The People's Perspective on Medicine

Home Remedies for Heartburn

Have you ever experienced heartburn after dietary indiscretion? Who hasn't? Would you ever think of eating yellow mustard or swallowing apple cider vinegar?
A bottle of yellow mustard with 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.

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.

 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. I take DGL with meals and it’s 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. I said if I had another baby 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 had bad from 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 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:


If you would like to read about other remedies you will find our Guide to Digestive Disorders of value.
Share your own favorite home remedies for heartburn in the comment section below.

This article was updated on July 28, 2016

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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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Some months back I wrote about how I suffered from heartburn; for years I was on powerful acid reflux drugs to help me with the pain that seem to get worse daily. I read on this website about how mustard might help. Well, I had to get back and write an update. I’m happy to say I’m completely off prescription drugs! The mustard rememdy worked! I was of course in the beginning not sure something so simple would work but I had nothing to lose by trying.

Wow, all I can say is thank you People’s Pharmacy for having this rememdy. So here’s how I did it. Immediately after reading mustard would help I walked over to my fridge, grabbed my mustard out and swallowed two heaping tablespoons; followed by a swig of water. Now, I am fortunate I do love mustard but I have to tell you it was getting a little old after my fourth bottle within three to four months. But here’s the crazy thing, it didn’t even dawn on me that each week I was using less and less mustard ( I call them mustard shots)…so right about the time I was starting to gag at the sight of another mustard shot I actually stopped having to take them daily!

I experimented a lot. If I knew I might have a spicey meal I’d have two mustard shots. If I wanted coffee in the eveing I’d have a shot about a half hour before. Before, my heartburn was brutal at night, especially when I went to bed; so I’d have at least two mustard shots before bed. I was shocked to find that within seven months my heartburn is all but cured. I maybe have one or two shots a week now. And really, only when I think I might have an extra spicey meal or alcohol do I take some in advance to head off the symptoms.

Honestly, I don’t know why this rememdy works but I’m living proof. If you have suffered for years with heartburn and want to get off dangerous meds give this a try. But stick it out…don’t give up right away. It took me about four bottles to get to a point that I didn’t have that horrible acidic feeling in my throat. I also tamed a lot of foods in my diet, meaning I just tried to eat better all the way around. I sure hope you have success in this rememdy. I always thought I’d be a slave to prescription meds and never again enjoy my favorite foods. I was so traumatized by heartburn that when I did eat a spicey meal I just sat there waiting for the pain to rush in. I remember guzzling down bottles of Mylanta, Pepto, and even tried Apple Cider Vinegar. I popped Tums like candy and drank glasses of baking soda. Nothing worked. Until I stumbled across the mustard rememdy. Please try it, you won’t be sorry.

I keep a small can of 7UP in my fridg. At first sign of heartburn I open and drink it, slowly.
Heartburn gone in manner of minutes. How simple it is!
I’m 90 years old. My mother taught me to use baking soda water when I was young. Then soft drinks came on the market. She advised me to try 7UP at that time and I have never looked back.

I am on Nexium every second day. Zantac one day Nexium 20 the next works for me. Tried many other like AVC etc. ginger tea but did not work for me

Since you asked about mustard helping heartburn: About 60 years ago, I read a paperback by a Dr. Jarvis called “Old Vermont Folk Medicine”. He recommended apple cider vinegar for an upset tummy. 1 or 2 tsps to a glass of water. I used it with all my children and use it today for indigestion, or having eaten too much etc. Actually , I just pour some in a glass with water, add some ice, and it’s a very pleasant drink! And it fixes the problem every time! After a few sips, all is well. If I suggest it to anyone they think I’m crazy! But that’s OK–I feel fine!

My son is taking Prilosec. His eyes appear to be bulging. Google bulging eyes and Prilosec. It will really scare you. If you have been scoped–endoscopy and/or colonoscopy you likely have H. Pylori/ really generates acid. A recent media blitz revealed that scopes are not being cleaned properly and the scopes are transferring bad bacteria/H. pylori from one patient to another. Make certain that your scope has been cleaned with peracetic acid sterilization.

I had severe heart burn attacks for all of my adult life. I became nervous if I realized I didn’t have a bottle of Maalox tablets in the house. I would take up to a dozen of those, sometimes to no effect.

Apple cider vinegar is now my go-to heartburn remedy. One or two tablespoons stops the heartburn cold. Also, I no longer have frequent episodes; I can remember only one or two over the past year.

