Almost everyone has suffered from some form of heartburn in their lives. It may have been caused by eating too much, or an upset stomach or even by acid reflux disease. There are a lot of home remedies out there that claim to help this issue, and a few of them do work. There are also over the counter remedies and even prescription remedies out there, but prescriptions can be very expensive. We will focus more on the over the counter remedies and home remedies that have been proven to work.
Acid reflux, or heartburn as it is commonly known, is a condition that is caused when the esophageal sphincter fails. This valve is supposed to prevent food and acid from washing back up your esophagus by tightly closing after you consume food or drink. It is located between your stomach and your esophagus, and unfortunately, sometimes it does not operate correctly, thus causing the uncomfortable sensation known as heartburn. A term that can be misleading to some as it does not affect your heart at all, but rather your esophagus, which can actually be burned by the backwash of acid.
The most effective way of helping the situation is to use over the counter medication to block the acid production. Antacids and histamine blockers are common. Antacids will help neutralize the acid, and histamine blockers will keep the acid from being formed. Tums is a well-known antacid, and Tagamet is a well-known histamine blocker. There are also proton pump inhibitors. Essentially what these drugs do is shut down the little pumps in your stomach that make acid. The most common one of these is Prilosec. Each of these drugs, however, has many different brand names. Before starting any new drug, even over the counter drugs, you should speak with your doctor about whether or not it is right for you.
Nighttime reflux can be the most dangerous form of acid reflux. The reason for this is that the acid in our stomachs can pool in our esophagus. If the acid sits there long enough or too frequently, it can ultimately cause perforations in the esophagus, ending up with an esophageal ulcer. Another danger of nighttime reflux is you can end up aspirating the acid into your lungs, which essentially means you would be breathing the acid into your lungs. This can cause infection and asthma-like symptoms when the lining of the lungs becomes irritated. The easiest way to help prevent this from occurring is by raising the head of your bed. The bed only needs to be raised about six inches to be helpful.
Controlling what you eat is a key element in reducing acid reflux. Spicy foods, as well as greasy foods, should be avoided as much as possible. Both types of food tend to cause our stomachs to go into overdrive producing acid, which raises your risk of acid reflux, but that is not the only danger associated with eating. Eating too much can be just as bad as lying down immediately after eating. If you overeat, your stomach will have a difficult time digesting the contents within it, so some of it may be pushed back up your esophagus. Laying down confines the space in your stomach even more, which means you will likely end up with acid in your throat because it doesn't have anywhere else to go.
Buttermilk, guava juice, mango juice and papaya juice are all known to reduce acid. Coffee and caffeine or carbonated drinks are known to increase acid. Years ago, people used to tell you to drink regular milk to ease a stomach that was full of acid, but doctors now advise against drinking milk as it can curdle on your stomach and make you feel ill. Moreover, if you have lactose intolerance, it will sit badly on your stomach. Soda crackers, bread, and white rice can help if eaten. All of these products will help absorb excessive acid. You should eat these in limited amounts, as they all expand in your stomach. If you eat too much, you will end up fighting acid again from over eating, which is no help at all. Apples can also help reduce acid.
Cardamon, cinnamon, sage, and ginger are all wonderful home remedies to help with the lessening of acid. The easiest way to consume any of these is to make a tea with them. You can soak them alone in water, or you can add them to a tea you have brewed. Generally, adding one teaspoon of any of these spices to your tea will do the trick. Some people will claim that adding sugar to the mix will cause them to be less effective, but there is no scientific research to back up that claim; if you need to add sugar, feel free to do so. Avoid adding lemon, however, as it is very pungent and can increase the acid in your stomach.
A proven and effective homemade antacid is baking soda. This is the remedy I turn to the most often as it works well, and it works fast. To use this remedy, take one-half a teaspoon of baking soda and four ounces of water and mix them together. Using warm water tends to make the taste more palatable. Drink the solution quickly. It will cause gas and cause you to burp excessively. If you are on a diet for low sodium intake, do not use this remedy as baking soda is loaded with salt.
Aloe vera juice can do wonders. It not only helps to reduce the inflammation in the esophagus, but it promotes healing. The market has many drinks that contain aloe. Be sure that if you are buying a prepared drink that it contains only aloe juice and water. Some aloe juice mixes are known to contain citrus, which can aggravate the stomach and cause more acid to be produced. One of the best mixes out there is aloe juice with mint, both mint and aloe reduce inflammation and help soothe the burn. It is not advised to make your own aloe juice, as it would take a lot of the plant to make enough for you to use. Though this can be done by extracting the juice of aloe leaves and mixing it with water.
Apple cider vinegar can also be a helpful aid in combating stomach acid. This method works because the vinegar forces the valve to your stomach to close. The easiest way to take this is to mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of water. If you drink this before a meal, it has been known to prevent acid issues from happening at all.
Like with any remedy, home or otherwise, be sure to speak with your doctor to find the best solution for you. It is easy to overlook health issues for the sake of relief, but that relief won't be very helpful if it brings on another set of issues. None of the above are a cure. They are just ways to get you through the night when your stomach starts a revolution. Viva Le Waking up acid-free!