Did you recently start scaring eating your food away? I bet, this is because you dread that burning sensation in your chest that makes its way up to your throat! This is what we call GERD — Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. The disease that you know by the name of Acid Reflux and Heartburn.
Understanding Acid Reflux and Heartburn
We all have the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) which can be thought of as a tight seal connecting food pipe with our stomach. When the LES loosens up while our stomach is still working to digest the food, stomach acids travel back up in the esophagus causing inflammation, irritation and scarring. As a result, the esophagus narrows down and food that we eat gets stuck there. We also experience one or all of such symptoms as hoarseness, burning, irritation, coughing, wheezing, and nausea too. Acid reflux sometimes also causes heartburn which is the sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort right in the middle of the chest.
There are a variety of reasons that lead to acid reflux that include obesity, spicy or acidic foods or even large meals at a one go, smoking, and sometimes certain antibiotic medicines that kill good bacteria in our body along with the bad ones. Acid reflux, in turn, may or may not lead to heartburn. While over-the-counter medicines are readily available to grant temporary relief from acid reflux, it’s better to adopt home remedies to permanently treat heartburn as well as acid reflux.
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux and Heartburn
1. Avoid Foods that Trigger Acid Reflux
Even before you begin some home remedy, you must stop taking foods that will certainly lead to heartburn. So, you better avoid caffeine, fizzy drinks like sodas, chocolate, peppermint, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, and fatty foods till the time you are sure you’ve got rid of GERD.
2. Watch What, How and When You Eat
You may call them little changes in your dietary habits but they are essential if you want to get relief from acid reflux. So, do the following
- Eat more fiber in your meals so that your digestive system is alert and moving. Better and early digestion will sure prevent acid reflux.
- Eat smaller meals. You may eat five to six smaller meals than having three large meals a day. When you eat too much, your stomach may not keep up the LES closed for longer while it works with biles and acids.
- Not only smaller meals, you should also take smaller bites and eat slowly. This will keep the LES as it is and won’t provoke it to loosen up.
- Have your last meal at least two to three hours before you go to bed. This ensures complete digestion of food and no chance left for acids to travel up in your food pipe.
3. Bring Little Lifestyle Changes
Bringing some changes in your lifestyle is far better than suffering from a horrible sensation of burning and irritation within your chest all the time. In fact, prolonged acid reflux can also lead to esophageal cancer due to the acids up there.
- Lose weight if you are obese. Abdominal fat’s pressure can push back the acid up into the esophagus.
- You should also watch your sleeping position. Keep your upper body elevated while sleeping.
- Sleeping on your on your left side may also help in digestion. Better and quick digestion means no acid reflux. Some of the studies suggest that when you sleep on your stomach or on the right side, you exert additional pressure which might trigger GERD symptoms.
- Quit smoking. Smoking weakens the muscle, the LES, and it can’t often remain tight releasing acid back up into the esophagus.
- Cut back on alcohol, especially red wine which triggers heartburn.
- Wear loose clothes, especially around the abdomen. Tight jeans, pants and skirts can put pressure on stomach releasing its acid up again towards your throat.
4. Have Almonds
Having raw almonds help to contain acid reflux. Almond is alkaline-producing food and alkaline works to balance body’s pH level. Thus, it can be said that almonds can neutralize the acid that causes burning sensation in the esophagus. It is also a good source of calcium which in turn is highly recommended for GERD patients.
- You may have a handful of almonds as a snack every day.
- Have 2-3 almonds after every meal.
- You may also keep some almond in your purse or in office drawer so that you find them easily when you’re attacked by acid reflux!
5. Drink Aloe Vera Juice
This wonder herb aloe vera soothes burning skin as well as burning esophageal lining! Aloe vera can reduce inflammation of esophagus as well as of stomach. It can even heal the existing damage caused by acid reflux and heartburn.
- If you have a severe problem due to acid reflux, have half a cup of aloe juice before each meal. However watch out for its laxative properties too.
