In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular and effective natural home remedies for heartburn.

Heartburn is a common digestive problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest and throat.

While over-the-counter medications can provide relief, many people prefer to use natural remedies to alleviate their symptoms.

From drinking herbal teas to eating certain foods, there are plenty of home remedies that may help soothe heartburn and prevent it from recurring.

See also Is Peppermint Tea Good for Acid Reflux? and Why is Gut Health Important?

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning pain or discomfort in the chest and throat caused by stomach acid rising into the esophagus (acid reflux), causing irritation and inflammation.

According to research, at least 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, while further research states that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms every day.

The main cause of heartburn is a weak or relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a ring of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus that acts as a barrier between the stomach and esophagus. When this muscle relaxes too much or doesn’t close properly, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Occasional heartburn should not be a concern as it usually goes away on its own. In some cases, over-the-counter medications like antacids can offer quick relief. If symptoms persist despite taking medication, it’s important to see a doctor as it could indicate a more serious condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

To prevent heartburn, it’s recommended to avoid triggering foods and drinks, eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of large ones, avoid lying down immediately after eating, and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

Medical illustration of the effects of the acid reflux

Symptoms of a heartburn

  • An unpleasant feeling of burning in the chest, usually behind the breastbone
  • A sour taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath due to regurgitation of some food particles
  • Bloating and burping after meals
  • Dry mouth
  • Passing gas after meals
  • Gum irritation
  • Pain or swelling in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain that worsens after eating or lying down

What Causes Heartburn?

As mentioned, heartburn occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak, giving way for the stomach content to flow into the throat. But why exactly does this happen? 

Here are common triggers to watch out for:

1. Consuming large meals

When you eat a large meal, your stomach expands and puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), causing it to give way.

2. Eating too quickly

Speed eaters tend to take large bites of food and swallow quickly without allowing proper secretion of digestive enzymes and saliva. This can result in indigestion, causing the food to stay in the stomach for too long, which can also contribute to indigestion and heartburn.  

3. Lying down immediately after eating

When you lie down after eating, stomach acid can more easily move up into your esophagus, leading to heartburn. Gravity normally helps keep stomach acid in your stomach, but when you’re lying down, there’s nothing stopping it from seeping up into your esophagus and causing that burning feeling. So if you’re prone to heartburn, it’s best to avoid lying down for at least a few hours (2-3 hours) after a meal.

Moreover, lying down after eating also puts pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which weakens it making it easy for the stomach content to flow back.

4. Trigger foods

Many high-fat foods and sugary or carbonated drinks can trigger heartburn symptoms by relaxing the LES or increasing acid production in the stomach. These include fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and juices.

5. Smoking

Smoking is a major cause of heartburn. When you smoke, the chemicals in your cigarettes relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This allows stomach acids to flow back into your esophagus, which causes heartburn.

Smoking also increases the production of stomach acid, which can further contribute to heartburn. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, and it can also help reduce your risk of heartburn.

6. Obesity

Obesity is a serious health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is associated with numerous health problems, including heartburn. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat.

One of the main causes of heartburn in obese individuals is excess abdominal fat. This extra weight puts pressure on the stomach, forcing stomach acid to flow backward into the esophagus. Additionally, obesity can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which normally prevents stomach contents from refluxing into the esophagus.

7. Pregnancy

Heartburn during pregnancy is a common symptom that affects many women. It is caused by the increasing levels of hormones in the body, which can slow digestion, cause bloating, and relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This allows stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

Cute young woman at home suffering from heartburn during her pregnancy

Additionally, as the baby grows, it presses against the mother’s stomach, which pushes the stomach acid up into the esophagus.

Many women experience heartburn at some point during their pregnancy, but it is more common in the second and third trimesters.

There are several things that pregnant women can do to help relieve heartburn symptoms, such as eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding trigger foods, and sleeping with their heads elevated.

8. Hiatal hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. This can cause acid reflux and heartburn, especially after eating or lying down.

9. Medications

Certain medications, including aspirin, and ibuprofen, can increase acid production in the stomach leading to acidity and heartburn. Additional medications include some antibiotics, iron supplements, high blood pressure medications, and antidepressants.

Home remedies for heartburn: foods to avoid

While there are many foods that can trigger heartburn, there are some that are more likely to cause problems than others. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • Fatty Foods: Fatty foods tend to slow down digestion and can cause heartburn. Avoid fried foods, fatty meats, and other high-fat foods if you often suffer heartburn. Moreover, most of these foods have unhealthy fats like saturated fats and trans fats, which can generally be harmful to your health.
  • Dairy Products: Dairy and dairy products from cows’ milk is a common cause of acid reflux in people with GERD and those that don’t have it. This is because it increases acid production in the stomach, leading to a heartburn, among other digestive issues. It can also worsen existing symptoms.
  • Caffeinated Beverages: Coffee, tea, and soda can all trigger heartburn symptoms. If you find that caffeine bothers your stomach, it’s best to limit your intake or avoid these beverages altogether.
  • Spicy Foods: foods like chili peppers and hot sauce can irritate the lining of your stomach and esophagus, leading to heartburn.
  •  Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes contain high levels of acid, which can worsen heartburn symptoms.
  • Tomato-Based Products such as tomato sauce, ketchup, pizza sauce, salsa, or spaghetti sauce can be highly acidic and trigger heartburn.

