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Apple at Bedtime Relieves Nighttime Heartburn

Taking a few bites of apple before bed may ward off nighttime heartburn without unpleasant side effects.

Many people find that lying down to sleep can be an invitation for nighttime heartburn. When the ring of muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach gets loose and lazy, lying flat can allow stomach acid to splash or ooze into the lower esophagus and cause great discomfort.

One simple remedy for this problem is to sleep with the head of the bed elevated. But sometimes readers find other simple remedies that prevent nighttime heartburn for them. One woman shared her husband’s solution:

Q. For years my husband took medicine for acid reflux, but he doesn’t any more. We found that eating half an apple right before going to bed solves his problem completely. Have you ever heard of something so simple being so wonderful?

A Bit of Apple Puts the Bite on Heartburn:

A. Some other readers have told us that eating a bit of apple before bedtime helps control nighttime heartburn. We have also heard from people who find that eating a few almonds (up to a small handful) at the end of a meal prevents post-meal reflux.

We have been unable to find studies supporting these simple tasty remedies. Perhaps they help by stimulating the production of saliva, which can help protect the esophagus from acid splash-back (American Journal of the Medical Sciences, May 2015).

Other Ideas for Alleviating Heartburn:

Our Guide to Digestive Disorders offers many other suggestions for relieving heartburn. Another approach worth considering is a low-carb diet. Studies have found that cutting back on refined carbohydrates may also ease reflux symptoms (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Aug, 2006).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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