Remedies for Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Top 10 Ways to Help Remedy Acid Reflux

With just a few simple lifestyle changes, it is possible to manage acid reflux naturally. According to the National Institute of Health, heartburn is defined as “A painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, rising from the lower tip of your breastbone toward your throat.”

Acid reflux and heartburn are often used interchangeably; however, heartburn is actually a side effect of acid reflux. If you are experiencing heartburn twice a week or more, it is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD for short (Ness-Jensen).

The number of people suffering from GERD has been increasing over time, particularly in younger people. From 2006-2016, the number of people diagnosed with GERD has steadily increased, particularly in the age group of 30-39 year old as seen in figure 1 (Yamasaki).

There are multiple theories about why this diagnosis is increasing so rapidly, but societal and cultural changes appear to be a major factor.

Food portions have been steadily increasing over the years, leading people to overeat, a major cause of acid reflux. Increased use of medications with heartburn as a major side effect along with limited physical exercise are also major causes. When acid reflux or GERD is left untreated, the acid in your esophagus can cause lasting damage, so it is important to take action if you are suffering from heartburn.

Below you will find a list of 10 remedies with proven success. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another, so try the tips that look appealing to you and see how your body responds. If you are unable to manage your acid reflux symptoms with these lifestyle changes, or you believe you may have GERD, you should see a doctor.

10. Limit Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking

There are a lot of health benefits related to limiting your intake of alcohol and cigarettes. Heartburn relief is one of those benefits. Acid reflux damages your esophagus over time and smoking will only irritate it and make it worse. Alcohol also has the effect of further irritating the esophagus particularly if you drink to the point of vomiting. If you are suffering from heartburn and are a drinker or a smoker, this is a great first step to take in finding relief (Ness-Jensen).

 9. Change your eating habits

Changing your eating habits is another less fun alternative with huge benefits. You don’t have to change everything right away. Start with the tips that feel manageable to you.

  • Avoid eating right before bed.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat. Foods that are high in fat take longer to digest, delaying the digestion process letting the food sit in the stomach longer and allowing acid to escape.
  • Choose foods that have a higher pH like melons, cauliflower, and nuts.
  • Do not overeat. Stomach acid is pushed up when your stomach is too full.
  • Add bananas to your diet. They contain natural antacids!
  • Keep your upper body elevated for at least 30 minutes after eating and let gravity help you out.

8. Drink low-fat or plant-based milk

Drinking a glass of low-fat milk can be an easy and quick way to find heartburn relief. Low-fat milk acts as a temporary buffer between the stomach lining and the acid in your stomach. This is not a permanent fix, but does offer immediate relief (Gupta).

7. Probiotics or yogurt

Your body needs good bacteria for a healthy gut, and that is exactly what probiotics are. Probiotic in the pill form can get expensive pretty quickly, and certain brands are better than others. The best route is to look for natural sources of probiotics such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. More research is still needed to verify a direct correlation between probiotics and decreased acid reflux, but the research looks promising. Yogurt also acts like milk and provides a buffer between your stomach lining and the acid in your stomach, so it is also a good choice for immediate relief (Cheng).

6 Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can help provide immediate relief if taken with extreme care. Too much baking soda can actually cause an increase in acid production and make symptoms worse, so it is critical to use this remedy sparingly. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a 4-ounce glass of water and sip slowly (Gupta).

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Ahh, apple cider vinegar… it has so many uses! One of those major uses is as a remedy for acid reflux. While more research is needed to definitely say apple cider vinegar relieves heartburn, there are plenty of people who swear it does. Be careful not to drink the vinegar without diluting it, or you might damage your esophagus. Simply mix 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and drink up. To make it taste a little better, you could try adding it to some herbal tea. Drink this diluted mixture before each meal or at bedtime (Gupta).

4. Aloe Vera Juice

People have been using aloe vera for its health benefits for centuries. According to the National Library of Medicine, the “protective effects of aloe vera were comparable to those of the standard drug sucralfate… The efficacy of aloe vera gel in reducing the symptoms of GERD might thus be partly attributable to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients… aloe vera has shown a reducing effect on gastric acid secretion” (Panahi). Aloe is a popular remedy for multiple gastrointestinal ailments with little to no side effects. Aloe vera juice can be found at most health food stores and is a great alternative to over-the-counter medications.

3. Chew sugar free gum

When you chew gum, you produce an increase of saliva which just so happens to help dilute acid. Chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal helps prevent acid production. It also helps keep you from snacking after a meal which helps prevent weight gain and promote weight loss (Gupta). It’s a win-win!

2. Weight Loss

According to two major studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the HUNT Study, weight loss significantly decreases symptoms of acid reflux. When you are carrying extra weight, there is more pressure on your stomach, resulting in fluid being pushed up your esophagus (Ness-Jensen).

 1. CBD Oil

CBD oil is becoming a wildly popular remedy for multiple health ailments, and with good reason. The human body responds incredibly well to CBD with little to no side effects. The endocannabinoid system has receptors in the gastrointestinal tract that interact with CBD to slow down the production of stomach acid and improves gastrointestinal motility, preventing fluid backflow to the esophagus.

It also modulates the activity of the immune system and reduces inflammation (Gotfried). The benefits of CBD oil are still being studied, but as a remedy for acid reflux, it is becoming a popular choice. The amount depends on the strength of the CBD oil. Read the instructions on the label and start with the smallest recommended dose and see how it affects you. Try adding the CBD oil to a warm cup of herbal tea with honey.