The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Prevent Heartburn with Green Tea

One reader discovered that a daily cup of green tea could prevent heartburn. Could it work to help you with GERD or acid reflux?
People, healthcare and problem concept – unhappy woman suffering from stomach ache over gray background

Many Americans take a lot of medications. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find ways to manage some common health problems with simple non-drug approaches? One reader found a way to prevent heartburn with a cup of green tea.

The Green Tea Coincidence:

Q. I would like to share a helpful remedy. A few years ago, I would have an acid reflux attack twice or three times a year. I tried Prilosec a couple of times, but I was concerned about long-term side effects of PPI drugs, so I decided to stop it.

Coincidently, around the same time I stopped taking Prilosec tablets, I started drinking one cup of hot green tea most days for the flavonoids and antioxidant benefits. Little did I know at the time, but I had found a way to stop my acid reflux attacks.

I was talking with someone a couple of years ago who regularly travels to China on business. This person told me there is a belief in Asian cultures that green tea gets rid of fat. I hope this might help someone else prevent heartburn and GERD.

Will Green Tea Prevent Heartburn?

A. Thank you for sharing your experience. We are not sure whether green tea really does anything to get rid of fat, or whether that would make a difference for heartburn. It’s good to know this simple remedy worked for you.

Epidemiological studies conflict on whether drinking green tea protects from reflux or acts as a trigger (BMC Gastroenterology, Nov. 15, 2012; Gut and Liver, March, 2014; Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, Dec. 9, 2014; Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, Mar-Apr., 2015; Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health, online Aug. 5, 2016).

A self-experiment like the one you have done, along with keeping good records would allow other readers to determine their own reactions. This doesn’t qualify as true science, because it applies only to an “N of 1,” but when that one is you, that’s the reaction that is relevant to you.

You can find other ideas for non-drug options to prevent heartburn in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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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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I have had reflux for years. Tea is a serious trigger, though one would not expect it to be. Vitamin C. Many supplements also cause problems, unfortunately.

For me, green tea has always acted as a trigger for GERD. Especially if decaffeinated, but either way, it has caused me problems. Maybe it’s the tannic acid in it.

Too bad, because I really like it, and sometimes I can get away with just drinking a small cup of very weak, decaf green tea. But never more than once every few days. I should add that I’m unable to take any prescription meds for GERD, since they all cause a heart arrhythmia. All I can take is generic Rolaids tablets, a few a day, and avoid my trigger foods.

I drink green tea everyday and cannot give up my PPI. Plus, every once in a while, I have to take a Tums to supplement, depending on the food I eat.

Well, every time I’ve tried to drink green tea with honey, I’ve gotten indigestion. Is it the honey? I can’t finish over a cup of green tea after I fix it, as it affects my stomach so badly.

I’ll give the green tea a try. I tapered off Prilosec 6 mos. ago under a Dr.s supervision (it was her idea). Hooray for Dr.’s who are paying attention to the literature re long-term effects of PPI’s.

It took 2 mos. to get totally off Prilosec. Now I take generic Pepcid 2X day. Between that 6 mos. ago and now, I had a lot of rebound heartburn, took a lot of Tums & Papaya Enzyme tablets, & still keep them handy. A drink of water also helps.

The heartburn has mostly subsided, except after dinner, & at bedtime. We’ve always had dinner/supper later in the evening; also, a big meal, even if eaten early, guarantees a bedtime heartburn episode. So, along with the green tea, Pepcid, Tums, & Papaya Enzyme, I’ll have to eat less dinner & do it early.

My questions for anyone else who comments are: what time of day do you drink the green tea – afternoon/evening, since that’s when I have problems? Is there any reason I shouldn’t ice the tea. I don’t like hot tea, but I’ll do it that way if necessary. Also, will the green tea help ease a heartburn episode while it’s happening?

Actually I have found that green tea makes my heartburn worse as does all caffeine drinks.

Ronni & PP, I got the decaf green tea. It’s a little early to say it working wonders, but it seems to help, and doesn’t make things worse. I don’t use any caffeine and I don’t smoke.

After reading the studies cited, it should be noted that in all of these tests, many of the participants were smokers. Also, it doesn’t say what kind of tea was drunk. Probably these people were drinking caffeinated rather than herbal teas. Caffeine in any form is one of the things people are encouraged to avoid with GERD. A better sample or study would be one from Japan where green tea is a favored drink. or with people who drink only herbal/ decaffeinated teas.

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