Acid reflux refers to a condition where part of the stomach’s contents which is acidic in nature flows upwards and into the esophagus. This causes a burning sensation that feels as though it is traveling upwards to the neck region. In order to understand why this causes a burning sensation, it helps to have a clear understanding of the functioning of the digestive system. The stomach produces Hydrochloric acid to enable it digest food. The reason the stomach does not digest itself is that it produces mucus which prevents the acid’s action. The rest of the gut, however, is not served by this protective mucus lining.
For normal functioning of the gut, a muscular ring covers the esophagus thus preventing the back flow of the stomach’s acidic contents. When this muscular ring does not work well, the acidic food reaches the esophagus, and it is this condition that is referred to as an acid reflux. It is sometimes referred to as a heartburn or acid indigestion. Acid reflux is rather common among different age groups, and is arguably one of the most popular gut problems at hospital. The good news is that there are natural remedies that you can use to manage acid reflex. In extreme cases where you do not get relief from the condition, it helps to seek medical advice as this could indicate a more serious condition. While medication is available for acid reflux, natural remedies and changing one’s lifestyle may be just what you need to get relief.
1. Chamomile Tea:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Require: 1 Teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers, strainer, a cup of boiling water, lemon slices and honey (optional).
Chamomile tea is loved for its soothing properties, and it is no different when its properties are used for the management of acid reflux. Taking this tea prior to bedtime and after meals has been shown to deal with the inflammation within the gut, thus reducing the burning sensation that characterizes acid reflux. The tea is also thought to counter the acidity within the stomach. For those whose acid reflux is triggered by a stressful environment, chamomile tea is thought to relieve stress. This allows you to have a good night’s sleep, one of the greatest challenges for those suffering from acid reflux.
NB: You may choose to brew your own tea or prepare the tea from chamomile tea bags.
- Bring a cup of water to boil in a pan, and once it has started boiling, lower the heat.
- Place the dried chamomile leaves in the pan and let them simmer for a minute.
- Turn off the heat and let the flowers steep for couple of minutes.
- Strain the mixture and discard the used flower petals.
- Transfer the chamomile tea to a cup.
- Add the lemon slices to give the tea a refreshing taste.
- You may stir in the honey if you’d like to add a natural sweetener.
- Take this remedy twice daily until you notice an improvement.
2. Ginger Tea:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Require: Fresh ginger root, strainer and a cup of water.
Ginger is a versatile home remedy for a wide range of conditions within the digestive system, and acid reflux is no exception. Ginger not only balances the concentration of the acid, it also helps to regulate the stomach’s churning activity, thus reducing the frequency of acidic stomach contents been regurgitated past the esophagus. The best time to take this remedy is about half an hour before mealtimes.
- Slice half the ginger root and transfer to the pan.
- Add a cup if water and turn on the heat to allow the mixture to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and strain the mixture if you would prefer your tea that way.
- Transfer the tea to a cup and drink half an hour before your meals.
- Use this remedy as often as you would like ahead of your meals until you start to feel better.
3. Chew Gum:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Require: Chewing gum (preferably sugar-free).
Chewing gum is a simple yet effective remedy used in the management of acid reflux. The reason for this is pretty simple: chewing the sugar-free gum increases the amount of saliva produced in the mouth. This saliva flows down the gut, in effect clearing the accumulated acidic contents in the gut. This, in turn, reduces the severity of the acid reflux and makes the pain more manageable. If you constantly get heartburn, perhaps stocking up on sugar-free gum could be one of the simplest ways to deal with this condition while on the go.
- Simply chew on the gum for half an hour after mealtimes to keep acid reflux at bay.
4. Baking Soda:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Require: 1 Teaspoon of baking soda and a glass of warm water.
Baking soda constitutes Sodium bicarbonate, and is an excellent home remedy for anyone who needs to manage acid reflux. This is because baking soda is alkaline in nature. As such, it helps with the neutralization of the stomach’s acidic contents whenever this is regurgitated beyond the esophagus. In doing so, this easy-to-get home remedy eliminates the burning sensation that is typical of acid reflux.
- Place a teaspoon of the baking soda in a glass before adding the warm water.
- Stir the mixture well enough. There will be some fizzling and bubbling as the baking soda dissolves, and this is perfectly normal.
- Repeat this twice daily, preferably during the day and just before bedtime as acid reflux tends to worsen when you lay in bed.
