Q. I had such painful heartburn and reflux that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. I read somewhere that coconut water helps with heartburn. I have been drinking about two cups of coconut water for four days, and the heartburn is almost completely gone. I haven’t even had to give up my morning cup of coffee.
I cannot believe the quick response that I had to the coconut water. I also noticed that I’m not getting cramps in my legs at night. A friend said that might be due to the potassium in the coconut water.

A. Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside coconuts. It is a popular beverage in the tropics and is indeed rich in potassium.
Your story is fascinating, but we have found no research to show that coconut water tames acid reflux. We have, however, heard from another reader who reports, “Coconut water helps me with reflux. I drink a box every morning and take no meds. When I had to fast for my colonoscopy and drank coffee on an empty stomach, the acid attack returned. Since I was allowed clear juice, I drank coconut water and my stomach was soothed.”
We have lots of home remedies for reflux and heartburn in our book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Join Over 53,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Dan
    Reply

    I always thought of heartburn as being caused by an excess of acid. And sometimes it’s not that you have an excess of stomach acid, but a weak sphincter. I read that heartburn may also be caused by a lack of acid. So before you decide a remedy, identify the type of heartburn too much or too little acid.

    If you have the excess type, then drinking vinegar isn’t going to do any good because it itself is a weak acid (acetic acid). Baking soda (bicarbonate) is basic, drinking it is almost the same as chewing on antacid (which contain bicarbonate, carbonate, or hydroxide) but it may be better because if dissolves immediately in acid.

    In my quantitative chemistry class, I analyzed multiple antacids, one dissolved immediately, the other within a minute, and another over hours and I stopped keeping track (I tried these in whole tab form and ground up form as well). Just some additional thoughts.

    I’ve also read some comments here about digestive enzymes and can say that I’ve met some people who told me they experienced heartburn relief after supplementing their diets with digestive enzymes. So curing heartburn isn’t exactly simple, it can vary from person to person and one remedy may not work for someone else. In everyone’s case, it’s trial and error, but good to have a page like this where we can see other possible cures. Like everyone has their own hiccup remedy.

    • KHC
      Ontario
      Reply

      I have been dealing with so much with acid reflux. Who knew it could wreck havoc on your life. I have lost so much weight because I can’t eat. I was 131 and now I am 112. I have been to ER be cause my heart would race whenever I would eat, or bed or exercise and I know now that the acid is causing it. I just checked out clean from the cardiologist (I am a heart patient and he has been with me for 34 years). ER dr keeps giving me these acid pills and they aren’t working. They did take the swelling down in my throat.

      Have been taking enzymes but sometimes it makes it worse. So I stopped a few days ago. Today I went back to the clinic because I am not getting ahead with the ER, homoeopathic or nutritionist.

      It is not in my head either! I know when I am normal and comfortable! I want to eat but I can’t. I get gassy, acid, pain, burning, like a flame in my stomach, sometimes I can’t even walk because it hurts so bad and I want to vomit. I feel nauseous all the time. I feel like I have a permanent flu! I know I am not getting enough calories in and that is adding to my issues and it making me frustrated. I want a cheese burger. When I get gas I can feel it in my chest, and causes my heart to race when I burp it stops. It is so retarded!! I have pain burning all over my chest.

      I am just so fed up with this. Any suggestions would be great.

      • Farrah
        Reply

        I have had such insane heartburn, and had to go to the emergency room it was so bad. I get it so bad that I can’t keep anything down. Then one day, I bought coconut water with pulp. The only ingredients are coconut water and pulp.
        I swear to you, after I chug one or two of these, the heartburn eases, and goes away. I drink one whenever I am starting to feel the heart burn. I hope this helps you. At least, give it a shot.

        • Farrah
          Reply

          Oh, and I now no longer take anymore meds since I started taking coconut water.

  2. dlg
    Reply

    My husband has had bad acid for years and has tried various remedies for both maintenance and acute attacks, including, apple cider vinegar and baking soda in water. But after reading this post I gave him a glass of coconut water tonight, to address an acute occurrence brought on by a spicy meal, and the coconut water took care of the problem immediately. He told me this is the strongest remedy he has tried thus far, and he has bad acid. Nothing any doctor has prescribed has ever helped him, on the contrary, the medication made him unable to digest food normally.

