Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Some of the symptoms, however, are similar to those of a heart attack or heart disease. Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid. This can create a burning discomfort in the upper abdomen or below the breast bone. Some people say ‘don’t eat so much’ or ‘don’t eat so fast’. Others blame spicy foods, while others still blame acids. But the long-term goal of everyone is the same: how to pinpoint – and avoid – your personal heartburn triggers.
Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach (esophagus).
- Normally when you swallow, a band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then the muscle tightens again.
- If the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus (acid reflux) and cause heartburn. The acid backup may be worse when you’re bent over or lying down.
Home Remedies for Heartburn
There are a number of natural remedies you can implement at home to rid yourself of the discomfort that comes with heartburn. Many of these solutions are very cost-effective as well.
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea prompts your stomach to digest your food at a healthy rate while reducing the amount of toxins in our digestive tract. Drink a cup or two after a large meal to calm your stomach down and relax your body.
2. Fennel Tea
Boiled fennel seeds are a great way to rid the body of heartburn. Fennel is also beneficial for cleaning out the liver and reducing fluid retention. Ingredients like basil oil and powdered ginger can be added to the tea to make it more effective. You can also drink the tea with an apple or celery slices about an hour before bed for comfortable sleep and a calm stomach.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, provides quick and easy relief from heartburn. Being a natural antacid, it works within minutes, giving you relief from heartburn pain.
- Just mix one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.
- Drink it for instant relief. You can also mix a few drops of lemon juice in this solution.
4. Cold Water
A glass of cold water can balance the acid production in your stomach to reduce heartburn. Drinking a cup of water before or after a meal aids in digestion, which could help to reduce heartburn and acid reflux. It’s important to make sure the water isn’t too cold, however, since the temperature of the beverage could slow down the metabolism.
Fresh ginger provides relief from heartburn in two ways – it absorbs acid in the stomach and helps calm the nerves that contribute to heartburn.
- Add one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to one cup of boiling water.
- Let it steep for a few minutes.
- Drink this herbal tea several times a day.
If you suffer from acid reflux that causes heartburn, vinegar can trigger the sphincter below the esophagus to close, thus preventing acid from rising. Of all the different types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar usually works best.
- Simply add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
- Drink it before each meal.
7. Aloe Vera Juice
The juice extracted from the aloe vera plant is a popular home remedy for heartburn. Aloe vera juice controls heartburn by reducing inflammation and healing the gastrointestinal tract.
- For best results, drink one-quarter cup of the juice about 20 minutes before eating a meal.
- Be careful not to drink too much of it in one day as it can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Potatoes are ideal for keeping the acid down in your stomach, and can easily be combined with celery for a small anti-heartburn snack before or after a large meal. Steam or boil a handful of potato pieces with vegetable or chicken broth, and add a few pieces of celery or a tablespoon or so to the potatoes for extra heartburn-fighting power.
Apples have a natural tendency to balance stomach acid as well. Even if you only consume a slice or two of the fruit after a large meal, this can get rid of heartburn quickly. Gala apples are a particularly effective heartburn remedy.
An old and popular method of relieving heartburn symptoms is to eat an unripe banana. It’s a relatively mild flavor and has an absorbent quality that some sufferers swear by. You might combine the banana with a drinkable remedy like milk or Pepto Bismol to double the efficacy.
The oil content in almonds naturally reduces the acid in your stomach, particularly after you’ve eaten a meal that is high in sugar, fat or spices. Eat a handful of raw almonds after your meal to keep heartburn at bay.
12. Cabbage Juice
Cabbage juice has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate various kinds of digestive problems including heartburn.
- Grind fresh cabbage and two carrots in a blender or juicer.
- Drink one-half cup of this juice in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent heartburn.
You can also try juices made from vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radishes or beets to reduce the production of stomach acid that is a primary cause of heartburn.
Drinking a glass of chilled milk can be a simple solution for early or mild heartburn symptoms. Milk relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus. If you don’t have milk, you can try other types of dairy products. This home remedy is best for people who experience heartburn on rare occasions.
14. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm has been used medicinally for centuries to treat different types of diseases including heartburn. It will thicken the mucous lining in your stomach, thereby creating an effective barrier against acid.
- Add one teaspoon of slippery elm powder to a cup of hot water.
- Drink it after meals and at bedtime.
Garlic is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, so it can naturally clean your intestines and prevent bloating. Even though garlic tends to have a spicy bite to it, the herb can effectively treat heartburn.
- Eat a clove or two after your meal, or add raw garlic to your food to prevent heartburn from developing.
- You can also create a broth made of fresh garlic, water and basil and eat it like a soup to combat your heartburn.
16. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum after meals can increase the saliva that you swallow, helping to promote healthy digestion and calm your stomach. It will also freshen your breath and keep your mouth clean. Make sure the gum is sugar-free and chew it regularly to promote healthy saliva flow through your digestive system.
How to Prevent Heartburn
Avoid amoking. Smoking triggers heartburn flare-ups. If you’re a smoker and you experience regular heartburn, try to quit and you’ll likely notice a difference in your heartburn’s regularity very quickly.
Pay attention to your stress levels and exercise more. Excess levels of stress have been linked to heartburn, because a lack of physical activity can negatively affect your digestion, often resulting in heartburn. To maintain good mental and physical health, try and establish a regular light exercise routine and avoid over-eating to keep yourself heartburn free.
- Try walking regularly, or start riding a bike when you get the chance to get yourself up and moving. Do a few sit-ups and push-ups a day and avoid an expensive gym membership. You might be surprised at the difference just a few sit-ups a day will yield.
Cut the pills and supplements. If you’re taking a large quantity of supplements or pills for other symptoms regularly, it can be hard for your stomach to break them down. Taking lots of pills will make your stomach produce more acids, sometimes resulting in an excess that can start wearing away at your lining, causing ulcers and other stomach problems. Avoid particularly:
- Cod liver oil
- Osteoporosis medication
- Blood-pressure meds
Monitor your acidic foods. One of the biggest culprits of acid reflux and heartburn is the eating of acidic and spicy foods, especially in large quantities and especially right before going to sleep. Try and regulate your consumption of especially spicy foods to keep heartburn at bay. Watch out especially for:
- Hot peppers and black pepper
- Tomato-based foods
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- When heartburn symptoms become severe, keep you up at night, or occur at least twice a week, you may have Acid Reflux Disease. If not controlled, this can lead to esophageal cancer. If heartburn persists, it is advisable to see a doctor.
- If taking baking soda to get rid or heartburn, remember that this chemical has a large amount of sodium. If you are on a low-sodium diet try to use alternative, non-sodium antacids.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals to minimize the production of stomach acid. And avoid eating too much in one sitting; doing so can force open the lower esophageal sphincter, the thick ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus and keeps stomach acid where it belongs.
- You might also raise the head of your bed 10-15cm with large wooden blocks or old phone books. When you sleep tilted at an angle, gravity helps to keep acid in the stomach.
- Chew food properly. It helps if you count your chews or savoring the taste.
- Wear loose fitting clothes around the abdomen.