Long ago, I had big problems inside me [heartburns,ulcer]. I read that CABBAGE juice can cure; at that time there were only blenders, no juicers. The taste was hard. TWICE a day. I was cured in 6 mos. It was in 1955. I’m now 86, eating &drinking normally [wine at meals, a little liquor as aperitif]

I have cured my heartburn!!! Yes, after a very unpleasant attack – I have had acid reflux for half my adult life – I switched to Gaviscon. I took it as instructed for 2-3 days and had no pain, then took it every once in awhile. But it has been four months appx and my acid reflux is gone. I no longer need anything. I eat and drink whatever I like.

I have suffered with heartburn for years and have tried many otc’s and prescribed meds for the symptoms. I was getting worried about the side effects of the drugs I was taking so about three days ago I decided no more drugs; time to find a home remedy. Today, after drinking ginger root tea and still feeling the symptoms bubbling up I took out some mustard(nothing fancy, plain generic brand) and poured one tablespoon out and swallowed it down. To my surprise no more heartburn! I sat in my kitchen for about 15 minutes waiting for the symptoms to return and nothing! After a spagetti dinner I was still waiting; I felt a small bout of symptoms trying to come on but they never surfaced! No heartburn still and it has been several hours now since I took the one tablespoon. Tomorrow I will begin my morning with a tablespoon and see if I’m really onto to finally getting some relief from decades of heartburn. Thank you folks for recommending this remedy.

I travel for work daily and tonight at 11:50pm I woke up with acid working it’s late night magic. Usually when I’m home and this happens (once in a blue moon) I use ACV and I’m good to go. Well tonight I couldn’t find any at the local convenience store. So I grabbed yellow mustard packets and only two were needed but it worked wonders. Its my first time for the mustard but I’m extremely pleased!!! Fyi…I’ve also ate pickles or drunk pickle juice and that’s helped as well.

My doctor prescribed nexium. Did reading up on proton pump inhibitors before I made a decision as to take it or not. Was uncomfortable about it so I researched natural remedies for acid reflux. Took a spoonful of mustard before breakfast and have been symptom free for most of the day.

I just realized I said 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar in my last post, when I should have said 1-2 Tablespoons of vinegar (to cup of water).
Also, I’ve read that apple cider vinegar is far less nasty to drink and also more nutritious than distilled white vinegar, but that, if you can live with the taste, white vinegar is still just as safe to drink and effective against heartburn as apple cider vinegar.
In short: both are safe but apple cider is tastier.

Please note that while I feel caps are usually obnoxious, I am not using them to shout my point, but instead only to highlight the subject of each paragraph. Hopefully this does not take away :)
THE REASON VINEGAR WORKS: because it is an acid (at a certain level of acidity your esophagus is triggered to close so stomach acid can no longer enter your throat). It treats the *cause* of heartburn.
THE REASON BAKING SODA WORKS: because it is a base (it, as well as many other foods (bread, milk, cucumbers, etc., etc.), calms/neutralizes the acid in your throat, making you feel less of the “burny” symptoms of heartburn). It treats the *symptom* of heartburn, temporarily.
WHAT ACIDS AND BASES DO TOGETHER: If you mix any acid with any base, you end up with a salt and water (source: Chemistry class). Salt water is not a cure for heartburn. Salt makes you thirstier, making you drink more water, pushing stomach acid further up into your throat, making the heartburn more intense.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOGIC: So, even though it sounds like a nice, simple recipe of: one good thing, plus another good thing, must make it double good (“1+1=2”), it is not. It is similar logic that leads some teens to believe that two condoms are better than one. But it doesn’t work that way because the second condom takes away from the effectiveness of the first, the same way a base takes away from the effectiveness of an acid.
I truly hope my example did not sound degrading in any way, I did not mean for it to, if it did.
RECOMMENDATION FOR HEARTBURN: My recommendation is to take 1-2 teaspoons vinegar diluted into a cup of water. You can follow this with a tiny bit of something to neutralize the acid now in your throat from the vinegar (sip of milk, etc.), but not enough to neutralize the acid now in your stomach to a level where the acidity level is not met, and your esophagus opens back up (several glasses of milk, an ant-acid, etc.)
Hope this helped someone! :)

I have frequent heartburn and used to take generic pepcid I started to take a teaspoon or tablespoon of yellow mustard every morning and I don’t have heartburn for the rest of the day it really works for me

YR: yours sound like you spent a night with a classical case of GERDS. My experience, which has helped greatly: # I take 10 mg generic fomotidine OTC before meals, staying away from brand names, # no eating 4 hours before bedtime # no spicy foods anytime # do not overeat at any time # watch your diet and if overweight, get rid of it # elevate the head of your bed, try 4-1/2″ (three 1-1/2 tk blocks), if not enough, go to 6″, torso needs to be elevated, not your head — elevation with pillows will not work nearly as well; you will get use to it # just before bed, take 1 T of Maalox or equal # it’s a life style. # good luck.

