What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition where the stomach’s acid content flows into a person’s esophagus then the gullet. It is an extremely common condition with up to 60 million people in America experiencing symptoms like heartburn at least once every month.
Our stomach’s contain strong, hydrochloric acid which help us break down our food and protect us against various pathogens. The stomach lining is adapted specifically to protect itself against the acid but the esophagus is not.
The gastroesophageal sphincter is a ring of muscles which usually acts like a valve letting food enter the stomach but not into our esophagus. When it fails, the contents of the stomach including the acid get regurgitated causing the familiar acid reflux symptoms.
Causes of Acid Reflux
When you are affected regularly, the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. The precise causes are not always clear but it can affect people at any age. Causes are sometimes attributed to lifestyle but for many, the causes can not be prevented including hernia and pregnancy.
Other more controllable risk factors are:
- High salt intake
- Low intake of fiber
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Insufficient exercise
- Certain medications including antidepressants, antihistamines and various painkillers.
Whether you are suffering from intermittent bouts of acid reflux or the more chronic condition – GERD, the symptoms are pretty much identical. They include:
- Heartburn – which is a burning sensation in the chest.
- Dry and persistent coughing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing with accompanying pain
- Pain in the abdomen and chest
- Tooth erosion
- Foul smelling breath
Treatment for acid reflux includes over the counter antacids as well as stronger prescription drugs like H2 blockers and Alginates.
These may not be suitable for everybody and like most drugs, they come with the risk of various unwanted side effects.
Fortunately, there are plenty of safe and natural home remedies that you can try. We have compiled a great list of some that are known to be effective.
Acid Reflux Home Remedies
1) Apple Cider Vinegar
Dealing with acid with more acid seems counter-intuitive but apple cider vinegar is known to be a highly effective remedy.
The reason for this is that a lack of stomach acid can be the cause of acid reflux rather than insufficient acid. It is the acid which tells the esophageal sphincter to shut and when you do not produce sufficient acid, the sphincter may loosen up.
- Mix up to a tablespoon of ACV into a glass of distilled water then drink it down.
- Try doing this prior to each meal or 3 times a day.
2) Baking Soda
Simple baking soda otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate is one of the easiest and most effective remedies for heartburn and acid reflux. Baking soda is known as an antacid base substance with a pH greater than 7.0 which is ideal to neutralize stomach acid. While it is a great remedy, its prolonged use is generally not recommended because of its sodium content.
- Simply mix half a teaspoon of your baking soda with a cup of distilled water.
- Drink it up for immediate relief.
3) Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is well known for its ability to ease stomach troubles including nausea, indigestion and also acid reflux. Try sipping on a cup of this soothing tea immediately before a meal. It can calm the stomach down and help further protect against acid.
- Slice 3 or 4 pieces of ginger into quarter sizes.
- Add them to a cup or two of water and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the pieces of ginger and drink up some 20 minutes before your meals.
4) Licorice Root
Like ginger, licorice root can aid digestion a great deal and can calm down the stomach naturally. You can either drink it in tea form or use it as a capsule or tablet supplement.
- Boil half a teaspoon or so of powdered licorice root in one cup of water.
- Simmer for a while.
- Strain the mixture and drink 20 minutes or so before every meal.
Licorice root tablets are also available in a number of health stores and online.
5) Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea can help reduce stomach inflammation and upset and may also help to balance acid levels in the gut. Drinking a cup before bed is a well known remedy for sleeplessness especially so it is doubly effective when your stomach is not letting you sleep. You can buy chamomile tea bags ready made but it is easy enough to make your own.
- Boil up a cup of water then add a teaspoon or so of dried chamomile flowers.
- Simmer for a minute or so then let the chamomile steep for a few minutes.
- Strain and add honey and lemon to taste.
- Drink several times a day but it is especially effective before bedtime.
Yellow mustard can also help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux. It is alkalizing and helps to neutralize the stomach acid and contains some vinegar which further reduces pH.
While it may not sound appetizing, eating mustard directly from the spoon can be extremely effective. According to people who have found the remedy effective, it is best taken when you have heartburn or feel heartburn coming on.
- Simply pluck up the courage to straight up swallow a teaspoon of the best quality yellow mustard and you may well feel instant relief from your symptoms.
7) Fennel Seeds
Fennel is another herb with a reputation for naturally soothing stomach spasms and improving digestion. Fennel seeds contain a chemical called anethole which has anti-inflammatory properties and a calming effect on the gut. It may also help alleviate many of the symptoms of acid reflux.
You can simply chew in the seeds raw following a heavy meal or drink them in the form of a tea.
- Boil a cup of water with a teaspoon or so of your fennel seeds.
- Steep the mixture for 10 minutes or so then strain.
- Drink up 3 times a day.
Cumin seeds have a very similar effect on the digestive system as fennel. They are known to help combat gas and bloating and may help settle your stomach when you are suffering from acid reflux.
- Boil a cup of water and add a teaspoon or so of your cumin seeds.
- Allow the mixture to steep for at least 5 minutes before straining the seeds out.
- Drink up several times a day immediately after your meals.
9) Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow is another herb with soothing properties that can help ease your symptoms. It is very high in mucilage which can help protect the stomach lining and the espohagus from the acid.
- Put four cups or so of water in a container and add a tablespoon or two of dry marshmallow root.
- Allow the mixture to settle for several hours, preferably overnight.
- Strain the herb and drink up a few times each day.
10) Slippery Elm Bark
Slippery elm has very similar properties to marshmallow and can have the same positive effects on your digestive woes. It has demulcent actions which means that it can coat the stomach lining as well as protecting the esophagus.
- Boil up two cups of water.
- Mix in a tablespoon of slippery elm powder.
- Steep for at least 5 minutes.
- Drink up several times each day.