Heartburn is definitely punishment, but it’s not always clear why you’ve been sentenced. Find out about the best natural remedies to try at home.
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. Some medications, including aspirin, certain antibiotics and some antidepressants and sedatives, may aggravate heartburn. Try some of these natural home remedies to relieve your heartburn symptoms.
What you can do for heartburn
- As soon as you feel the telltale flicker of heartburn, drink a 250 mL glass of water. It will wash the acid back down your esophagus into your stomach.
- 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.
- The juices of vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radishes, or beets 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.
- No matter how terrible you feel, stay upright. 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.
- 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.
- You might also 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.
- If you haven’t done so already, quit smoking. Research shows that smoking relaxes the LES.
A natural boost forheartburn treatment
- 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.
- A tea made from anise, caraway, or fennel seed 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.
- You can make a similar soothing drink from slippery elm. 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.