coconut water

How do you ease heartburn? Millions of people take acid-suppressing drugs every day, but the risks from long-term use of medicines like esomeprazole, lansoprazole or omeprazole have gotten a fair amount of attention lately. Other people prefer home remedies such as ginger tea, persimmon punch, apple cider vinegar or coconut water.

Coconut Water for Heartburn:

Q. When I read about proton pump inhibitors possibly harming the kidneys it got my attention. I only have one kidney and want to do all I can to preserve it.

I quit taking Nexium and switched to Zantac. It did not work as well as the PPI but I managed my heartburn with Tums in the afternoon and evening.

After reading your article on coconut water for heartburn, I started drinking a rather small amount. The results have been excellent. Even after cutting my Zantac dose in half, I have no symptoms.

Long-Term Consequences of PPIs:

A. Research linking acid suppressing drugs (PPIs) to kidney damage has been accumulating (Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, online, April 14, 2016). These are drugs such as dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix)or rabeprazole (AcipHex). Different heartburn medications (H2 blockers) such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac) do not appear to pose the same risk.

Many readers have reported that coconut water seems helpful for indigestion. One Australian visitor to our website noted:

“Over the last several weeks I have been mostly free from heartburn. It occurred to me just tonight that I’ve been drinking a couple of glasses of coconut water a day so I believe that is doing the trick. The bonus is that I love drinking coconut water.”

Another visitor shared her story:

“I have a hiatal hernia along with a lot of intestinal damage from an undiagnosed gluten intolerance that wreaked havoc before I went gluten free. I suffered greatly from acid reflux and heartburn on top of hiatal hernia ‘events’ that were nothing short of hell.

“I began drinking kefir milk each morning and coconut water throughout the day and am absolutely blown away by the difference. I can actually sleep at night (when my cat allows it!) and enjoy meals again without being afraid of them.”

There are many other non-drug options for dealing with indigestion in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. If your choice of remedy is coconut water, keep in mind that some people find it helpful in combating diarrhea; others may notice constipation if they overdo.

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  1. Mary
    Visalia, CA

    When I test the plain coconut water in the stores like Vita Coco or Zita it is very acidic. Is this the kind of coconut water you are all drinking? If not where do you find alkaline coconut water?

  2. Randy
    Rougemont, NC

    Got heartburn? Reflux? Cut out all sugar and refined carbs and see what happens.

    Years ago my wife decided to try the Atkins diet, and given that she makes most of the food, I tried it by default. In addition to cutting my triglycerides in half (from 150 to 75) and improving my overall cholesterol levels, I ceased to have ANY further experience of my occasional heartburn/reflux, not once, for well over year, and then only after I slipped of the Atkins wagon a little.

  3. George

    I have been taking Omepazole (Prilosec) in its various forms of prescription and OTC for something like 20+ years now. I have no idea what damage it has been doing to my body and mind over this period of time.

    Now that I am reading about all the potential side effects, I have started a program of weaning myself off this medication. So the first thing I did was to cut the dosage from 1 tablet a day to one every second day and did this for 3 weeks. Heartburn was there and often severe. Feels like Mauna Loa or Krakatoa is erupting inside your gut and the hot, fiery, burning lava is spewing up your tubing and burning the heck out of everything in its path……….

    Have tried the following remedies to help alleviate the torrid magma bubbling in the depths of the gastrointestinal plumbing:
    * Zantac – a few a day
    * Gelusil – many a day (no calcium so good if you have a calcium retention problem)
    * Tums – has calcium, so avoided to reduce risk of kidney stones
    * Acid Soothe – homeopathic enzyme, as needed
    * Melatonin – 5mg twice a day
    * Apple cider vinegar – as needed – two tablespoons (or one good swig straight out the bottle) – actually frightens the burning away. No amount of diluting or mixing with honey makes it any more pleasant.
    * Well rounded teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in cold water – moderately better than the vinegar ceremony, but reminiscent of the pre-colonoscopy fluid you have to drink.
    * Beano – take the generic it’s double the strength and do not eat a thing until you have popped one of these down your gullet.

    Of course not all taken in the same day or at the same time. Rather it is an on-going non-scientific experiment to see if there is a combination that will work best. In the meanwhile, I have cut the Omeprazole down to 1/2 tablet every second day. Start to really feel the effects in day two as the burning intensifies.

    So far, I would say that the Beano seems to be working the best with Gelusil to help along when needed. But this may change since I’ve only been on it for a few days now.

    At least I’m off the vinegar and baking soda regimen. Come to think of it, having often cleaned the kitchen drain with baking soda and vinegar in combo………. hmmmmmm…….. just kidding!!

    That’s about all that I have tried so far. Thanks for the coconut water tip. Will try it out soon. Since I already take a prescription potassium supplement, I’ll have to be extra careful about this one.

  4. Chris
    Bradenton, FL

    To control any digestive issue, it is about diet and correct PH Balance. Dropping Acid is probably the best book out there with recipes and everything. I have LPR and nothing worked except diet, proven because I went off the diet to test it and symptoms are back with a couple extra pounds. So correct diet with high PH balance foods will solve it.

