Digestive disorders are extremely common, uncomfortable, and increase in frequency as we age. Because even though we grow older, we do not become any wiser! We continue with our lazy lifestyle and unhealthy food habits with a lot of junk. And we end up with all possible ailments such as heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.
What Are Heartburn, Acid Reflux, And GERD?
Heartburn, a common symptom of acid reflux, is a burning sensation and a pain in your chest caused by acids that irritate the esophagus. This pain can easily be mistaken for a heart attack and is not dangerous if it occurs only once a while.
Acid reflux results when the muscle connecting the esophagus and the stomach weaken, resulting in the stomach acids moving back up toward the esophagus. Apart from heartburn, acid reflux also induces symptoms like cough and sore throat.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a severe and chronic version of acid reflux. You are very likely have GERD if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week and your esophagus is inflamed.
How To Treat Heartburn, Acid Reflux, And GERD
While acid reflux and heartburn can usually be resolved with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, GERD is more severe and requires proper medical intervention.
The drawback of any medication is that there’s a possibility of being addicted to them, they might make the situation worse, or they might just be temporary solutions. But a little magic at home can make the situation better! Avoid the medications or complement them with a few natural home remedies.
Natural Home Remedies For Acid Reflux And Heartburn
1. Try Probiotics
Acid reflux and heartburn can be treated by balancing gastric acids, which is what probiotics will do. The good bacteria in probiotics will remove harmful bacteria such as H pylori (which can cause acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD), reduce infections, treat acid indigestion, and also improve digestion.1
How to: You can have probiotics via supplements or through fermented foods such as cultured dairy products (yogurt and sour cream), fish (mackerel), or fermented veggies. Start small and decide the quantity based on how your body reacts.
2. Regulate Hydrochloric Acid Levels
One of the possible causes of heartburn and acid reflux is a low production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. You can regulate this with different foods:
- Natural high-quality sea salts such as the Himalayan salt have enough chlorine content to make your body produce more hydrochloric acid.2
- Cabbage juice is a good stimulant for the body to produce more acids.3
How to: Use Himalayan salt instead of regular salt while cooking. Drink a few teaspoons of normal or fermented cabbage juice made of sauerkraut.
3. Drink Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can provide quick relief from acid reflux. It will improve not only the stomach acid production but also your digestion.4
How to: Mix 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it every day.
4. Opt For Mastic
While low doses of mastic have been known to clear up stomach ulcers, higher doses might kill the H pylori bacteria.5 6
How to: Take up 3 g of mastic a day.
5. Drink Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice is calming and soothing and also reduces digestive disorders like heartburn and ulcers.7 However, ensure you use only fresh, organic aloe and not ready-to-use products to get optimum benefits.
How to: Take a small piece of fresh aloe, peel the skin, add water, blend, and drink every day.
6. Make Marshmallow Tea
Marshmallow, that sugary heavenly treat, is not just about the taste! It has a compound that provides a protective barrier for your intestines and soothes inflammation, thereby helping treat acid reflux.8
How to: Make a tea out of marshmallow and drink a cup every day.
7. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda has been a common home replacement for antacids in traditional medicines. It reduces ulcer pain and the levels of stomach acids and provide immediate relief from pain and inflammation.9 However, certain studies suggest that frequent usage of baking soda has adverse effects, especially on children.10 So consult your doctor before using this one.
How to: Mix 1 tsp of baking soda in a glass of water and drink every day.
8. Try Glutamine
Glutamine is a possible alternative to antibiotics. This nonessential amino acid reduces infection caused by H pylori bacteria, reduces inflammation, and protects you from further gastric damage. It is commonly found in foods such as beef, fish, chicken, dairy products, and particular fruits and vegetables and can also be taken in the form of supplements.11
How to: The amount of glutamine required varies from person to person. Ask your doctor for the dosage.
9. Eat Ginger
Ginger root is frequently used in traditional medicines such as Ayurveda for gastrointestinal issues. It fights against H pylori bacteria and has a gastroprotective effect on your stomach.12
How to: Chew on a fresh ginger root or make a tea with added honey and lemons. You can also include chamomile as it helps with digestion and might reduce the chances of acid reflux.
Other Treatment Options
Many other home remedies are recommended, but they lack scientific research and proof.
- B complex vitamins can contribute to the treatment of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. Studies have observed a pronounced B12 deficiency due to proton pump inhibitors in the elderly, which can be managed with vitamin supplementation.13
- Manuka honey is said to have a much stronger antibacterial influence on H pylori in the gut than other types of honey.
- Vitamin D is supposed to help reduce these infections with its antimicrobial activity.
Natural Home Remedies For GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a far more serious issue than heartburn and acid reflux that requires stronger medical care and attention. Home remedies cannot completely reverse or cure the damage inflicted on the esophagus at this stage. But they can definitely complement the medications.
1. Try Antioxidants
Oxidative stress on the esophageal mucosa is one of the major causes of GERD. While there are no studies focusing on antioxidant supplements for GERD, research shows that antioxidant therapy can substantially reduce ulcers. It may thus also be beneficial for GERD.14
How to: Eat foods rich in antioxidants such as berries and kidney beans. Get your blood tests done and check with your doctor to determine what nutrients you need.
2. Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin C
Taking a healthy amount of vitamin C will keep GERD, among other ailments, at bay. This effect is probably due to its antioxidant and antihistamine properties.15
How to: Get the dosage your body needs from your doctor. You can either take foods rich in vitamin C or supplements.
