How to Get Rid of Heartburn Naturally
My pregnancies taught me a few things. One of them is that getting rid of heartburn naturally is a hot topic. It is estimated that around 20% of the adult population suffers from heartburn. That’s bad news since many prescription medicines for heartburn have been found to cause unpleasant side effects.
In this article I will share with you what I know about how to get rid of heartburn naturally. You will find out what is heartburn, how to prevent it, how to reduce stomach acidity, and even how to get rid of heartburn without medicine.
ALERT! This article is a recap of natural heartburn remedies, some of which have worked for me when I was pregnant. For an Indian take on heartburn, check out our specific article on Indian remedies for heartburn.
What is Heartburn
Heartburn or stomach acidity is a burning sensation in the stomach, chest, and throat. It is caused by stomach acid pushing up into the esophagus. It can provoke vomit, bad breath (see my quick fool-proof Indian remedies for bad breath!), cough, and chest pain. Heartburn is a symptom of acid imbalance in the stomach due to bad diet, obesity, stress, pregnancy, or medical conditions such as hiatal hernia. Now let’s see how to get rid of heartburn naturally.
How to Prevent Heartburn
If you are looking into how to get rid of heartburn naturally, you might want to first of all know how to prevent heartburn. Here are the main changes you can make in order to prevent heartburn, therefore get rid of heartburn without medicine. I will share with you the number one remedy that has really made a difference during my pregnancies.
NO SUGAR, NO REFINED CARBS
I cannot stress this enough. This diet change has been a game changer for me. As soon as I stopped eating sweets and refined wheat, I immediately felt better. Give it a try as this might be the single most important step towards preventing heartburn, therefore getting rid of heartburn without medicines.
Other diet changes
Here comes a dilemma. For some people heartburn is caused by too much acid in the stomach, while for others it is caused by too little of it. The only way to find out what your problem is, is experimenting with your diet.
If you have excessive stomach acids, try avoiding acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, and spices. For others the problem might be too little acid in the stomach. If that’s you, you may want to try adding fermented foods and vinegar to your diet. Just try and see what works.
Whether you have too much or too little stomach acid, always avoid common triggers such as refined sugars, refined carbs, red or greasy meats, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, and trans fats in order to get rid of heartburn without medicine.
Slow down and eat small portions
Try not to fill up your stomach as that can trigger reflux. Try eating 5 small meals a day. Chewing slowly is another key factor in reducing stomach acidity.
Drink plenty of water in small sips, in an upright position. Avoid drinking during meals to prevent heartburn from activating.
Being overweight can trigger heartburn, so exercise will help. Moreover, in order to prevent heartburn, it is highly recommended to take a long walk after every meal. I used to go for a 20 minutes walk after dinner and that has been a life saviour for me when I suffered from heartburn. However, do not engage in high impact exercise after meals, as that will only increase the heartburn.
Do not lay down
Wait 3 hours after every meal before lying down. Do not nap after lunch or eat late at night. Gravity helps keep acidity at bay.
Standing up straight can be of great help in digesting more efficiently. Enroll in a postural gymnastics or yoga class to get rid of heartburn naturally. Sometimes hypopressive abs can be of great help too. There are loads of videos on Youtube that you can try at home.
Support your head
At night, use a head supporter that’s taller than a pillow. Your chest should be supported too as supporting your upper body will ease digestion. A foam wedge support can be a good option.
Sleep on your left side
At first, I thought this was just BS, but I swear it is true! Never sleep on your right side if you want to get rid of heartburn naturally. Try it and tell us your experience!
Quit smoking and drinking
Smoke and alcohol are some of the worst enemies of a healthy digestion, so if you want to get rid of heartburn without medicine you should definitely cut it.
Reduce over the counter medicine use
Some anti-inflammatory and pain relief medicines might increase heartburn. Reduce their intake as much as you can if you want to prevent heartburn.
Stress is known to boost heartburn. Practice yoga or tai chi, even a daily 10 minutes meditation can make a difference and help you get rid of heartburn naturally.
