We love home remedies. We are intrigued by the variety of treatments that have been passed down for generations, though they are sometimes disparaged as “old wives’ tales.” As far as we can tell, those old wives may not have been scientists, but they knew a thing or two! That is why we were excited about this reader’s indigestion remedy from way back when.
An Indigestion Remedy from Norway:
Q. My great-grandmother brought a folk remedy for upset stomach with her from Norway. When I was little and had a bellyache, I’d be given a tablespoon of cider vinegar plus a tablespoon of honey dissolved in a bit of hot water, mixed in a regular drinking glass that was then filled with cool water. It’s actually quite tasty and it works every time, almost instantly!
Several years ago, the owner of a restaurant in my neighborhood was complaining that his stomach was extremely upset. Nothing he’d tried had worked, including an entire bottle of the pink stuff. He couldn’t take the night off and go home (and he never complained about anything, so it must have been bad).
I suggested the cider vinegar/honey remedy. He told me I was crazy, but since he had nothing to lose by trying it, and wisdom from family matriarchs was nearly sacred to him, he trotted off to the kitchen. A few minutes later he was back to his old self and couldn’t stop grinning. Then he spread the word. I was still hearing about it weeks later.
A. Thanks for telling us about the origin of your remedy. We have heard from many readers that this can be surprisingly helpful for heartburn and indigestion.
What Does Vinegar Do?
This indigestion remedy, like most other home remedies, has not been the subject of a randomized controlled trial. A fascinating but small pilot study of a unique gum containing apple cider vinegar (Journal of Dietary Supplements, June, 2015) showed it eased heartburn.
Scientists have determined, however, that acid (such as vinegar) in the esophagus triggers increased salivation (Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dec., 2005). Frequently, such saliva secretion can overcome the discomfort of reflux (American Journal of the Medical Sciences, May, 2015).
Some worry that the vinegar will erode tooth enamel, so we were pleased to get this suggestion from a reader: “Use a straw to bypass the teeth so that the vinegar will not harm them.” One might also rinse with water and wait half an hour before brushing the teeth, since vinegar could soften enamel and make it susceptible to abrasion.
Can Honey Help?
The other component of this indigestion remedy, honey, has been studied even less than vinegar. We found an impassioned argument for its usefulness in fighting reflux (Indian Journal of Medical Research, Dec., 2013). Perhaps some day there will be an actual study of the Norwegian great-grandmother’s treatment for indigestion.
You will find other simple remedies for indigestion in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.