Evidence-Based Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a condition that occurs due to the reflux or the backflow of the acidic contents from the stomach into the esophagus. It is also called gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. The common symptoms caused by this condition include heartburn or burning sensation in the chest, nausea, vomiting and sour eructations. If not treated properly, it can cause significant damage to the delicate mucosa of the inner lining the esophagus. Since the mucosa of the esophagus does not have the ability to withstand the strong corroding nature of the stomach acid, it can easily get damaged resulting in ulceration. In some cases, it can also cause cancer of the esophagus.
Natural Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
The natural home remedies given below can help in treating the symptoms of this disease and prevent these complications.
A spoonful of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate can be highly beneficial in obtaining prompt relief from the symptoms of acid reflux. Baking soda is alkaline in nature. It has the potential to neutralize the acid in the stomach and prevent its corrosive effect on the gastric as well as esophageal mucosa. It can help to relieve gnawing, and burning sensation in the chest and sour eructations caused by the acid reflux. The pH of sodium bicarbonate is higher than 7.0, which is potent enough to neutralize the stomach acid. This means that even when the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter is weak and unable to prevent the regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus, the regurgitated contents do not cause harm to the esophageal mucosa.
Sodium bicarbonate is also used as an ingredient in the group of medications called antacids. It helps to prevent the other conditions associated with acid reflux such as stomach and duodenal ulcers and gastritis. Regular use of sodium bicarbonate can also help to reduce the risk of complications of acid reflux such as esophageal ulceration and carcinoma. (1)
How to use
|Baking soda||1/2 teaspoon|
- Mix half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Stir it well and drink it.
- You can use this remedy as and when needed to obtain prompt relief from the symptoms of acid reflux and hyperacidity.
Note: Do not consume more than seven ½ teaspoons of Sodium Bicarbonate in a 24-hour period. Avoid using this remedy continuously for more than one week as it can lead to side effects like swelling and nausea. Patients with hypertension should avoid using this remedy too often.
Aloe Vera has the potential to soothe the burning sensation. It can be used not just for soothing the skin but also the burning sensation caused by hyperacidity or acid reflux. It can help in reducing inflammation of the mucosa of the stomach and the esophagus. It helps to provide relief from heartburn and pain in the abdomen. It produces a calming action on the stomach and the esophagus when these organs are affected due to the acidic nature of gastric juices. It reduces irritation of the stomach and prevents the corrosion of the esophagus. This helps to reduce the risk of peptic ulcers, and esophageal ulcers.
The effect of Aloe Vera juice is comparable to the effects of commonly used antacids like ranitidine and omeprazole. During a randomized controlled trial, 79 patients with acid reflux were treated with Aloe Vera syrup, omeprazole capsules or ranitidine tablets for 4 weeks. The frequency of the symptoms of acid reflux such as heartburn, flatulence, food regurgitation, belching, nausea, dysphagia, vomiting and acid regurgitation were assessed at the end of second and fourth weeks.
The results proved that Aloe Vera was well tolerated by the patients and effective in reducing all the GERD symptoms without any adverse effects requiring its withdrawal. This study has marked the effectiveness and safety of Aloe Vera in the management of GERD. (2)
How to use
|Aloe Vera juice||Half cup|
- Drink half a cup of freshly extracted Aloe Vera juice.
- The juice should be cool or at room temperature.
Note: Since GERD is a chronic disorder, which needs to be treated with an aim at preventing complications, patients are advised to consume the juice on a regular basis. They should take the juice twice every day before meals.
Aloe Vera juice possesses laxative properties. Hence, its use should be avoided during a bout of loose motions. However, this property makes Aloe Vera more beneficial for the patients who suffer from chronic constipation.
It has been found that chewing gum can provide a remarkable relief from the symptoms of GERD. It can reduce chronic heartburn and hyperacidity. It also relieves the chest pain and burning in the chest caused by acid reflux. Chewing gum can also help to obtain relief from sour eructations, belching, nausea, and vomiting.
