Do you regularly get heartburn? It may start as a hiccup or a small burp and then a burning sensation low in your throat and upper chest. You may have an idea of what caused it, but who cares. At this point you just want relief.
Below are 10 ways you can quickly relieve heartburn or prevent it from getting worse.
What you will learn
In this short article I will cover some of the natural remedies that will quickly relieve your heartburn. Read my other articles for a long term solution to this problem.
- Your standing and seated posture can impact the severity of your heartburn symptoms
- Lying down within a few hours of eating a large meal can increase the chances of getting heartburn
- After eating a large meal, tight clothing can put additional pressure on your stomach, making it easier for stomach contents to back-up into your throat
- Poor digestion is one of the main causes of heartburn - chewing gum can cause you to produce additional saliva which can relieve your throat irritation and aid in digestion
- Tight clothing puts pressure on the stomach making it easier for stomach contents to back-up into your throat
- The main cause of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD is low stomach acid. Drinking apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can increase your stomach acid and aid in digestion.
- Stomach acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Drinking purified aloe vera juice can relieve this pain and reduce swelling.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol can irritate or relax your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) making it more likely to allow stomach acid to back up into your esophagus causing heartburn
- Last Resort: If none of the above suggestions relieve your heartburn take baking soda or heartburn medication. Just be aware that this makes the situation worse in the long run. Low stomach acid is the underlying cause of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. These medications will further reduce your stomach acid, but they will give relief in the short term.
Heartburn – If you get heartburn, this is probably the last thing you need to be explaned. Please bare with me. Despite what the ads on TV and magazines (and most doctors) will lead you to believe, heartburn is not caused by your stomach having too much stomach acid.
The truth is, heartburn is caused by not having enough stomach acid. Reducing stomach acid by taking medication, or anything that is trying to reduce stomach acid is making the situation worse. Yes, it seems to work because these medications are only treating the symptoms; not the underlying cause.
LES – Lower Esophageal Sphincter – this is a muscle that wraps around the esophagus where it meets the stomach. It’s job is to keep your stomach contents in your stomach. It closes tighter after eating, triggered by the increase in stomach acid. If your stomach has reduced stomach acid the LES is not sufficiently triggered to remain tightly closed and will allow your stomach contents to leak back up into your esophagus causing heartburn.
HCl – Hydrochloric Acid – this is your stomach acid – stomach acid production is triggered to increase by eating. Before eating your stomach acid levels could be as low as 7 pH. After eating they could increase to 1-2 pH. Remember, the pH scale is measuring alkalinity not acid, so low pH = high acid level.
Hypochloridria – this is the condition of low stomach acid – this is very common – as we age our stomach produce less and less stomach acid. This causes heartburn, acid reflux and GERD.
Hyperchloridria – this is the condition of having too much stomach acid – this is extremely rare.
Note: If you search Google for the symptoms of Hypochloridria and Hyperchloridria you get exactly the same list of symptoms. Because of this, low stomach acid is probably one of the most misdiagnosed health problems – at a cost (or profit) of 16 billion dollars per year (just in the US!). That’s just for medication; never mind misdiagnosis of people getting unneeded esophageal, LES, or hiatal hernia surgery.
1. Straighten Your Posture
I recently discovered this. I find that when I first feel heartburn coming on that if I sit or stand straight; move my shoulders back and down, and straighten my back, that my heartburn goes away almost immediately.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), with the help of gravity, keeps your stomach contents where they belong. When you slouch, it can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to move into a disadvantaged position relative to your stomach. This increases the pressure on the LES causing it to open enough to allow your stomach contents to move up into your esophagus.
If you have recently eaten food or drink that caused irritation to the LES or that caused stomach bloating, the added pressure will cause the LES to open even more. Straightening your posture will relieve the pressure on your LES and allow gravity to keep your stomach contents where they belong.
For more on this: How to Improve Your Posture to Improve Your GERD
2. Remain Upright - Don't Lie Down After Eating
When you lay flat on your back, your esophagus and stomach are at the same level, reducing the ability of your LES and gravity to keep stomach acids from leaking into your esophagus. If you have consumed a meal that caused bloating, this will make matters worse by increasing the upward pressure against the LES.
If you are confined to bed and begin to experience heartburn, you should raise the upper body and head. Just raising the head with a pillow is not sufficient. If this is not possible lie on your left side. Lying on your left side anatomically places the esophagus higher than the stomach.
If you have an adjustable bed, move it to a 15-degree angle. If you do not have an adjustable bed, you can permanently raise the head of the bed to this angle by putting bricks or pieces of wood under the head of the bed.
If you can’t do either of these, you can increase the angle by using a wedge pillow. The wedge pillow does a really good job because it raises your upper body and head and encourages you to lie on your left side.
Do not eat three hours prior to going to sleep.