3. Drink Slippery Elm Tea
Slippery elm is a common ingredient used in traditional medicine to improve digestion and prevent GERD. This herb increases mucus secretion and coats the digestive tract, which might protect the gastrointestinal tract from ulcers and acidity. However, it might reduce the effectiveness of others medicines, so take this at least 2 hours before taking any pills.16
How to: Use 2 tbsp of the powdered bark of slippery elm to make tea and drink about 3 times a day. You can also take it in the form of supplements (about 400 g, 3 times a day).
4. Opt For Zinc Carnosine Supplements
This combination of two nutrients reduces any form of gastric inflammations, fights the H pylori infection, and also behaves like an antioxidant. All of these factors contribute to the treatment of GERD.17
How to: Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
5. Use Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root (DLR)
There are no studies directly linking DLR as a cure for GERD. However, it has been seen to increase mucous production, thereby treating gastric ulcers. Discuss with an alternative health care provider about how much of DLR you can include in your diet for GERD.18
How to: Decide on the dosage based on your doctor’s recommendation.
Other Treatment Options
Some GERD home remedy recommendations that lack scientific evidence or have contradictory proof are as follows:
- Peppermint is a frequently suggested remedy that might have contradictory effects on GERD. It can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is what restricts the backward flow of stomach acids.19
- Herbs such as caraway, garden angelica, greater celandine, milk thistle, and turmeric are supposed to help balance the stomach acids and relieve GERD.
- Chamomile and licorice, which work for heartburn and acid reflux, might also reduce GERD symptoms.
- Melatonin supplements might relieve heartburn and other symptoms in GERD.
- Acupuncture techniques might contribute to reducing GERD symptoms.
Your body is unique and different from every other person. You might react differently to each of these; some options might work for you and some might not. So consult your doctor before choosing any remedy and start off with small quantities.
When Should You Get Yourself Checked?
While the home remedies are natural and healthy, it might be harmful to solely depend on it and not go to your doctor. Get yourself checked if you experience the following symptoms:
- Severe and frequent heartburn that makes you feel like vomiting
- Pain while swallowing
- Sudden, unexpected weight loss
- A chronic and severe cough
- No relief from symptoms even after using OTC drugs for more than a week
- Chest pain with pain in the arms, legs, and neck
- Stomach pain
Lifestyle Changes To Treat GERD And Acid Reflux
Here are a few gradual lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and cure acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD:
- Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.
- Do not eat large and heavy meals.
- Avoid acidic food items such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and beverages like coffee and tea.
- Avoid or take tiny amounts of caffeine and chocolate.
- Eat fewer carbs.
- Do not lie down for 2–3 hours after a meal.
- Do not smoke.
- Sleep with your head elevated.
- Try relaxation techniques every day like meditation and deep breathing.
No matter how many herbs you take or how many types of medicines you try, if you do not follow a healthy lifestyle, it all boils down to nothing. Eat well but in control. You might let your body age before you’ve lived even half the life that you wanted to live. So take good care of yourself and don’t let there be a need for medicines as much as possible.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Gill, H. S., and F. Guarner. “Probiotics and human health: a clinical perspective.” Postgraduate Medical Journal 80, no. 947 (2004): 516-526.|
|2.||↑||Wright, Steven. “Healing Gastroparesis, Naturally….”|
|3.||↑||Left, Right Iris, Over Acid Stomach, and Under Acid Stomach. “The digestive system.” (2008).|
|4.||↑||Gear, Gavin M. “Orally ingestable medicament and method for treating a heartburn inducing event or an acid reflux episode in a living human subject.” U.S. Patent Application 12/583,041, filed February 17, 2011.|
|5.||↑||Dabos, Konstantinos J., Ekaterini Sfika, Lisa J. Vlatta, Despoina Frantzi, Georgios I. Amygdalos, and Georgios Giannikopoulos. “Is Chios mastic gum effective in the treatment of functional dyspepsia? A prospective randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 127, no. 2 (2010): 205-209.|
|6.||↑||Huwez, Farhad U., Debbie Thirlwell, Alan Cockayne, and Dlawer AA Ala’Aldeen. “Mastic gum kills Helicobacter pylori.” New England Journal of Medicine 339, no. 26 (1998): 1946-1946.|
|7.||↑||Qadir, M. Imran. “Medicinal and cosmetological importance of Aloe vera.” Int J Nat Ther 2 (2009): 21-26.|
|8, 19.||↑||Good, Different Is. “Peppermint and Marshmallow Gut Healing Tea.”|
|9.||↑||Illingworth, Charles Frederick William. “Peptic ulcer.” British medical journal 2, no. 4777 (1952): 206.|
|10.||↑||Nichols, Michele Holloway, Suman Wason, Javier Gonzalez Del Rey, and Mark Benfield. “Baking soda: a potentially fatal home remedy.” Pediatric emergency care 11, no. 2 (1995): 109-111.|
|11.||↑||Glutamine supplements show promise in treating stomach ulcers. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.|
|12.||↑||Siddaraju, Mugur N., and Shylaja M. Dharmesh. “Inhibition of gastric H+, K+‐ATPase and Helicobacter pylori growth by phenolic antioxidants of Zingiber officinale.” Molecular nutrition & food research 51, no. 3 (2007): 324-332.|
|13.||↑||Valuck, Robert J., and J. Mark Ruscin. “A case-control study on adverse effects: H2 blocker or proton pump inhibitor use and risk of vitamin B 12 deficiency in older adults.” Journal of clinical epidemiology 57, no. 4 (2004): 422-428.|
|14, 15, 17, 18.||↑||Meletis, Chris D., and Nieske Zabriskie. “Natural approaches for gastroesophageal reflux disease and related disorders.” Alternative & Complementary Therapies 13, no. 2 (2007): 64-70.|
|16.||↑||Slippery Elm. University of Maryland Medical Center.|