Do you sometimes feel a burning sensation in your throat, usually after a meal? You may be experiencing heartburn. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid moves back to the esophagus, causing discomfort in the chest and throat areas.
In most cases, heartburn can be triggered by eating certain types of food, including spicy, acidic, and fatty foods. Sometimes, it’s a symptom of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Also known as GERD, this is a long-term digestive disorder similar to heartburn that affects the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus. It occurs when stomach acid moves back to the esophagus repeatedly. This recurrent acid reflux irritates the esophageal lining.
Whatever the cause may be, heartburn is unpleasant, inconvenient, and painful. Your doctor may recommend antacids to relieve the pain. The best antacid works by neutralizing and reducing the acid in your stomach.
Aside from OTC medications, you can also try simple home remedies to alleviate and prevent heartburn symptoms. These include:
1. Baking Soda And Water
Mixing water and baking soda is an effective way to relieve heartburn. Baking soda works like an antacid—it neutralizes the stomach acid to calm the burning sensation.
For this simple remedy, you’ll need a teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of water. Mix the dry ingredient into the liquid until well dissolved. Then, drink the solution gradually.
For safety purposes, it’s best not to use this remedy frequently. This can cause further harm to your health. If there are persistent side effects, talk to your doctor immediately to determine whether to continue using this remedy.
2. Licorice Supplements
Licorice is one of the oldest herbal medicines that can help relieve heartburn symptoms. According to a 2020 study, licorice may help strengthen the mucus coating your esophagus, protecting it from stomach acid and letting it heal properly.
Licorice root supplements come in the form of deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). This means the root has undergone glycyrrhizin removal, a compound that may cause unwanted side effects when ingested.
However, taking too many licorice or DGL supplements may harm your health. It can boost blood pressure, interact with other medications, and reduce potassium levels. Consider talking to your doctor before taking DGL or licorice root supplements.
Ginger is one of the ancient Chinese herbal medicines that can help improve digestive health. This is why many believe it may also help treat heartburn.
You may include ginger when cooking your meals, especially in stir-fry recipes and other dishes. You can also make tea out of ginger. All you need to do is steep freshly-peeled ginger, ginger tea bags, or dried ginger in boiling water.
However, it’s worth noting that too much ginger may cause serious heartburn or other digestive problems. So, it’d be better to take it little by little.
Furthermore, avoid drinking carbonated ginger beverages, such as ales, to prevent heartburn. They don’t contain real ginger but mostly artificial ginger flavorings.
Studies suggest that chewing sugar-free gum may help relieve heartburn symptoms. This helps stimulate saliva production, which can clear and dilute the acid from your esophagus.
However, the results are only based on 31 participants, meaning the evidence isn’t strong enough to draw conclusions. More studies are needed to determine whether chewing gum can help relieve heartburn symptoms.
Chewing gum may also help treat other digestive disorders. However, it can make others worse, so make sure to consult your doctor before trying this remedy.
5. Ripe Banana
Banana is high in potassium, making them a relatively alkaline food. This means it can help combat the effects of stomach acid in your esophagus. However, choose ripe ones because unripe bananas are less alkaline and may cause acid reflux.
Aside from ripe bananas, you can also try other foods that may help relieve heartburn, including nuts, fennel, and melons.
6. Quit Smoking
If you’re smoking, it’s time to stop it. Smoking interferes with saliva production, making the symptoms of heartburn even worse. This is because the mouth doesn’t have enough saliva to dilute the acid in the esophagus. When you quit smoking, the frequency of heartburn and acid reflux may be reduced—or even eliminated.
7. Adjust Your Sleep Position
Your sleep position helps a lot in preventing acid reflux. To prevent acid from coming up your esophagus, elevate your head slightly when you sleep. Some recommend using wedge pillows to achieve this effect. If possible, your head and chest must be slightly higher than your feet as you sleep.
Heartburn is a painful and uncomfortable condition caused by stomach acid that moves back to the esophagus. You can treat heartburn with simple home remedies, such as ginger, sugar-free gum, ripe bananas, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and licorice root. However, if heartburn symptoms persist, consult your doctor immediately.