Acid Reflux Home Remedies That Provide Relief

Learn what you can do to get rid of heartburn

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Acid reflux home remedies may be as close as your kitchen. Honey, ginger, baking soda, bananas, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar are a few natural remedies that may help provide short-term relief from heartburn.

When paired with dietary changes and lifestyle changes, acid reflux home remedies may be enough to quell the burning sensation in your chest that occurs when the contents of your stomach move up into your esophagus.

This article explores acid reflux home remedies. It also explains how foods and lifestyle habits contribute to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or severe or frequent acid reflux, and how changes you can make today can reduce future episodes.

What is Heartburn?

Verywell / Emily Roberts

Home Remedies For Heartburn

A lot of natural remedies have been touted for heartburn or acid reflux relief. These remedies are generally not well researched and should be used with caution. Remember that even natural substances can cause negative side effects and drug interactions.

Some nutritional and herbal treatments that may stop acid reflux naturally include:

  • Apple cider vinegar: Studies have been inconsistent on whether this helps with reflux symptoms.
  • Baking soda: A natural alkaline found in your kitchen, sodium bicarbonate helps to neutralize excess stomach acid to ease heartburn.
  • Ginger: Some researchers say ginger "shows promise" as a heartburn treatment.
  • Aloe vera juice: Combination products containing aloe vera juice have shown promise against heartburn.
  • Ripe bananas: Alkaline foods, like potassium-rich bananas, may help counteract irritating stomach acid. 
  • Papaya: In studies, papaya has been shown to make minor improvements to heartburn.
  • Turmeric/curcumin: Combination products containing this curry spice have shown promise against heartburn.
  • Deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice root: Licorice may protect the esophagus from damage by increasing mucus. Special processing removes a substance that can cause dangerous side effects.
  • D-limonene: This substance comes from citrus essential oil. Limited research has shown it to be effective at relieving GERD.
  • Honey: Studies suggest honey increases mucus and promotes healing, which may help treat reflux and esophageal damage.
  • American ginseng (Panex quinquefolium): Animal studies suggest this plant may help relieve GERD symptoms.
  • Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis): This herb has shown promise in animal studies as a stomach protectant.
  • Slippery elm: Combination products containing substances from this tree have shown promise against heartburn.

Talk to your healthcare provider before trying any natural remedies for heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD.

Does Mint Help or Hurt Heartburn?

Mint is often used to soothe an upset stomach or irritable bowel, but research suggests it can contribute to reflux by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). To eliminate this risk, take enteric-coated capsules. They dissolve lower in the digestive tract, so they don't affect the LES.

Diet Changes Can Ease Reflux

Changing what, when and how much you eat can make a big difference to relieve heartburn. Some of these changes may be noticeable right away, while others may take time for you to feel a difference.

Avoid Your Trigger Foods

Often, certain foods are behind episodes of acid reflux. Identifying and avoiding those foods can reduce your symptoms.

You might notice that certain foods or beverages bother you. Other times, it may not be obvious. A food and symptom diary can help you identify trigger foods.

Common food triggers include:

  • Acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes, tomato-based foods)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (from coffee, tea, and other sources)
  • Chocolate
  • Fried or greasy foods
  • Mint
  • Spicy food

Some people find that sweets, high-glycemic-index foods (i.e., those that digest quickly), and meals that are too hot may trigger heartburn.

Aim for a Healthy Weight

Losing weight may help reduce your heartburn symptoms. Some research has shown strong connections between being overweight or obese and GER/GERD.

The rate of GERD in people with obesity may be as high as 79%. Meanwhile, the overall prevalence of GERD in the United States is estimated at between 18% and 28%.

Gaining weight increases your risk and losing weight appears to lower it. This is believed to be due to excess body fat's impact on the metabolism and physical changes around the esophagus, stomach, and LES.

Speak with your healthcare provider about a diet and exercise plan that can help you reach a healthy weight.

Don't Overeat

Overeating is connected to heartburn and reflux, so you should be careful not to overeat. This may be harder than it sounds, especially if you're not used to paying attention to your body's signals that it's full.

To avoid overeating, you can use techniques of what's called mindful eating. Mindfulness means "paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally."

Eating mindfully means taking the time to focus on and pay attention to your food, your body, and the experience of eating. Some research suggests it can help you eat less and select healthier foods. To get started:

  • Pause before each meal. Take a moment to notice whether you're hungry, bored, stressed, angry, or sad. If you're not actually hungry, don't eat.
  • Eliminate mealtime distractions. Avoid reading, checking your phone, or watching television while you eat so you can be more aware of being sated.
  • Pause after each bite. Pay attention to whether you feel full or are still hungry. If you're full, stop eating.

