Many people experience occasional heartburn, and some develop a more serious form of heartburn called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have heartburn twice a week, you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This article outlines natural herbal remedies for heartburn and GERD.
GERD occurs when the oesophagus leaks back the stomach acids. This causes potentially unsafe symptoms such as inflammation or swelling. Typically, after eating or drinking, the LES closes to prevent food from returning to the oesophagus. There are many explanations for a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES). However, if you have a weak LES, you can experience more heartburn right after you eat or drink.
GERD symptoms include:
- chronic cough
- bad breath
- difficulty swallowing
- repeated vomiting
It’s crucial to talk with your doctor about GERD symptoms. However, over time, these symptoms may lead to more serious health problems such as cancer of esophagus. To decrease stomach acid production, doctors prescribe over-the-counter antacids or prescription medications.
There are certain herbal remedies for heartburn include herbs and supplements that are readily available. The evidence to support the use of herbs in GERD is minimal. However, what your doctor suggests for GERD can be helpful for you. Before using any herbal remedies for heartburn, always consult with your doctor first.
Related: GERD/Acid reflux surgery procedure.
Peppermint oil is most commonly used to treat colds, headaches, nausea, and digestive problems. However, evidence is conflicting if it is beneficial for people with GERD. Some studies show promising results in people with GERD (1).
But some experts suggest that it might worsen heartburn, so it’s not a good idea to take it if you have GERD. However, it is important not to take peppermint oil with antacids, as it may increase the risk or heartburn.
Check with your doctor before you take peppermint oil. However, some supplements may have side effects or may interfere with drugs you are already taking.
Aloe Vera Juice
The latest research explains that purified and decolorized aloe vera juice can be a safe and efficient treatment to relieve heartburn. The study showed that juice decreased the symptoms of GERD without side effects (2).
Most times, juice was more effective than a conventional supplement. Researchers concluded that aloe vera would function by reducing acid production and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Before you take aloe vera juice, check with your doctor. Some form of aloe vera have side effects and can cause diarrhea. It can also interact with diabetes medications. In addition, pregnant women should avoid aloe vera juice as it may cause miscarriage. Always shop for purified and decolorized aloe vera juice.
Another well-known herbal digestive aid is the root of ginger plant. It has been used for pregnancy-related nausea and heartburn for centuries. However, ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties. This can reduce the oesophagus’s overall swelling and discomfort.
There are few side effects associated with the use of ginger such as gas and bloating. If you have heartburn, taking over four grams of ginger within a 24-hour period can increase your symptoms. Always speak to your doctor about taking ginger for heartburn. As it may interact with other medications.
Melatonin is a sleep hormone which is produced in the pineal gland of the brain. It is mainly used for activating brain changes that facilitate sleep.
Study shows that long-term use of supplementary melatonin can help relieve GERD symptoms. However, these benefits only seen when melatonin is combined with other GERD medications. This means melatonin supplementation alone cannot relieve GERD symptoms (3).
Melatonin can help you sleep better at night, but extra melatonin can keep you tired all day. Some common side effects include headaches, dizziness, anxiety, abdominal cramps, and low blood pressure. Melatonin can also interfere with other drugs, particularly sleeping pills, which may affect your memory and muscle response when performing tasks such as driving. Speak to your doctor if you want to use melatonin as a supplement for heartburn.
Researchers in a 2012 tested the effects of antioxidant vitamins on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Results have shown that the use of vitamins A, C, and E through fruit, vegetables, and supplements can help prevent GERD symptoms.
The participants who ate more fruit and vegetables showed fewer symptoms of acid reflux. Study findings have shown that people with GERD may have a better quality of life by having more antioxidant vitamins from food and supplements.
Taking large doses of vitamins can cause adverse side effects. For example, high doses of vitamin A can lead to nausea, headache or joint pain. Your body can store excess amounts of vitamins, so these side effects can occur unexpectedly. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant and want to use antioxidant vitamins for heartburn.
Other Herbal Remedies
There is no evidence that support herbal remedies for heartburn. A product called Iberogast has been the subject of much of the studies. It is made from 9 different herbs, which include:
- Clown’s mustard plant
- German chamomile
- Greater celandine
- Milk thistle
- Lemon balm
Some studies have shown that the Iberogast can help relieve heartburn. However, it’s not clear, though, which of these nine herb relieves symptoms.
Home Remedies For GERD
In more severe cases, prescription medications may be needed to avoid damage to the oesophagus. While traditional medicine is the most popular treatment for GERD. However, some home remedies for GERD can reduce the symptoms of acid reflux include:
Lose Excess Weight
While heartburn can happen to everyone, GERD is more prevalent in obese adults. Excessive weight in the abdominal region makes the stomach more pressurised. As a result, stomach acids can travel back to the oesophagus and cause heartburn.
Eat Less Food
Eating smaller meals less pressure on the stomach, which can prevent stomach acids from flowing out. You can prevent heartburn by eating smaller meals more frequently.
Smoking is one of the most prominent causes of heartburn. Smoking affects the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) which prevents the backing up of stomach acids. When smoking weakens your LES muscles, you can feel more severe heartburn.
Yoga has important benefits in enhancing the consciousness of the mind-body. If you’re not a yogi, you can even try a few minutes of guided meditation and deep breathing a few times a day to bring down your stress levels. Since GERD could be very stressful. The esophageal muscles play a significant role in keeping the stomach acid down where it belongs.
Foods and drinks to Avoid
Some foods and beverages can increase your risk of acid reflux. Try to avoid foods and beverages such as tomato sauce, tomato-based products, high-fat food, fast foods, unhealthy foods, fried foods, citrus fruit juices, soda, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, onions, mint and alcohol.
Avoid Wearing Tight Clothes
There’s nothing wrong with wearing tight clothing, unless you have signs of GERD. Wearing too tight clothing can put pressure on your abdomen and can increase the occurrence of heartburn.
Related: Treatment of reflux in children.
The Bottom Line
Over the years, several natural remedies have been used to treat heartburn. It has all been said that these supplements and herbs help digestion and avoid heartburn. As a digestive aid, some people eat fresh non-citrus fruits three times a day, and some drink raw potato juice. But no evidence remains to support these remedies. Therefore, it’s crucial that you speak with your doctor. The doctor will help you in finding the right and most appropriate treatment for your heartburn.