Q. I have had success with a remedy I read about in your newspaper column. I have persistent heartburn and was on prescription medications for more than a decade. I was surprised to read that cayenne pepper extract had helped others with this problem.
I have been taking one cayenne pill in the morning and one in the evening for less than two weeks. I have gone from chomping Tums or Rolaids three to five times a day to almost none. It has made a huge difference in the way I feel. The relief came very quickly and was inexpensive. I have even had some pretty spicy food.
A. You have confirmed what others report, namely that capsaicin (the hot stuff in chili peppers) may be helpful for heartburn. Although such an approach seems unorthodox, a study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (April, 2010) showed that regular ingestion of hot peppers reduced symptoms of reflux. Using an extract in pill form might be more tolerable for those who dislike spicy flavors.
Here is the original report from a reader who found hot pepper helpful. Others recommend apple cider vinegar, almonds after a meal, or DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). There’s more information in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.