Here you finish your meal, and there you get that burning pain in your chest. This is the dreadful feeling of heartburn truly justifying its name. You feel as if your heart is burning along with that very painful feeling just behind your breastbone. And if you think you can get some relief by lying down or bending over, you are just making it worse.
What Causes Heartburn?
You get heartburn when your stomach acid backs up into your tube (esophagus) that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. In normal conditions, whenever you swallow your food, a group of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus, relaxes and lets the food travel to your stomach. Then this group of muscle called lower esophageal sphincter again gets tightened. The problem occurs when this lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or begins the act of relaxing in an abnormal way. This makes the acid present in your stomach flow back up into your esophagus. You can feel the acidic taste in the back of your mouth due to this acid reflux, the other name of heartburn. Whenever you try to lie down or bend, more acid travels up into your esophagus and the matter becomes worse than before.
Other causes of heartburn may include having meals too close to your bedtime or having too many fatty foods, caffeinated or carbonated beverages as well as chocolate.
If your heartburn occurs only once in a while, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your heartburn is coming back with your every meal and even at night, you need to pay some attention to get rid of heartburn. This can be the chronic heartburn called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If it’s not GERD, you may first try to manage the condition with some home remedies and lifestyle changes. If you see no effects of these on your heartburn, then you need medical assistance.
How to Get Rid of Heartburn
Here are some natural remedies for heartburn that use kitchen ingredients and herbs etc. to give you relief from acid reflux.
1. Baking Soda Remedy for Heartburn
Sodium bicarbonate or the very common baking soda lying into your kitchen shelf can relieve heartburn in a matter of few minutes by balancing the pH level of your stomach. Baking soda with a pH higher than 7 can effectively neutralize your stomach acid. When your stomach acid will not remain acidic, you won’t get the burning sensation, even if it travels upto your lower esophageal sphincter.
- Baking soda- 1/2 to 1 tsp
- Water- 1/2 to 1 glass
- Add the baking soda to the glass of water.
- Mix and drink this.
- Do this whenever you feel acid coming up into your throat. However, do not consume more than 3 tsp of baking soda in a day.
Do this for a week only and if your heartburn still persists, either use some other remedy or consult your doctor. Prolonged use of baking soda is not desirable for your body.
2. Chew Gum to Get Rid of Heartburn
A research shows that people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) got relief when they were asked to chew sugar-free gum for about half an hour after a meal. When you chew gum, it stimulates your salivary glands to increase the flow of saliva. This saliva washes away or neutralize your stomach acid giving you instant relief from heartburn.
- Sugar free gum
- Place the piece of sugar free gum in your mouth after you have finished your meal.
- Now chew this for 25-30 minutes.
3. Vinegar to Cure Heartburn
Vinegar has long been used to get rid of heartburn. Although there is no medical proof of vinegar being a remedy for heartburn, people who use it swear by its efficacy. You too can use vinegar- white or apple cider vinegar- to treat your heartburn but only after diluting it with water. It may or may not give you the required relief from acid reflux but you can know that only after experimenting with it at least once.
- Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar- 1-2 tsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add the vinegar to your glass of water and mix well.
- Now have this water.
- You may have it 2-3 times a day if you don’t notice any discomfort.
- Take it before meals or before bedtime if you can’t sleep due to heartburn at night.
Warning: Never use vinegar undiluted. When done so, vinegar’s acidity may cause damage not only to your esophagus but also to your tooth enamel. Always dilute vinegar with water before consuming it and wash your mouth with clean water after having it to protect your tooth enamel. If you are not comfortable after having diluted vinegar, immediately stop having it.
4. Try Slippery Elm to Get Rid of Heartburn
Slippery elm has been traditionally used by Native Americans for treating various conditions including wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, skin inflammation as well as coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems. The herb has mucilage, a component that converts into a slick gel when it is mixed with water. It gives slippery elm its demulcent property due to which it coats (makes a protective layer) and soothes the area where it is directed. In case of heartburn, it coats the layer of mucous that lines your stomach and thus creates a barrier against acid that could not find its way upto your esophagus.
- Slippery elm powder- 1-2 tsp
- Water/ warm water/ milk
- Add the slippery elm powder to water or milk whatever you are comfortable with.
- Stir it well to mix the powder completely into the water.
- You may have it 1-3 times a day depending upon the severity of your heartburn.
- Have this herbal drink after your meals and at bedtime.
5. Make Ginger Tea to Relieve Heartburn
If you want to get rid of nausea accompanying your heartburn, just make a cup of fresh ginger root tea that will soothe your stomach and give you the much wanted comfort. If nausea and heartburn become a regular feature of your life, you may also consider having a cup of fresh ginger tea before your meals. This helps your stomach in settling down as ginger acts as an acid buffer.
