Stomach acid reflux is a most unpleasant sensation that can leave you with a hoarse, burning throat and even cause you to lose your appetite. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, over 60 million American have some form of heartburn one or more times a month.1 Yet, the thought of taking any medication for this problem is off-putting for many of us. So, are there natural remedies that you can try for stomach acid reflux? Here are some answers!
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) cause fluids and food in your stomach or acidic stomach juices to back up into your esophagus.2 Anyone from a little infant to an older adult can be affected by this problem. If you have frequent episodes, you may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Besides re-tasting your food after you finish a meal or snack (called acid regurgitation), you may experience3:
- A chronic sore throat
- Sudden increase in saliva
- Hoarseness in the throat
- Gum inflammation
- Bad breath
In addition to these, if you experience chest pain, you should get medical attention as soon as possible. Frequent vomiting, loss of appetite, choking/shortness of breath, pain/difficulty swallowing, and feeling very full very quickly while eating are other reasons to call your doctor.4
Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux And Heartburn
Cultivate The Right Food Habits
Certain foods are known to cause problems for those with heartburn or acid reflux and avoiding them is always a good idea. In addition, certain natural remedies for heartburn are commonly available ingredients from your larder, so adding them to your diet shouldn’t be too difficult. Here’s what you can try.
1. Have Ginger
Aside from being a digestive aid, ginger is known to help with gastric emptying as well. This can reduce the problem of acid reflux.5 Grate some into your next recipe and let the warm heat light up your taste buds too.
2. Enjoy Pineapple
Because of its acidic taste on the palette, it may seem counterintuitive to have pineapple. But pineapple is actually good for acid reflux. Like ginger, it helps intestinal motility, with the enzyme bromelain aiding digestion of your food. Drink pineapple juice or have the cut fruit in a salsa or just enjoy it plain. It’s also loaded with nutrition – another plus! You’ll get plenty of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, sodium, and vitamins B and C.6
3. Soothe Your Stomach With Bananas
Bananas are natural antacids, helping neutralize stomach acids and alleviating heartburn. Leucocyanidin, a flavonoid in bananas, increases the thickness of your stomach’s mucous membrane, easing the problem. Combine bananas with milk in a drink or eat them like a dessert to suppress the acid secretion by your stomach.7 However, if dairy is a food trigger for your GERD or GER due to its fat content, then avoid the milk.
4. Chew Some Gum
Chewing gum increases saliva production and counters the effect of the acid in your stomach. Pick a low-calorie, sugar-free variant and see if it helps. In one research study, patients with acid reflux were asked to chew gum for 30 minutes after consuming a meal with reflux-inducing foods. Chewing the sugar-free gum helped reduce postprandial acid reflux occurring right after a meal.8
5. Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a soothing beverage that can ease indigestion and help with your acid reflux too. It is believed to help cut down acid output and also stimulate the secretion of mucin, a slimy material that can protect the lining of your digestive system.9
6. Don’t Eat Tomatoes Or Tomato Products
Owing to their acidity, tomatoes and tomato-based foods or products like pasta sauces, purees, ketchup, tomato juice, or canned tomatoes could be a problem for some people. This is why the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases cautions against having them if you have acid reflux.10
7. Pass Up The Peppermint
Trade in those after dinner mints or peppermint ice cream for something else. As refreshing as it may seem, peppermint can make GER or GERD worse.11
8. Avoid Fatty Foods
If you consume food that’s high in fat, like fatty red meat, fried foods, or greasy fast food, your body will take more time to rid itself of stomach acids. The surplus stomach acid that’s lingering could leak backward into your esophagus, causing the unpleasant acid reflux you’re trying to avoid.12
9. Say No To Spicy And Greasy Food
Heavily spiced food, especially when it is greasy, is better avoided. Consuming such food is hard on the stomach and causes it to work overtime. This worsens your chances of controlling your acid reflux problem.13
Make These Lifestyle Changes
Certain causes of acid reflux or indigestion can be brought under control with some lifestyle changes.
