Home remedies for heartburn: 6 options
Heartburn is a common condition that can affect people of all ages.
For many, it feels like a burning sensation that starts in the chest and spreads to the throat and neck. It can occur when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation, inflammation, and sometimes pain.
Frequent heartburn may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription heartburn medications are available to treat the condition, you may prefer to try home remedies first. Most home remedies lack research, but some lifestyle factors — like eating smaller meals and avoiding trigger foods before bed — can help.
The following home remedies are in no particular order.
Ginger has been used for centuries to treat various digestive issues, including nausea, vomiting, and even heartburn.
Many studies have confirmed its efficacy in treating nausea. For example, a large 2016 review demonstrated that ginger may reduce nausea during pregnancy.
Similarly, a 2017 review found that ginger can reduce nausea after chemotherapy. The researchers attributed this benefit to compounds called gingerol and shogaol, which may reduce inflammation and speed up the digestive process.
Meanwhile, research is lacking on ginger’s effect on heartburn.
A 2014 review that included 12 studies highlighted that ginger could relieve nausea during pregnancy without causing heartburn but did not address whether ginger could also cure heartburn.
Although it’s possible the same mechanisms that improve nausea can also improve heartburn, more studies are necessary.
Regardless, ginger is a safe ingredient to add to your cooking or tea. If you try it and it doesn’t improve your heartburn, it is still a tasty addition to your diet.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for a variety of health conditions.
In popular media, it’s often touted to offer an array of health benefits, spanning from improved heart, skin, and liver health, to reduced heartburn symptoms. Some websites recommend drinking 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into a glass of water to reap the purported effects.
However, as highlighted by a 2019 review, evidence supporting apple cider vinegar’s effectiveness on heartburn is limited and largely nonexistent.
Additionally, frequently drinking vinegar can harm your tooth enamel and irritate your throat, so it’s best to use it in moderation.
If you’d like to explore if apple cider vinegar improves your heartburn symptoms without having to drink it, you can use it in cooking, like in salad dressings or marinades.
Peppermint is a popular remedy for issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, constipation, and heartburn.
A 2022 review looked at the results of 10 studies, concluding that peppermint oil was more effective for treating IBS symptoms than a placebo. More research is necessary into the safety and effectiveness of this home remedy, and they didn’t specifically look at heartburn.
However, peppermint may trigger acid reflux in some people. In these individuals, peppermint may worsen heartburn symptoms rather than improve them.
If you’re curious about using peppermint for heartburn, you might try peppermint tea, gum, or supplements.
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4. Baking soda
Baking soda is another remedy often recommended for heartburn relief. Some sources suggest mixing a small amount with water to drink.
Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate, which is a common ingredient in OTC heartburn medications. It’s believed to relieve heartburn symptoms.
A 2018 review reported that taking omeprazole plus sodium bicarbonate was no more effective than taking omeprazole by itself.
It’s worth noting that baking soda may not always be a safe remedy. A rare case study from 2022 reported that a person with chronic GERD who ingested 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate soda dissolved in water experienced a life threatening stomach rupture. Due to long-term diabetes and gastroparesis (weak stomach motility), their stomach was unable to empty the accumulating gas.
Therefore, be sure to take only small amounts if you wish to try baking soda for heartburn relief.
5. Lifestyle factors
Certain lifestyle factors are known to improve heartburn. These include:
- eating smaller, more frequent meals
- avoiding trigger foods, such as spicy or fatty foods
- eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly
- avoiding lying down for at least 2 hours after eating
- elevating the head of your bed when you get acid reflux at night
- losing weight if you have overweight or obesity
For tailored advice, consider talking with a doctor who can address specific triggers for your heartburn symptoms and suggest appropriate ways to manage them.
OTC and prescription medications are effective ways to relieve heartburn and symptoms of GERD.
- Antacids: Help neutralize stomach acid (Maalox, Gaviscon).
- H2 blockers: Reduce the amount of stomach acid (Zantac, Pepcid).
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): Reduce the production of stomach acid (Prilosec, Nexium).
As with other medications, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before taking these. This is particularly necessary if you take other medications or have any underlying health conditions.
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Heartburn can be painful and uncomfortable, but home remedies and lifestyle factors may provide relief.
Although some people stand by apple cider vinegar and ginger, the evidence supporting the efficacy of these is limited. Peppermint and baking soda are other popular options but have little scientific backing.
Medications or lifestyle factors can provide more effective relief
- Ahuja A, et al. (2019). Popular remedies for esophageal symptoms: A critical appraisal. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31289950/
- Anderson S, et al. (2021). Evidence that daily vinegar ingestion may contribute to erosive tooth wear in adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33297831/
- Björling K, et al. (2022). A simple home remedy for heartburn led to a life-threatening rupture of the stomach. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35875910/
- Higuera-de-la-Tijera F. (2018). Efficacy of omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate treatment in gastroesophageal reflux disease: A systematic review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29547594/
- Lidblad AJ, et al. (2016). Ginger for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. https://www.cfp.ca/content/62/2/145.long
- Marx W, et al. (2017). Ginger-mechanism of action in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A review. https://pure.bond.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/9660017/Ginger_mechanism_of_action_in_chemotherapy_induced_nausea_and_vomiting_A_review.pdf
- Patel D, et al. (2021). Untangling nonerosive reflux disease from functional heartburn. https://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(20)30434-1/fulltext
- Taraszewska A. (2021). Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms related to lifestyle and diet. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33882662/
- Treatment for GER & GERD. (2020). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/treatment
- Viljoen E, et al. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-20