If you’ve ever eaten a meal and it has been followed by a burning pain in your chest, you’ll know the discomfort of heartburn.
It happens when your stomach acids back up into your oesophagus. Normally, when everything is functioning the way it should, you’ll chew and swallow your food and that group of muscles at the bottom of your oesophagus will relax and let the food travel to your stomach.
You get heartburn and reflux when the lower oesophageal sphincter (that’s those muscles) is weakened or starts relaxing in an abnormal way. Acid flows back up your oesophagus and you can even taste it in the back of your mouth. Yuck!
Other causes of heartburn include having meals too close to your bedtime, or having too many fatty foods, caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages and even chocolate.
If your heartburn occurs regularly, say after every meal, you might need to get some attention to rid yourself of the problem.
Natural remedies to rid yourself of heartburn
You’ll find most of the ingredients for these remedies in your kitchen or garden, and hopefully they give you some relief from acid reflux and heartburn.
1. Baking soda
Baking soda serves to rebalance the pH level of your stomach. With a pH level higher than 7 can effectively neutralise your stomach acid.
You’ll need a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 to 1 glass (250ml) of water. Add the baking soda to the glass of water, mix thoroughly and drink. You can do this whenever you feel acid coming up into your throat, but don’t consume more than 3 teaspoons of baking soda a day.
2. Chewing gum
If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) you can get relief by chewing gum for roughly 30 minutes after a meal. It’s believed the chewing stimulates your salivary glands and increases the flow of saliva, which will wash away or neutralise your stomach acid.
You want to ensure your um is the sugar-free variety before you start chewing though.
Believe it or not, vinegar has been used extensively to get rid of heartburn.
Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of apple cider of white vinegar and mix it in a glass of water (250ml). Drink the mix. You can take this method up to three times a day, so long as you don’t notice any discomfort. If you have heartburn in the evening, use this method before meals and before you turn in.
Often categorised a a ‘natural antacid’, bananas lessen the effect of your reflux. Bananas are high in potassium, an alkalising mineral with a pH of 14. The higher the pH the lower the acidity. You just need to eat a ripe (some say overripe) banana to ensure the potassium level is best.
5. Fennel and fennel seeds
Fennel has a pH of around 6.9 and has been found to be effective in relieving symptoms of heartburn. Here’s how you can use both the crunchy vegetable and its seeds for effective relief:
- Chop the white bottom of fennel into thin slices and add some baby spinach to make a great salad.
- Add the vegetable to various dishes, including chicken dishes.
- Substitute celery for crunchy stalks of fennel.
- Take 1/2 teaspoon of liquid fennel extract each day.
Parsley has also been found to be effective in dealing with the symptoms of heartburn. You can include parsley into your diet by adding it to salads, using it for seasoning and garnishing, and adding flavour to food during cooking.
You might have only thought about using an aloe plant to soothe burns, but it has been found to do the similar thing for your stomach. Aloe vera juice reduces inflammation, so drinking a 1/2 cup before eating could quieten the inflammation in your oesophagus and stomach. Just be careful, as the juice is also a known laxative.
What you can avoid to prevent heartburn
While different foods can have different reactions for different people, there are common triggers to heartburn and acid reflux. These include:
- coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks
- acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus
- fatty and fried foods.
Of course if you try these methods and you don’t get any relief within a week, you might want to consult your doctor.