NOTE: Do not use this remedy excessively as the high amounts of baking soda can easily destroy your enamel structure, cause abdominal discomfort, bloating and nausea. If in doubt about using Sodium bicarbonate to treat acid reflux, feel free to contact your medical doctor for the way forward.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Require: 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (preferably raw, organic) and a cup of warm water.
Raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar (abbreviated ACV) is an effective home remedy used to manage acid reflux. Many people find its use counteractive, after all this remedy contains acids used to treat a condition where the regurgitation of acidic content within the gut causes pain. The catch lies in one of the causes of acid reflux: cases where the condition is triggered by insufficient amounts of Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) in the stomach that then stimulates the opening of the lower esophagus sphincter. This causes food content to back up, hence the acid reflux. It is advisable to use this remedy in small amounts at the onset to find out whether the remedy works for you.
- Place a tablespoon of the ACV in a glass and add the warm water.
- Stir the mixture well to ensure that the ACV is completely dissolved.
- Drink the solution thrice daily, preferably before your meals and just before bedtime. If the condition does not ease after a day or two, discontinue the use of this remedy and seek other options as aforementioned.
6. Aloe Vera Juice:
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Require: Half a cup of aloe vera juice (chilled if you prefer it this way).
Aloe vera has grown in popularity as one of the most effective home remedies for a wide range of conditions. It is known for its ability to soothe burns, and this is the same mode of action used in the home treatment of acid reflux. When you drink aloe juice, you soothe the gut and eliminate the inflammation that a heartburn is known for. The juice also calms the stomach, making you feel so much better.
- Simply drink the aloe juice before your meals.
NOTE: In addition to aloe vera’s excellent properties in the management of acid reflux, the juice is also by nature, a laxative. For this reason, when purchasing your juice, you want to look for a product whose laxative compounds have been eliminated prior to packing (unless of course you do not mind taking crossword puzzles during your trips to the bathroom).
7. Yellow Mustard:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Require: 1 Teaspoon of yellow mustard.
Yellow mustard is not a particularly exciting remedy, but it is packed with natural goodness that could ease the pain of acid reflux. This is because in addition to its rich minerals, it is also slightly alkaline. What this means is that its alkalinity helps balance the acidity that is typical in people who suffer acid reflux. The advantage of this remedy is that its results are almost immediate, making it the perfect way to deal with heartburn. Admittedly, the mustard does require some getting used to, but its treatment powers outweigh its taste.
- Simply take the tablespoon of yellow mustard right after your meals.
- Repeat this thrice daily until you start to feel better.
8. Ripe Bananas:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Require: At least 2 ripe bananas
Bananas are a natural source of antacids which come in handy in countering the acidity during a heartburn. To manage acid reflux, try to incorporate bananas into your daily diet until you notice an improvement.
- Eat your bananas around your mealtimes to relieve acid reflux.
9. Observe Your Eating Patterns:
Time Required: Two weeks to get credible patterns that you can work with.
What You Require: A pen and notebook.
The reason for observing your eating patterns is to establish whether there are particular triggers, foods or timings that cause acid reflux. In addition to this, the record you come up with should help you pinpoint what needs to change.
- Record how you eat. As a general guide, avoid large portions of food at a go as these put pressure on the gut and make it easy for food to be regurgitated. In addition, eat slowly to give your stomach ample time to digest the food.
- Record what you eat. This is important because whenever you get a heartburn, it will be easy to pinpoint the exact food that triggered it. Generally speaking, foods that are acidic such as citrus fruits, spicy foods and tomatoes will predispose you to acid reflux. At the end of the two-week study, you will work to eliminate the specific foods that trigger acid reflux.
- Record when you eat. This is key because in most people, acid reflux is at its worst around bedtime. Consequently, you are advised to ensure that you take your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. This is because once you lie down, it becomes easy for food to back up from the stomach to the gut. While this may not be possible every single day, you could try sleeping with your head a little higher than the rest of the body. One option of doing this is to place bricks under your bed’s legs.
Other ways to manage acid reflux include snacking on almonds as they counteract the excess acidity in the stomach, eating apples for their rich antacids as well as steering clear of cigars and alcohols as they easily trigger acid reflux. The latter is important because the nicotine present in cigars and the alcohol content have been shown to inhibit the action of the lower esophageal sphincter, thus making it very easy for the stomach contents to get backed up.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also advisable as it reduces the risk of heartburn. The advantage of natural remedies in the treatment of acid reflux is that, unlike conventional medicines, they do not cause dependency. Make sure, however, that if the natural remedies do not show any improvements you must seek medical help to allay any fears of more serious health conditions.