How to Control Heartburn Without Medication

Avoiding problem foods and trying natural remedies may help

Want to know how to control heartburn without medication? You've probably seen at least one television ad that shows a product or prescription wondrously curbing heartburn. You may also have a friend who expounds the magic of the medication she's taking. But is it really true that antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors, are the only ways to find relief from heartburn?

While that's the case for some people, others get relief from heartburn symptoms through medical procedures, such as fundoplication surgery. That said, many people control their heartburn successfully by making changes in their daily routines and habits and by changing what they eat.

woman talking to doctor about heartburn
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One of the first and most important steps is to consult with your doctor on how to treat your heartburn. He can give you tips on controlling heartburn that will work best for you.


Heartburn symptoms can often be relieved with good heartburn treatment, including a few lifestyle changes. Following these suggestions can help you reduce the occurrence of acid reflux symptoms.


Heartburn can occur for a couple of reasons:

  • When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) -- the passageway from your esophagus to your stomach -- relaxes inappropriately and food comes back upward
  • When the stomach produces too much acid and this is refluxed into the esophagus

Some of the foods we eat can trigger these responses from the body, and then heartburn happens. Some foods tend to relax the LES, and others can stimulate stomach acid production. Knowing which foods can do these things is important. Of course, everyone is different, so some of these taboo foods may produce no heartburn for you. That's why it's good to keep a food diary for a week or two to see what foods cause you heartburn and which do not.

Foods to possibly avoid include:

  • High-fat foods
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated and carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Tomato-based products


This is a list of foods that are the least likely to cause heartburn. It should be remembered, as mentioned above, that each person is different. There may be foods on this list that have caused you heartburn. Keeping a food diary will help you find out which foods are safe.

There are also foods that can be enjoyed in moderation. You may be able to eat such foods occasionally without the risk of heartburn.

Generally, safe foods for heartburn sufferers include:

  • Low-fat milk, cheeses, and creams
  • Lean meats
  • Skinless chicken breasts
  • Baked foods
  • Fresh fruits (not citrus)
  • Water


Nearly 80 percent of people who suffer from heartburn will experience heartburn at night. Even if heartburn doesn't occur every night, spending even one evening with it will feel like one too many. There are ways to calm that burn to get a good night's sleep. Some of these methods include:

  • Waiting two or three hours after eating before going to bed
  • Eat your larger meal at lunch instead of supper
  • Avoid late night snacking
  • Sleep with your head and shoulders elevated
  • Lie on your left side
  • Wear loose-fitting pajamas


Many women will experience heartburn during their pregnancy. For some, it may mark their first experience with heartburn. The condition can occur in pregnant women for a number of reasons, including:

  • An increase in hormones during pregnancy can soften the ligaments that help keep the LES closed, allowing for stomach contents to reflux back up into the esophagus
  • As the baby grows, this can put more pressure on the stomach, which can increase the chances of stomach contents being forced up into the esophagus

There are ways to control heartburn during pregnancy. You should, however, talk to your doctor first about what is best for you and your baby.


If lifestyle modifications and dietary changes don't control heartburn enough, many people prefer to use a natural home remedy to treat their symptoms instead of medications. It is important to remember, however, that there haven't been any clinical trials to support the effects of such remedies on heartburn in most cases. Discuss them in depth with your doctor.

Heartburn home remedies include: