Natural Home Remedies for Heartburn

Natural Remedies for Heartburn

When I was growing up, my Dad would occasionally get heartburn, and my brother and I really never understood why it seemed to bother him so much. From our perspectives (at ages 4 and 6), nothing appeared to be physically wrong, he would just become grumpy after eating.

Flash forward a couple decades to my first pregnancy and my first experience with heartburn, and I regretted my lack of sympathy for him (and regretted the tomato salad I had just eaten!).

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a type of indigestion that is often felt as a burning sensation in the chest caused by stomach acid creeping up into the esophagus.

Contrary to common assumption, in most cases heartburn is not caused by too much stomach acid, but often too little.

Dr. Jonathan Wright, a well-known expert in the field of digestive health, explains that 99% of the time, a person suffering from heartburn, CERD or acid reflux has too little stomach acid, not too much. As I explained before:

Stomach acid signals something called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (which separates the stomach and esophagus) to close tightly when the body has enough acid to digest the food that was consumed. When there is not adequate stomach acid to digest a food, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter will not receive this signal and will not close tightly, letting acid and undigested food creep up into the esophagus leading to heartburn and indigestion.

Essentially, the lack of necessary stomach acid slows the digestive process. Food sits in the stomach, creating gas that produces pressure. This pushes the stomach contents, including some of the stomach acid, into the esophagus. This can happen more easily for pregnant women, since there is less space in the abdomen and stomach contents can more easily be pushed up.

Heartburn Relief

Anyone who has experienced heartburn understands the intense pain it can cause and the absolute need for relief. Unfortunately, most antacids and other medications offer short term relief at best.

These over the counter medications offer relief from the acid in the esophagus, but can actually make the underlying problem of low stomach acid worse, and PPIs and other stronger medications can have more serious long-term effects. (1)

While antacids work to neutralize stomach acid in the short term, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) work exactly like their name suggests, by reducing the action of proton pumps in the stomach that create stomach acid.

PPIs are the third most prescribed drug in the US, yet they are only approved for 1-2 months of continual use (though many people need them for much longer). When stomach acid production is stifled for an extended time, the body may actually create more proton pumps to try to create the proper balance of stomach acid.

This article delves into the problems with PPIs and why natural options can be much safer and more effective.

Natural Home Remedies for Heartburn

My friend Steve Wright, a health engineer who reversed his own heartburn and digestive problems, recently shared four remedies that worked for him (and that have helped his clients):

  • Betaine HCL: I wrote about Betaine HCL in depth here, but it is the main component of stomach acid and it supplements the stomach’s own acid when needed. I know several people who noticed an immediate night and day difference in their heartburn, energy levels and sleep from taking HCL. I personally take low dose Betaine HCL with protein containing meals to improve digestion. This isn’t a good option for those taking any type of PPI or other prescription medication though and it is important to check with a doctor or naturopathic doctor first.
  • Lemon Juice: Just as HCL can increase stomach acid, taking a natural acid like lemon juice can help supplement the stomach’s own production. This (and the next remedy) were the most effective for me during pregnancy and I took 2+ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice squeezed into a small amount of water as needed to help avoid heartburn or get rid of it once it hit.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Same theory as the lemon juice and HCL, vinegar increases the stomach’s acid content and is a fast natural remedy for heartburn. Steve suggests mixing two teaspoons into a glass of water and drinking every 5 minutes until heartburn has subsided.
  • Baking Soda: I’ve never personally used this remedy, and Steve only recommends it as a short term solution to really severe heartburn pain. In times with other natural remed have not worked, he recommends mixing 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1/4 cup of water and drinking every few minutes until heartburn subsides. This would not be a substitute for addressing the underlying low-acid issues, but an effective immediate relief.

Advanced Help for Heartburn

There are so many confounding factors that can affect indigestion and heartburn, and those with severe struggles often have the most difficult time finding the right protocol for their specific problems. Also, the millions of people taking PPIs or other prescription medications for heartburn can’t make an immediate switch to natural options and need to follow a careful protocol to make the switch.

Steve is doing an in-depth call to provide this exact protocol that worked for him and thousands of others and to answer pre-submitted questions about heartburn, indigestion and GERD.

If you struggle with heartburn- click here to save a seat and ask a question.

Do you struggle with heartburn? What has helped you?

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Reader Comments

  1. I’m so glad you posted about this often misdx’d challenge. Whenever I’m with someone complaining of heartburn, I first have them take a little oj, lemon juice/lemon ade or vinegar then followed by a full glass of water to wash the acid out of the mouth and into the stomach. Don’t need that acid staying in the mouth and damaging teeth.
    thanks again,

  2. These are great ideas! I try apple cider vinegar often! Peppermint essential oil works really well for my heartburn/GERD as well 🙂

  3. I have found that taking time to eat my meals and properly chewing has helped my acid reflux at ton! I was always rushing through my lunch at the office and now I slowly acknowledge my food and chew it properly to prepare my stomach which then creates more stomach acid for digestion. It’s a simple concept but I wasn’t being conscious when I was eating.

  4. I struggled with heartburn for a couple of months after taking prescription meds which altered the ph balance of my gut. I would take one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 8oz of water before lunch and dinner…works wonders. I only need to take some very occasionally now on the onset if symptoms and it works within minutes. Eating an apple works well too!

