If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night with burning pain that radiates from your throat down to your upper abdomen, then you know what heartburn feels like. It can be scary the first few times, because you often assume it is much worse than it is. But even though it isn’t a serious condition, it can be very uncomfortable and sometimes last for quite a while.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when the acid in your stomach starts to irritate the esophagus. You might experience the burning in your chest, throat, or upper abdomen area. Some people experience the pain in one location, while others have it throughout this entire general area. Heartburn can be acute, where it is only from eating or drinking certain things. However, some people experience chronic heartburn, where it keeps continuing.
How is it Different From Acid Reflux?
Heartburn is often confused with acid reflux, but these are two different conditions with different causes and different side effects. You can have them both simultaneously, or just one of them at a time. With acid reflux, the burning sensation actually comes from acid coming back up from your stomach to your esophagus. This causes a burning in your throat area, often stinging more than with heartburn.
Acid reflux itself can cause heartburn, but it can also lead to a sore throat, cough, and a sour or bitter taste in your mouth. Some of these remedies may help with acid reflux, but they are mostly reserved for heartburn only.
What Causes Heartburn?
It is typically caused by things like pressure in the stomach from constipation or pregnancy, from eating too many citrus foods, or from sleep or various medications. If you are getting chronic heartburn, where it keeps continuing to return and you can’t get a handle on it, then just choosing these natural remedies may not be enough.
In that case, it is better to start keeping a journal of when you experience heartburn so you can see if there is a pattern. You should be able to tell if it is from a medical condition like GERD or acid reflux, if you are eating something that causes it, or if it might be from the medications you are taking.
Luckily, many of the remedies for heartburn are completely natural and healthy for you. They range from taking certain herbs to eating or drinking remedies that are good for reducing the pain associated with heartburn. Here are some of the top remedies that will put a stop to the heartburn.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is a popular option for people who tend to get chronic heartburn. What you want to do when you have heartburn regularly is try to balance out your pH levels. You need to lower the acidic levels in your stomach in order to stop the burning, which is what you can do with apple cider vinegar. While this is a type of acid, it actually helps to improve that pH level and hopefully make you feel a little bit better.
You still want some acid in your stomach, but it should be a pH level of about 2-3, not over 5 which is common with people who have regular bouts of heartburn.
Make sure if you decide to use apple cider vinegar, you get it unfiltered so that you have extra probiotics in it as well. You can dilute it with some water and drink a full glass of it. Let it sit for several minutes to wait to see if it helps. Repeat the process if needed. For chronic heartburn, you might want to drink this before every meal that is going to contain acidic ingredients.
You can also try other foods or beverages that contain apple cider vinegar, like adding to a natural juice you have made. Apples are also good with heartburn, so you might make your own apple juice and add some of the apple cider vinegar in there as well.
2. Baking Soda
For more of the severe cases of heartburn, baking soda is usually a good option. The baking soda is going to help soak up some of that acid and help to neutralize the extra acid causing heartburn in your esophagus or stomach.
It might not taste great, but definitely give it a try if other remedies aren’t working or this is all you have access to. What you want to do is add just a half teaspoon of baking soda to about ¼ glass of water. Stir it to combine and then drink the water. Like the apple cider vinegar, you can repeat this if you need to.
Believe it or not, you can have yourself a licorice snack and it will help you with your heartburn. The thing here is that you want to have the real licorice, not licorice that is mostly sugar or preservatives. Licorice not only helps to lower the acid in your stomach leading to the heartburn, but it can also provide a natural way to heal other issues going on in your digestive system.
Just be aware that too much licorice can have some bad side effects. You should only eat a moderate amount of licorice when you have heartburn. If you have high blood pressure already, licorice might not be your best option.
The regular black licorice is usually the best option. It might not be an acquired taste for everyone, so don’t get a big package if you’re not sure if you will like it. Remember this is not the same as the red licorice snack you might be used to.
When it comes down to herbs for heartburn, ginger is one of the best ones for you. You may already be aware that ginger is great for digestion and many other problems with your health in general, so it should come as no surprise that gingerroot can help with your heartburn as well.
