Natural Home Remedies For Acid Reflux
Heat, pressure… like something is clawing the inside of your chest, striving to get out. You have gas, bloating, and it seems to move up and down.
However, chances are you have heartburn, clinically known as acid reflux. You are over 300 times more likely to have heartburn than a heart attack. Nearly 10% of all Americans have some form of heartburn every week!
If it’s your first time feeling this sensation, it can be a little scary. Taking care now and choosing dietary and natural remedies can reduce and may even eliminate experiencing it again!
Types of Acid Reflux
Whatever is causing the burning in your stomach, acid reflux is uncomfortable, painful, and could cause serious health problems.
Many people occasionally experience heartburn, where the lower esophageal sphincter opens up a little and allows some stomach acid to move into the esophagus. We’ll tell you about some of the causes in a little bit.
But, if you experience heartburn more than twice a week, it becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. If left untreated, GERD can lead to other health problems, including narrowing of the esophagus, swallowing difficulties, esophageal cancer, bleeding, and a condition known as Barrett's esophagus.
If you do experience heartburn occasionally, it’s best to start taking steps now to avoid some of the triggers. Heartburn is not healthy and can easily be controlled.
The Real Causes of Acid Reflux
For the vast majority of people, acid reflux happens because we're abusing our bodies. The most common causes include eating foods that cause irritation or overeating. Other causes include:
- Eating overly large meals / being stuffed
- Lying down right after a meal
- Being overweight or obese
- Habitually bending at the waist, instead of from the knees
- Eating before going to sleep
- Eating foods that contain a lot of acid, digestive irritants, fat, or bacteria
- Wheat products and processed foods
- Alcohol, sodas, coffee, or tea
- Taking pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications
- Not enough stomach acid
- Poor gut bacteria
Just by looking at this list, you can probably guess the best way to avoid heartburn is to eat smaller meals, keep a healthy weight, and focus on eating vegetables.
Pregnancy is also a significant triggering factor for heartburn. Over half of pregnant women experience heartburn, especially in the last trimester. With the varying hormones, shifting internal organs, and the miracle of growing life, the stomach has a difficulty functioning normally. Fortunately, many of the home remedies work to relieve the symptoms, are safe for pregnant women, and after the birth, most heartburn is eliminated.
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux You Can Do Right Now
Most people experience heartburn occasionally, and this is the best time to make changes to avoid future problems. We don’t recommend popping an over-the-counter antacid, because although it neutralizes stomach acid at the moment, it increases your risk of future heartburn and esophagus problems. And proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like omeprazole (Prilosec), can make reflux excruciatingly painful if you try to go off them.
Here are some of the steps you can start working on right now to eliminate acid reflux in the future.
Proper Diet/Lose Weight
Eating a healthy diet encourages the body to function normally because it provides nutrition to be healthy and build healthy muscles. Focus your diet so you eat mostly fruits and vegetables, with just a little bit of meat and 100% whole grains.
Many of the triggering foods for acid reflux are processed foods. Wheat-based foods, ones that contain a lot of sugar, or are artificially or excessively spiced tend to trigger heartburn. It's no surprise, then, processed foods, sugary treats, and wheat products are also implicated in increasing your risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a special place helping us be healthy. Many people who added apple cider vinegar in small quantities to their diet claim the addition of acid helps them digest food better and reduce the chances of experiencing heartburn and acid reflux.
You can start by drinking 8 oz of water with 1/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added right before you eat a meal. Not only will the water help you feel full faster, which can help you lose weight, the acid helps trigger your stomach to begin releasing its digestive enzymes and acids.
Cut out soda, coffee, alcohol, beer
Water is the healthiest liquid we can drink. It's what our bodies crave. But, if you’re not getting enough water because you’re drinking other fluids, you might not be getting exactly what you need.
Soda and coffee are very acidic, but not in the good way that apple cider vinegar is. What they do contain is lots of sugars and other irritants that aren’t good for our health. They are very irritating to the membranes of our mouth, esophagus, and stomach, and drinking them on an empty stomach is quite irritating.
Alcohol brings its own set of problems. Beer, especially, is irritating because of the wheat and yeast. The alcohol can encourage unhealthy bacteria to grow, like the candida yeast, and may promote the H. pylori bacteria that causes ulcers to flourish.
Herbs for Acid Reflux
While you start changing your diet for the better, there's a couple of herbs that can help soothe your esophagus and help you digest food better. Most of these you can find in tea form, and others are found in supplements.
Marshmallow (slippery elm)
Marshmallow and slippery elm help encourage the mucous membranes of your mouth, esophagus, and stomach to produce the protective layer of mucus that protects the delicate flesh from the acids. Adding small amounts of these herbs to different dishes encourages the body to produce more protective mucus.
