Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux: Updatedby Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
So you're working on changing your diet and losing weight to improve your acid reflux symptoms but are looking for more natural ways to sooth your gut. There are a lot of tips and tricks online but some are not safe to try and may even make acid reflux worse as we talked about in a previous post Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux & GERD.
Many studies have come out since my first post seven years ago and natural remedies are gaining ground in treating acid reflux. Here are a few natural remedies that we currently use at our house to banish the burn.
Saccharomyces boulardii and biffidus strains of probiotic seem to have shown the most promising results in stomach pain, discomfort and acid reflux. Both can be found in supplement form but biffidus is also readily available in Activia yogurts. If you do choose the supplement it is always best to take it with a natural source -- like yogurt -- to increase absorption.
Slipper Elm bark works by coating the esophagus and stomach to protect it from the acid. It comes in supplement form as well as a powder form. Lately I have also heard from several parents who are using it for their babies with acid reflux. The powder is made into a paste that is placed in baby's cheek. Of course, they have the permission of their GI so be sure you consult your child's physician first as well.
Chamomile or ginger tea
Chamomile is a great gut soother when you are already experiencing pain. Ginger tea is wonderful as a digestive aid and anti-nausea. Both can be incorporated into your diet to help ease acid reflux symptoms. We use ginger tea in the morning instead of coffee to boost digestion throughout the day. A nice cup of chamomile tea is gut soothing and promotes relaxation for a better night's sleep.
Baking Soda in Water
This is a trick I've seen my mom use numerous times. It's a little gross but it does work Try one teaspoon of baking soda in a full glass of water to help reduce your acid.
Calcium Food Sources
Almonds and low-fat dairy are both good sources of calcium that can help lessen the acid in the gut. Don't overdo it or you will exacerbate the splash back into the esophagus by being over full. Stick to one serving.
Sleep on left side or elevated
Positional changes at night are a simple trick to help limit acid reflux damage at night. Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated can help by using gravity to reduce night time reflux episodes. Laying on the left side seems to promote better digestion. The more quickly the stomach empties the less stomach contents there will be to splash back and burn the esophagus.
I have heard several people swear by chewing gum after a meal. This is because chewing gum can activate the salivary glad to produce more saliva, which increases swallowing and reduces the acid in the esophagus. Chewing also promotes peristalsis, which moves food through the GI tract more effectively. Be careful when picking gum to avoid sugar alcohols -- sorbitol, manitol and xylitol -- they can exacerbate GI pain!
Always discuss any natural remedy that you plan use with your physician to insure that it does not conflict with any current therapies you are using. If the symptoms do not subside with these tricks, then it is time to consult your physician about more traditional treatments. Sometimes short-term use of antacid medications or a PPI are needed to get your acid problem under control. Don't brush off or ignore acid reflux because it can cause damage -- like ulcers or strictures -- and even Barrett's Esophagus if not treated properly.
Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).