Heartburn affects more than 60 million Americans at least once a month, with at least 15 million Americans experiencing it at least once per day. While occasional heartburn is annoying, chronic heartburn can be an indicator of a much more serious condition.
What Is Heartburn?
The terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t exactly the same thing.
Acid reflux refers to the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. It is a normal physiological process that can occur in healthy individuals occasionally, especially after meals or when lying down. Acid reflux becomes a problem when it occurs frequently or causes bothersome symptoms. Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, regurgitation (the sensation of acid or food coming back up into the throat or mouth), and a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
Heartburn is a symptom commonly experienced by individuals with acid reflux or GERD. It is a burning sensation or discomfort that occurs in the chest, often behind the breastbone. Heartburn is typically felt after meals or when lying down and is caused by the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. While heartburn is a characteristic symptom of acid reflux and GERD, not everyone with these conditions experiences heartburn.
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a chronic condition characterized by frequent or persistent acid reflux and related symptoms. While acid reflux is a part of GERD, not everyone with acid reflux has GERD. The main difference between acid reflux and GERD is the frequency and severity of symptoms. To be diagnosed with GERD, the symptoms should occur at least twice a week or significantly impact a person's quality of life. GERD is often associated with a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, which allows frequent backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.
So essentially: heartburn is a feeling, acid reflux is a process, and both can be. Now that you understand what heartburn is, let’s look at some ways to treat it naturally.
The way you move and position yourself is actually a powerful natural remedy for heartburn. Since heartburn happens as a symptom of acid reflux, making it harder for the acid to flow back into the esophagus can really help.
Here are some change you can make that can work as natural remedies for acid reflux and heartburn:
- Elevate the head of your bed: Raise the head of your bed by 6-8 inches to help prevent nighttime heartburn. A big wedge pillow is perfect for this.
- Maintain good posture: Sit up straight to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
- Sleep on your left side: If you experience nighttime heartburn, try sleeping on your left side. This position can help keep the lower esophageal sphincter above the level of stomach acid, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux and heartburn
- Stay upright after meals: Avoid lying down immediately after eating. Give yourself at least two to three hours of upright time to allow for proper digestion and minimize the risk of heartburn.
- Wait to lie down after eating: Wait at least 2-3 hours after meals before lying down or going to bed to allow proper digestion.
Read our article on Why Does Heartburn happen at Night?
Certain foods and herbs are naturally alkaline, meaning that they can help neutralize stomach acid temporarily. Other natural antacids may work due to their anti-inflammatory or other soothing properties. Including these in your diet as natural heartburn supplements can help relieve this painful condition.
Aloe vera juice: Aloe vera has soothing anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve heartburn symptoms. A little aloe vera juice drunk before a meal can be very helpful.
Apple cider vinegar: Yes, vinegar is an acid– but apple cider vinegar can have an alkalizing effect on the body when consumed. Mix one to two tablespoons of unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and drink it before meals to potentially reduce heartburn symptoms.
Baking soda: While not a food, and not something you should take all the time, you can mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it to neutralize stomach acid temporarily.
Lemon juice: Similar to apple cider vinegar, lemon juice is acidic– but becomes alkaline when digested. Drinking water with lemon juice added may help heartburn, but this is not recommended if you have an ulcer in addition to GERD or acid reflux.
Licorice tea: Licorice root tea, made from the dried root of the licorice plant, can help soothe the digestive system and potentially provide relief from heartburn. Steep the licorice root in hot water for several minutes and enjoy it as a warm tea.
Mustard: Mustard is often used as a natural antacid due to its alkaline properties. Swallowing a teaspoon of yellow mustard may provide temporary relief from heartburn symptoms.
Naturally alkaline foods: These foods help balance the body’s pH levels. Some examples of natural alkaline foods include: almonds, avocado, bell peppers, berries, cauliflower, cucumber, seaweed, and watermelon.
Papaya: Papaya contains the enzyme papain which can aid in digestion and reduce heartburn symptoms. Enjoy ripe papaya as a snack or incorporate it into your meals.
Another natural antacid and GERD natural remedies that has achieved good results for many people is d-limonene. This compound is found in the rinds of citrus fruits, and in clinical trials, 89% of participants reported total heartburn relief just two weeks after starting d-limonene. GerdLi is the easiest way to take this supplement.
GERD supplements can do more than just help you with your heartburn. They can help keep you off of pharmaceuticals like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which have many negative side effects. If you want to avoid these side effects altogether, why not try managing your symptoms with more natural techniques?
At GerdLi, we want to help you with heartburn natural supplements to manage your heartburn safely and effectively. Your comfort and health is our bottom line! To learn more about what we do, contact us with any questions and read about our approach– and then try GerdLi for yourself!