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Home Remedies for Heartburn: What Works

home remedies for heartburn

Contrary to its name, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. It is a burning sensation felt in the chest caused by the flow of stomach acid into the esophagus.

Many people suffer from this uncomfortable sensation. Fortunately, there are home remedies that can be attempted to help alleviate symptoms.

Understanding Heartburn and Acid Reflux

The esophagus acts as a connecting tube between the mouth to the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle that works like a valve and stops stomach contents from flowing back into this tube. If the LES relaxes incorrectly, acid reflux can occur, where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus.

Key signs of heartburn commonly include:

  • a sensation of burning in the chest
  • a sour taste in the mouth
  • an acidic taste in the throat
  • a burning pain that moves upwards toward the throat
  • symptoms that worsen during nighttime or when lying down

What Causes Heartburn Symptoms?

Most of the time, dietary choices and lifestyle habits are responsible for triggering heartburn symptoms. The severity and frequency of heartburn can vary from mild and occasional to severe and persistent. Some things that can potentially trigger heartburn include:

  • Overeating
  • Consuming certain foods and beverages
  • Lying down too soon after eating
  • Smoking
  • Carrying extra weight or being overweight
  • Taking certain medications

Home Remedies for Heartburn Relief

There are several natural home remedies that may provide relief when you are actively experiencing heartburn.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar: While this remedy is popular, evidence is mixed. Some people find relief by diluting a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drinking it before meals. However, it’s essential to be cautious with this remedy as vinegar is acidic and might worsen symptoms in some individuals.
  2. Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that might help soothe the esophagus. Drinking a small amount of aloe vera juice before meals could offer relief.
  3. Chewing Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can stimulate saliva production, which can help neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn. However, mint-flavored gums should be avoided, as peppermint may cause the LES to relax, worsening heartburn.
  4. Baking Soda: Mixing a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drinking it can help neutralize stomach acid temporarily. However, you should use this remedy infrequently. Excessive consumption of baking soda can lead to imbalances in your body’s electrolytes.
  5. Chamomile Tea: Chamomile is known for its calming properties and can help soothe the digestive tract. Drinking chamomile tea may provide relief from heartburn symptoms.

Long-Term Strategies for Heartburn Relief

If you are experiencing heartburn, there are several remedies you can try at home that may help you feel better.

  • Keep a food journal to identify which foods trigger your heartburn. You can pinpoint these trigger foods by keeping track of what you eat and any symptoms you experience. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Foods that commonly make heartburn worse are:
    • Coffee
    • Cola
    • Tea
    • Fatty foods
    • Citrus
    • Chocolate
  • Practice mindful eating. Overeating can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, making acid reflux more likely. Instead, try eating slowly and in smaller portions.
  • Avoid eating before bedtime or snacking late at night. When you lie down with a full stomach it can trigger acid reflux. It’s best to give yourself three hours between your last meal or snack and bedtime.
  • Incorporate alkaline foods into your diet. Foods such as ripe bananas and nuts have alkaline properties that can help counteract acidity in the stomach.
  • Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing, especially around the waist and belly, can contribute to heartburn symptoms.
  • Adjust your sleep position. Elevating the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches during sleep can help prevent acid reflux.
  • Lose weight. If you are carrying extra weight it can put added pressure on the stomach. Losing weight may help alleviate bothersome symptoms.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking can interfere with the function of the lower esophageal sphincter. If you smoke, your doctor can help you find strategies to quit. There are also free resources available.

Seeking Medical Help for Heartburn

For mild and occasional heartburn, home remedies and over-the-counter antacids or histamine blockers can be used to relieve symptoms.

However, if heartburn is experienced more than twice a week, or you can’t seem to control your symptoms, it may be a sign of a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can lead to damage and complications such as:

  • inflammation of the esophagus
  • narrowing of the esophagus
  • precancerous changes to the esophageal lining

Experiencing chronic heartburn should prompt a visit to a gastroenterologist. They may prescribe stronger medications and evaluate you for the presence of GERD with an upper endoscopy (EGD).

Don’t continue to live with chronic heartburn and acid reflux – schedule an appointment today!

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