    • Dan
      CLT, NC
      Reply

      I was just recommended coconut water and am looking forward to seeing the results on my next attack. I’m curious if your husband has tried proton pump inhibitors, they work for me (for now, I know that over time they will lose their effectiveness) and I only get real bad attacks when I forget to take them. And once I get an attack it’s too late to take the pill. One night I had such a bad attack that I couldn’t sleep and finally asleep as 6 in the morning. When I woke up, I woke up with raw throat and ear ache. I don’t like throwing up but sometimes have had to resort to it to relieve my heartburn.

  3. amelita
    Reply

    I suffered from acid reflux for almost 7 yrs. I even take all of the med omeprazole, losec, prelosic I even take apple cider vinegar and lemon before breakfast yes, it work for lemon and apple cider vinegar for the feeling of hungry almost 50% my problem right now is that I take anacid everyday before I can sleep… can you help me if what will I do? thank you and God bless I hope you can help me a lot with my problem.

  4. MS
    Reply

    I have acid reflux and I drink coconut water, which I have found helps me enormously. I only, very occasionally, have a problem now.

  5. phil y., husband
    Reply

    Good day every one, I am diagnosed with kidney stones and acid reflux, I’m taking 5 meds a day (omeprazole, rowatinex, acalca, maalox and tylenol). I would like to ask if coconut water helps me with my situation? I just want to lessen my med.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Rat research suggests there may be a benefit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23489503
    We don’t know how well this will translate from the rats to you.

  6. SK
    Reply

    Katherine, have you ever been tested for Krohn’s disease? or Colitis or anything like that? Even Celiac… if you haven’t, ask your doctor to run some of these tests.

  7. AS
    Reply

    Thanks for your response (almost a year ago). I am now 21 days without medicine at all (took me all this time). But, there are occasions when I feel a pang in between my breast bone, and when I start to feel very uncomfortable. There was one day when I did take Pepcid Complete, because from the “The People’s Pharmacy” book, it stated that this could be taken occasionally without being as dangerous as Omeprazole and others like it.
    Can you explain what you meant about the digestive enzymes. You mentioned to “gradually increase until you feel an acid stomach. Take a couple glasses of water to douse the fire and then go back to the last good dose of enzymes.” I am not clear as to what this means. Do I want to feel pain at first? Also, where can I get the Betaine HCL? Would I combine this with the NOW digesties. Have you ever heard of DGL and is this a
    viable source?
    I found that ginger helps and the Braggs Apple Cider vinegar. I sometimes suck on hard candies, also prescribed in the book. Thanks!

  8. monica s.
    Reply

    I would just like to know if taking 4 teaspoons of Turmeric in a glass of milk will help acid reflux or is it only used to relieve pain in muscles, joints etc? Also, is it safe to take if one has high triglycerides?

  9. CharlesB
    Reply

    Coconut water for me is heaven sent. I was taking powerful meds for 5 years, 3 colonoscopies with no abnormalities whatsoever. I’ve started taking coconut water since 3 years ago and since then I have no attacks and no meds. Meds actually made my stomach worst but with coconut water, now I’m back in playing tennis and with my new life free from acid reflux.

  10. AB
    Reply

    Well. Based on what you’re saying it looks like you have too much stomach acid, NOT too little. Too much stomach acid would explain your symptoms. So maybe try some antacids or any other medication to lower your stomach acidity and see how you feel. Best regards.

  11. Stephanie
    Reply

    I have suffered with reflux for over 10 years. I now take Prevacid everyday, and it works until it wheres off in the evening. I tried drinking coconut water, And it actually worked. I was surprised because most natural remedies don’t seem to work for me, but coconut water really worked.

