Many of us have experienced heartburn from time to time but when it becomes a regular occurrence it can become hard to live with. Scientists call regular heartburn ‘acid reflux’ or ‘GERD’ (gastroesophageal reflux disease). It can be uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing when symptoms of heartburn occur, especially in public places or at work. The inflammation and irritation involved with heartburn can also lead to other health problems such as hoarseness and asthma. So here are 6 natural remedies that can help you to manage your heartburn by getting to the root of the problem and dealing with the symptoms.
People often talk about ‘healthy bacteria’ but the link between health problems and a lack of good bacteria in the body is hardly discussed. There is some evidence that taking probiotics can help to reduce the symptoms of heartburn. Taking probiotics also offers a range of other potential health benefits, particularly relating to the stomach. It’s worth giving them a go, and if you don’t like taking supplements you can always open up the capsules and add them to drinks like smoothies or to foods like home-made yoghurt. If you need antibiotic treatment at any time in your life, taking probiotics at the same time has been found to make antibiotics work better and also reduce their side effects.
A specific herbal remedy containing licorice, peppermint and chamomile has been found to reduce symptoms of heartburn or GERD in some patients. The active ingredient seems to be present in a specific type of licorice known as DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice. Licorice makes a tasty, sweet tea or you can opt to chew on the root instead, but make sure you track down the DGL variety for the full health benefits of this remedy.
The drug Gaviscon is often prescribed to treat GERD and it contains a substance called alginic acid. Scientists think that alginic acid reduces acid reflux by protecting the stomach from the effect of regurgitation. The seaweed bladderwrack is high in alginic acid, so it’s possible that it could help in a similar way to Gaviscon. There is no evidence that bladderwrack definitely reduces heartburn symptoms, but it’s worth a try if all else fails. However, take note that bladderwrack is high in iodine, so you need to be careful of how much you take, as too much iodine intake is not good for your body. Never take bladderwrack alongside other seaweeds like kelp, or with iodine supplements, but if you are low in iodine already, suffer from heartburn and want to try a natural remedy for upping iodine intake, bladderwrack might be a good supplement for you.
4. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been found to be helpful for a wide variety of health problems, and claimed to cure many more. Thankfully heartburn is one of the problems that acupuncture has been found to help. A study found that acupuncture treatment can actually stop the acid and bile reflux from occurring in heartburn sufferers. Patients undertook a course of acupuncture treatment once a day for a week, with a break of 2-3 days between courses, with positive results. I recommend finding a registered local acupuncturist and giving the treatment a go for a few weeks. With all the health problems acupuncture has been found to help, this therapy is definitely worth the investment. It may also help to deal with the underlying cause or causes of your heartburn.
5. Chew Gum
In a small study , patients found relief from heartburn by chewing gum. It’s thought that chewing gum makes you swallow more often, which reduces problems with reflux. Try chewing sugar-free gum for half an hour after a meal, and keep a diary to assess whether your symptoms are reduced through this simple practice.
6. Lose Weight
Studies show that being overweight causes heartburn. Losing approximately 10–15 pounds decreases frequent heartburn by as much as 40%. Even patients who were not overweight were found to have trouble with heartburn after putting on weight, even though they were not technically obese even after weight gain. There are some useful green ideas for losing weight here . Healthy weight loss is also associated with other health improvements, so sign up for a gym class, get a jogging partner to help you stick to a daily routine, take up yoga or start planning your healthier meal plans now. What have you got to lose? In this case, a little body fat and all the horrible symptoms caused by heartburn. Good luck!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or herbalist. Please consult a doctor or medical provider for medical issues and before self-remedying, especially if you are taking prescription medication.