Everyone experiences the discomfort of heartburn at some point. For some, acid reflux and its more severe relative, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can make life difficult.
Acid reflux is the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, producing burning sensations in the chest and a sour taste. GERD also may cause coughing, wheezing, chest pain and difficulty swallowing.
Acid reflux can be hereditary, but can also be caused by smoking, stress, obesity, pregnancy, citrus, tomatoes, garlic, onions or spicy foods. Alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks also can contribute.
Even lying down too soon after eating can cause heartburn.
There are prescribed medicines that block the production of stomach acids, but you want to try a few natural remedies first. One study found that for people with acid reflux, a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes was just as effective as medicines in treating symptoms.
Some lifestyles changes that may also be helpful include elevating the head of your bed (most people suffer at night) to keep the acidic food lower in the stomach. Experts also recommend avoiding meals too close to bedtime. Try chewing gum to increase saliva production and an after-dinner walk.
Aloe may soothe a sunburn, but it may also soothe a bit of acid reflux. One study found that drinking one ounce of aloe vera syrup could safely relieve reflux symptoms.
Studies suggest that honey may increase mucus and promote healing, helping to ease reflux. Create your own tea using hot water, fresh ginger and honey to soothe symptoms. Soothing teas with slippery elm and marshmallow root, which are known to relieve symptoms, are also helpful.
Additional natural relief can be found with baking soda, papaya, turmeric and licorice root. Ripe bananas, which are potassium rich and alkaline have been shown to counteract stomach acid.