3. Loosen Restrictive Clothing
Tight clothing can increase the pressure on your stomach contents thereby increasing the pressure on your LES allowing stomach contents to back up into your esophagus.
Loosen your belt, your pants, your dress; whatever restrictive clothing you may be wearing. Combined with standing/sitting up straight will help relieve the pressure on your LES.
4. Chew Gum After You Eat to Increase Saliva Production
Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva you produce. This additional saliva encourages frequent swallowing that can help neutralize stomach acid already in your throat. The additional saliva may also aid with digestion and reduce stomach bloating.
Chew gum after meals but avoid mint flavored gums like peppermint and spearmint; choose cinnamon or fruit flavored gum instead. Mint irritates the LES.
5. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar to Improve Digestion
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is acidic with a pH of 2.9 to 3.0. It helps with heartburn by lowering the pH of your stomach. This will improve digestion causing your stomach to empty quicker reducing bloating and therefore the strain on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Important: Only buy ACV that is With The 'Mother'. You will not get the same benefit if it is filtered. It must have the 'Mother' .
How to take it:
Add 1 tbsp. of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to an 4-ounce glass of water and sip it slowly until your symptoms start to disappear.
One dose of this may not be enough to lower the pH of your stomach sufficiently to relieve your heartburn. You may need to repeat with additional glasses until you are successful. Repeat every 5 minutes until your heartburn is gone.
6. Drink Lemon Juice ti Increase the Acidity of Your Stomach Acid
Lemon juice is even more acidic than Apple Cider Vinegar with a pH of 2.3. Choose to either use ACV or lemon juice – don’t do both. Lemon juice will lower your stomach’s pH level in the same manner as Apple Cider Vinegar but as with ACV it may take more than one dose to get the desired results.
How to take it:
Juice one whole lemon into a glass. If you can drink it undiluted that is best. Drink it in one shot. If you cannot, add it to a quarter cup of room temperature water and drink it slowly. You may need to do this more than once – Repeat every 5 minutes until your heartburn is gone.
Note: Do not do this in conjunction with apple cider vinegar.
7. Drink Aloe Vera to Reduce Throat Irritation
Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties; while this will not do much for what is happening in your stomach it can help soothe your throat from the burning sensation and reduce the inflammation caused by your stomach contents backing up into your throat.
Only use purified, flash pasteurized, Aloe Vera juice; do not eat the plant - the outer part of the leaf is a natural laxative.
Aloe Vera juice may boost digestion and reduce stomach bloating.
How to take it:
Add 2 to 3 ounces to a glass and sip it slowly. Do not repeat.
8. Do Not Smoke or Drink Alcohol Until Your Heartburn is Gone
While smoking may be a way of coping with discomfort, in this case, it can make the situation worse. Smoking will irritate your LES making it more difficult for it to close completely and keep acid from seeping through your LES into your esophagus.
If you are a smoker and get heartburn, don't smoke at least until after the symptoms have subsided.
Drinking wine or spirits will relax your LES making it difficult for it to keep your stomach contents in your stomach. Drinking beer will do the same with the additional problem of adding to stomach distension, further increasing the pressure on your LES.
9. Drink a Teaspoon of Baking Soda Mixed With Water
If after waiting 20 minutes since your last attempt with one of the methods stated above, only as a last resort will I suggest taking some Baking Soda. Yes, this can offer fast relief, because it does lower the acidity in the esophagus but it also lowers the acidity in the stomach which is only adding to the underlying problem of too little stomach acid.
But if the methods stated above for increasing stomach acid did not relieve your heartburn it is probably time to let your system relax a bit and get the relief you need asap.
How to take it:
Mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda in ¼ cup of warm water. Drink it and wait 5-10 minutes. If your heartburn remains repeat until it is gone. But don’t be surprised if your heartburn returns the next time you eat as this relief is very short term because you are only treating the symptoms.
Bicarbonate is the active ingredient in baking soda, and it will relieve the symptoms temporarily, however if you have a high blood pressure or if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, it's best to get approval from your doctor first.
10. As a Last Resort - Take Medication
If none of the suggestions above help, only as a last resort, will I suggest taking heartburn medication.
There are three types of medication for heartburn: antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPI's) and H-2 Blockers. All of these will give you relief but will only exacerbate the problem. Taking PPI's and H-2 Blockers can cause many other health issues and should not be taken long term.
Excess stomach acid is not the problem here and taking these medications will make the problem worse in the long run, but they will relieve the symptoms in the short term.
If nothing else is helping only then would I recommend taking an antacid tablet or a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of room temperature or slightly warm water.
Warning: If you experience heartburn more than two or three times a week, talk to your doctor.
Please question him if he wants to put you on antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPI's) or H-2 Blockers. If he does this he may only be treating the symptoms and not the underlying problem which in 90% of cases is caused by low stomach acid production.
The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.