Well, last night I snacked late and went to bed afterwards. After 1 hour of sleeping, I woke up with horrible acid seeping up into my throat, burning… hurting. I immediately chewed two nasty Rolaids and waited… nothing. The acid volcano keeps burbling into my throat, I then drank some baking soda, and it keeps bubbling, now with the effervescent effect of the baking soda, it was gagging me, making me nauseous !!
I then took one tablespoon of white vinegar and started to feel the volcano calming. I laid on a propped pillow and fell sleep. and woke up at 8 am fine with not trace of the nasty culprit !!

I take 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard when I have heartburn and or gas (burps). I have found that works faster and better than any med I have tried, otc or prescribed. If for some reason it is not better after 30 minutes, I take one more teaspoon and I’m better within 15 min. But in 95% of the times it worked the 1st round.

My Dr. told me about this today and I’m very willing to try it. She told me another patient did this and was off her reflux meds in 2 months.
Do you take the ACV daily, weekly – how often?
Thanks!

I have severe acid reflex n heartburn alot where my past lifestyle included me taking way to much tylonal and goody powders, eventually tums, rolaids, they lose there effectiveness and u honestly have to find a few ways to help with your problem but i can suggest if it comes at u random and u have no tums or rolaids n very limited items around the house grab the mustard. I have just now tested this out is why im letting everyone know, about 20 mins ago i started searching on how to ease this heartburn paid n my kitchen is not stocked with a lot of things n no baking soda around so i shoved a spoonful of mustard in my mouth and it burned like hell going down but started to feel relief quicker then anything before. i back the mustard 100% and glad i know about this now.

Baking soda is working for me, but at times, it comes back bad, I see myself throwing my lunch a few hours later. I’m going to try the vinegar ( white ) sometime this week. Also my eating habits, small portions, thanks to everybody on this web site for your suggestions and comments, Peace ray

ACV with 1/4 tsp of baking soda totally works. Also I remember using a banana as well. Thanks Peoples Pharmacy! Love this site!

I am scheduled to have an upper endoscopy next week. I have been suffering with acid and a frail stomach lining so severe that it hurt to drink water. My doctor told me to double my ranitidine – holy cow, talk about side-effects!! I also use DGL, digestive enzymes, aloe and other things that always helped me in the past. This time nothing worked. So I looked up PP and tried vinegar which didn’t work. Also pickle juice, tonight I tried yellow mustard…and it DOES work. I’m amazed and will use it again tomorrow. What a blessing to not have burning acid after a meal.

I had acid reflux for many months. I heard that chewing gum for at least 1/2 hour after every meal is a good remedy. After a few weeks I forgot what what acid reflux felt like. It seems the saliva generated by gum chewing neutralizes the stomach acid. Worked for me.

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (acv) mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 oz of water is much better than drinking white vinegar. White vinegar is very acid, which should be avoided with acid reflux. The ACV (use organic, unpasteurized with the mother) does not have the same acid properties and combined with the baking soda can adjust your PH to a normal level. Ironically, mustard contains white vinegar so it’s not logical for it to reduce acid but such is the way of home remedies.

I haven’t tried mustard yet but I just tried vinegar & couldn’t believe the results! Instant relieve! So glad I found this site, thank you.

I just took 2 teaspoons of mustard. one worked but I got it bad so I took 2 teaspoons.. it works when you got nothing else to use.

Using pharmaceutical medicine for a long time have certain side effects. Take small frequent meals rather consuming large meals in a day. Apple also is good to cure acid reflux.

Honestly, the dosage of yellow mustard or vinegar doesn’t matter. I came to work with acid reflux so bad that it was burning a whole in my throat and I stayed hoarse and coughed a lot. My throat was raw and I couldn’t take another minute of this horrid living.
My boss told me about this web site and reading about vinegar and acid reflux. Sounded good to me that day so and I was at the “I didn’t care if he were right or wrong” state of mind. I left for lunch and bought a small bottle of white distilled vinegar; got to the car; opened the cap and took a big,huge gulp! My life changed immediately.
I could feel the vinegar retarding the disease immediately and I had never felt better. My reflux was so bad, at night I would lay down and rush to the bathroom after a couple of hours trying to hold down my food and THE BURN AND AFTERMATH WAS HORRIBLE!
Now I take a gulp once a week and I don’t have THIS troublesome disease any longer. Will it have aftermath later in life? Time can only show me the end results.
I was spending $60.00 a month on prescribed Nexium, taking 2 a day instead of one because I had the disorder so intense. Thanks to whomever found my remedy for acid reflux. Will it work for you? I don’t know but it made my stomach and my life happier.