- Fresh ginger root- 1-2 inch piece
- Water- 1- 1/2 cup
- Wash and peel the ginger root and chop it in slices.
- Place the ginger pieces in a pot and pour water over it.
- Bring this water to a boil.
- Now reduce the flame and simmer it for about 10-15 minutes.
- Strain or you may let the ginger root into your tea only and chew them with your tea.
- Have this tea about 20-25 minutes before your meal.
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6. Eat Bananas to Get Rid of Heartburn
Bananas can be categorized as natural antacids as they lessen the effect of your acid reflux. This is enough a reason to have the tasty banana for getting relief from heartburn. High on potassium which is an alkalizing mineral with a pH of 14, banana helps in moderating the acidity of your stomach by increasing its pH. Higher the pH, lower is the acidity. However, you need to eat a ripe, preferably over ripe banana because the bananas that are green or are not over ripe contain potassium in the form of potassium nitrate and this can actually make your heartburn more painful. Potassium is not the only reason for bananas being such a good remedy for heartburn. Bananas also have such a chemical that stimulates your stomach lining and thus it produces more mucus to act as buffer against acid.
- Over ripe banana (with brown spots on it)
- Have one banana daily.
- This will keep your heartburn away.
7. Apples to Reduce Heartburn
Banana is not the only fruit that helps you with heartburn. The nutritious and tasty apples too come to your help when its about getting rid of heartburn. Apples can in fact, even reduce the symptoms of GERD, the chronic heartburn. This is because apple helps in producing an alkaline environment in your stomach so that the excessive acids get neutralized. This also helps in better digestion which is again a key to no heartburn. Not only does apple cure but also prevent heartburn. However, you need to eat sweet apples, preferably those that are organic. Tart apples won’t do any wonders.
Ways to have Apples to Avoid Heartburn
- Have half an apple after each of your meals.
- If you suffer from night heartburn, eat half an apple before you go to sleep.
- You may also have 1 tsp of raw organic honey or black strap molasses with half of your apple. Both of them are rich sources of potassium and help create an alkaline environment in your stomach. This will only increase the efficiency of apples in preventing heartburn.
- If you do not so much like to have apples, juice it. Add a little honey to your apple juice and have it.
Some apples may give you instant and better relief from heartburn than others. Therefore, keep on changing the varieties of apples to find out the one that is most soothing for your condition.
8. Melon for Heartburn Relief
Melon has a pH of 6.1 and therefore it can be counted as one of the good foods for heartburn. Some people, however may not respond well to melon and need to avoid it. So you can have some melon pieces everyday or make a smoothie with melon and other ingredients that are also good to cure heartburn. Here is one recipe for melon smoothie that also uses almond milk, cantaloupe, watermelon, ginger and banana. Almonds are also said to be a great remedy for heartburn as they neutralize stomach acid. While you can always snack on almonds, adding a few of them in this smoothie will not only make it tasty but will increase its efficacy in combating heartburn.
Make Melon Smoothie to Prevent Heartburn
- Almond Milk- 1 cup
- Watermelon pieces- 1/2 cup
- Cantaloupe melon- 1/2 cup
- Muskmelon- 1/2 cup
- Banana- 1
- Fresh ginger root- 1 inch piece
- Place all the above ingredients in your blender and blend them together.
- Have this every morning if you have a consistent problem of heartburn.
9. Use Fennel and its Seeds for Heartburn Cure
Fennel has a pH of 6.9 and thus is included in effective foods for heartburn relief. In fact, this herb is good not only for heartburn but many other diseases or conditions related to stomach problems such as indigestion, constipation, flatulence and bloating. Fennel has a volatile oil made up of such components as fenchone, trans-anethole, limonene and a-pinene. All these substances have carminative effect that provides soothing relief to your stomach and prevents all kinds of digestive disorders including heartburn. The crunchy vegetables as well as the seeds of fennel, both are effective for heartburn.
Ways to Use Fennel for Heartburn
- Chop the white bottom part of fennel in thin slices and add this to some arugula and baby spinach to make a wonderful salad.
- Use the vegetable in various dishes including chicken dishes.
- Snack on the crunchy fennel.
- Chew some fennel seeds after your meals for better digestion that will prevent heartburn.
- Take 1 tsp of fennel tincture thrice a day.
- You may also take half a teaspoon of liquid fennel extract every day. However, use either tincture or liquid extract and not both of them.
10. Parsley for Heartburn
Some people also find parsley to be effective in dealing with the symptoms of heartburn. This can be possibly due to the amino acid glutamine present in parsley. Glutamines have some anti-inflammatory properties and thus help reduce inflammation in intestine and acid reflux. Parsley is also included in an alkaline diet. Alkaline foods always neutralize acid and prevent heartburn.
