While the stomach tissue can withstand acid, the lining of the esophagus cannot. When the acidic stomach contents flow back up (regurgitate) the esophagus, we experience heartburn or a burning sensation in the chest. Since frequent acid reflux can damage the esophageal lining, finding a great heartburn remedy is a top priority.
What is Heartburn?
Despite its name, heartburn doesn’t really involve the heart. However, it’s still aptly named because people who experience it feel a burning sensation at the center of their chest, behind the breastbone.
Before we begin our discussion on the best heartburn remedy for you, let’s talk about the possible causes first.
The most common causes of heartburn are acid reflux and GERD and many people think that the two are the same. In reality, acid reflux and GERD are connected, but not synonymous.
Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when there is a regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus, the structure that connects the throat to the stomach.
Typically, lifestyle changes will be enough to manage occasional GER, but be observant. If you suffer from acid reflux twice or more within a week, your condition might have already progressed to gastroesophageal reflux diseases or GERD.
What’s the Best Heartburn Remedy for You?
Because acid reflux, GERD, and other conditions, such as pregnancy, may cause heartburn, it’s best to consult your doctor to find the root cause. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to soothe the burning sensation.
Below are the things you can do at home to relieve heartburn naturally:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
A long-term management technique you might want to consider is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This is because excess pounds might put pressure on the abdomen, causing its contents to go back up into the esophagus.
Refrain from Alcohol and Stop Smoking
Between our stomach and the esophagus is a muscle called the lower-esophageal sphincter (LES). This structure acts like a valve that prevents the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. However, some conditions may weaken the LES and it might result in heartburn.
Alcohol and cigarettes could both potentially weaken the LES. So if you’re looking for a reliable heartburn remedy, consider quitting smoking and refrain from drinking alcohol.
Take Note of Your Mealtime and Portions
In one study, which compared the diet between people with and without GERD, researchers found out that while all participants ate three meals a day, many GERD patients often skip a meal.
Additionally, they also noticed that people with GERD often eat one heavy meal in the evening instead of distributing the calories between lunch and dinner.
Doctors believe that people who suffer from heartburn might feel better if they have small, frequent meals instead of 3 heavy ones. On top of that, doctors also discourage patients to eat a heavy meal in the evening.
Avoid Lying Down Right After Eating
To relieve heartburn naturally, consider giving enough time for the food to settle in your stomach after a meal. When you lie down immediately after eating, the contents of your stomach may regurgitate back, causing heartburn. Try to wait for at least 3 hours before lying down.
Elevate the Head of the Bed
Are you suffering from nighttime heartburn? If so, consider raising the head of the bed by a few centimeters.
In one study involving 20 patients who suffered from night heartburn, results showed that the participants reported a “significant reduction in nighttime reflux” while 65% of them indicated that they had “less sleep disturbance.” This is after 6 days of sleeping with the head of the bed elevated by just 20 centimeters.
Refrain from Wearing Tight-fitting Clothes
Another heartburn remedy that’s easy to follow is to avoid tight-fitting clothes. When your clothes are tight, it might put unnecessary pressure on the abdomen, causing reflux.
Stick to a Tummy-Friendly Diet
Some foods trigger heartburn, so try to stay away from them. Examples of triggers include:
- Citrus fruits
- Foods high in fat
- Carbonated beverages
Instead, add more fruits and veggies to your diet, along with lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
How to Relieve Heartburn Naturally
Aside from the home remedies listed above, you can also try the following natural remedies:
- Bananas and Apples. One easy heartburn remedy is to eat a banana every day. This is because bananas contain natural antacids that counteract acid reflux, which causes heartburn. If you’re not fond of bananas, you can also go for apples.
- Chamomile Tea. Known for its calming effects, a cup of chamomile tea may help soothe the digestive tract, including the esophagus. However, if you have known allergy to ragweed, refrain from drinking chamomile tea.
- Ginger. One common herb found in many Filipino households is ginger or luya. According to Harvard Health, ginger, a well-known digestive aid, has been used as a heartburn remedy for centuries. To relieve heartburn naturally, you can add ginger to your meals or prepare ginger tea.
- Licorice. Although not as popular as the previous heartburn remedies, you can also consider licorice. According to reports, licorice could potentially “increase the mucous coating” in the lining of the esophagus, protecting it from the effects of stomach acid during reflux.
Heartburn is a common problem and is often treated at home using natural remedies and through lifestyle changes.
To relieve heartburn naturally, focus on the things you can do at home, such as sticking to a tummy-friendly diet, having small frequent meals, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.
However, if you frequently experience heartburn, seeking medical help is a must as it could indicate a medical condition, like GERD.
Learn more about Digestive Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.