Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is never fun. It’s caused when stomach acid leaks out of the stomach, through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), then into the esophagus where it causes irritation and heartburn. In addition to heartburn, acid reflux can also cause symptoms like chest pain, nausea, regurgitation of food, and coughing, especially at night.
To relieve acid reflux, you can take over-the-counter antacids. Doctors may also prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers, which reduce stomach acid production. If you’re looking for more natural remedies for acid reflux, here are some options that can help soothe your digestive tract and ease your symptoms.
These remedies aren’t meant to be long-term solutions to acid reflux. They may provide temporary relief but sometimes come with their own side effects. As with everything, results differ by individual, so definitely find what works for you!
Herbal teas like peppermint, ginger or chamomile can have a calming effect on your digestive system. For example, ginger has long been used as a natural remedy that could potentially reduce inflammation and soothe the stomach.
Peppermint may be soothing, but it may also have the opposite effect. It may worsen symptoms by relaxing the LES,making it easier for stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. The effect of peppermint may differ from person to person, so keep this in mind if you try it.
When consuming these herbal teas, avoid additives like caffeine, high-fat milk, or too much sugar, as these ingredients can trigger reflux for some people.
Other herbs like licorice or slippery elm may help. Licorice extract can help reduce acid reflux and heartburn, by strengthening the mucous lining of the digestive tract. This forms a protective barrier against stomach acid.
However, due to the active ingredient glycyrrhizic acid, consuming too much licorice can be harmful to your health, as this 2012 study warns. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL is now available, which is licorice with the glycyrrhizic acid removed. It’s available in the form of a chewable tablet.
Slippery elm is a tree native to North America whose inner bark extract may have health benefits. When mixed with water, the extract forms a sticky, mucus-like material called mucilage. It lines the digestive tract and protects against irritation. Slippery elm can come as a powdered extract, and you can take a couple tablespoons with water after meals to help ease reflux symptoms.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal may reduce acid reflux, according to this study. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production which can help wash away acid in your esophagus. Mint may irritate acid reflux for some, so try other flavors if this is the case for you.
Aloe vera gel juice or syrup can soothe irritation. Gel from the aloe vera plant has a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect. It’s often used to calm sun-burned skin and can have a similar effect on the digestive system. A 2015 study showed that aloe vera syrup reduced symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and nausea without side effects.
A teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water can act as an antacid and provide temporary relief. Baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate which neutralizes stomach acid, thus relieving acid reflux. Bicarbonate is found in some antacids.
However, baking soda is not recommended as a long-term solution as it can cause other side effects like swelling, bloating, increased thirst, and even nausea. It’s not recommended for women who are pregnant, taking other medication, or dealing with other medical conditions.
Natural remedies may help, but the benefits are not guaranteed. There is limited research and what works for some might not work for others.
Also keep your health and safety in mind when trying them. Find trusted brands and research safe doses before trying them. Check with your doctor first, especially if you have other medical conditions.
Eating a diet low in fat, and high in protein and fiber, can improve symptoms and boost overall health. Fatty foods can trigger acid reflux, so go for low-fat options like lean meat and low-fat dairy like milk or yogurt. Low-acid fruits like bananas and melons are also easy on the digestive system. High-protein foods, like beans, and foods rich in fiber, like oatmeal, also tend to be filling, which can prevent overeating.
Definitely avoid foods that can trigger reflux. Greasy, fatty, spicy foods are common triggers. It’s not just about what you eat, but also how much you eat and when. Try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, and eat at least 2 or 3 hours before going to bed. Staying upright after you eat also helps stomach acid stay down.
Even with these diet or lifestyle changes, acid reflux symptoms may persist. If your acid reflux occurs more than twice a week for a couple weeks, you may have chronic acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We recommend seeing a doctor if this is the case.
With Alpha, treatment for acid reflux is just a click away. Get started with Alpha and within 24 hours you’ll be on your way to treatment. After reviewing your symptoms, our medical team will come up with a treatment plan and prescribe medication if necessary. As always, we deliver medication to your home with free shipping!