- Use parsley for seasoning and garnishing your dishes.
- Use flat-leaf parsley to add flavor to your food preparation while cooking.
- Add parsley to your salads.
11. Marshmallow Can Heal Heartburn
The very popular herb marshmallow contains a mucilage property that helps coat your esophagus and stomach lining. This creates a protective barrier against stomach acid and you get rid of heartburn. What more, marshmallow can even repair the damage done to your food pipe and stomach lining by excessive acid.
Make Marshmallow Infusion for Heartburn
- Marshmallow root- 1 tbsp
- Water- 2 cups
- Place the marshmallow root in a pot or jar.
- Pour the water over it.
- Let it steep overnight.
- In the morning, drink this thick herbal infusion which would taste bitter-sweet.
Precaution: If you are taking some medication, consult your doctor before using any herb.
12. Use Carom Seeds to Relieve Heartburn
Carom seeds or ajwain as they are known in India, is an age old remedy for heartburn and other gastric problems. It is one of the finest Ayurvedic remedy for heartburn and gas. Carom seeds have anti-acidic properties and thus act as natural antacids. Thymol present in carom seeds act against acidity and gives you relief from heartburn. It also soothes the mucous membrane of your stomach.
Ways to Use Carom Seeds for Heartburn
- Take 1 tsp of carom seeds and add it to a pinch of black salt. Have it. If you can’t have it like this, gulp it with some water.
- Take 1-2 tsp of carom seeds and boil this in a glass of water for about 5-10 minutes. Strain and have this.
- Grind 1 tbsp each of carom seeds and cumin seeds to get their powder. Now add this to 1 tbsp of ginger powder. Have a pinch or two of this mixture after your meals.
13. Have Proper Diet- GERD Diet to Prevent Heartburn
Because the problem of acidity in your stomach, most often, starts with the foods you have, it is always better to include such foods in your diet that would not give your heartburn. However, there is not a standard GERD diet for everyone. You need to find out what suits your stomach and what doesn’t. For example, some people with continuous heartburn issues do not have any problems eating tomatoes whereas for some others, tomatoes are the triggers for heartburn. You need to do experimentation with your diet and may take suggestions of others in the process. There are some foods though that are said to be foods that avoid heartburn in most cases.
- Vegetables, preferably roots and greens like cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and beans.
- Fruits with low acid content like bananas, apricots, peaches, plums, pears, mangoes, berries and cherries.
- Cereals like bulgur wheat, and rice, particularly brown rice.
- Lean meat
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
- Have yogurt and pro-biotics as they aid indigestion.
- Avoid high fat and spicy foods.
- Avoid citrus fruits and tomatoes as well.
- Avoid chocolate as it contains an ingredient known as methylxanthine that relaxes the smooth muscle in your LES that can cause heartburn.
Experiment a lot and find out your own heartburn preventive diet.
14. Avoid Heartburn Triggers
Till now you know that there are certain foods that trigger heartburn. These are generally those foods that are high in acid such as citrus fruits and spicy foods. Avoiding these ‘trigger-foods’ may reduce the frequency of your heartburn occurrences. But again, your body is different and it will react differently to all foods. For some, yogurt can be a trigger food but it may not be so for you. Therefore, just like your own specific GERD diet, you need to find out the foods or even situations that trigger your heartburn. Here is a list of some common triggers that actually give rise to acid reflux in almost all people (but not in all people). So, try and avoid the foods that trigger your heartburn.
What to Avoid to Prevent Heartburn
- Avoid coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
- Avoid chocolates
- Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid mint
- Avoid citrus fruits and juices
- Avoid eating larger meals
- Avoid fatty, fried foods
15. Bring Lifestyle Changes to Get Rid of Heartburn
Wrong eating habits and certain other habits make it difficult for your body to digest food properly. There are some other lifestyle habits that lead to heartburn and you need to change them. Here is a list of such lifestyle changes that you must adopt if you want to get rid of heartburn.
- Drink lots of water during the day. It is good for proper digestion. Water dilutes gastric juices and help you avoid build up of excessive stomach acid.
- Always eat smaller meals so that you do not put pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter.
- Also have smaller bites while eating slowly. This lets your stomach work properly to digest the food you eat.
- Don’t go to sleep just after having your meal. Sleep after 2-3 hours of your dinner. This time is for your food to get digested so that you do not experience night time heartburn.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Extra body weight puts pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter which eventually loosens and become weak giving you heartburn every now and then.
- Quit smoking as it also makes your lower esophageal sphincter.
- Drink less alcohol for the same reason.
- Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes. Very tight jeans or belts, for example, will put undue pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter. This may trigger acid reflux.