Most of us have experienced heartburn at some point in our lives, some more often others. That burning sensation in the chest and throat is caused by a reflux of stomach acid up into the esophagus. While there are many tips for preventing the onset of heartburn (see list below), sometimes it’s too late for prevention and all we need is some quick relief.
Instead of reaching for over-the-counter (or prescription) heartburn medicines, which may actually cause more harm than good, try some of the remedies in the following list to help ease the symptoms and have you feeling better sooner, rather than later.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Although it’s an acid, apple cider vinegar is an alkaline food. The acid in apple cider vinegar is weak (acetic acid) and when mixed with the strong acid in our stomach (hydrochloric acid), the overall acidity is reduced. Take a one ounce shot, either straight or diluted with water, for fast, effective relief of reflux symptoms.
- Baking Soda – A natural antacid, baking soda can be diluted in water and taken internally to help neutralize acid and bring temporary relief. A word of caution, however; the fizziness of the baking soda can open up the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing you to burp and relieve bloating, but that can backfire and allow stomach acid to reflux back up into your esophagus.
- Bananas – Bananas have a natural antacid effect on the body and can neutralize stomach acid. A banana before/after a meal can bring relief in minutes. Make sure it’s ripe banana (with at least some brown specks in it), otherwise you may have trouble digesting the starches in an underripe banana.
- Ginger – One of the oldest remedies for heartburn, fresh ginger can be made into a tea to help bring comfort and relief. Simply add a teaspoon of shredded ginger to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain and let cool. It’s best to plan ahead and make your tea before you start eating so that it’s ready to drink once you’ve completed your meal. You can also use ginger tea bags.
- Aloe Vera Juice – A natural acid neutralizer, aloe vera juice can be taken to help bring soothing relief of heartburn. Drink as much as you need to eliminate symptoms.
Of course, the best remedy is prevention, and below are some helpful tips to stop heartburn from every making an appearance in the first place.
- Avoid trigger foods – Although they differ from person to person, most people are sensitive to fatty foods, caffeine, dairy, and chocolate. Sodas and alcohol are also common culprits and should be avoided, or at least reduced.
- Eat smaller meals – Large meals can expand the stomach and cause pressure to push up the esophageal sphincter.
- Don’t eat right before bed – Wait at least 2 or 3 hours before heading to bed after a meal. Allow the power of gravity to keep your stomach juices from rising back up into the esophagus.
- Eat more slowly – Taking your time to enjoy a meal not only helps your stomach signal you when it’s full, it also allows you to chew your food more thoroughly, thereby causing your mouth to create more saliva, which helps aid digestion and neutralize stomach acid.
About the Author:
Sarah is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mother. She is the author of Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade – in which she documents the changes she’s making to slowly convert her home into a more natural, sustainable, toxic-free environment for her family. Nature’s Nurture also serves as a resource for others looking for simple ways to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can follow along at her blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.