Remedies for Acid Reflux

remedies for heartburn
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If you’ve experienced the occasional bout of heartburn, you know how uncomfortable the painful burning sensation can be. The pain may be caused by the backflow of your stomach contents into your esophagus (the tube through which food is transported to your stomach), known as acid reflux, or it may be caused by a more severe or chronic form of reflux called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Remedies for Acid Reflux

Whether it's a desire to go all-natural or to address heartburn symptoms that don't respond to medication, some people turn to diet and lifestyle modifications and natural remedies to relieve symptoms.

Here's a look at several remedies and lifestyle modifications that may help:

1) Avoid Your Trigger Foods 

You may have already discovered that certain foods can trigger your heartburn and reflux symptoms. Try keeping a food and symptom diary to help you identify foods that worsen your reflux, and steer clear of them. Here are some common food triggers:

  • Coffee and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy food
  • Beer, wine, and other forms of alcohol
  • Fried or greasy foods
  • Mint
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based foods

Some people find that sweets and high-glycemic index foods and meals that are too hot may trigger heartburn.

2) Aim for Your Healthy Weight

Losing weight may help to reduce your heartburn symptoms. Speak with your healthcare provider about an eating and exercise plan that can help you reach a healthy weight.

3) Take a Mindful Eating Approach

Eating quickly and overeating are correlated with heartburn and reflux. Sometimes you may not even realize that you're eating quickly or eating after your body is signaling that it's full.

Practicing mindful-eating techniques may help you slow down and listen to what your body is telling you. Here's how:

  • Eliminate distractions at mealtime. Avoid reading, checking your phone, or watching television while you eat.
  • Chew each bite thoroughly.
  • Eat smaller meals rather than big meals. Overeating puts more pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter. 
  • Before each meal, take a moment to look at your meal. Observe what is on your plate and take in the smells. Also take a moment to notice how hungry you are before you take your first bite.

Here are more tips on eating mindfully.

4) Wait Before Going to Bed

Lying down too soon after meals can induce heartburn. Instead of lying down or going to bed soon after eating, try to eat at least three to four hours before bedtime.

5) Elevate the Head of Your Bed

In a small study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, people with night reflux were found to have reduced acid reflux (measured by esophageal acid exposure and acid clearance time) when the head end of their bed was elevated with a 20-centimeter block.

Bed risers, wedge pillows, and mattress wedges (that fit between the mattress and box spring) are some ways to raise the head of the bed. Although some experts recommend raising the head of the bed by 6 to 8 inches or more, raising the head of the bed can cause back and hip discomfort or pain in some people. It is usually only suggested for people with nighttime symptoms or symptoms that prevent them from sleeping.

6) Sleep on Your Left Side

When it comes to your sleeping position, sleeping on your left side (called the "left lateral decubitus position") may help you avoid nighttime heartburn.

7) Avoid Tight-Waisted Clothing

Clothing with snug waistlines or belts put pressure on your stomach, which can lead to acid reflux. Try wearing pants that don't cinch you in the waist (like lower-rise pants), pants with an elasticized waist, or moving up a pant size. If you wear skirts, try wearing dresses instead and seeing if it helps your reflux.

8) Ease Your Stress

While stress isn't typically considered a cause of heartburn or reflux, it can trigger symptoms in some people. Additionally, severe life or physical stress may lead to heartburn symptoms, according to a report published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2004.

In addition to seeking professional help, incorporating stress management techniques such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine may help.

9) Give up Smoking

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.

10) Explore Natural Remedies

Remedies that are said to help with some heartburn and reflux include:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Bananas
  • Turmeric
  • DGL licorice
  • D-limonene
  • Honey
  • Marshmallow
  • Slippery elm

A Word From Verywell

Changing your diet and lifestyle alone may be enough to keep your heartburn in check. While diet or lifestyle modifications 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 injure your esophagus and lead to complications.

If the pain is new to you, it's important to be aware that typical heartburn symptoms (such as pain in the throat/chest, regurgitation of food or liquid, sore throat, and a sour taste in the mouth) may actually be caused by a serious underlying condition such as a heart attack. If you are experiencing pain in your chest for the first time, it's important to consult a doctor immediately in order to be properly diagnosed.

Sources:

Khan BA, Sodhi JS, Zargar SA, et al. Effect of bed head elevation during sleep in symptomatic patients of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Jun;27(6):1078-82.

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.

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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