Heartburn is something that most adults will experience during their lifetime. It is characterized by an uncomfortable burning sensation right behind the breastbone that often times creeps up the throat, and is a symptom more so than a disease. It is caused by acid reflux, which occurs when the ring of muscle that allows food into your stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) relaxes when it shouldn’t. The result is acid from your stomach goes back up your esophagus, which then causes the sensation of heartburn. Think about it…its acid burning your throat…ouch! It’s actually possible to have reflux without heartburn, but it is not possible to have heartburn without reflux. While over-the-counter and prescription medications are available, if you suffer only from occasional heartburn, lifestyle changes and heartburn home remedies may be the route you want to take.
1. A spoonful of baking soda…
A spoonful of sodium bicarbonate, or teaspoon-full to be exact, can help put an end to the gnawing, burning, sensation of heartburn caused by acid reflux. Baking soda, as sodium bicarbonate is more commonly known, can help your reflux and in turn help your heartburn because it is a base substance. It has a pH higher than 7.0, and therefore neutralizes stomach acid. Neutralizing the stomach acid means that if/when your LES decides to be lazy and acid comes up your throat, you don’t get “burned.”
You will need…
-1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of baking soda
-a glass of fresh water
Mix either a ½ teaspoon or 1 single teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water that is no more than 8 ounces. Give it a good stir and drink all of the mixture. You can repeat this as needed but should not exceed seven ½ teaspoon doses in a 24 hour period. Also, avoid using this as a remedy for more than a week straight, as it is high in salt and can have side effects such as swelling or nausea.
2. Soothe your stomach with aloe juice
Aloe is a plant used to soothe burns, and people often think of using it to help something like sunburn, but it can do more than that. It may be able to help with heartburn too because it reduces inflammation. This means when your tummy starts getting irritated and inflamed, or your esophagus is getting eaten away at, a nice glass of aloe vera juice may be just the thing to help calm it down.
You will need…
-1/2 cup aloe vera juice
Drink a ½ cup of aloe juice, cool or room temperature, before meals. Keep in mind that aloe can act as a laxative, so unless you’re looking to fit in a few extra bathroom Sudoku puzzles, look for a brand that has the laxative component removed.
3. Chew gum
The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, experienced relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva. Any acid that has built up in the gut is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD. It is possible that the same school of thought could be applied to occasional heartburn as well. It’s our regular saliva that we swallow that actually makes normal bouts of reflux here and there completely painless.
You will need…
-1 piece of sugar-free gum
After a meal, pop in a piece of sugar-free gum and chew for 30 minutes to help ward off heartburn.