  12. k.mack
    Reply

    I had acid reflux at the end of summer…had a lot of stress and ate food to fast and got the reflux….I searched all over the internet for a cure or even something that would kill the pain….nothing worked so I went to prilosec-zantac and they did not work either….I didn’t understand why orthodox medicine doctors said you have to much acid and holistic said you didn’t have enough to digest your food….so who was right?
    I decided to try natural cures because always lived that way and low and behold I’m on my way to recovery….finally quality of life….I got some hcl betaine with pepsin and probiotics and a backup such as coconut water made by vita….I take 1 or 2 betaines after a meal depending on how big the meal is or proteins involved….I do a probiotic once a day and drink coconut water….and its really made a difference…no more attacks and I can sleep at night…try it
    it’s the real cure….my opinion…pass it on…you don’t want to be on meds forever….they cause long term problems….go natural!

  13. abby
    Reply

    I have heartburn and acidity for four years already… my first year having hyper-acidity was worst. I felt pain and cramps in my upper abdomen. and I’m not taking any medicine that time and what cured me is just eating a right food… leafy vegetables… and every morning when I woke up I drink a glass of water… then add a spoon of honey then after 30 minutes I eat quaker oats then after 30 minutes my breakfast and I feel so great :) :) and don’t forget to have an exercise… just walk for 5 to 10 mins.. and after you eat don’t lay down… just wait for one to two hours… and if you feel hungry eat little. Don’t eat much.. eat slow… eat 6 times a day…. don’t eat to much foods in one meal :) :) before I forgot… coconut helps a lot :) every-time I drink a glass of coconut water I feel relief :) and drink fresh coconut water…:) another advice… don’t be so angry or stressful or you hyper-acidity or heartburn will even get worst. Try to live with a happy life… don’t think so much of your problem… relax your mind… :) and change your life style :) sleep early and when you wake up… I know you cant get back to sleep because you can feel the acid in your stomach into your mouth so better get up fast and drink water :p :p and before you eat, take a shower first. massage and reflex will help too..that’s all

  14. DHG
    Reply

    I took Nexium for years, then insurance said I had to switch to generic. I stopped gradually and have had heartburn but not the crushing chest pain radiating to my neck. Read about the coconut water and will try it. What about coconut juice with pulp?

  15. KC
    Reply

    I have had GERD for eleven years and took Nexium during most of those years. I started looking for natural alternatives and have finally found what works, at least for me. I mix a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar with a shot glass of water and drink that once in the morning after waking up and once in the evening before bedtime. I also drink a few gulps of coconut water whenever I feel the slightest symptoms of heartburn. I also take a probiotic in the morning with breakfast. This has worked wonders for me. No more Nexium!

  16. MN
    Reply

    I believe you are right about lack of stomach acid causing symptoms similar to GERD. Take a look at “Achlorhydria” in Wikipedia. It is reported to affect about half of the population worldwide. Makes you wonder when the medical profession is going to wake up to this issue.
    Stomach acid is necessary to regulate the proper sequence for stomach sphincter opening and closing and the release of other digestive chemicals. It also acts to kill microbes that enter the stomach. Low acid levels can lead to overgrowth of H pylori in the stomach. Low acid also results in poor absorption of essential protein, minerals and vitamins.
    I have gone off acid blocker medications–replacing them with 1 to 3 Betain HCL/pepsin capsules washed down with Bragg apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbs per 8 oz of water, at each meal. I experienced bad heartburn for about 2 weeks after stopping the Prilosec. Sucking on three or four 500 mg chewable vitmin C tablets helped a lot. The heartburn is gone as long as I don’t forget my Betain/vinegar. My gastric emptying has been speeded up also.

  17. RES
    Reply

    I am on Prevacid for acid reflux AND DECIDED ON MY OWN to try and stop taking the drug.
    I was fine for three days, and on the fourth day, I had HORRIBLE INDIGESTION AND VOMITED———-SAME THING HAPPENED THE NEXT DAY,——and then I realized YOU CANNOT QUIT THOSE ACID REDUCING DRUGS SUDDENLY——–it has to be very gradual.
    I had done this on MY OWN, but will talk to my Endocrinologist the next time I want to wean off this drug, although HE SAID they are perfectly safe.

