If you’ve ever suffered through an episode of heartburn you don’t need me to tell you how miserable it can make you. The burning gnawing pain can disrupt your days and keep you awake at night.
In fact, heartburn pain can get so bad that it sends countless folks to the emergency room every year convinced they’re having a heart attack. So it’s really no wonder that around 15 million Americans have turned to prescription heartburn drugs, call proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for a little relief.
But that could be a mistake. And here’s why…
PPIs, such as Nexium or Prilosec, were never intended to be long term solutions. They’re supposed to be used for a very short period of time and then stopped.
But PPIs are hiding a dirty little secret. They’re essentially addictive because of what is known as the rebound effect. Often when a PPI user tries to stop the drug their heartburn comes rushing back, but with a vengeance.
The pain is even worse than before so doctors continue to renew the prescriptions for months and even years on end. And their desperate patients continue to pop the pills, sometimes with dire or even deadly consequences.
Long term use of PPIs causes absorption issues, which can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that put you at risk for broken bones. The drugs are linked to vascular aging, which sends your risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and dementia climbing.1,2,3,4 And they can make your more susceptible to life-threatening infections such as pneumonia and C. diff.5
That’s the bad news. But the good news is that you can fight your occasional bouts of heartburn pain without the drugs, using powerful, proven natural remedies.
1. Soothe the burn with baking soda:
This is one of the oldest, and most effective, home remedies for heartburn around. And there’s a reason your grandmother swore by it. It works.
The “recipe” couldn’t be simpler. Fill a tall glass with cool or cold water. Stir in up to a teaspoon of baking soda. Allow the mix to sit for a moment to let the cloudiness at the bottom to clear. And drink down.
It isn’t the tastiest thing you’ll ever drink, but it can neutralize the acid in your tummy providing quick relief without the dangerous drug side effects.
2. Cut out the gnawing ache with chewing gum:
Your teacher might have sent you to the principal’s office for chewing gum, but I’ll be giving you an A+ for using this practical solution instead. Believe it or not simply chewing on a stick of gum can help relieve a mild case of heartburn.
It works because chewing gum naturally triggers saliva production, which can help dilute the acid and wash it away.
This is a great on-the-go solution. In fact, if you regularly suffer from heartburn I recommend you think about making sugar-free, stevia sweetened gum a standard after meal habit to help head off attacks before they even begin.
3. Press through the pain with veggie juice:
If you’ve got some potatoes in the pantry or cabbage in the fridge and a juicer you’ve got everything you need for some fast and effective heartburn relief. Both juices are natural anti-inflammatories and drinking either can bring instant, soothing relief when you’re having some heartburn or acid reflux. Plus drinking a cup in the mornings could help you head off heartburn all day long.
To make potato juice simply wash a spud or two and toss them it into your juicer, skin and all. Let the juice sit for up to three minutes to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom, strain into a cup and drink. Potatoes are naturally very alkaline and their juice makes a great antacid.
If the potato doesn’t work you might actually be suffering from low stomach acid, a common but often overlooked cause of heartburn pain (more on that in a moment). Cabbage juice can help by stimulating your body to produce more acid naturally.
To make cabbage juice, once again just toss chunks of the veggie into your juicer (around half a cabbage should do the trick) and drink the juice immediately. Cabbage juice will help soothe any pain you’re having right away. And drinking a glass or two daily for a couple of weeks could even cure your heartburn for good.
If you have trouble stomaching either juice feel free to add some apple, ginger and lemon to make it tastier.
4. Ease the agony with apple cider vinegar:
Although everyone assumes their heartburn pain is the result of having too much stomach acid, this isn’t always the case. Low stomach acid is a common cause of the burning pain too.
Acid tells your lower esophageal sphincter to close so that your partially digested food doesn’t escape leading to that dreaded burning pain. But when you don’t have enough acid the sphincter can stay open causing heartburn.
If this is the cause of your pain, apple cider vinegar (ACV) may be able to help by lowering the pH in your stomach, making the contents more acidic. Simply mix a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered ACV into a cool glass of water and drink BEFORE eating to stop heartburn before it even begins.
If you are currently on a PPI drug don’t just stop taking it. Going cold turkey can tigger that rebound effect I told you about earlier. Instead talk with your doctor about getting weaned off the drug as soon as possible And don’t forget to not overeat, never lie down immediately after eating and drink plenty of water, which research has shown is just effective as acid inhibiting drugs.6
What’s YOUR favorite heartburn remedy? Share it with us in the comments below.
1. “Proton Pump Inhibitors Accelerate Endothelial Senescence,” Circ Res. 2016 Jun 10;118(12):e36-42
2. “Abstract 18462: Proton Pump Inhibitor Use Increases the Associated Risk of First-Time Ischemic Stroke. A Nationwide Cohort Study,” [presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016]. Abstract 18462. November 12-16, 2016. New Orleans, Louisiana.
3. “Proton Pump Inhibitor Usage and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction in the General Population,” PLOS One, Published: June 10, 2015
4. “Proton Pump Inhibitors and the Risk of Adverse Cardiac Events,” PLOS One, Published: December 27, 2013.
5. “Perils and pitfalls of long-term effects of proton pump inhibitors,” Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Jul;6(4):443-51
6. “A glass of water immediately increases gastric pH in healthy subjects,” Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Dec;53(12):3128-32
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
Follow Alice and HealthierTalk on Twitter and Facebook.