Chewing gum has the ability to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices from the salivary glands, which results in an increase in the flow of saliva. This allows the acid that has built up in the stomach or the esophagus to be diluted and cleared out or washed away quickly. The clearance of stomach acid helps to improve the symptoms of acid reflux. Hence, patients suffering from acid reflux are advised to chew a gum 30 minutes before meals to prevent hyperacidity and the associated acid reflux.
Chewing gum increases the swallowing frequency, which helps to improve the normal peristaltic movements of the esophagus. It ensures the muscles in the esophagus contract in a normal way to allow for the movement of food in one direction only, which is from the esophagus to the stomach thereby reducing the risk of reverse peristalsis that can lead to acid reflux. It also improves the clearance rate of acid in the esophagus. This means that chewing gum helps in increasing the rate of clearing the acid from the esophagus. Chewing gum for half an hour after meals can also reduce the production of acid in the stomach and thus, prevent the postprandial esophageal reflux. (3)
How to use
- Chew a piece of gum for 30 minutes after the meals.
Note: It is advisable to use a sugar-free gum to keep the intake of carbohydrates to the minimum. This can also help the patients with diabetes to prevent the spikes in their blood sugar levels.
Bananas are one of the readily available home remedies for treating acid reflux. It provides relief for heartburn and sour eructations within 10 to 15 minutes of consuming them. It contains natural antacid properties, which act as a buffer against the acidic secretions of the stomach. It also prevents the reflux of acid and prevents the food in the stomach from entering into the esophagus.
Bananas have the potential to strengthen the muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter thus protecting the esophageal mucosa from the damage caused by the backflow of acid. It also provides relief from heartburn and sour eructations.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which works well in treating acid reflux by neutralizing the acid in the stomach. This action of bananas is also beneficial in managing the other disorders caused by the increased secretion of acid in the stomach such as peptic ulcers and gastritis. It can also help to prevent the complications of acid reflux such as esophageal ulceration and esophageal carcinoma. It is believed to work by preventing the stimulation of the parietal cells and inhibiting the proton pump inhibitors both of which result in the reduced production of acid. Additionally, the rich fiber content of bananas enhances the effect produced by its antacid properties and helps to neutralize the acid. (4)
How to use
- Simply eat a banana after each meal to get relief from the symptoms of acid reflux.
Patients with gastroesophageal reflux can obtain considerable relief from the symptoms by including onions in their regular diet. During a study, the effect of onion on the symptoms of acid reflux was observed in the patients suffering from the condition. The patients were studied on the basis of some parameters using an esophageal pH probe for 2 hours after meals. It was found that the patients obtained a remarkable relief from pain in the abdomen, belching, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. It also helped to reduce the episodes of acid reflux and lowered the pH in the esophagus. This study proves that onions have the ability to neutralize the acid in the stomach and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. (5)
How to use
- Onion can be consumed on a daily basis by including it in the cooking. It can also be used in salads and soups.
- Patients suffering from too frequent episodes of acid reflux can eat a few rings of onions after meals.
Ginger can help ease a number of stomach symptoms, including nausea and acid reflux. It has been found that sipping a cup of freshly prepared ginger tea before a meal can calm down the stomach and prevent the occurrence of the symptoms of acid reflux. It is believed to work by acting as a buffer. It neutralizes the acid in the stomach and reduces its corrosive effect on the stomach and esophageal mucosa. It has a stimulating effect on the gastric motility and emptying. This ensures faster digestion of food in the stomach followed by its movement into the next part of the gut, which is duodenum. Since ginger allows the stomach contents to move forward in a shorter period of time, it reduces the likelihood of the contents regurgitating into the esophagus. It also soothes the mucosa of the throat irritated due to the reflux of acid. (6)
How to use
|Slices of gingerroot||Two to three teaspoons|
- Slice or grate a piece of ginger root and add it to 2 cups of water.