  5. Robin in Vermont

    I’ve had GERD since my one and only pregnancy — and it’s horrible. After being on Prevacid for 13 plus years, I realized that the issues I was having with my ‘bladder’ was in fact being caused by the drug and went off of it cold turkey. It’s taken 3 months for my body to find balance, and frankly, it was hell, but I feel so much better that I don’t regret taking that step. Since then, I’ve been trying to discover what it is that is actually giving me the acid reflux, and I had a simple blood test for food allergies. Dairy. Even a little butter in my pasta and I’m feeling it. But I discovered that you can get dairy digestive enzymes — not Lactaid. The allergens in dairy include not only lactose, but also milk casein and lactase — so you have to find the enzymes that can neutralize all three or it won’t work.

    When I do have an acid problem — which is very rare now — I use coconut water. I sometimes use a 1/2 tsp of baking soda in about 4 oz of room temp water, then wait 30 min. If it’s not all gone, I do another 1/2 tsp — but be careful if you have a problem with salt! The baking soda causes a bubbling sensation in the gut as it breaks up the acid. The coconut water does the exact same thing, and tastes a lot better — but don’t get a flavored version — tastes bad and doesn’t work as well.

  6. Karmel

    I tried the coconut water for acid reflux and to try and get off the Nexium. It worked for a few days then the acid came back with avengence. Someone suggested coconut oil in your coffee large spoonful 3 times a day (careful as the oil will make your coffee real hot) that worked for a week then stopped. Now alternate Zantac one day Nexium the next.

  7. Yvonne

    I grew up in Puerto Rico and coconut water was almost considered medicinal. Not only used for digestion, but primary for kidney problems.

  8. GERD Sufferer

    I have had GERD for years and have been on pantoprazole. Since using unsweetened, organic shredded coconut in my daily smoothie I have been able to cut back on the pantoprazole significantly. I cut the tablet in half and only take it every three days. I am going to continue to get off the pantoprazole by gradually decreasing it by staying with the coconut every day and increasing the days between the pantoprazole. I am glad to have read about coconut helping GERD on your website.

  9. Mary

    I live in Mexico so fresh green coconuts are available in lots of places.
    I cannot answer the question. I read that green coconuts are better than the ones that are brown.

    I do know it is SO refreshing to drink it when the climate is so hot and humid.

  10. Rosey

    I don’t suffer from heartburn & indigestion like I used to. I completely changed my way of eating. Do not drink anything with your meal, chew your food well & let your muscle (esophagus) do the work. Many tend to wash their food down with liquid. Also I cut out caffeine & greatly limit fried foods. When I did have heartburn I chewed papaya tablets. Easy to find in vitamin isles & really worked. Also your not limited to the time limit like medication. If a few don’t help after a bit, chew a few more!

  11. Carrie

    Kefir gives me really bad stomach aches, but I’m willing to try coconut water. While everyone is different, I’d like to know how much of it a day seems to be effective for those who have tried it. Thank you.

    • Robin in Vermont

      They recommend 8 oz of coconut water per serving, 2 per day – probably because it’s also high in potassium. I drink a glass in the AM, when I remember it, but when I have acid, I definitely drink at least 8 oz. It really helps. Make sure to buy the plain coconut water though. The flavored ones give me acid.

      (I am wondering about your kefir issue. Is Kefir dairy? If you have a dairy sensitivity, that might be causing your acid. Find a source for dairy enzymes — not lactaid — but one that helps you to digest all of the allergens in dairy and that should help.)

  12. LUCE

    I have GERD and used to take Prilosec or Zantac but after reading all the bad reports on Prilosec and Zantac and others, I stopped taking them. Now I drink coconut water many times a day, and I even had a glass of wine last night and feel great this morning. Coconut water works for me. Also, when I am about to eat something a little more acidic, before I eat I take 2 pills of PRELIEF, it reduces the acidity of the food you are about to eat. Hope this help.

  13. Bob
    Middleton, WI

    On the use of coconut water to reduce acid reflux, I’d be interested in hearing when to drink it (before/after meals?), frequency, and quantity.–Bob M

    • Robin in Vermont

      If you’re drinking coconut water for acid, it really doesn’t matter when you drink it. 2 am is fine. You will feel it bubbling in your gut as it neutralizes the acid, just like baking soda does. They do say only two 8 oz servings a day, probably because it’s high in potassium, so I save my servings for night time and only take it when I need it.

      If you don’t have a problem with salt, you may also want to try 1/2 tsp of baking soda with 4 – 6 oz of room temp water, and wait 30 min. If you still have acid, take another 1/2 tsp. This is great for those nights when the coconut water isn’t doing the trick, or the amount of acid is small. I really recommend that you get a food sensitivity blood test. I found out I had a problem with dairy, and since cutting it out of my diet, I’m not getting acid any more. When I do eat dairy (on a rare occasion, or because there was hidden dairy in something I ate), I take dairy digestive enzymes (NOT Lactaid), with every dairy containing meal. Really does the trick.

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