Q. I was listening to your radio program when a physician called in about the benefits of using vinegar for heartburn. He didn’t indicate the type of vinegar or the dosage.
That very day I experienced bad heartburn. I had dark chocolate balsamic vinegar on hand and took about half a teaspoon. The taste was pleasant. To my amazement, my heartburn was gone within a couple of minutes.
A. The caller, Dr. Charles, is an ear, nose and throat specialist. He expressed concern about the overuse of omeprazole (Prilosec) and other powerful acid-suppressing drugs to treat routine heartburn. He suggested taking vinegar instead of medications to ease heartburn symptoms, especially when withdrawing from such medications.
We were quite pleased to hear from him. We have many testimonials from readers who have used vinegar for their heartburn, but we rarely get an approving opinion for such a simple remedy from a physician.
We discuss a wide range of non-drug approaches to easing reflux in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. Because medications like omeprazole can cause rebound hyperacidity when they are stopped, it is sometimes difficult to get off them. Our Guide provides advice on this, along with a recipe for Persimmon-Ginger Tea to ease the discomfort. That recipe was originally from a reader who first tasted the tea in a Korean restaurant and realized that it helped her heartburn:
“I’m disappointed that you did not mention ginger in your comments on acid reflux. My reflux became really bad when I stopped hormone replacement therapy. Acid suppressing drugs worked great, but after two months I couldn’t stop them without the heartburn recurring.
One night, I took colleagues to dinner at a Korean restaurant. Someone ordered Persimmon Punch, a concentrated cinnamon-ginger drink, for dessert. A few sips later, I felt fantastic.
After one month of adding about 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon-ginger drink to my tea in the morning and at night, my low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels had dropped 30 points, blood sugar dropped 10 points and the heartburn was in control.
This cinnamon-ginger tea has sugar, unfortunately. A simpler alternative is to add a piece of candied ginger to tea. The ginger is amazing for heartburn and the Chinese have used it for centuries for motion sickness.”