According to the American College of Gastroenterology, heartburn is a common digestive complaint that has been affecting more than 60 million Americans each month.
To further understand what heartburn is, it is not a condition on its own and has nothing to do with the heart at all. Rather, it is a symptom of Acid Reflux or sometimes called Gastroesophageal Reflux, which occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter is weak and stomach acids rise up the esophagus irritating the tissue.
You see, our stomachs have an inner lining that protects us from the strong acids, but not our esophagus, hence the feeling of burning sensation.
It’s common to experience heartburn and acid reflux intermittently that can be caused by certain food and habits after eating. But when it occurs more than twice a week or cause inflammation in the esophagus, it can be dangerous because long-term damage of the esophagus can lead to cancer.
That being said, here are 7 natural ways to prevent and relieve acid reflux.
1. Loosen tight clothing.
In some cases, heartburn can happen because tight clothing is compressing your stomach which makes it easier for the acids to rise. So avoid placing any kind of external pressure on the stomach, especially those tight jeans, shorts or skirts. Wear loose clothing, loosen your belt, unbutton your jeans, etc. – just do whatever you can to keep things loose so your midsection is not restricted and your breathing not impaired.
2. Never ever lie down immediately after a meal.
When you are lying down, the acids from your stomach can easily rise to your esophagus. So just sit upright or try standing up straight after eating. In the evening, don’t eat anything for at least two hours before going to bed.
3. Sleep at an incline or flat on your left.
If you are a back sleeper, use a bed wedge like this one from Amazon to elevate your body from the waist up while asleep.
For side sleepers, it is recommended for you to sleep on your left side. Why? Well, studies show that in this position, your lower esophageal sphincter stays above the level of gastric contents, which can prevent reflux.
…or just combine both and sleep at an incline on your left side.
4. Drink a glass of water with baking soda.
As for home remedies, one would be dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly. This will calm the episode of your heartburn by neutralizing the acids in your stomach. Baking soda is not just an antacid, but also a “buffering” agent.
5. Chew gum.
Research suggests that chewing a gum for 30 minutes after meals can provide relief for acid reflux because it increases saliva production and reduce acid levels in the esophagus.
6. Eat banana or apple.
Both fruits contain natural antacids that can help relieve or prevent an onset of acid reflux. Eat these items very slowly, in small bites. Don’t eat a lot of fruit, because that can make the problem worse instead of better.
7. Drink chamomile tea.
For the last home remedy, drink chamomile tea to help balance your stomach’s acid levels.
8. Bonus remedy — Plain water
One thing I have found that will help with mild indigestion is simply sipping cold water. Just get a large glass of plain water (ice optional), and sip a small amount every time you notice your heartburn increasing. Be sure to remain sitting or standing up. This just washes the excess acid back down into the stomach where it belongs. For mild cases of heartburn, this method should work in 30 to 40 minutes, after which time your stomach should be done with its part of the digestion process. If it takes a lot longer than that, you may have a more serious problem that requires a visit with your doctor.
There are, of course, many common heartburn remedies that you might want to try that are commonly sold in pharmacies and drugstores. These include things like proton pump inhibitors, and various anti-acids such as calcium carbonate and “milk of magnesia.” Of those OTC remedies, milk of magnesia is arguably the least harmful, but overuse of that will cause loose stools. Long-term use of any heartburn medications (including prescriptions) can actually worsen the condition. If you have frequent (or constant) heartburn, your diet is the first thing to examine. The most common cause of constant indigestion is sugar, followed by wheat. Heartburn can also be due to food allergies, or can be the early warning sign for serious problems such as diabetes.
I hope you found this blog post useful. Try the remedies and habits mentioned above so you can avoid episodes of acid reflux and have a pain-free, happier and healthier body.