- Alternatively, have 2 ounces of aloe juice first thing in the morning mixed with a glass of water.
6. Use Acidic Apple Cider Vinegar to Counter Stomach Acid
Some of the recent health researches have established that acid reflux is not always caused by excessive production of acid. It may sometimes result from an underproduction of acid too. As our body takes signals automatically, when the stomach doesn’t produce enough acid, the LES might loosen itself up thinking that the digestion process is complete as there’s little or no acid left in the stomach. This may cause heartburn. If that’s the case, you’ll have to experiment by having some apple cider vinegar, an acid.
- Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with ¾ or 1 cup of water.
- Drink this mixture before a meal.
- However, if you experience increased instance of acid reflux stop taking vinegar.
7. An Apple a Day May Keep your Heartburn Away!
This is rather a delicious way to keep your acid reflux at bay. The fibers in the apple absorb away the acids that are produced in the stomach. Not to say, fiber is good for digestion and bowel movement too. High amounts of dietary fibers in an apple makes it a good cure for indigestion and in turn for acid reflux.
- Have an apple before you go to bed; or
- Have fresh apples once or even few times a day.
8. Help Yourself with Ginger and Chamomile Tea
Yes, a variety of tea can come to your rescue when suffering from GERD. You may get organic tea from health stores or make fresh tea using certain herbs and roots, whatever suits you best.
Ginger tea acts as an acid buffer.
• Take 3 inches piece of ginger and boil it in water for about 15-20 minutes.
• Add a dash of honey to this. Honey, like almonds, helps in balancing pH level of body and neutralizes stomach acids.
• Strain and have this tea before meals.
Chamomile tea helps reducing inflammation in the stomach. You’ll need dried flower petals of chamomile, honey, lemon and water.
- Boil one cup of water.
- Add the chamomile petals and simmer for about a minute.
- Put off the flame and cover the pot. Let it steep for 2-3 minutes.
- Strain and pour this tea in a cup.
- Add a dash of honey and lemon each.
It’s better to have chamomile tea before you go to sleep.
9. A Teaspoon of Mustard
Mustard is yet again an alkaline-producing food item. So, you might want to give this a try to relieve off from acid reflux. Any kind of mustard is capable of neutralizing your stomach acid but prefer to have good quality mustard that is yellow in color. You might first feel a fiery scorching thing is going down your esophagus. However, let it slowly slide down your throat coating it thoroughly. This will give you immediate relief from heartburn.
10. Licorice for Soothing Relief in Acid Reflux
Licorice is a herb that has been used since ancient times to treat a cough and cold. It is said that the chemicals in licorice decrease swelling and cough, help in thinning mucus secretions, and also increase those chemicals in the body that can heal ulcers. This herb creates a thin film of protective mucus which coats the lining of esophagus thus preventing damage from stomach acids. Licorice root can be used to make tea by boiling it in water. However, some components of licorice may increase blood pressure. Therefore, many people suffering from GERD like to have DIG licorice chewable tablets before a meal. DIG licorice tablets do not contain glycyrrhizic acid which leads to high blood pressure.
Some Quick Tips for Instant Relief from Acid Reflux
When you realize that there’s a sudden attack of acid reflux, you may follow this super quick remedies to get instant relief. These remedies may be short-lived but they will comfort you for some time.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water and drink.
- Have a cup full of chilled milk.
- Chew gum (sugar-free chewing gum) after a meal. This triggers the production of saliva which in turn washes away the acid in your throat and esophagus.
- If your heartburn is due to antibiotics, have a lot of yogurt, preferably pro-biotic yogurt.
- Have a banana.
- Include celery in your meals. Have celery before going to bed.
All of the above home remedies are good for getting rid of acid reflux. However, not all will suit you. Remember, the causes of acid reflux are different for different people! So, find that one home remedy or the combination of herbal or home remedies that keep your heartburn away and just stick to that remedy!