Ginger is very soothing and healing for the stomach, with ginger ale being a popular beverage for people with nausea and other stomach problem. However, for heartburn, gingerroot tea is actually what will help the most. You want to make this tea either when you already have heartburn, or shortly before eating a meal. This can help to keep the acid burn down quite a bit.
This works best when you use fresh gingerroot, which can be found at any supermarket or natural food store in the produce or herbs section. To make gingerroot tea, add a few slices of gingerroot to about 2 cups of water, then let it simmer together. Remove the ginger before you drink the tea.
You can also try adding more ginger to other foods and recipes if you’re not too sure about drinking the tea. Just make sure you are using fresh gingerroot, as this is where a lot of the health benefits come in when using it for heartburn.
5. Slippery Elm
Another herb that you might want to try for helping with your heartburn is called slippery elm. This might be an herb that you are less familiar with, but it is definitely at effective for this medical condition. Slipper elm is a type of tree, but the entire tree isn’t used for an herbal remedy. It is just the inner part of the bark that has health benefits.
This part of the bark is used for many different medical conditions, from diarrhea and constipation, to urinary tract infections and bladder problems. It is very effective at many different digestion issues, and yes, can help with your heartburn.
The way it helps is that the extract from the inner tree bark of slippery elm can help to give you a thicker lining in your stomach, helping to protect it against acid in the future. This is why it is usually recommended as a long-term remedy if you have chronic heartburn, as opposed to just being given if you get acute cases of it.
6. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is really simple to use since you will usually get it in a pill form from your Health Food store, so there is nothing to eat or drink to benefit from this remedy. Milk thistle is a type of herb that helps to reduce inflammation in the body and also is used as a detox for the liver, plus being an antioxidant.
Inflammation in the body is often associated with both acid reflux and heartburn, so it can be a good remedy for you. In addition to giving you relief for heartburn and acid reflux, milk thistle can also help with lowering your cholesterol and be used to reduce inflammation in other parts of your body, such as from arthritis.
If you just want to eat something delicious that also has the added benefit of helping with your heartburn, then you’re in luck! Two fruits that are perfect for helping with heartburn are bananas and apples.
You know the old adage ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away?’ – the same can be said for helping with heartburn. Apples, and fruit in general, are already good for your general health. But having an apple every day can also help to reduce discomfort brought on by heartburn, especially if you enjoy sliced apple before bedtime.
Bananas are also excellent for helping with heartburn, thanks to their natural antacids. Having a banana before a meal with acid can help to create a barrier in your stomach that reduces that heartburn.
8. Aloe Juice
Aloe is often used to help with sunburns, cuts, and scrapes, but this same healing tree can also be used for heartburn. Aloe has the ability to reduce inflammation in your stomach lining and esophagus, which is often where the burning sensation comes from. It is best to drink it shortly before or after a meal that you think will cause heartburn.
You can get a bottle of aloe vera juice in your supermarket or health food store, but make sure it look for a natural, organic juice. You don’t need the added sugar.
9. Lemon Juice
While it is true that food sources with a lot of acid, like citrus fruits, can lead to heartburn, some of them can balance out your pH levels. Lemon juice is one of these acids, so it is good to have if you suffer from chronic heartburn.
There are also tons of extra health benefits to lemon juice, like lots of vitamin C and plenty of antioxidants. Having a little lemon juice when you have heartburn can work great for you.
Be careful of lemonade, which is mixed with a lot of sugar, as it isn’t necessary and might not help as much as just lemon juice. You can also try adding some slices of lemon to your water and drink this before meals. Try to choose organic lemons if you go this route as they are better for you.
Believe it or not, mustard can also help with your heartburn! Mustard is an alkalizing food, which means it helps to balance out the pH levels of acid in your stomach and esophagus that lead to heartburn. It is a weak acid, similar to vinegar, so it won’t make the acid worse but balance it out a little better. Plus, mustard is easy to add to different dishes, whether you use bottled mustard, the powdered form, or even mustard seeds.
While it may be tart and not sound super appealing, just a teaspoon of mustard you eat straight from the bottle can do wonders for heartburn.
What to Avoid
Also make sure that you are not eating or drinking things that will cause heartburn to occur more often. This includes:
Citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges
Oil-based salad dressing
Beer, liquor, and wine
Some types of tea
Grains like pasta