Next Time Heartburn Hits, Turn To These Natural Remedies


If you’ve ever had heartburn—also known as acid reflux—you’re no stranger to the feeling of having your stomach acids rise to your upper abdomen and chest. Heartburn is a very common condition, affecting roughly one in five American adults. (1)

That’s why many people are eager to find natural remedies for heartburn. In this article, we’ll cover what heartburn is, what food causes heartburn, what foods are good for heartburn, natural remedies for heartburn, heartburn home remedies, and essential oils for heartburn.

If you’re one of the millions of people suffering from heartburn every day, take heart. Natural heartburn solutions can have you feeling better in no time!

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a type of indigestion that causes a telltale burning sensation in the upper abdomen and chest, sometimes reaching up to the throat. It happens when the valve that controls the sphincter at the bottom of your esophagus doesn’t work properly—meaning it allows stomach acid to leave the stomach and travel up the esophagus.

woman holding her chest while sitting on an outdoor bench

Heartburn is a very common condition, affecting roughly one in five American adults. The good news is that heartburn is largely preventable.

When the fluid from the stomach gets into the esophagus—and sometimes the throat—it irritates the lining. Being exposed to acids can cause intense discomfort … and over time, worse problems.

What are the risks of heartburn?

If you only have occasional heartburn, it’s generally nothing more than a nuisance. But if it’s ongoing, it could mean you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD has some significant risks—including inflammation of the esophagus, dental issues, worsening of asthma, and even cancer of the esophagus.

If you have chronic heartburn, it’s important to get it under control to reduce these risks. The good news is that heartburn is largely preventable—if you understand what triggers it and how to avoid it.

What food causes heartburn?

Certain foods are notorious for triggering heartburn. Here are some of the more common triggers:

  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus foods
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

To figure out what your food triggers are, you might want to keep a food diary. Jot down what you eat and after a couple of hours rate your heartburn on a scale of 0 to 10. Once you identify triggering foods, eliminate them from your diet.

How to relieve heartburn

In many cases, heartburn can be prevented with simple diet and lifestyle changes. Here are some of the top ways to relieve heartburn without medication:

Eat smaller meals, and eat slowly

Instead of gulping down three large meals, try eating several smaller meals—and more slowly—throughout the day. This will give your body time to digest each meal and prevent the fullness in the stomach that can cause stomach contents to escape into the esophagus.

Control your stress

Perhaps you’ve heard of the mind-gut connection. It’s real. Chronic stress—as well as stressful life events—can make heartburn symptoms worse. (2) Try meditation or yoga to control your stress, or check out these seven supplements to manage different types of stress.

Cut out triggering foods

Once you’ve identified the foods or ingredients that trigger your heartburn, be careful to avoid them. Remember integrative healthcare professionals can help identify what foods might be triggers for you – always ask questions.

Don’t eat close to bedtime

Ever notice that heartburn gets worse when you lie down? That’s because gravity is working against you when you’re horizontal, and stomach contents have a better chance of breaching that lower esophageal sphincter. Give yourself two to three hours to digest your food before hitting the hay.

man doing a plank

Abdominal exercises have been proven to help lose extra pounds around the stomach area and therefore help avoid heartburn.

Lose weight if necessary

If you’re overweight—especially if you’re carrying extra pounds around the middle—work to lose some weight. Excess abdominal fat puts pressure on your digestive organs and can lead to heartburn.

Drink water

Researchers have found that drinking water is an effective way to increase the pH level in your gut and tame heartburn. In fact, it works faster than proton-pump inhibitors! (3)

Take a deep breath

Deep, abdominal breathing can strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter and keep stomach contents where they belong—in the stomach. One study found that heartburn sufferers who practiced deep breathing had lower pH levels in the gut and better quality of life than those who didn’t. And the best part—those improvements still existed at the 9-month follow-up. (4)

Eat more protein, less fat

A study that looked at the timing and contents of different meals found that eating a lot of fat at lunchtime aggravates GERD. On the other hand, high-protein food in the evening appears to improve it. (5)

Check your meds

Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter can cause heartburn. If you’re taking any of these medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the drugs could be the cause of your discomfort: (6)

  • Antibiotics
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Iron supplements
  • Quinidine
  • Pain relievers
  • Potassium supplements
  • Anticholinergics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Calcium channel blockers and nitrates
  • Narcotics (opioids)
  • Progesterone
  • Sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Theophylline

Always ask your healthcare practitioner about medication and the effects they might have.

Natural supplements for heartburn

In addition to these diet and lifestyle tips to fight heartburn, some supplements can help as well. Here are some tried and true natural heartburn remedies.

Melatonin

Better known as “the sleep hormone,” melatonin is also involved in gastrointestinal function. Two studies have found that it’s effective in treating GERD symptoms—possibly even more effective than the popular heartburn medication omeprazole. (7)

STW 5 (Iberogast)

This commercially available formula has been available in Germany for 40 years, and research shows it can help improve GERD symptoms. (7)

It includes nine herbs:

  • Iberis amara (candytuft)
  • Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile)
  • Carum carvi (caraway)
  • Mentha piperita (peppermint)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice)
  • Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
  • Chelidonium majus (Greater celandine)
  • Silybum marianum (milk thistle)
  • Angelica archangelica (angelica).

Alginate, pectin, and carbenoxolone

These so-called “raft-forming” compounds form polymers when they come into contact with stomach acid. They float to the surface of the stomach contents (like a raft) and provide a barrier for the esophagus, helping prevent heartburn. (8)

baking soda in a jar

Baking soda is a common home remedy for heartburn.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

Baking soda is a common home remedy for heartburn. It works by neutralizing the acidity of the gut, much like over-the-counter antacids. While it is effective, experts warn against long-term use. (9)

The bottom line

If you’re reaching for heartburn relief a few times a week or more, talk to your integrative healthcare practitioner. Frequent or chronic heartburn can have long-term health effects. But with the tips outlined here—and the help of a natural health expert—you can curb heartburn for good.

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