The opposite of mindful eating is mindless or unconscious eating. An example of unconscious eating is putting away a whole bag of chips while watching a movie and only realizing how much you've eaten when there's no more left.

Eating Too Fast?

You may have heard that eating too fast can cause GER or GERD, but some studies have found otherwise. The researchers say it appears the speed of eating doesn't affect the frequency of reflux symptoms in people with GERD or in women who have obesity.

Lifestyle Habits to Prevent Heartburn

Stress, sleep, and bad habits can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn. Making lifestyle changes can help reduce your frequency of heartburn and prevent future flare-ups.

Change Your Sleep Habits

Several nighttime habits can help ease symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. These habits all have to do with the effect of gravity on your stomach contents.

  • Don't eat for three hours before going to bed. Lying down with a full stomach can cause reflux, as gravity no longer helps keep stomach contents down.
  • Elevate the head of your bed. Some experts recommend increasing the effect of gravity by putting an 8-inch block under the legs of the bed. You can also use bed risers, wedge pillows, and mattress wedges to prop yourself up.
  • Sleep on your left side. Your stomach is on the left side of your abdomen. Lying on that side puts your stomach below the esophagus. When you lie on the right, stomach contents put pressure on the LES.

Elevating the head while sleeping is usually only suggested for people with nighttime symptoms or symptoms that prevent them from sleeping.

Avoid Tight-Waisted Clothing

Clothing with snug waistlines or belts puts pressure on your stomach. Common wisdom holds that this can lead to acid reflux. To test this, you can experiment with wearing the following:

  • Lower-rise pants/skirts
  • Elastic waistbands
  • Pants/skirts one size larger than you normally wear

You might want to try dresses instead of pants or a skirt, as well.

Ease Your Stress

Stress can trigger reflux symptoms in some people. There are proven ways to help manage stress, such as:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Relaxing pastimes, such as art

If you struggle with stress management, you may want to see a therapist for help.

Nix the Nicotine

Nicotine in cigarettes and some vaping solutions may weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, according to research.

If you can stop smoking/vaping, it may help relieve your GER and GERD symptoms. A nicotine addition is difficult to break, so talk to your healthcare provider about effective ways to quit.

Quit Drinking

Many people rely on alcohol for stress relief and socializing. However, drinking alcohol can damage the lower esophagal sphincter and contribute to GERD symptom. Avoiding alcohol is highly recommended and has been shown to reduce symptoms greatly.

Sometime people who drink regularly or heavily find it difficult to stop. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers a free, confidential helpline through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

If you find yourself struggling to give up alcohol, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the SAMHSA helpline online.

Summary

Acid reflux is a medical condition where the contents of your stomach flow back into your esophagus. It's often treated with medication, but lifestyle changes, diet, and natural remedies can also help. Diet and lifestyle changes are usually safe to try, but be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or natural remedies.

A Word From​ Verywell

Changing your diet and lifestyle may be enough to keep your heartburn in check. But it's important to see your healthcare provider if you experience regular or severe symptoms. Over time, acid reflux-associated heartburn may damage your esophagus and lead to complications.

Fortunately, a lot of treatments are available to relieve symptoms and prevent damage. It just takes time to find out what works best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

    Acid reflux causes heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest. Some other symptoms include regurgitating food or drink, nausea after eating, feeling like food is stuck in your chest, and frequent hiccups.

  • What causes heartburn?

    Heartburn occurs when the muscle that separates the esophagus and the stomach doesn't close properly. This allows stomach contents to escape. Certain conditions (e.g., obesity or pregnancy) or habits (e.g., smoking or drinking) can increase your risk.

  • Can medications contribute to GERD?

    Yes, certain medications can increase your reflux risk. Some include bronchodilators for asthma, blood pressure medications, progestin birth control pills, and sedatives like sleeping pills.

  • When should I be concerned about heartburn?

    Heartburn symptoms like throat pain, chest pain, or nausea are also signs of a heart attack. If heartburn is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating, seek emergency medical care.

  • Does milk help heartburn?

    The protein and calcium in milk can help neutralize stomach acid and quickly relieve heartburn. But stuck to low-fat or fat-free types, as fat irritates GERD symptoms.

  • Does mustard help or hurt heartburn?

    Spicy mustards can worsen heartburn, so stick with the mild, yellow kind. Turmeric, a mustard ingredient, is anti-inflammatory. However, the amount found in most mustards is pretty small.

Heartburn Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman
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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.