Did you know vitamin D stimulates the production of antimicrobial agents that actually help us fight indigestion? Go for a walk or just sit in the sun to cure heartburn naturally: 20 minutes a day can help your body produce vitamin D, which in turn helps the digestive system.
All of the methods I mentioned will help you prevent heartburn. However, I feel I have to say this again: quitting sugar and refined wheat should be your number one step towards a heartburn-free life.
How to Reduce Stomach Acidity
We mentioned heartburn can be caused by too much, or too little stomach acidity. I know that’s tricky but give reducing stomach acidity a try to find out whether that was your problem or not.
Here is what you can do to get rid of heartburn naturally by reducing stomach acidity.
- Dress comfortably: tight clothes make your stomach acids rise up into the esophagus
- Avoid carbs: carbohydrates have been found to stimulate stomach acid formation, avoid them to reduce stomach acidity.
- Avoid alcohol, chocolate and coffee
- It’s important to keep fried and greasy foods to a minimum
- Some foods increase stomach acidity for some of us. Experiment with reducing your intake of onions, tomatoes, citrus fruits and spicy foods and see if you can get rid of heartburn without medicine.
- Carbonated drinks can dramatically and quickly increase stomach acidity, so try and avoid them.
How to get rid of heartburn naturally
What happens if you haven’t been able to prevent heartburn, and natural methods for reducing stomach acidity have failed? You can consider trying heartburn remedies, including natural medications.
A good natural medicine for heartburn is called Iberogast, and is made up of 9 herbs. I haven’t tried it myself but I heard good reviews. If you prefer not to buy the medication itself, you can purchase some of its herbal components on their own.
Herbs for heartburn: some of the most effective herbs for heartburn are angelica, German chamomile, and lemon balm. Those herbs will reduce tension in the stomach and nurture the inner organs involved in the digestion process.
Melatonin: widely used as a sleep aid, melatonin can also reduce heartburn and acidity with minimal side effects
Calcium: calcium is often used as a natural heartburn remedy. In fact, it is a key ingredient in many antacids. Therefore you might wonder: does milk relieve heartburn? Well, it can. But at the same time it can trigger it in many people who are lactose intolerant. If you want to use calcium for heartburn but not drink milk, you can buy calcium fortified vegetable milk, or get calcium from other sources such as leafy veggies or fish. Another option to get rid of heartburn naturally would be consuming lactose-free dairies. If on the other hand, your stomach is OK with milk, go ahead and drink a glass of cold milk after every meal.
Water: I cannot stress it enough, water is our best ally in keeping nuisances at bay, and heartburn is no exception. Drinking plenty of water will help your stomach maintain its acid levels the way they should be and will help you digest the heaviest of meals. Drink after, and especially before your meals, as drinking while eating can cause unpleasant air.
Fermented foods: this is our ancestors’ trick to cure heartburn naturally. Every culture has its own version of fermented foods. Sauerkrauts, kimchi, kefir, fermented fish, yogurt, lassi… you name it! Go ahead, find your favourite, and consume a small amount of it everyday.
Fruit: fruit, apples and bananas in particular, contain small quantities of natural antacids. Eat an apple or banana in the morning and you’ll digest your lunch more easily.
Vinegar: many experts and other websites recommend drinking a tablespoon of apple cider or white wine vinegar a day to relieve heartburn naturally. Now, in my experience, that does work for everybody. Vinegar has a pH value of 5, so it will reduce the pH of your stomach considerably. Some people might need more acids to help their stomach break down food, but some other people might suffer from too much acid. So I’d say you can give it a try and see if you notice any improvements.
Chamomile tea: a widely used method to counter acidity in the Western world, especially in Italy, where I grew up. It really works wonders, just do not let it infuse for longer than 2 minutes as its properties may become altered and the taste too strong.
If all methods to get rid of heartburn naturally, without medicine, fail, do not give up as shortly I’m going to publish an article about Indian home remedies for heartburn. Give them a try as they are amazing!
Otherwise, you can always consult your doctor, who would probably prescribe one of the following medications:
proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Just be aware that those medications – like all others – can have side effects, so be sure you go through them during your visit.
Let me know your experience and suggestions on how to get rid of heartburn naturally, I hope my tips have worked for you too!