  18. Katherine L.
    Reply

    I have had acid reflux and haital hernia for over 20 years and have tried all the omeprazole products. They just make me sicker. Of course I have tried many natural remedies over the years such as probiotics. Do you have any idea why probiotics (even in teeny tiny amounts) gives me so much pain I think I am having a heart attack? And it takes me days to recover.
    Also, why can I not eat yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk without paying a dear price? Enzymes also create pain, nausea, etc. I have tried the vinegar, apples, aloe vera, all just make matters worse. I have had a terrible cough for years as well. I have had aspiration pneumonia several times recently. I am going to try the coconut water. The only thing doctors ever recommend is the medications, and of course change in diet, which I did years ago. Now my weight is dangerously low because of these eating difficulties. Does anyone have other suggestions? Thanks for your help.
    Katherine

  19. sw
    Reply

    Try tracking foods to see if they cause your heartburn. Leaving food out of your diet that cause heartburn is less expensive than taking medicine. I quit wheat/gluten and milk products. Tough diet to follow in America, but i’m so much healthier for it.

  20. fbl
    Reply

    AS, you are doing great by taking the med every other day. I’d stick with the coconut water and add a mild digestive enzyme with only about 200 mg of Betaine HCL and the other digestive enzymes.
    I’ve helped many friends get off these acid reflux drugs. I usually have them ease off very gradually, just as you have started to do. Take one every third day and then every 4th etc. If you have a problem lessen the days and then try again. I usually start my friends with one NOW brand Super Enzyme and then start increasing them after the meds are stopped completely.
    Every person is different and you will have to play around with the dose of digestive enzymes. Gradually increase until you feel an acid stomach. Take a couple glasses of water to douse the fire and then go back to the last good dose of enzymes.
    Every few years you will need to do a challenge to see if you need to up your dose. If you get up to three of the NOW digesties then it would be better to take a separate Betaine HCL and Pepsin with one of the NOW. I have been doing this system for over 30 years and have no digestive upsets and have strong bones.
    It was a medical Dr who first tested me for minerals using a hair analysis and found that I was deficient in quite a few-even ones I was taking as supplements! He gave me the above advice. I do check every few years.

  21. AS
    Reply

    I am taking Omeprazole 20mg once a day for acid reflux from a hiatal hernia. I sometimes skip a day, but then in the evening, I may start to feel some uncomfortableness. Yesterday, I drank some coconut water when I started to feel this way, and it seemed to soothe my symptoms.
    My question is: Is medication such as Omeprazole something you have to wean off of gradually, or is it something I can stop all at once? I would like to continue drinking the coconut water without taking the medication, but am hesitant since my symptoms can be severe when I don’t take the medication.
    People’s Pharmacy response: It may be helpful to ease off the omeprazole gradually. Stopping suddenly can exacerbate heartburn.
    http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/10/09/heartburn-drugs-are-hard-to-stop/
    If you know anything about this, I’d be interested in learning more.

  22. fbl
    Reply

    Often painful heartburn is due to not enough acid and digestive enzymes rather than too much. Many people I know have found relief, even a few young people, by adding a digestive enzyme when they eat. Usually one that has Betaine HCL and pepsin along with the other enzymes works best.
    To find the right dose one must increase gradually until acid stomach results. A couple glasses of water will help resolve the acid stomach and then one should go back to the last good dose. Every few years it is best to do a challenge test again to make sure one is getting enough.
    If we douse the acid in our stomachs then we will not be able to get the nutrients out of our food. As time goes by osteoporosis and mental problems could result. Our foods are commercially grown now and I’m sure that is why we are a nation with stomach problems. I’ve seen it increasing over the last forty years or so, even in younger people.

  23. RES
    Reply

    When I was having diarrhea for quite a while—-I found (through your column) that eating two coconut macaroons a day would help, AND IT DID—-however my doctor told me coconut would cause cholesterol to rise and endanger my arteries——BUT I HAVE BEEN USING COCONUT—-sometimes flaked coconut—-for several months now, and just had blood work done and my cholesterol readings were very good——–SO WHAT IS THE COMPLETE STORY REGARDING COCONUT AND CHOLESTEROL????
    Or could it be that the fat in coconut is like the fat in avocados and actually GOOD FOR YOU?

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.