Nothing puts a damper on your day, or wrecks an evening out, like a bout of heartburn. Over the counter antacids are often ineffective. And even when they do work, you may end up trading your heartburn for constipation or diarrhea, both common side effects.
But prescription drugs for heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), may even be worse. Stomach acid exists for a reason. And it turns out simply switching it off could have consequences.
Some studies have uncovered potential links between protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) and bone fractures, dementia, heart attack and even organ failure.
Natural heartburn relief without drugs
But saying “No,” to heartburn drugs doesn’t mean you have to say “Yes,” to the pain. You can tackle your GERD symptoms using natural solutions instead.
Following are five simple but effective hacks for natural heartburn relief.
1. Eat smaller meals, more often:
Instead of sitting down to three large meals, eat five or six smaller ones throughout the day. This can help relieve heartburn in two ways.
Your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is the muscle that joins your esophagus to your stomach. When your LES does its job, it blocks stomach acid from creeping up your esophagus.
However, heavy meals put pressure on your LES allowing acid to escape causing the burning pain. Smaller meals will reduce the pressure heading off heartburn before it begins.
But smaller meals can relieve heartburn for another, unexpected, reason. Most people blame their heartburn pain on having too much stomach acid. But in many cases, especially in older folks, too little acid is the problem. Eating smaller meals will allow your stomach acid to do its job more effectively.
If you suspect low stomach acid is behind your GERD, talk with your doctor about taking a betaine hydrochloride supplement. Betaine HCL can support healthy stomach acid production.
2. Raise the head of your bed:
Lying down, especially when there is still undigested food in your belly, can allow stomach acid to settle into your esophagus. Avoiding eating too close to bedtime and not stretching out right after a meal can help.
But if you find you still get nighttime heartburn, the solution couldn’t be simpler. Elevate the head of your bed six to eight inches off the ground. You can use store bought risers or whatever you have on hand such as bricks or books.
The mild angle will help keep your stomach acid where it belongs, in your stomach.
3. Soothe the burn with baking soda:
Turns out our grandparents knew a thing or two about natural heartburn relief. Chances are when grandma or grandpa felt that old familiar burn they reached for the baking soda. And you should think about trying it too.
Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, and in a pinch can bring you some much needed quick relief. Stir a half a teaspoon of baking soda into eight ounces of water and drink it down.
Just don’t overdo the baking soda, which in very high doses could lead to other health problems.
4. Chew gum after eating:
Mom probably discouraged you from chewing gum. But if you’re in need of some natural heartburn relief, we recommend you pick up the habit again.
According to the Journal of Dental Research, chewing gum for 30 minutes after meals offers significant relief to GERD patients. Researchers believe it increases saliva flow, diluting stomach acid and easing the burn.
5. Slash stress:
A study published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences revealed high stress levels trigger GERD symptoms. So reducing your stress should be a top priority.
Meditation, exercise and even indulging in a hot bath can send your stress level plummeting and your symptoms right along with it. Or erase your stress, and your heartburn pain, with our 15 instant happiness hacks.
Prescription and over the counter meds aren’t the only solution for getting rid of GERD pain. In fact, with their dangerous side effects, they may not even be the best solution. Ditch the drugs and soothe the pain with natural heartburn relief instead.