1. Switch to 4 to 6 Light Meals
You should try and reduce the load on your stomach and digestive system by cutting down the volume of food intake in one sitting. Do this by switching to a regimen of 4 to 6 mini meals instead of the traditional three large meals every day.14
2. Work At Losing Excess Weight
If you are obese or overweight, it can increase the pressure on your stomach and cause the muscles at the bottom of your esophagus to weaken, a combination that is perfect for acid reflux.15
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking can cause your muscles at the base of the esophagus to relax, making it easier for the acid or stomach contents to make their way up.16
4. Cut Down On Alcohol, Caffeine, And Chocolate
Alcohol too can cause similar relaxation of the muscles at the base of your esophagus.17 Avoid or cut down on caffeine and chocolate for the same reason.18
5. Have Plenty Of Fluids With Medicines
If you’re on any medication, do consume lots of water with them. Always check with your doctor on whether a new one that you’re taking will cause your heartburn to get worse. Pain relief medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are known offenders.19
Take Up Yoga
Stress is one of the many causes of acid reflux.20 It follows that by controlling or managing stress better, you should see a reduction in your symptoms. Yoga allows you to focus inward and meditate, helping you ease restlessness, anxiety, and stress.21 Using these yoga exercises alongside your other mainstream treatment has been found to help even if stress isn’t your key trigger.22
1. Practice Agnisar Kriya
In this yoga exercise, you “flap” the muscles of your abdomen inward and outward in a bid to improve gastrointestinal motility and digestion.23 Here’s a brief overview; however, this pose must only be done under the supervision of a trained practitioner until you master it. 24 Those with ulcers and abdominal disorders must avoid it.
- Stand with feet apart, hands firmly on the tops of your thighs, and knees flexed.
- Exhale fully.
- Now hold your breath and start to roll your stomach back and forth in a circular motion.
Another way to do this is to simply pull your stomach inward as you hold your breath, then relax it.
2. Try Kapalbhati
Kapalbhati is one of the many breathing techniques that together make “pranayama.” Kapalbhati makes inhaling a passive act and exhaling active by using your abdominal muscles. This is said to help strengthen your diaphragm and also clear the respiratory passage.25 Here’s how you can do this. Remember, kapalbhati can be forceful so always clear this with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.26
- Begin by focussing on your lower abdomen.
- Start to very quickly contract your lower abdomen, which should cause air to be pushed out through your lungs.
- Release this contraction to cause the belly to rebound as you suck air into your body through the lungs.
Alternatively, you could use a hand cupped in your other hand and hold them pressed to the lower belly to help with the isolation of this area. If you do this variant, you can pump your fisted hands against the belly when you need to contract it and release them when you want the belly to rebound. Either way, remember to take it slow. You should complete a cycle in every one to two seconds. Do this about 8 or 10 times.
|↑1||GERD. American Gastroenterological Association.|
|↑2, ↑4, ↑19||Gastroesophageal reflux disease. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.|
|↑5||Hu, Ming-Luen, Christophan K. Rayner, Keng-Liang Wu, Seng-Kee Chuah, Wei-Chen Tai, Yeh-Pin Chou, Yi-Chun Chiu, King-Wah Chiu, and Tsung-Hui Hu. “Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia.” World J Gastroenterol 17, no. 1 (2011): 105-10.|
|↑6||NWANKUDU, ON, SN IJIOMA, and C. NWOSU. “EFFECTS OF FRESH JUICES OF ANANAS COMOSUS (PINEAPPLE) AND CARICA PAPAYA (PAW PAW) ON GASTRO INTESTINAL MOTILITY.”|
|↑7||Kumar, KP Sampath, and Debjit Bhowmik. “Traditional and medicinal uses of banana.” Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 1, no. 3 (2012).|
|↑8||Moazzez, R., D. Bartlett, and A. Anggiansah. “The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux.” Journal of dental research 84, no. 11 (2005): 1062-1065.|
|↑9||Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Molecular medicine reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895.|
|↑10, ↑11, ↑13||Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for GER & GERD. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑12, ↑15, ↑16, ↑17, ↑18, ↑20||Heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – Causes. National Health Service.|
|↑14||Gaeddert, Andrew. “How Do You Treat Heartburn and GERD?.” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients (2001): 155-155.|
|↑21||Li, Amber W., and C. A. Goldsmith. “The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress.” Altern Med Rev 17, no. 1 (2012): 21-35.|
|↑22, ↑23, ↑25||Kaswala, Dharmesh, Shamik Shah, Avantika Mishra, Hardik Patel, Nishith Patel, Pravesh Sangwan, Ari Chodos, and Zamir Brelvi. “Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease?.” International journal of yoga 6, no. 2 (2013): 131.|
|↑24||”Yogic cleansing techniques.” Yoga Journal, Jul-Aug 1982.|
|↑26||Skull Shining Breath. Yoga Journal.|