The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Your Heartburn?

Can you cure your heartburn with baking soda or vinegar? Changing the way you eat might be a more effective approach to calming reflux long term.

Do you get uncomfortable after a big meal? A burning sensation under the breastbone after eating is common. If you have ever suffered from this type of indigestion, you may want to know how to cure your heartburn.

Will Baking Soda or Apple Cider Vinegar Cure Your Heartburn?

Q. My mother and grandmother both used baking soda for heartburn. Mom will be celebrating her 92nd birthday in two weeks so it must not have done her any harm.

My partner cured his heartburn by drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar in juice before every meal. This was recommended by a PhD pharmacologist, who told him the reflux is sometimes caused by too little, not too much, acid. Drinking the vinegar apparently helps rebalance your system. This worked for my partner. He no longer takes antacids, baking soda or vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn:

A. We have heard from many other readers who report that drinking some apple cider vinegar in juice or water helps heartburn symptoms. It may not cure your heartburn once and for all, however. Moreover, some people find that it doesn’t help at all.

One reader wrote:

“Adding more acid makes matters far worse for me, whether it’s mustard, apple cider vinegar or something else. Normally, when I get indigestion, it is due to eating something that was acidic to begin with, and antacids bring me quick relief.”

Baking Soda to Cure Your Heartburn?

Baking soda is a time-honored solution for minor heartburn. The usual dose is ½ teaspoon in at least four ounces of water. Do not use this remedy if you have overeaten, however. In rare instances, baking soda on a full stomach could cause rupture. That’s because of rapid carbon dioxide release. There are at least 15 cases in the medical literature.

What’s more, it should go without saying that you should never combine baking soda and vinegar as a remedy. You may remember from fifth grade science class that this is a wonderful way to simulate the action of a volcano: dramatic in a beaker, but wholly undesirable in your stomach!

Learn More:

You may wish to read more about ways to cure your heartburn here, or listen to some of our recent interviews with gastroenterologists. The interview with Dr. Nick Shaheen focused Barrett’s esophagus as well as heartburn. It is Show 1144: New Ways to Heal Your Digestive Tract. Our interview with Dr. Robynne Chutkan put more emphasis on what to eat to cure your heartburn. It is Show 1078: How to Have Good Digestion Without Heartburn Drugs.

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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. .
Show 1078: How to Have Good Digestion Without Heartburn Drugs (Archive)
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Although some heartburn drugs are available without a prescription, at high doses they increase the risk for stroke. What are the alternatives?

Show 1078: How to Have Good Digestion Without Heartburn Drugs (Archive)
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Products manufactured with animal shortening (baked goods) may be a culprit. Discovered that years ago after stopping for coffee and pastry regularly at a quick mart and experiencing heartburn about an hour after consuming same.

Investigated it, and a friend in the nutrition business examined the ingredients label and determined that the likely culprit was the hydrogenated animal shortening used to make the pastry. Stopped eating the pastry, and no more heartburn.

This is not a scientific study, merely my personal experience.

To all of the people who are raving about drinking vinegar (of any kind):
If you want to keep your teeth, do the following…
Every time you drink vinegar, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterwards; or better yet, brush your teeth. Otherwise the vinegar is going to erode the enamel off of your teeth.

Sometimes I have a sort of heartburn after a meal, but I eat 1/3 stick of Freedent (have plates) gum. It helps bring up a few bubbles. On the rare time that doesn’t help, I have a bit of baking soda in tepid water- just one or two mouthfuls and that does it. Vinegar burns my stomach so badly. I was given a tiny cup of that and honey or something at a store and almost vomited and had to run outside- pain was terrible. No vinegar for me.

I’m 66 and have had heartburn for decades. The unusual thing is that it isn’t caused by salsa, hot sausage or the usual hot suspects: many times it’s caused by bread, pastry or even oatmeal! I have been drinking 2 tbs of honey and 2 tbs apple cider vinegar mixed in 8 oz of water every day to help with my arthritis and noticed that I rarely need to take Tums anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s the ACV helping my heartburn and not the honey. It doesn’t make sense that putting acid (apple cider vinegar) in your stomach would help with heartburn but maybe I have an unusual type of heartburn that it obviously helps. I’m not complaining.

