Heartburn, a symptom of acid splashing back into the esophagus from the stomach, causes a painful burning in the chest. Many different things can cause heartburn including insufficient digestive enzymes in the stomach, sensitivity to certain foods, allergies, bacterial infections and simply low stomach acid. Some prescription medications and medical conditions can worsen the problem. In pregnant women, heartburn can occur when progesterone relaxes the valve at the stomach’s end so the acid can pass more easily into the esophagus from the stomach. As the baby grows, the stomach is pushed upward, which can worsen heartburn.
Regardless of the cause, there are numerous heartburn home remedies that can lessen the pain or completely get rid of the problem. However, these only apply to the normal, occasional cases of heartburn experienced by most people. If you have frequent heartburn, however, you may be suffering from a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. According to the UC Davis Health Services Center at the University of California, occasional heartburn is common but experiencing the problem more than twice a week may be considered GERD, which can lead to more serious health problems later. If you have heartburn more than twice a week, consult a doctor and do not rely on natural remedies.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Although apple cider vinegar is an acidic substance, heartburn is often caused by a lack of stomach acid. To soothe heartburn, combine 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar with 1 cup warm water and sip slowly until the pain subsides.
- Herbal Tea – Soothing, mucilaginous herbs such as marshmallow root, licorice root and slippery elm bark can all reduce the pain caused by heartburn. For the best results, steep 1 tsp. of dried root, bark or powdered herbs in 1 cup very hot water for about 15 minutes, strain, sweeten with honey if you like and sip as needed. Do not drink more than 3 cups of herbal tea per day, however, as this can dilute the digestive enzymes that your body needs to prevent heartburn.
- Papaya – The papaya fruit contains an enzyme known as papain that aids in the digestion of protein and helps get rid of heartburn very quickly, especially when it’s caused by eating heavy foods. Simply eat some fresh papaya to get relief quickly. If you don’t have access to fresh papaya, try making some papaya leaf tea or taking papaya tablets that you can purchase in your local health food store.
- Aloe Vera – The humble aloe plant has so many uses and soothing heartburn is another of its specialties. It soothes and protects the delicate lining of the esophagus. Drink a shotglass of pure aloe gel or juice when you’re suffering from heartburn pain for nearly instant relief. Make sure you’ve harvested the gel yourself or purchased food-grade gel from a health food store. Remember, not all aloe vera on the market is meant to be consumed; read the label carefully to make sure it’s safe to eat.
- Saliva – It may sound gross, but your own saliva is perhaps the best home remedy for heartburn. A small study conducted at the University of Alabama examined the effects of saliva on moderate to severe heartburn in 10 volunteers. The participants chewed sugarless gum for 30 minutes after meals and during painful heartburn episodes. Although the acid still splashed up into the esophogus, it spent less time there. At the end of the study, 70 percent of the volunteers reported feeling better.
The next time you’re suffering from heartburn pain, try one of these effective home remedies for heartburn and you’ll be pain-free in no time. Remember, always talk to your doctor if the pain worsens, lasts longer than a few hours or occurs more often than twice a week, as these may be symptoms of a more serious medical condition.