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 are not sure what it is and will most likely assume the worst. Although heartburn can be very uncomfortable and can last for quite a while, the good news is it is not a life-threatening condition.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when the acid in your stomach rises up the digestive tube and begins to irritate the esophagus. When this happens, it results in a burning sensation in the chest, throat or upper abdominal areas.
Some people experience the pain in any one location, while others feel it spread throughout the area from the esophagus to the upper abdomen.
Heartburn can be acute and result from eating or drinking only certain types of foods or it may be chronic and persistent, where the painful sensation get triggered off after eating anything.
How Is Heartburn 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 focused on healing only heartburn.
What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn may be caused by several different factors. It could be due to excessive pressure in the stomach because of constipation or pregnancy, from eating too many citrus foods or some types of medications.
If you suffer from chronic heartburn, where it keeps occurring and you can’t get a handle on it, then just choosing these natural remedies may not be enough.
For chronic heartburn sufferers, it may be a better idea to start keeping a daily journal with a record of what you ate or did before you experienced the heartburn.
This will help you recognize any pattern and determine if is due to a medical condition such as 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 natural remedies that are very effective at reducing the incidence and intensity of heartburn.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural remedies for chronic heartburn.
Balancing out your pH levels and lowering the acidic levels in your stomach is the key to stopping the burning in chronic heartburn sufferers.
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar works quickly to improve the pH levels in the body, which should soothe the stomach and ease the painful heartburn sensations.
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.
If you decide to use apple cider vinegar, look for the unfiltered version so you get the benefits of the extra probiotics in it as well.
Dilute a teaspoon of unfiltered cider vinegar in a full glass of water and drink it all up. Let it sit for several minutes and wait to see if it helps. Repeat the process if needed.
For chronic heartburn, you might want to drink this before every meal, especially one that contains acidic ingredients.
Eating foods or beverages that contain apple cider vinegar also help with heartburn.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a great natural heartburn remedy especially for those who suffer from severe heartburn.
The baking soda neutralizes and soaks up the excess acid causing heartburn in your esophagus or stomach. It may not taste great, but it’s definitely worth a try if this is all you have access to or if other remedies aren’t working.
While baking soda is generally safe for the majority of people to ingest, some people may find it a little harsh depending on their sensitivity. Before using baking soda as a remedy for heartburn, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor first.
To use baking soda for heartburn, add half teaspoon of baking soda to about ¼ glass of water. Stir well and then drink the solution. You can drink a glass of this solution every few hours till the painful sensations have subsided.
Believe it or not, you can have yourself a licorice snack and it will help you with your heartburn! Licorice not only helps reduce the heartburn-causing acid in your stomach, but it also provides soothing relief from other issues with the digestive system.
The important thing here is that you eat the real, natural licorice and not the sweetened up variety that is mostly sugar or preservatives. 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 using licorice for heartburn relief, it is important to consume it in moderate quantities. Too much licorice could trigger adverse side effects and is inadvisable if you have high blood pressure.
As with any other remedy, before taking licorice to soothe heartburn make sure you consult with your doctor first.
4. Ginger Root
Ginger is one of the most powerful herbs for heartburn. Ginger is known to be very soothing and healing for the stomach and is commonly used for digestion relief, so it should come as no surprise that gingerroot can help with your heartburn as well.
Consuming ginger in the form of ginger tea is most effective for soothing heartburn. To make gingerroot tea, add a few slices of ginger to about 2 cups of water. Boil and let it simmer together. Remove the ginger before you drink the tea.
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.
Drinking a cup of ginger tea when you already have heartburn can help reduce the intensity of the pain. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you could help keep the symptoms at bay by drinking a glass of ginger tea a few minutes before eating a meal. This can help to keep the acid burn down quite a bit.
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
Slippery elm is another herb that you might want to try for helping with your heartburn. This might be an herb that you are less familiar with, but it is definitely at effective for this medical condition.
Slippery elm is a type of tree, but the entire tree isn’t used as an herbal remedy. It is just the inner part of the bark that has health benefits.
This part of the bark is used for several different medical conditions, from diarrhea and constipation, to urinary tract infections and bladder problems. It is very effective at soothing several different digestion issues, and yes, it can help with your heartburn too.
The extract from the inner tree bark of slippery elm helps to give thicken the 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 soothing acute symptoms.
6. Milk Thistle
Another excellent natural remedy for heartburn is milk thistle. 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, in addition to being an antioxidant.
Inflammation in the body is often associated with both acid reflux and heartburn, so it can be a good remedy if you suffer from either of these conditions.
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.
Milk thistle is really simple to use since you will usually get it in a pill form from your local drug store.
7. Apples & Bananas
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.
Apples and fruit in general are good for your general health anyway. Eating an apple every day can also help to reduce discomfort brought on by heartburn. If you enjoy sliced apple before bedtime, go for it. It’s a great way to keep heartburn at bay.
Bananas are also excellent for helping to ease the symptoms, 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 burning sensation.
8. Aloe Juice
Next up is the aloe plant! Aloe Vera 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, like tomato sauce on your pasta.
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.
You can also make your own aloe juice if you have leaves from an aloe plant. Simply scoop the gel out of the inside of the leaf by cutting it open. Save the scooped out gel it in a jar. Add about 2 teaspoons of the gel to a fruit juice of your choice, blend well and drink it just like any other juice.
9. Lemon Juice
While it is true that food sources such as citrus fruits that contain a lot of acid can lead to heartburn, some of them can balance out your pH levels. Lemon juice is one of these acids and it is a great choice of drink if you suffer from chronic heartburn. Having a little lemon juice when you have heartburn can work great for you.
When drinking lemonade as a cure for heartburn, it is best to avoid sugar altogether or add only very little if you must. Another way to soothe the symptoms of chronic heartburn is to add a couple of lemon slices to a glass of water and drink this before every meal. Try to choose organic lemons if you go this route as they are better for you.
Lemon also offers tons of extra health benefits as a bonus!
We’ve left the most unusual for last – not many people know that mustard can also help with 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.
Foods to Avoid
Also make sure that you are not eating or drinking things that can 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
The best way to find relief from painful heartburn sensations is to reduce your consumption of foods and drinks that trigger the symptoms and instead increase your intake of the natural remedies that soothe heartburn.
Have you tried any of these natural remedies for heartburn? Did it help? Let us know in the comments below.