Using Baking Soda for Treatment of Heartburn

Learn how this home remedy works to ease heartburn symptoms

Making baking soda paste, mixing powder with water in bowl, close-up
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You may have heard of using baking soda as a home remedy for heartburn and wondered whether it worked. It could, but it's a temporary fix. Find out more about what causes heartburn and how baking soda may help.

Heartburn Causes

The typical experience of heartburn goes like this. A burning sensation begins to build in the upper abdomen, behind the breastbone and makes your chest feel like it's on fire.

The burning and chest pain may travel from your diaphragm all the way to your throat and may be accompanied with a sour taste and the sensation of food re-entering your mouth.

Despite the name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It's a digestive problem that occurs when stomach acid comes into contact with the lining of the esophagus, causing irritation. This can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the muscle that opens and closes between your esophagus and stomach—is weakened or relaxed and doesn't do its job properly. Rather than simply opening to let food go down into your stomach, it can open, letting stomach acid reflux back into your esophagus.

Most people suffer from heartburn occasionally, usually after a meal, but some people experience more mild or serious heartburn.

Baking Soda as a Heartburn Remedy

One of the ways to treat acid reflux is with antacids. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a natural antacid.

If you drink a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 8 ounces of water, it can neutralize stomach acid and temporarily alleviate heartburn caused by acid reflux.

There are some drawbacks to this method, however. When you add baking soda to water, it releases carbon dioxide. That's what causes the fizz.

This fizz can open the LES, letting you burp and helping relieve the pressure from bloating. Unfortunately, opening the LES can also allow the contents of your stomach to reflux up into the esophagus.

While many people have used baking soda to treat their heartburn, it's important to note that there haven't been any clinical trials to support baking soda's effect on heartburn. It is also important that you consult your doctor before trying baking soda or any other treatment for your heartburn.

Other Ways to Treat Heartburn

You can also alleviate heartburn by avoiding food that causes heartburn and making lifestyle choices that can minimize heartburn.

  • Avoid foods and beverages that weaken the LES muscle. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fatty foods, and greasy or fried foods.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus. These include citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, chili peppers, and black pepper.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Eating large meals increases pressure in the stomach and against the LES muscle. Eating five or six small meals instead of three larger ones is better. And remember not to eat too quickly. Putting your fork or spoon down between bites can help you do this.
  • Don't drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol before, during, or after meals can worsen heartburn because alcohol weakens the LES muscle.

Sources

GERD Lifestyle and Home Remedies. Mayo Clinic. 

Heartburn and GERD: Treatment options for GERD. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

Treatment for GER & GERD. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 

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