Q. As a biologist, let me offer my thoughts on heartburn remedies. For all but a few people, suppressing stomach acid with drugs is the last thing to do. I suspect that most heartburn is due to insufficient stomach acid rather than too much.

A. Stomach acid is critical for digesting protein, absorbing calcium, iron and vitamin B12 and preventing bacterial infection (Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, Nov. 2012). For millions of years, virtually all animals have depended on strong stomach acid for digestion and protection (Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Suppl. 193, 1992).

Although antacids and acid-suppressing drugs (lansoprazole, omeprazole, etc) are mainstays for treating heartburn, many readers have reported that low-carb diets can prevent symptoms. Others say that almonds or even apple cider vinegar ease their discomfort.

We discuss these and many other approaches to reflux in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. The most recent research suggests that popular acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole or esomeprazole may stiffen blood vessels, increasing the risk of hypertension or heart disease with long-term use.

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  1. Kitty

    I was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus 6 years ago and was told by my Dr. that I would have to be on acid suppressors for the rest of my life; since I knew of the dangers of taking them for prolonged periods of time, I told him I would stay on them for 90 days.
    He was very upset with me. ……. I have it checked (endoscopy) every 2 years and I am fine, no recurrence. You have to do your homework to find what does more harm than good.

  2. sidhhds

    What many folks don’t know is that you can get Alka Seltzer without aspirin. It is called Alka Seltzer Gold, & is not usually stocked. In Walmart it has to be special ordered. A great product. I also have Barrett’s esophagus and they put the fear of G-d in you if you don’t take it.

  3. ssghhds

    MY GI practitioners have me fearful of getting esophus cancer, as I have Barret’s Esophagus, & if I don’t take Omeprazole I can get cancer? My GI system drives me crazy. Along with drugs such as Januiva.

  4. Liz H

    I had taken acid suppressors for years (the little purple pill.) They had reduced, but not eliminated my heartburn.
    A nutritionist asked me to try and wean myself off. He said to take supplemental betaine HCL every time I ate protein. I was also to try managing my heartburn with TUMS or other OTC heartburn remedies.
    To my delight, I didn’t even need the TUMS. With sufficient acid, the food did not sit in my stomach long enough to cause irritation.
    It makes no sense at all to think that one can remove a vital element of digestion without problems.

  5. Ark


  6. Joan F

    I have never been bothered with heartburn but when I participated in a low carb usenet group several people there said that theirs went away when they changed to a low carb way of eating.
    With all I have read lately about people having problems with wheat, dumping it would be the first thing I would try.
    Yes, I eat low carb and have been doing so for 10 years.

  7. Angela M. Rosati

    For me, Alka Seltzer works best and fast.

  8. vj

    I have been using apple cider vinegar for several years now – one tablespoon daily – and it works great for heartburn or, in my case, neutralizing the acid from my allergies. my gastroenterologist is totally on board with this and says if it works, use it rather than Prilosec, etc.

  9. CJ

    It says all but for a few people not to take acid suppressing drugs. What about for those with Barrett’s esophagus?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Those with Barrett’s esophagus are among the few for whom PPI acid suppressing drugs may very well be necessary.

  10. Annie

    It does seem unnatural to prevent a function of the digestive system! My husband just chose to discontinue his Prilosec after being on it for YEARS without a break. He was put on it to prevent another Schotsky’s ring. I am a longtime GERD sufferer and had a recent incident of PVC’s and lowered heartrate that my cardiologist agrees could have been linked to daily use of Zantac. Finding I get better relief with use of daily probiotics than acid suppressors. We are both working on dietary changes and getting rid of excess weight to manage our symptoms.

  11. L. R. Guajardo

    my 95 y/o mother had severe acid reflux and doctor prescribed all kinds of meds, tried all over counter stuff, nothing ever helped her, finally looked up ‘home remedies for it, read some kind of Chinese tea stops it, but also read apple cider vinegar could help, had no Chinese tea, so I tried apple cider vinegar and eureka! mom is cured! 3 teaspoons of in in any all of her drinks at mealtime, ! All gone now!
    Remember doctors can’t get money by prescribing home remedies!

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