If I’m out of the house, and reflux starts I chew a piece of sugarless gum. That helps me.

Am an 86 year old active senior woman. I fill a 16 oz. bottle with 1 tablespoon of ACV, some flavoring or juice of choice, and water. I sip some all during the day, especially before or after meals. I notice I have no more acid reflux, no more IBS, and my diabetes is under control.

On days that I don’t drink this tasty concoction, everything gets out of balance again.
I’m pleased to say that this is an easy, non-pharmaceutical way to help maintain a good balance, although you will probably never get this advice from your Doc.

Take it from a satisfied elder.

I use papaya pills regularly to relieve digestive discomfort. Works every time, has no side effects.

I went to an ENT specialist because I was having trouble speaking, and that was my job. He discovered my vocal cords were “fried” due to silent reflux. I had no heart burn pain. At his suggestion I totally changed my diet to take in less acid and achieve a more balanced state. The usual American diet is quite acidic. But by making changes I found complete relief. Tip: if you miss that sharpness of vinegar, try lemon juice. Lots of internet sites provide good info in alkaline/acid balance with lists of foods and their ph. Good luck.

Sure works for me, too!

I had reflux for a number of years until I totally gave up sweets (candy). I have cut out other extra sources of sugar from my diet. and fingers crossed, the reflux has gone.

What’s the big deal about apple cider vinegar? It’s supposedly great for all kinds of things. But why is it better than other types of vinegar?

There isn’t any science to show that it is in fact any better.

It isn’t clear that apple cider vinegar is superior to every other type.

I have had heartburn in the past, and apple cider vinegar almost invariably takes care of it. Strangely, in the past two years or so, I sometimes get very uncomfortable with hiccups soon after starting to eat dinner. (This is almost the only time I ever get hiccups). I have found that if I mix a teaspoon of ACV in my glass of drinking water and then take a few sips, the hiccups stop, and I have no stomach distress either.

Could it be really true that Prilosec/equivalent causes stroke? My sister takes 40 mg/twice a day, which is a very high dose! This has been years now and she’s not had a stroke!

Sure helps me with heartburn. I put 1/2 tsp. baking soda, a tad of sugar in a glass and add 4 oz. water. Then I stand over the sink and pour Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar so that it fizzes and while it is fizzing, I drink it all at once. Makes you burp a lot, but it sure does relieve you.

Did you read the part of the article that said DO NOT MIX vinegar and baking soda??

Occassionally , If I have over eaten, or my stomach feels uncomfortable, I follow the advice of Dr. Jarvis, in his (old, old, old) book called Vermont Folk Medicine. He advises putting 1 or 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and just sipping until you feel OK! Works like a charm for me, and has, for about 50 years!
Sarah

I have my own theory and I find it involves the body’s sensors. Usually acid reflux comes from to much acid in the stomach. This is caused by a number of different conditions: stress, eating at irractic times (no following a set eating pattern everyday which cause the release of acids when no food is introduced, or to much non-acid food. Yes, I said too much food that is basic and not acidic.

Our body has sensors for things besides hearing, sight, touch, etc. One of them is pH sensors in the stomach to regulate release of digestive enzymes and acid. Taking antiacids works short time but does not solve the problem…it makes it worse long term as it only requires the body to secrete more acid to maintain a balance.

Apple cider vineagar is always helpful as it will change the pH of the stomach and fool the sensors into thinking they need to back off introducing more acid and enzymes. The net result is that the damage done by the bodys own chemicals which can damage the stomach lining is reduced as the apple cider vineagar is less damaging yet has the high pH.

This remedy was used for decades by truck drivers who were notorious for eating big greasy meals and then sitting hours on end.

I find a nice pickle works well too!

I read about stimulating saliva production by gently chewing on your tongue and then swallowing. This has eliminated almost all of my heartburn.

Apple cider vinegar exacerbated my reflux exponentially. The burning was horrific! I was obviously one of those who produced too much acid. Losing 60 pounds and achieving a healthy weight has cured my reflux, and no more Prilosec!

On those rare occasions when I do get heartburn, I use 1/2 tsp baking soda in water, which calms down the stomach and bloating, usually less than 1-2 times a month. Also take tablespoon ACV daily. This routine has helped a great deal since having my gallbladder removed.

I use yellow mustard. It works, and also eating almonds,

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