Acid reflux occurs when the muscle ring that allows food into the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter, relaxes when it should not. The acid then travels back up the esophagus. These tried-and-true home remedies for acid reflux can relieve symptoms and get you back to your life without discomfort.
For nighttime relief, try drinking a cup of soothing chamomile tea half an hour to an hour before bed. Chamomile tea is widely recognized for its calming properties, and it promotes deep sleep. It also fights inflammation and helps balance acidity levels in the stomach to maintain a healthy gut.
Licorice is a lesser-known home remedy for acid reflux in this part of the world, but the natural form of the root (not the red version sold at convenience stores) can calm symptoms. The easiest way to benefit from this option is to buy deglycyrrhizinated licorice root or DGL. The tablets do not contain glycyrrhizic acid, which can be potentially dangerous. They are available in most health food stores and are a natural solution for ulcers.
Sleeping on your back can agitate the acid in your stomach. When you're lying down, it is much easier for the lazy esophageal sphincter to open and allow acid to travel up the open pipe. However, when you sleep on your left side, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes. This position also keeps the esophageal sphincter above the gastric acid level, so fluid has to move uphill to get through. In addition, sleeping on a slight incline can improve acid reflux symptoms.
Trigger foods can increase your acid reflux symptoms. Food intolerances vary from person to person, but there are some common culprits. Tomato-based products, high-fat and fried foods, alcohol and caffeine, citrus fruits, mint, garlic, onions, and chocolate bother many people. Keeping a food diary can help you identify what foods cause your symptoms.
Bicarbonate soda or baking soda is a base and has a pH of 9.0. Base substances like baking soda work by absorbing hydrogen ions in acidic substances. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of water and drink it quickly, and it will help prevent excess stomach acid from forming or coming up the esophagus. Use it sparingly, as it can have a laxative effect. Do not exceed seven half-teaspoon doses within 24 hours.
Slippery elm is an extract from a tree native to North America. It has been served as a medicinal product for hundreds of years and relieving acid reflux, heartburn, and other stomach issues are just a few of its uses. Slippery elm is available as powdered bark, capsules, and even lozenges. Take a 500-milligram capsule or one tablespoon of powdered bark mixed with water or tea up to three times a day for no longer than eight weeks. Honey or sugar can help make it more palatable.
Drinking raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar helps some people with acid reflux. This technique may only work when the stomach is not producing enough acid itself, a common cause of the condition. Mix one tablespoon of unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of water. Drinking this two to three times throughout the day or before meals may help alleviate symptoms.
Chewing gum can work extremely well to reduce acid reflux because it tells the body to produce more saliva, a natural cleanser of acid in the gut. Chew a stick of gum for 30 minutes after eating a meal. The salivary glands get to work and help to calm the excess acid in the stomach. Choose sugar-free gum to maintain dental health.
Acid reflux makes the esophagus raw as the stomach acid eats away at it. Consuming something soothing can ease the pain and even act as a balm in repairing the esophagus. Drink half a cup of aloe vera juice before eating a meal to soothe the throat and calm the stomach by reducing inflammation. People use aloe vera on surface wounds, and the same principles are at play when you ingest it.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and aids with the proper absorption of food. It also helps with digestion. All these qualities benefit the stomach and ease the discomfort of acid reflux. Peel, grate, and eat a teaspoon of fresh ginger root daily or crush a section of ginger root into hot water and drink it as a tea two to three times a day.
Tight clothing can squeeze the stomach and force acid up into the esophagus, triggering or worsening acid reflux pain. Replace outfits, undergarments, and accessories that fit snugly with a larger size until symptoms are under control. Loose-fitting or stretchy clothing can provide comfort and style without intensifying heartburn symptoms. Avoid fastening your belt too tightly. Bras, shapewear, and exercise garments should be in a size that does not constrict. Properly fitting clothes can encourage proper digestion and ease the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract.
Many people find relief from acid reflux discomfort by improving their posture. Some research suggests that slouching after meals slows down the transit of food. Poor posture also puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing stomach acid upward. To achieve a neutral spine position, position your shoulders down and back. Pull your head back and engage the core muscles. Use a lumbar support pillow to remain upright, and change positions every 30 to 60 minutes.
