Natural Remedies for Heartburn
Anyone who has ever suffered unpleasant burning in the chest after a heavy meal knows how unpleasant heartburn can be.
While an entire drugstore section of over the counter solutions exist to treat this common condition, many natural remedies for heartburn are also available. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, they can be just as, if not more, effective in healing the symptoms and root cause of heartburn.
What is Heartburn and What Causes It?
Before delving into the natural remedies available for heartburn, let’s establish what it is. A whopping 20% of Americans experience heartburn at some point in their lives. Heartburn is the layman’s term for acid reflux, which is also sometimes known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, which describes a more chronic condition. These indigestion conditions are largely caused by lifestyle and dietary choices.
Despite what the name implies, heartburn involves the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus and throat area. It is not an issue with the heart. It is caused by failure of the sphincters to keep stomach acid in its place. When these sphincters allow acid to leak into the esophagus or the throat area, we experience painful burning and gas.
Foods and Natural Remedies
Though common, heartburn is painful and can negatively affect quality of life if left untreated. The good news is that heartburn is mostly triggered by certain foods and preventable lifestyle choices, such as eating too much at one time. This means that by changing your diet and avoiding overeating, you can expect many symptoms to be alleviated.
Here are a few foods that have been shown to help heal heartburn, naturally.
Not only a great option for whole grain and long-lasting energy, oatmeal is also packed with healthy fiber which can be helpful in reducing symptoms of heartburn.
Low Acid Fruits and Veggies
No one is suggesting you give up produce—the health benefits are just too numerous—but do choose lower acid options. Instead of citrus such as tomatoes and onions, choose fruits like melons and bananas. Root veggies such as beets, potatoes and turnips are good to eat too. Leafy green veggies and berries are also very healthy and typically easy on the stomach.
Probiotic Rich Foods
Sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, or kimchi are all excellent sources of naturally occurring probiotics, which balance gut flora and can assist in the healing of heartburn.
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Long used to treat digestion woes of all kinds, ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Enjoy it in tea, add it to smoothies, or use it in any Asian inspired recipes to ease your heartburn.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you are thinking vinegar should be avoided since it is acidic, you would not be alone. In fact, many have found apple cider vinegar to be an effective heartburn treatment. Apple cider vinegar is thought to help balance the stomach’s pH levels, which can help with heartburn in the long run.
Make sure to use the kind that contains the “mother,” which is the enzyme-rich substance floating in the jar. Dilute a tablespoon with water and mix with honey if you find the taste too harsh to drink. Sipping this down once daily is the best way to see if the healing powers of ACV help your symptoms.
Other tips that can help are spacing your meals throughout the day and eating smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid acidifying processed, packaged or fried foods, coffee and excess caffeine, and cut out high-fat animal products like whole milk, cheese, butter, or fatty cuts of meat.
Pros and Cons of Natural Remedies
It is often tempting to reach for an over the counter or prescription solution when you are looking for fast relief. While there are plenty of drugstore treatment options for heartburn, they simply put a bandage over the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause.
By treating your heartburn naturally with the above tips, you are not just alleviating the unpleasant symptoms, but you could potentially be banishing heartburn from your life altogether.
However, do not expect overnight results. When taking medication, we often anticipate feeling better almost instantly. With natural remedies, you may have to be a little bit more patient to allow your body to regulate and heal itself.
Just because it is natural, more is not always more, so do not overdo it by adding too many of these heartburn-fighting foods into your diet.
When to See a Doctor
Though it affects millions of people each year, heartburn is not always the simple, treatable condition as described here.
In some cases, it can be indicative of a more serious underlying issue or it can reach a chronic point where medical intervention is required.
Though less common, constant heartburn can sometimes produce scarring and a narrowing of the esophageal area, which can affect one’s ability to eat and even increase the risk of cancerous cells developing. In these cases, certainly see your doctor to develop a more intensive plan of treatment.
If you are not finding relief from remedies, either natural or over the counter antacids, consult your doctor to make sure you are not dealing with GERD or possibilities like peptic ulcer disease.