Acid reflux, commonly known as heartburn, is a widely prevalent stomach disorder. Research shows that it is prevalent in about 20% of the Western population (1). This is especially worrisome as it can be extrapolated to our eating habits and dietary intake.
With the fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st century, we subject ourselves to unhealthy habits, such as eating fast foods and at odd hours, to the extent that we end up skipping meals. All of this can directly affect the digestive system.
This makes it necessary for you to closely monitor what you eat to prevent acid reflux. In this article, we will share tips and tricks to deal with this condition. You will also understand how it is caused and the lifestyle changes you can make to prevent acid reflux.
Table Of Contents
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, is a condition associated with the gastrointestinal tract. The stomach contains strong acids that help digest the food you eat.
Sometimes, this acid can rise back in your esophagus and cause a burning sensation in your gastrointestinal tract. This sensation can be felt in your chest, which is one reason it is also referred to as heartburn.
In some cases, people experience acid reflux more than two times a week. This could be an indication of a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease. This condition warrants immediate medical help.
Let us now take a look at some quick ways to get relief from acid reflux.
How To Get Quick Relief From Acid Reflux
Having acid reflux can come in the way of a lot of your daily activities. It can make you feel uneasy and also cause loss of appetite. Here are a few things you can do to get relief from acid reflux symptoms:
- Consider Wearing Loose-Fitting Clothes
Wearing loose clothes can help avoid the constriction caused by tighter clothes, thereby alleviating any discomfort and uneasiness that can arise.
- Stand Up At Regular Intervals
Standing up at regular intervals ensures that your stomach is not unusually distended.
- Refrain From Smoking
Smoking is injurious to health. Smoking can increase the risk of acid reflux and cause discomfort and pain in your esophageal tract.
- Take Over-The-Counter Medication
Consuming antacids easily available at the nearest chemist is a sure way to get immediate relief from acid reflux.
In the next section, we will explore a few natural ways that can help relieve your condition.
Natural Ways To Relieve Acidity And Heartburn
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) can be used as an antacid. It can help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux (including indigestion, bloating, and nausea) (2).
Take a glass of water and add a teaspoon of baking soda powder to it. Mix well and consume.
Note: Do not take baking soda on a full stomach. Do not use it for longer than two weeks unless your doctor advises so. Also, if you are on antacids, aspirin, iron, lithium, vitamins, or any other medication, or have high blood pressure, heart issues, or kidney disease, consult your doctor before going for this remedy.
2. Licorice Root
Licorice is an herbal remedy that is widely used in treating gastric inflammation as it has an inhibitory effect on the synthesis of prostaglandin and lipoxygenase, which may otherwise lead to acid reflux (3).
Heat a cup of water in a saucepan and add a few slices of dried licorice root to it. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Have this tea once a day to reduce acid reflux.
Note: Long-term consumption of licorice can result in side effects like low potassium levels, high blood pressure, weakness, and paralysis. If you are on medication for blood clotting, blood pressure, inflammation, or diuretics, avoid this remedy as licorice is known to interact with these medications and reduce their effectiveness.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a widely used plant in traditional medicine. Its juice can help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract that may cause acid reflux. The plant also helps soothe the tract (4).
You can consume half a cup of aloe vera juice 30 minutes before meals, twice a day, until you obtain relief.
Ginger has antacid and carminative properties and has been used for thousands of years to relieve gastric ailments like bloating, dyspepsia, and gastritis (5). It also accelerates gastric emptying, which may help relieve acidity and heartburn.
Grate an inch of ginger and add it to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. You can drink this ginger tea every day before your meals.
Note: If you are on medications for diabetes, blood clotting, or high blood pressure, make sure to consult your doctor before opting for this remedy.
5. Slippery Elm
Studies show that slippery elm is rich in phytochemicals that can have a demulcent effect against hyperacidity (6). This may help in relieving the discomfort that accompanies acid reflux.
Boil a cup of water. Add a tablespoon of powdered slippery elm bark to it and mix well. Drink this tea while it is warm.
Note: Slippery elm can decrease the effectiveness of your medications. Hence, ensure you take it an hour after your medication.
6. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are traditionally used to treat indigestion. They possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can inhibit the production of excess gastric acids (7). This, in turn, can prevent acid reflux.
Steep a teaspoon of caraway seeds in a glass of boiling water. Strain the water and consume it while it is warm. Drink this tea before and after meals to improve digestion.
Chamomile has been traditionally used for numerous gastrointestinal conditions, like flatulence, ulcers, and gastrointestinal irritation (8). It helps in soothing the stomach and acts as a digestive relaxant.
Steep a chamomile tea bag in a cup of boiling hot water. Drink the tea while warm. You can drink this tea 2-3 times a day.
Note: If you are allergic to plants from the daisy family, like daisies, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and ragweed, avoid chamomile.
8. Lemon Balm
The leaves of lemon balm are used for their carminative, digestive, and analgesic properties and to relieve gastrointestinal disorders (9). Hence, lemon balm may be helpful in relieving heartburn.
Add 5-6 lemon balm leaves to a glass of boiling hot water in the glass and cover it for about 5 minutes. Allow the leaves to steep. Drink the warm tea.
Note: If you are on diabetes or thyroid medication, talk to your doctor before trying this remedy.
9. Angelica Root
Angelica root exhibits carminative effects and can help in relieving dyspepsia (10). These effects may also help relieve heartburn.
Add a teaspoon of dried angelica root to a glass of boiling water. Allow it to steep and strain it. Drink the tea while it is warm.
Note: Avoid this remedy if you are pregnant as angelica can stimulate uterine contractions.
These were a few of the home remedies that can help relieve acid reflux. In the next section, we will look at the foods you need to avoid to prevent acid reflux.
What To Avoid
- Spicy and greasy foods.
- Processed or refined products, such as dairy products and chocolate
- Alcoholic drinks as they can have an adverse effect on the stomach lining and increase acidity.
- Limit the intake of caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
Apart from changing your food choices, making certain lifestyle changes can also help.
- Follow a balanced, low-carb diet.
- Eat at least 2.5 hours before going to bed.
- Have smaller but regular meals.
- Consider getting acupuncture done by a professional.
When To See A Doctor
If the symptoms of acid reflux last for more than seven days, consult a doctor. Sometimes, a case of acid reflux might be an indication of GERD, which is a more severe form of the condition. This requires immediate medical assistance and, in some rare cases, even surgical procedure is warranted.
We hope that you find the remedies helpful in relieving the symptoms of acidity and heartburn. However, if you experience discomfort or find no relief, we urge you to consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause for the condition.
Did you find this post informative? Let us know in the comments section below!
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can drinking milk help treat heartburn?
Milk can provide temporary relief from the acidity, but after a while, it can cause your stomach to produce more acid. Hence, it may not be a long-term solution.
Does chewing gum provide relief from heartburn?
Chewing gum stimulates saliva production in your mouth. This enables you to swallow down the acids that rise in your esophagus and may help relieve the discomfort.
- Diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Sodium Bicarbonate, MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
- Integrative Treatment of Reflux and Functional Dyspepsia in Children, MDPI, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Efficacy and safety of Aloe vera syrup for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a pilot randomized positive-controlled trial, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials, Food Science & Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Prebiotic Potential of Herbal Medicines Used in Digestive Health and Disease, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Caraway as Important Medicinal Plants in Management of Diseases, Natural Products and Bioprospecting, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future, Molecular Medicine Reports, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Melissa officinalis L: A Review Study With an Antioxidant Prospective, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Phytotherapy in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Digestive Diseases, Karger.
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