Results of a study linked relaxation therapy with fewer reports of GERD symptoms and reflux episodes. Researchers believe that deep breathing during relaxation training increases pressure on the diaphragm and lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which subsequently reduces the occurrence of acid reflux symptoms.
Smokers are more likely to experience acid reflux than nonsmokers. Saliva contains bicarbonate that neutralizes refluxed acid, and smokers produce less of it. Additionally, tobacco components weaken the LES, allowing acid to flow backward into the esophagus. Nicotine also increases stomach acid production and promotes the movement of bile salts to the stomach, aggravating the acid reflux. The body can reverse some of the effects of smoking, starting almost as soon as the last cigarette is ground out. Research indicates that smoking cessation can significantly improve GERD symptoms for at least a year after quitting.
People who are overweight or have obesity statistically have a high prevalence of acid reflux symptoms. Some research suggests that weight gain might induce changes in the gastroesophageal junction, which can trigger the backflow of stomach acid. Visceral fat can also release chemicals that inhibit normal digestive function. One study concluded that a structured weight management program involving practices such as caloric reduction and increased physical activity can resolve GERD symptoms in many people. Losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce acid reflux episodes.
Choosing water over other beverages, like carbonated drinks, tea, or coffee, can prevent reflux, but there are other reasons drinking water can help. Some research shows that drinking frequent small sips of water is beneficial. When eating, this practice can help dilute your food and improve gut motility.
Big gulps may have the opposite effect, taking up more space in the stomach and increasing pressure, which may worsen reflux, especially during a large meal.
Doctors may prescribe medications for reflux if lifestyle changes do not work. These medications either decrease the amount of acid in the stomach or increase motility. Several types of mediation can work for reflux. Antacids are often used to treat intermittent and infrequent reflux; over the long-term, though, they can increase acid production and worsen the problem.
Other medications include histamine blockers and proton pump inhibitors, which suppress acid production and may help heal esophageal erosions. Prokinetic agents enhance the activity of the smooth muscle in the GI tract to speed up digestion and may be used in conjunction with drugs that inhibit acid production.
Fatty, spicy, salty foods and meals with a lot of carbohydrates can all trigger acid reflux. Avoiding certain foods is important, but how you prepare your meals can prevent problems, too. For example, avoid food preparation methods high in fat, like deep frying or pan frying—try baking, boiling, or roasting your food instead.
Avoid adding extra salt, increase your use of whole grains, and try substituting vegetables for extra meat.
Eat small meals more frequently rather than eating a few large meals a day. When the stomach is very full, it can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, preventing it from closing correctly and increasing the risk of reflux.
Research shows that diets high in fiber can significantly lower pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to fewer instances of reflux and a decrease in heartburn frequency. There are high-fiber options in nearly every food group; try bananas, turnips, carrots, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, lentils, and black beans.
Long-term reflux can have complications. Erosive esophagitis can occur, characterized by ulcers on the esophagus lining, and esophageal strictures can result from scarring at the base of the esophagus. Another complication is Barrett's esophagus. In this condition, the acid changes the composition of the tissue in the esophagus, causing it to be more like the , which can lead to a rare form of cancer. Many children have occasional reflux, and . Signs of reflux in children can include bad breath, breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, wearing on teeth, or problems or pain when swallowing. Heartburn can also occur but is more common in children older than 12. Some supplements are proven to alleviate reflux. Curcumin, the substance that gives turmeric its yellow color, has been shown to . Recent studies show that may also be an effective treatment for reflux. Other research indicates , but more studies are needed. Acid reflux can have . Tooth erosion can occur from coming in contact with gastric juices, particularly when there is also reflux through the pyloric sphincter from the small intestine. Affected teeth may look glazed or silky with rounded surfaces and appear very clean, as gastric juices may remove stains and plaque. Scientists believe that acid reflux and asthma may be linked, but the . Two theories about how these conditions are related are the reflux theory and the reflex theory. The reflux theory is the idea that asthma may be caused by a small amount of gastric juices entering the esophagus and getting into the lungs, leading to chronic inflammation of lung tissue. The reflex theory proposes a more indirect connection. In this theory, esophageal reflux stimulates the vagus nerve, which causes constriction in the airway, leading to asthma symptoms.
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