Natural Remedies for Heartburn

by Sara Suchy Editor

Experiencing the pain and irritation of heartburn? And don’t want to continue to take medicine on a frequent basis for it? Then read on to learn about potential natural remedies for when you feel the burn.

Young woman with heartburn sitting on the couch.

What IS heartburn?

If you have heartburn, you’re not alone: it’s a common condition that affects more than 70 million Americans annually. It usually feels like a burning sensation beginning in the upper abdomen. The sensation moves into the chest, sometimes entering into the back of the throat, jaws, arms, and back. You might think this is angina (the medical way of saying cardiac chest pain), but it isn’t. Instead, it’s stomach acid that has entered the esophagus (hence the name — it literally feels like your heart is burning).

Woman lying in bed.

Don't go to bed full

Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid that travels from the stomach to the esophagus and is exacerbated by certain trigger foods. Gravity helps keep food and stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus immediately following a meal. It is best to allow food to digest for two to three hours after eating before lying down.

Table setting with plate, napkin, knife, and fork.

Eat less, slowly to help heartburn

Just about any food will cause acid reflux if too much is eaten too fast. This happens because the stomach does not have the chance to signal to the brain that it is full and when it becomes overfull, stomach contents and acid could back up into the esophagus. To avoid this, take small bites of food slowly and stop eating when you feel full. This allows to stomach to digest its food more effectively and efficiently. Small, frequent meals may also prevent symptoms of reflux.

Baking soda pouring onto a spoon.

Baking soda is useful tool against heartburn

Baking soda is a natural antacid and can temporarily neutralize acid reflux pain. However, it does release carbon dioxide, which will open the lower esophageal sphincter and perhaps relieve pressure from bloating, but it can also allow stomach contents into the esophagus. To use, dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda into 8 ounces of water. Don’t use while pregnant.

Ginger root on wooden table.

Ginger is effective natural remedy for heartburn

Fresh ginger is one of the oldest remedies for heartburn and a number of other gastrointestinal problems, including nausea. Ginger can be added to food when it is cooked, eaten raw, or used in ginger tea. It appears to help reduce inflammation.

Tumeric root and powder.

Turmeric can help prevent acid build up

Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that is used in many curry dishes. Curcumin, which turns it yellow, holds promise for healing across conditions with pro-inflammatory elements. It can be added to many foods or taken in capsule form before meals to prevent acid reflux.

Aloe vera leaf and juice on spoon.

Aloe vera juice soothes your esophagus

The aloe vera plant is truly incredible. Not only can it help quickly heal sunburn and other wounds, but its juice can be used to soothe an irritated esophagus. However, use only aloe vera juice that has been specifically prepared for internal use. It’s important to discuss the use of any natural remedy with your health care provider prior to its use.

Cup of chamomile tea.

A cup of chamomile tea could assist

Like drinking herbal tea? Then a cup of chamomile tea might help diminish heartburn. “Chamomile is one of the oldest, most widely used and well documented medicinal plants in the world and has been recommended for a variety of healing applications,” according to study authors in a paper published in Molecular Medicine Reports in 2010. The flowers of chamomile have anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties.

Licorice root.

Licorice root might help with your heartburn

Licorice root has been studied for helping acid reflux, but the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that more research is needed to prove its effectiveness. It appears to work by “[increasing] the mucous coating of the esophageal lining, helping it resist the irritating effects of stomach acid,” a Harvard article reports. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) can be bought in pill or liquid.

Doctor talking to senior man.

Consult your health professional about heartburn, any remedies you use

As always before starting any new treatment regime, including supplements and herbal remedies, seek out approval from your doctor first. You’ll also want your heartburn checked out, to see if it’s gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or something else causing your indigestion.

Sara Suchy
Meet Our Writer
Sara Suchy

Sara is a former editor for HealthCentral.