- Boil the liquid for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, cover it and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the liquid to remove the ginger pieces.
- Drink this liquid 20 minutes before a meal.
Note: Patients may chew a piece of dry ginger after heavy meals to prevent the symptoms of acid reflux.
Having a cup of chamomile tea about half an hour before going to sleep can be beneficial for the patients suffering from acid reflux. It works by reducing the inflammation in the stomach and esophagus. It protects the mucosa of these parts of the digestive tract against the damage caused by stomach acid and reduces the discomfort associated with acid reflux. It also balances the acidity levels in the stomach.
Chamomile tea can be useful for the patients who suffer from acid reflux due to severe anxiety and stress. These factors are known to cause an increased secretion of acid in the stomach and trigger the development of and worsen the symptoms of acid reflux. Chamomile tea, by relieving stress and anxiety, can control the production of stomach acid and thus, reduce the symptoms of this disease. It also helps the patients to sleep well by preventing the discomfort that occurs when the acidic stomach contents regurgitate into the esophagus due to the lying down position.
It can also prevent the complications of acid reflux such as esophageal ulcers. Research has also indicated the efficacy of chamomile in inhibiting Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria known to contribute to the development of peptic ulcers. Chamomile reduces the muscle spasms that can worsen the acid reflux. (7)
How to use
|Dried chamomile flower petals||1 teaspoon|
- Boil one and a half cup of water in a pot. Add to it the dried chamomile petals and then, reduce the heat.
- Stir well and let them simmer for about a minute.
- Remove from heat and cover with a lid to let the petals soak for about one or two minutes. Strain the liquid and drink this tea.
Honey acts as a soothing agent for the irritated throat and provides relief from sour eructations and heartburn. It also acts as an antioxidant and minimizes the damage caused to the esophagus due to acid reflux. It should be noted that the free radicals released during oxidation are likely to be the mediators in the development of acid reflux disorders. Honey, by producing a strong antioxidant action, scavenges the free radicals and prevents the progress of the disease. It also reduces the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and restores the intracellular glutathione. It also reduces inflammation in the stomach and esophagus by inhibiting the production of prostaglandin E2 and nitric oxide. Additionally, Honey has high density and viscosity. It also has a low surface tension. These properties allow honey to stay in the esophagus for a longer duration as a coating of the mucus membrane thus ensuring relief from the symptoms for several hours after consuming it. Honey is also useful in the treatment of acid reflux due to its non-peroxide antibacterial action. It helps in preventing infections by H. Pylori in the stomach thus reducing the risk of peptic ulcers, which can occur as the complication as well as the precursor to GERD. (8)
How to use
|Lemon drops||5 to 6|
- Add one tablespoon of honey to a glass of water and drink it twice daily. Patients may add a few lemon drops to enhance the flavor.
- Patients can drink this liquid every day in the morning before the breakfast and at night before going to bed.
Black cumin seeds
Studies have shown that black cumin seeds have the potential to prevent the precursors to reflux disease. The consumption of cumin seeds is followed by a number of pharmacological activities that include anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory effects. An aqueous suspension of black cumin seed can significantly reduce the secretion of acid in the stomach and thus, provide relief from the heartburn and sour eructations caused by acid reflux. It also prevents the complications of GERD such as esophageal ulcers by producing an anti-inflammatory action. (9)
How to use
|Black cumin seeds||One teaspoonful|
- Boil one and a half glass of water. Add to it black cumin seeds and let it brew for a few minutes.
- Close the lid and let it steep for a few more minutes.
- Strain the liquid and drink it.
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It is particularly beneficial in preventing esophageal ulceration caused by acid reflux. It protects the mucosa of the esophagus against the damage caused by stomach acid and reduces the risk of ulcerations. It also provides relief from pain in the throat due to the sour eructations producing a soothing action.
How to use
- Add a pinch of turmeric to a glass of warm water and drink it.
- Use this remedy once every day for long-term benefits.