinnamon

    cinammon sticksCinnamon is an alkaline food and as such neutralizes stomach acid relieving heartburn in the process.

    • How to use it: Put one teaspoon of cinnamon to a cup of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, strain and drink while hot. This is best used half an hour before every meal.
  • Sit up, take a walk

    walkingDon’t eat lying down and don’t go to sleep after eating. After having a meal try to sit up or stand for 30 minutes to an hour. Even better go for a walk. This way you will aid your digestion and avoid build-up of stomach acids in your esophagus. When lying down it’s easier for the stomach acid to escape into the esophagus due to higher pressure on the LES from stomach contents.

  • Eat small light meals, don’t eat before sleeping

    woman eating saladEat smaller portions and lighter food to help your body digesting food effectively. When eating smaller portions the stomach is able to secrete smaller amounts of acid, than it needs to if you eat big, fatty meals. This way you reduce the possibility of heartburn.
    Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to sleep to avoid nighttime heartburn.

  • Sleep on your left side

    sleeping woman on left sideResearch suggests sleeping on the left side can relieve heartburn, while right-side sleeping makes it worse. It is harder for the stomach acid to escape the stomach into our esophagus when we are on our left side. Simply because of the design of our body.
    Since heartburn is often present with pregnant women, left side sleeping is recommended both against heartburn and for better circulation in later pregnancy.

Depending on the cause of heartburn these natural remedies can help, either by neutralizing stomach acid, healing the lining of the esophagus or by increasing stomach acid. Since these are natural remedies it is worth trying them instead of using antacids for years. You just have to find out which one, or which combination works best for you.

Did you try some of these remedies? Leave a comment