Heartburn is a burning sensation around the lower chest area because of the movement of stomach acid into food pipe (esophagus). The pain associated with heartburn tends to worsen when you lie down or bend over.
Exact cause of heartburn is still unknown to medical science, but there are certain factors which may contribute to this problem. Diet and lifestyle habits mostly cause acid reflux and heartburn. Usually people may experience heartburn symptoms at night after a large meal or when laying down flat on their back.
Symptoms of heartburn can be brought under control by trying out the home remedies for heartburn like improving the diet, avoid overeating and reducing the stress. Rather than ignoring the symptoms of heartburn or using over the counter antacids, you can opt for home remedies that can cure the problem from its root. Here are 8 most effective home remedies for heartburn, acid reflux and GERD:
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most effective home remedies for heartburn. Consumption of apple cider vinegar will neutralize your stomach acid and balances intestinal pH.
Take 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and mix with 3 to 5 ounces of water. You shall drink it 20 to 30 minutes before having a meal.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda is considered one of the potent natural antacids. It provides quick relief from heartburn, the most common symptom of acid reflux.
Mix ½ to 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water. Drink it down for quick relief from heartburn. This home remedy is for instant relief from heartburn, avoid drinking baking soda for a prolonged period. High blood pressure patients should also avoid this home remedy as it contains sodium.
Aloe Vera is another important natural remedy for gastrointestinal ailments and good for esophageal inflammation. Aloe Vera contains muco polysaccharides which helps improve ulcers and minimizes the burning sensation in the chest due to heartburn. Aloe Vera capsules, juice or gel provides relief from heartburn and help heal inflamed intestinal linings. Consume ¼ cup of Aloe Vera gel 3 to 4 times a day. It shall be consumed away from meals, on arising or at bedtime.
4. Chewing Gum
Try chewing a sugarless gum after your meals. This will stimulate salivary glands and increases saliva production, which help neutralize any acid coming back up into the food pipe. Opt for non-mint flavor because it can relax the LES making heartburn worse. As per studies, chewing gum for 30 mins after a meal can significantly lower the stomach acid levels.
Ginger root is been in use for a very long time for the treatment of various gastric problems. It has lots of beneficial gastro protective properties due to its ability to suppress helicobacter pylori and block stomach acid.
Ginger root can provide relief from various stomach woes like acid reflux, ulcers, nausea etc. Having a cup of ginger tea 20 minutes before meal can help calm down stomach significantly and will also act as an acid buffer.
Digestive enzymes helps digest food completely, absorbs nutrients and prevents acid build up in the gut. Our body itself is capable of secreting sufficient amount of digestive enzymes but sometime it is compromised due to medications or other reasons. It’s recommended to take a formula which has 6 or more digestive enzymes that help break down sugars and other proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
You shall have 1 to 2 capsules of a high quality digestive enzymes before each meal.
A form of licorice called DGL provides relief from the burning sensation due to heartburn. It promotes mucus release in the stomach to provide protection from stomach acids. Licorice is available in the form of DGL tablets, you can place in your mouth and allow it to melt. Don’t swallow it directly as it is your saliva that helps activate the DGL.
Fennel is one best herb for the treatment of heartburn or acid reflux. It is generally consumed in the form of tea. Fennel improves digestive process and works at preventing acid reflux before it begins. Fennel contains anethole, which calms and soothes digestive tract, preventing spasms in the intestines. Fennel tea can be taken before or after having a meal or you can simply chew if fresh after meals.
Life Style changes to bring Heartburn under control
Lifestyle changes are also very important along with above mentioned home remedies. Lifestyle changes are important to get rid of heartburn permanently. Here are some simple tips which you can accommodate in your daily routine:
1. Eat small, but frequent meals
Overeating puts a high amount of pressure on the stomach. When the body senses you have over eaten, stomach acid production increases in order to facilitate digestion. To avoid heartburn, it’s recommended to have smaller meal more frequently. It’s because an overstuffed gut can contribute to heartburn. Instead of 3 full meals a day, try 5 to 6 meals smaller meals.
Also avoid drinking during the meal and try drinking water in between the meals.
There is no specific reason which triggers heartburn, there are different things that can cause heartburn. Lifestyle habits and food sensitivities are the common triggers for heartburn or acid reflux in majority of people. Foods which needs to be avoided to minimize the symptoms of heartburn include:
- Spicy Foods
- Fried foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits (acidic Fruits)
- Dairy Products
3. Don’t sleep immediately after meal
To avoid heartburn while you sleep, don’t eat anything for at least 3 hours before bedtime. This will give food time to digest and acid levels to drop down.
When you lied down, gravity pulls the stomach acid in to your food pipe. So, be eating earlier, there will be less food to come back up and trigger heartburn.
Always wear clothes in which you feel relaxed. Don’t wear clothes that are tight around your stomach. Wearing a tight belt can constrict your stomach. They can increase pressure on your stomach and abdomen, which can ultimately trigger heartburn.
5. Lose Weight
Obesity is the leading cause of acid reflux and heartburn. Extra stomach fat puts pressure on the abdomen and pushes stomach acid up into the food pipe. Losing weight is one of the best thing you could do to prevent heartburn.
It has been observed that people who have frequent heartburn have a hectic lifestyle and more work related stress. Stress is a very powerful hormonal trigger that can affect nearly every bodily system, from immunity to digestion.
Although there is no direct link between stress and heartburn, but stress can lead to behaviors that can cause acid reflux. Stress disrupts your normal routines in regards to meals, exercise, sleep and medication.
7. Elevate your bed
You may place 6-inch blocks under the bed posts at the head of the bed. This will elevate the head of your bed placing your head and chest higher than your feet. This will keep your stomach acid where it belongs.
Liquid foods are less likely to cause heartburn then solid foods. It’s because they move through the gut more quickly. Consume liquids that offer good quantity of protein such as milk, and drinkable yogurt. You can also try adding milkshakes, soups, puddings and smoothies to your diet.
You may be surprised to know that there are certain medication that are potential triggers for heartburn. These medications can interfere with the digestive system, relax the LES, or can further irritate an already inflamed esophagus. Here are some of these medications:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Bisphosphonates, used to boost bone density
- Sedatives (for anxiety or insomnia)
- Calcium channel blockers (used in the treatment of high blood pressure)
- Anticholinergics (for bladder control, seasickness, and COPD)
- Certain asthma medications, including beta-agonists like albuterol
- Tricyclic antidepressants
If you are on any of the above mentioned medications, then it’s best to consult your doctor before stopping or switching them.