Home remedies for heartburn: foods to eat more often

  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a great source of fiber and can help absorb excess stomach acid. It also helps keep you fuller for longer periods of time, which means you’ll be less likely to snack on acidic foods throughout the day.
  • Bananas: Bananas contain natural antacids that help neutralize stomach acid and protect against damage to the esophagus lining.
  • Vegetables: Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli contain vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can help reduce symptoms of heartburn.
  • Almonds: Almonds are high in healthy fats that can soothe inflammation in the gut lining and prevent reflux episodes from occurring.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice or quinoa are excellent sources of fiber that promote regular bowel movements while reducing gastric distress caused by acidic food consumption.
  • Watery foods: foods that are high in water content can help dilute stomach acid, which can help relieve heartburn. Best examples include celery, cucumber, watermelon, and lettuce.

Home remedies for heartburn: lifestyle changes

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day instead of three large meals
  • Don’t lie down immediately after eating. Wait at least two hours before lying down or going to bed
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing since tight clothes can put pressure on your stomach and aggravate heartburn symptoms
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Elevate the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches so that gravity can help keep stomach acid from creeping up into your esophagus while you sleep

Home remedies for heartburn: Herbal remedies

1. Ginger

Fresh sliced and whole ginger root and ground ginger on white wooden background; top view

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the esophagus and relieve heartburn symptoms.

2. Slippery elm

Slippery elm contains mucilage which, when mixed with water, forms a gel. This gel can coat the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, which can help relieve symptoms of heartburn like inflammation and pain.

Slippery elm is often available as capsules, powder, and lozenges. If using the powdered form, a tablespoon taken up to 3 times a day mixed with water or tea should be enough. If using any other preparation, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

3. Aloe juice

fresh cut aloe vera leaves

Aloe juice has gastroprotective properties and can work naturally against heartburn. In one study, aloe juice was shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of acid reflux without any side effects.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda is a form of sodium bicarbonate that can easily neutralize stomach acids and temporarily reduce symptoms of acid reflux.

That said, too much intake can cause rebound acidity and make the symptoms worse. So only use it for immediate relief of heartburn and not long-term use.

Mix ½ a teaspoon in 4 ounces of water and sip slowly.

5. Apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar in a corked bottle with apples in the background

While no scientific evidence shows that apple cider vinegar can relieve heartburn, most people have reported relief after use.

Add a teaspoon in 4 ounces of warm water to use this remedy and drink before meals.

Avoid drinking the apple cider undiluted, as it can destroy your enamel.

6. Papaya

Cut and whole fresh papaya on wooden background

Eating a couple of slices of ripe papaya can help relieve a heartburn. This is because papaya contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down protein, improves digestion, and relieves stomach acidity

7. Turmeric

various forms of turmeric on dark background

Turmeric has traditionally been used as an alternative treatment for heartburn, inflammation, and stomach ulcers.

This is because turmeric contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help protect your gut lining against the digestive juices.

Taking organic turmeric extract supplements is an easy way to incorporate sufficient amounts to actually experience change.

Always look for a product that has piperine or black pepper as an ingredient. Piperine is a compound in black pepper that boosts the absorption of turmeric.

8. Licorice root

licorice candies and dried licorice roots on a piece of burlap

Licorice root is one of the world’s oldest herbal remedies. It comes from the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and has been used for various benefits, including treating peptic ulcers, improving indigestion, and reducing acid reflux.

According to a study, a daily intake of licorice root over a period of 2 years was shown to improve acid reflux symptoms more than commonly used antacids.

When to see a doctor

If your heartburn persists after using home remedies, it may be time to see a doctor. Here are some signs that it’s time to seek medical help:

  • If the heartburn occurs more than twice a week.
  • Home remedies are not providing relief
  • You have difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing
  • You have unexplained weight loss
  • You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Stools are black and tarry

Related Articles:

  1. Best High Fiber Foods for Constipation

  2. 6 Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

  3. Can Stress Cause Stomach Ulcers?

  4. Healthy Digestion Juice

Final Thoughts

Heartburn is a common problem that affects millions of people around the globe. While medication and lifestyle changes are effective treatments for heartburn, home remedies can also provide relief.

From turmeric to consuming ginger, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar, there are several natural remedies that can alleviate the symptoms of heartburn.

However, it is important to remember that these remedies may not work for everyone and consulting a doctor before trying any new treatment is recommended.

By incorporating these home remedies into your daily routine and making some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn symptoms without relying on expensive medications or invasive procedures.

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