I felt relief when I lay on my left side I discovered this before I read it here.

I just take one small bag (fast food restaurants, I always carry on my bag or car) or a teaspoon. If its really bad, I take two teaspoons. ALSO, using turmeric on your food/cooking may help; drinking 1/2 glass of water room temperature will give you an immediate relief.

I take issue with a couple of JB’s comments on heartburn. With respect to the advice of the OBGYN on lying on left side to relieve reflux — an anatomical book will show that the esophagus enters the stomach on the left side and is higher than the exit on the right side, so lying on the left side may aggravate the condition. The second exception is the comment about lying down at all to relieve heartburn — worse thing that can be done. If you have heartburn, stay vertical at least until it passes, even try a recliner — heartburn is not a healthy digestive reaction to food.
You will not know if you have an ulcer (quite possible with habitual heartburn) without an endoscopy. Get one. The best home remedies for heart burn: 1) don’t wear tight clothes, 2) don’t overeat, 3) don’t eat food that will produce excess acid, and 4) if the circumference of your waist is over 1/2 your height — more than likely you are overweight — loose it — give your stomach a break. In the meanwhile, with occasional heartburn try a few home remedies, just don’t push your luck if heartburn is habitual.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE USUAL RECOMMENDATION IS TO LIE ON THE LEFT SIDE (THOUGH NOT RIGHT AFTER YOU EAT!)
HERE ARE SOME OTHER COMMON RECOMMENDATIONS: http://heartburn.about.com/od/preventingheartburn/a/preventniteburn.htm

Common heartburn is not the same thing as an ulcer. Certainly a person would want to heal an ulcer of any sort. But common periodic heartburn does not require an ongoing prescription with all its attached side effects. It can be due to acid levels (high or low) or even gas causing pressure and pain that feels like heartburn. I had never preferred mustard as part of my meals, but when I heard that it could help heartburn, I tried it.
I eat organic eggs several times a week and add 1/2 tsp to my scrambled eggs before I cook them. When I have a deli sandwich I put mustard on one side of it, enough to cover it. Periodically I’ll drink a bit of root beer. All of them have helped. My OBGYN also suggested laying on your left side to facilitate emptying the stomach as a helpful solution to heartburn as it moves things away from the esophagus opening. It takes longer than mustard, but it works.
If you have heartburn in the evenings a lot after being vertical all day, trying laying down on your side for 10 minutes in the afternoon if you have the opportunity as a preventative. And yes, even the pickle juice has worked in a pinch for me, just one chug of it. It’s now been well over 2 years since I’ve had to take a Pepcid AC, whereas before I would go in phases when I would have to take it daily for several days in a row and then I’d go off it and then back on, etc.

I followed the suggestion on the use of almonds to relieve heartburn. Just 5 or 6 work for me. I started carrying them in a small jar in my vehicle too. ~

I, too, would like the dosage info on yellow mustard for heart burn. Tums helps, but is
not strong enough.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: WE HOPE SOMEONE WHO HAS USED IT CAN HELP WITH THIS. WE ALWAYS HEAR ABOUT A TEASPOON OF YELLOW MUSTARD, BUT THAT IS FOR STOPPING CRAMPS RATHER THAN HEARTBURN.

The reason mustard works is the vinegar.read labels of mustard first ingredient is vinegar.It is far easier to swallow than straight vinegar.One tablespoon works for me.

It is my understanding that Nexium may be the first and best medical attack to heal an esophageal ulcer(s) — after which it should be replaced with a less powerful med. I have never seen data on yellow mustard/standard antacids/vinegar/almonds doing the same. Could it be that not taking Nexium on the advice of a GI Doc would not be in the interest of the patient? I was advised to take Nexium for what an upper endoscopy showed to be an ulcer — I did and had a very negative experience with the medication. Doc switched to less potent med — ulcer healed ok.

Please give the recipe for using yellow mustard to relieve heartburn with quantity and method of dosage. Thanks.

Just a spoonful n wait bout 5 mins and u should start feeling it easy up then it dont hurt to eat another spoonful. very quick though i just tried this method as i have severe heartburn n no tums rolaids or anything around, it dont feel to good going down i though i just got tricked into eating it because it hurt lol but started to fade quicker than anything i’ve used before.

An apple seems to calm reflux, too.

how much yellow mustard please???

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