You’ve just finished a wonderful meal, and suddenly, you’re hit by a painful burning sensation near your diaphragm. Nothing can ruin a great evening as much as an attack of heartburn.
If you’ve over indulged in spicy or fatty foods, over-the-counter medication can help, but there are also some tried and true home remedies.
Here are five of the best:
1. Chewing Gum:
Chewing gum is great for wiping out garlic breath, but research suggests it has other advantages, as well. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research showed participants with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms had significant relief when they chewed one piece of sugar-free gum for half an hour after a meal.
The author of the study is Rebecca Moazzes, D.Phil. a clinical lecturer in King’s College London’s department of restorative dentistry. She writes:
Chewing gum stimulates the salivary flow rate. Any acid that accumulates in the gut is washed away and cleared more quickly. The clearance of acid improves GERD symptoms.
2. Baking Soda:
It turns out one of the most popular home remedies, baking soda, really works. Jackqueline Wolf, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, suggests mixing one-half to one teaspoon soda with a glass of water. Baking soda is high in salt, however, and it can cause swelling and nausea, so limit its use.
Susan Blum, M.D., founder and director of the Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, New York, recommends licorice, which has natural stomach healing properties. She advises you try chewable DGL licorice tablets before meals. They are available at health food stores, and some do not even taste like licorice. The DGL licorice does not contain glycyrrhizic acid, which can cause high blood pressure.
Aloe is a plant often used to salve burns. Victor Sierpina, M.D, professor of integrative and family medicine at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, wrote The Healthy Gut Workbook. He says the juice reduces inflammation in both the esophagus and stomach. He recommends drinking half a cup of aloe vera juice before meals, but he does remind us aloe can be a laxative. Choose a brand from which the laxative component has been removed, like Aloe Vera Power.
5. Slippery Elm:
Although there is sparse clinical research on slippery elm, the herb has been used for centuries to treat many complaints, including GERD syptoms. Dr. Blum says this tree extract creates a barrier against acid by creating a protective mucous layer within the stomach.
Dr. Sierpina says,
The way slippery elm has traditionally been prescribed is a couple tablespoons in water after meals and at bedtime.”
So the next time you anticipate the possibility of heartburn, reach for a natural remedy.