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Home Remedies for Heartburn

Have you ever experienced heartburn after dietary indiscretion? Given the risks of PPI drugs, why not try home remedies for heartburn?
Home Remedies for Heartburn
Delicious appetizing beautiful fresh two red apples isolated on a white background.

Heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or whatever you you want to call digestive distress, has been around since humanoids started eating. Just imagine our hunter-gatherer ancestors foraging on whatever they could find. Some of the grubs and beetles they likely consumed could not have been easy on the gastrointestinal tract. Home remedies for heartburn have been around forever. People have used herbs like fennel seeds, ginger, chamomile, slippery elm and licorice. Now that so many serious side effects have been linked to powerful acid-suppressing drugs, it’s no wonder that people are looking for home remedies for heartburn.

Seeking Alternatives to Nexium:

Q. I was prescribed Nexium for heartburn, but it began to lose its effectiveness and I worried about side effects. I found that yellow mustard worked faster and longer.

A. Nexium (esomeprazole) is a powerful and expensive way to treat routine heartburn. Many others have told us that yellow mustard can help ease heartburn. Other options include old-fashioned antacids such as baking soda or calcium carbonate, as well as home remedies such as a spoonful of apple cider vinegar or a few almonds after a meal.

A plant-based Mediterranean-type eating pattern may also be a good option. In one study, scientists reviewed the medical charts of 184 patients with acid reflux. To their surprise, they found that the Mediterranean diet with alkaline water controlled symptoms as well as PPIs (JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Oct. 1, 2017).

 Problems with PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors)

You have doubtless seen the commercials or read the ads for drugs like Nexium, Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole). Although they once were considered among the safest drugs in the pharmacy, we now know that there are some serious complications, especially when people use them for extended periods of time. Adverse reactions may include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Hip fractures
  • Heart attacks
  • Dementia
  • Pneumonia
  • C diff infections
  • Nutrient deficiencies (magnesium, iron, vitamin B12)

Home Remedies for Heartburn:

Licorice:

We do not recommend licorice for heartburn. That’s because natural black licorice has a dangerous dark side! It can cause serious side effects including hypertension, headache, low potassium levels, fluid retention, weakness and even paralysis. On the other hand, DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) seems far safer. It has been used to treat heartburn, ulcers and other other digestive upsets.

Joyce in California reports:

“I developed a stomach ulcer in the 1980s after taking a medication. For the last five years, I have been taking DGL and I am doing well. I sometimes have to take ibuprofen for osteoarthritis, but so far no ulcers.”

Chandler is even more enthusiastic:

“DGL ROCKS! I gave up the coffee that I loved because of heartburn. Taking DGL with meals is saving me. I am able to eat things that used to give me heartburn thanks to DGL.”

Deb in Arizona adds her experience:

“I was on Prilosec for over two years and tried to stop cold turkey a few months ago. The rebound effect was intolerable, so I started Prilosec again when I couldn’t stand the reflux.

“When I read that DGL licorice tablets could help I weaned off Prilosec in two weeks. WOW! I have since taken the DGL tablets, starting with 6 per day, and now only as needed. They are low-cost, low-risk and work like a charm.”

Almonds:

We cannot tell you why almonds might be helpful against indigestion, but a lot of folks tell us that this is one of the best home remedies for heartburn they have ever tried.

RPN shared this pregnancy experience:

“I found out about almonds helping heartburn after my second child was born. If I had another baby, I vowed, I would definitely test out the theory.

“Three years later, I put it to the test as I craved Mexican food throughout my entire third pregnancy and never had heartburn. I’d had bad heartburn in previous pregnancies. Years later, I contacted the California Almond Board for information about why almonds might work. Researchers said almonds were an ancient Middle Eastern remedy for peptic ulcers!”

Dr. Crystal had an interesting experience:

“I have a new patient with severe heartburn. When I saw her yesterday she had an attack during the office visit. I watched her stop it almost immediately with two almonds. She says it works every time.”

Apple:

We have heard from several readers who have tried eating apple in the evening as one of their home remedies for heartburn.

Q. Some years ago a person wrote to you about suffering from acid reflux. Following her advice, I started eating half an apple each evening. This took care of my bothersome nighttime heartburn. This is cheap and easy.

A. Four years ago we received this letter:

“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?”

Visitors to our website have responded to that testimonial. Some reported that eating apple was helpful. As with other home remedies, however, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Sadly, others found that it made things worse:

“Apples don’t work for me, sadly. They give me awful heartburn. Drinking sips of water eases it a bit but generally I have to wait until my heartburn wears off on its own.”

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):

Most gastroenterologists would cringe at the thought of treating heartburn with ACV. After all, they have been suppressing acid for decades, so adding acid seems totally counterintuitive. That said, lots of visitors to our website say apple cider vinegar is one of their favorite home remedies for heartburn:

Lily in Minnesota reported:

“I recently had a bad attack of heartburn. Just two tablespoons of ACV helped it immediately!”

Sasha in North Carolina says:

“After months of acid reflux I started taking apple cider vinegar with water before meals. It really works well.”

Not everyone will benefit from ACV and some may find it makes their heartburn worse. If you try this remedy, be cautious at first.

Here is a video of some of our favorite home remedies for heartburn:


Learn More:

If you would like to read about other remedies, you will find our Guide to Digestive Disorders of value. You can also find many more natural remedies for indigestion and many other ailments in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Share your own favorite home remedies for heartburn in the comment section below.

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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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Citations
  • Zalvan CH et al, "A comparison of alkaline water and Mediterranean diet vs proton pump inhibition for treatment of laryngopharyngeal reflux."
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