Both of these herbs work very well for helping to calm down heartburn, but if you experience allergies that cause you to produce mucus in your sinuses excessively, you might find the marshmallow and slippery elm increases that production, as well.
Licorice also helps increase mucus production and reduce inflammation, especially within the digestive system. It may also help encourage the healing of your stomach lining and suppress the growth of the H. pylori bacteria.
You want to make sure to get the deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). The glycyrrhizic acid taken continuously over time can increase blood pressure.
Heartburn and acid reflux can cause a lot of inflammation and oxidative stress to happen within the stomach and esophagus. The extract of turmeric, curcumin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have shown that curcumin helps prevent esophageal inflammation.
The best way to get more turmeric is to add it to your meals. Combining turmeric with black pepper increases your ability to absorb and utilize the nutrients of turmeric, particularly the curcumin. By using turmeric as a food, rather than opting for a high concentration of individual supplements, you avoid some of the side effects of supplementation that include low blood sugar and blood thinning.
Many people have relaxed with a good cup of chamomile tea, and know of its relaxing properties. Chamomile can help reduce your stress levels as it’s a nervine that helps calm and relaxed us and may ward off depression. It may also help offset the acidity in your stomach. In fact, and some studies shows that chamomile extracts lower gastric acidity just as well as some of the commercial antacids. And, it was more effective at preventing secondary hyperacidity.
Chamomile is suitable for most people, but if you have an allergy to daisies and flowers in the aster family, you may want to avoid chamomile altogether.
And no list would be complete without talking about ginger. Ginger is the safest herbs for digestive problems, safe enough that even pregnant women can eat it. Plus, it works just as well if not better then commercial anti-nausea remedies.
In smaller, regular doses, ginger is an anti-inflammatory, which can reduce the irritation from acid reflux. Physiologically, ginger may be able to reduce the amount of acid getting to your esophagus because the phenolic compounds help relieve gastrointestinal irritation and reduce gastric contractions.
Many people use ginger to reduce irritation from arthritis. More importantly, ginger works very well as an anti-nausea remedy and can help keep your stomach calm.
Supplements for Acid Reflux
There are some supplements that can help reduce acid reflux.
L-glutamine helps reduce inflammation, which can help keep your esophagus intact. L-Glutamine is also used quite often to reduce irritation from IBS and other intestinal disorders.
The amino acid glutamine aids in maintaining the gut barrier function, mostly by supporting mucus production. It also may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol and make you feel more calm.
When you don’t produce enough stomach acid, your food doesn’t get digested properly. The key concept behind that is the pH in the stomach is simply not low enough to produce the results of adequately digested food.
Adding betaine HCl is a solution to that. It’s a combination of betaine, a natural component in plants, and a hydrochloride molecule. Research shows betaine HCl adjusts the acid content of the stomach to a healthy, productive level. That means you can properly break down food, reducing the chances of it regurgitating into the esophagus.
Over time with this supplement, you help reestablish your stomach acid production, digest food properly, remove irritants that cause esophageal inflammation and start to heal.
You should not use betaine HCl if you are taking inflammation medications, such as steroids, NSAIDs, or other types of drugs. You should always take betaine HCl with digestive enzymes, especially pepsin.
This supplement was used for centuries as a folk remedy, and now being researched into how it helps people. Reports from people show it helps reduce stomach pain and irritation, helps balance gut bacteria, and increases the absorption of nutrients.
Some studies show that ox bile increases the health of animals. Of course, many studies show healthy bile production in people correlates to being healthy. We believe ox bile supplements help our body properly digest foods.
We produce numerous enzymes to help us digest food, with four of them being the highest concentration. Amylase breaks down sugars; protease breaks down proteins; cellulase breaks down cellular tissue; and lipase breaks down fats. Most of these enzymes work in our mouth, esophagus, and stomach. And when combined with good chewing action, our food is broken down so the stomach can easily do its job.
When you take digestive enzymes supplements, you help the body digest better. Without having to work so hard and having so many irritants come from whole chunks of food in your stomach and esophagus, your chances of having reflux get smaller.
Probiotics work in your digestive system to help break down food and release nutrients. Good probiotics benefit us, one less desirable bacteria and yeast can cause problems.
Having the right balance of gut bacteria helps reduce inflammation throughout your digestive system. It's not going to work specifically to reduce inflammation in the esophagus, but it will help digest food and protect the lining of your digestive system from undesirable bacteria. The right probiotics in your stomach may help prevent ulcers by crowding out the H pylori bacteria.
Wrapping Up Acid Reflux
Using a combination of eating lots of vegetables, drinking good water, and taking useful herbs and supplements that encourage the body to reduce inflammation and digest food properly can reduce and eliminate acid reflux. Many of these steps you can start right now and others you can begin to soon by visiting a good herb shop.
- Joshua Lovern