If you suffer from heartburn, don’t worry about it as it is something most adults suffer from in their lifetime. Its main symptom is an uncomfortable burning sensation behind the breastbone that usually reaches the throat.
Actually, this is more a symptom than a disease as it is triggered by acid reflux which occurs when the ring of muscles allowing food into your stomach relaxes when it shouldn’t. This results in the acid from your stomach returning up the oesophagus to trigger heartburn.
While it’s possible to have reflux without any heartburn, it’s not possible to have any heartburn without reflux. Though there are over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs available to treat heartburn, if you are an occasional sufferer, these lifestyle changes and natural home remedies should help you treat the condition.
1. Baking soda
All it takes is a spoonful of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate to put an end to the burning sensation of heartburn. It helps your reflux and heartburn as it is a base substance with a pH higher than 7.0. It thus neutralizes stomach acid wherein whenever your LES decides to get lazy and acid comes up your throat, there is no burning sensation.
All you need to do is mix half or one teaspoon of baking soda in an 8 ounce glass of water, stir and drink everything. Though you can repeat this as required, do not take more than seven half teaspoon doses in a day. It is also not advised to use this remedy for more than a week as it is high in salt, and can thus lead to side effects like swelling and nausea.
2. Aloe juice
Aloe is a plant that not only helps treat sunburn, but also heartburn by reducing inflammation. Whenever your stomach gets irritated or inflamed, or your oesophagus is eaten away, drinking a glass of aloe Vera juice can help calm it down.
Drink half a cup of aloe Vera juice at room or cool temperature before your meals. Just remember that as aloe also acts as a laxative, look for a brand that has the laxative component removed to prevent repeated trips to the bathroom!
3. Chewing gum
Studies by the Journal of Dental Research has proven that people suffering from symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease or chronic heartburn had lots of relief after chewing some sugar-free gum for half an hour after meals.
It works because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands which in turn increases the saliva flow. This in turn dilutes any acid that builds up in the gut to quickly clear it away. This is why the saliva you swallow helps make normal bouts of reflux rather painless.
4. No lying down
Heartburn generally worsens at night because you lie down when you sleep. As gravity works against you, the digested contents in the stomach backs into the oesophagus with acid. So try elevating your head to about 6 inches while sleeping by placing books, blocks or bricks under the bed legs at your head.
You could also use a wedge-shaped pillow under the mattress. However don’t just pile up extra pillows as they may slip off at night. Moreover, don’t lie down 3-4 hours after eating as lying down on a full stomach leads to the hard pressing of stomach contents against your lower oesophageal sphincter.
5. Some essentials
• Keep a watch on what you eat and avoid eating large mouthfuls of food. Instead, eat smaller bites slowly so that your stomach has time to digest the food and does not have to pump out excess acid.
• Do not eat anything for 3-4 hours before sleeping as lying down puts pressure on your LES to increase the probability of acid sneaking through.
• As some foods trigger heartburn, especially foods high in acid like citrus foods and tomatoes, and spicy foods, avoid them as much as possible.
With the help of these natural remedies, you will be able to treat most cases of heartburn. However if the symptoms and discomfort of heartburn and acid reflux remains after trying out these home remedies, it is always better to consult your doctor for advice.