Natural Remedies for Heartburn Relief

remedies for heartburn
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Natural remedies are sometimes used for the relief of heartburn, a condition marked by a painful burning sensation in your chest and/or throat. The pain may be caused by the backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus (the tube through which food is transported to your stomach), called "acid reflux", or it may be caused by a more severe or chronic form of reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.

Which Natural Remedies Are Sometimes Used for Heartburn Relief?

A number of herbs and other natural products are often touted for heartburn relief. However, despite claims that these remedies can alleviate pain and promote healthy digestion, there's currently a lack of scientific support for their effects against this condition. Here's a look at several remedies and their potential benefits in the treatment of heartburn:

1) Licorice

An herb said to possess soothing properties, licorice has long been used as a folk remedy for heartburn. Studies on its effects against heartburn are lacking, but some research suggests that licorice may help treat dyspepsia (a condition commonly linked to acid reflux).

In a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2012, for example, a group of patients with dyspepsia were given either licorice extract or a placebo for 30 days. By the study's end, those treated with licorice extract showed a greater improvement in their symptoms and in quality of life (compared to those who received the placebo).

When using licorice for any health-related purpose, it's important to select products made with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (or "DGL"). This form has been processed to remove most if not all of the glycyrrhizin (a licorice compound that may increase blood pressure).

2) Turmeric

Another traditional remedy for heartburn, turmeric may help reduce inflammation (an issue that may play a role in the development of acid reflux and associated complications).

Although there's very little research on turmeric's effects against heartburn, a small study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand in 1989 found that treatment with turmeric may relieve pain in people with dyspepsia. People with gallbladder disease should speak to their primary care providers before using turmeric.

Related: 4 Ways to Fight Inflammation Naturally

3) Mucilage-Rich Herbs

Herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow contain mucilage, a substance thought to coat the esophagus and reduce heartburn-related irritation. However, neither slippery elm nor marshmallow has been studied for its possible role in heartburn relief.

More Natural Approaches to Heartburn Relief

Certain alternative therapies may help protect against heartburn. These include:

1) Stress Management Techniques

Stress can cause symptoms to worsen in people who frequently experience heartburn, according to a report published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2004. To keep everyday stress from interfering with your health and aggravating heartburn symptoms, try including stress management techniques such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation in your daily routine.

2) Mindful Eating Practices

Practicing mindful-eating techniques such as chewing your food carefully and eliminating distractions at meal times may help prevent overeating, which is considered a trigger for heartburn. Here are some more tips on eating mindfully.

3) Anti-Smoking Aids

Since nicotine may weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (a band of muscle involved in closing off the esophagus and preventing acid reflux), quitting smoking may help shield you from heartburn. Learn about natural approaches to smoking cessation.

Using Natural Remedies for Heartburn Relief?

While natural remedies may help soothe heartburn-related pain, it's important to seek medical attention if you experience regular or severe heartburn. Over time, heartburn-associated acid reflux may cause significant damage to your esophagus and lead to complications, such as cancer. For some patients, prescription medications or surgery may be required in the treatment of heartburn.

If you struggle with heartburn, it's important to understand the difference between typical heartburn symptoms (such as pain in the throat/chest, regurgitation of food or liquid, sore throat, and a sour taste in the mouth) and symptoms that may signal a serious health problem. For example, symptoms such as crushing chest pain could indicate a heart attack.

It's also important to note that lifestyle practices such as maintaining a healthy weight, steering clear of trigger foods and/or beverages (such as spicy foods, onions, citrus, chocolate, and alcohol), avoiding large meals, and waiting at least three hours after a meal before lying down may help manage heartburn. Learn more about strategies for boosting your digestive health.

Before using any type of natural remedy for relief of frequent heartburn, make sure to consult your physician.

Sources

Naliboff BD, Mayer M, Fass R, Fitzgerald LZ, Chang L, Bolus R, Mayer EA. "The effect of life stress on symptoms of heartburn." Psychosom Med. 2004 May-Jun;66(3):426-34.

Raveendra KR, Jayachandra, Srinivasa V, Sushma KR, Allan JJ, Goudar KS, Shivaprasad HN, Venkateshwarlu K, Geetharani P, Sushma G, Agarwal A. "An Extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra (GutGard) Alleviates Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:216970.

Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Dechatiwongse T, Theerapong S, Chantrakul C, Thanaveerasuwan T, Nimitnon S, Boonroj P, Punkrut W. "Randomized double blind study of Curcuma domestica Val. for dyspepsia." J Med Assoc Thai. 1989 Nov;72(11):613-20.

Yoshida N. "Inflammation and oxidative stress in gastroesophageal reflux disease." J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2007 Jan;40(1):13-23.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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