  5. My cure is eating a banana.

  6. I have had GERD as a result of anti inflammatory meds after a back injury. Anytime I feel it coming on I just chew on a very small piece of ginger followed by a little water every 15 minutes until the problem leaves me. Always have it in my bag. Thanks for all the great stuff you give us. You are GOD’s Gift to us. hugs

  7. I’m curious if Steve (or you) has tried gum mastic? My homeopath gave it to me a few years ago. I recently had a bout of intense heartburn (woke up feeling like I was going to choke on it) and the next night took gum mastic and … no heartburn. Too soon to tell, but I’m going to stick with it. It’s 100% natural and is also said to work on ulcers.

  8. We have used cell salts with good effectiveness here and have replaced them with TUMS which my husband always HAD TO HAVE on hand. We have also used cell salts to alleviate seasonal allergies in my son and myself so just another idea.

  9. My husband often uses that dried, slightly sweetened ginger you buy from Costco. But his might be more indigestion.
    I was wondering if you could write about constant gas and bloating. I have been eating fermented foods for years and recently the gas and bloating has been 24/7 (over a month). We eat a whole foods, pretty clean diet.
    Thanks for info!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been using ACV for heartburn for years now and everyone thinks I’m insane. I have a friend with frequent heartburn and I keep suggesting that he try it but he is really skeptical. Perhaps I can get him to try HCL. As always, you are the best!

  11. A shot glass of ACV and a few minutes and no more heartburn. I think all this antacids is another way of duping the public and causing a temporary problem to become chronic.

  12. I’ve tried the lemon, Betaine HCl and ACV. They’ve all made the burning, uncomfortable feeling worse. The only thing that does work is Baking Soda. I do, however, take ACV before meals and (depending on how I feel my stomach acid is doing – usually too low), I’ll take it after dinner if my dinner was heavy. I’m not sure why they make it worse if taken when the burning sensation is already there. It’s not common but when it does occur, it’s very painful. Anyway, just a thought for anyone who happens to read the comments.

    • Please be careful taking baking soda. My daddy took it like crazy, and died of a massive heart attack at 44. What he thought was indigestion was cardiovascular disease and an enlarged heart. Baking soda only masked that, and made things worse.

  13. DGL, deglycyrrhizinated licorice has helped me tremendously. It fortifies the stomach mucous lining so that it is not so susceptible to the effects of stomach acid. It comes as DGL, which you take before eating something you think will affect your stomach, or in a formulation with calcium carbonate (Gastro-Soothe) if you have eaten something and it produces heartburn. You can chew one or two of them and drink a glass or water. Sucking or chewing on a piece of real licorice itself would also work except that it raises blood pressure. The DGL removes this property.

  14. My favorite remedy for heartburn is d?Terra’s Essential Oil Digestzen. It works like a charm every time!

  15. My daughter has acid reflux and I give her aloe vera juice. I buy this at our local Coop in big gallon size bottles and it lasts a long time. You’re not supposed to take more than 8 oz. a day. It’s kind of funny tasting, but she’s gotten to the point where she will just drink it straight, and I know it’s helping because we used to push the 8 oz. limit, but 4 oz. a day is all she seems to require. But whenever she complains of a ‘goofy’ stomach, I just give her a 2 oz. shot. Pain gone!

  16. Apple cider vinegar GIVES me heatburn

  17. The issue with baking soda is that it alkalizes the body. Which if you consume too much can cause harm and even death. If your body is more on the acidic side, it can help with a lot of ailments aside from heart burn, but again, should not be used continuously. Sipping it is best because downing it can cause a shock to your body and a rebound effect can occur (more acid in the stomach to compensate). You may not need the whole dose either if you sip it. I tried it not too long ago for anxiety and it helped really well–including my heart burn. I had rebound heart burn from discontinuing nexium and the ACV and baking soda were such life savers! The ACV hurt really bad at first. I took a cap full without the water because my grandmother use to take it like that followed by a spoonful of honey. My body tends to be on the more acidic side though so I find the baking soda works better.

  18. My father in law had it so bad he was tearing up his esophagus and doctors said there was no other medication that could help since Prilosec wasn’t helping anymore.
    He healed his esophagus lining and no longer has GERD or any reflux issues by using DigestZen a blend of essential oils. I also gave some to a friend for her 3 month old baby and she was able to avoid any medication and keeps her milk down. I am so happy with these natural remedies and being able to educate others on their uses!

  19. Oh silly me!! I have always suffered from heartburn, especially while pregnant. My only instant relief was a small shot of apple cider vinegar – straight! why didn’t i dilute it?? If i could turn back time? It was so intense i would have to hold onto a door frame for support, but as i said it was instant relief!

  20. Great article, thank you! What i am confused about, some say lemon is an alkali and helps to alkalize the body, other say its a natural acid.. can you shed some light for me here?

  21. My go to remedy for heartburn is eating raw almonds. A friends midwife told me about it. Apparently there is an enzyme in raw almonds that helps with heartburn. It works every time and my husband tells everyone about it because it works so well.

  22. My hubs gets bad reflux despite being on a PPI. For years he would say that he doesn’t digest food well, that it just sits there. When I read about ACV, I had him try it, and he was amazed by how well it worked. I can tell when he’s slacked off, because then he goes for an emergency dose of baking soda. So glad to not be buying OTC antacid tablets anymore!

  23. I have used Enzymes tablets for my heartburn.

  24. I use carrot juice. If I don’t find it I buy baby food and dilute it with water. My daughter adds aloe vera juice.

  25. I don’t know if anyone will notice this comment as its so long after the article was posted. I’ve heard that you need to be careful when drinking ACV as it could really damage the enamel on your teeth. I would like to try ACV, but am scared about ruining my teeth. Wondered if anyone else has any insight about this?

    • You could dilute it and swallow it quick (not let it sit around in your mouth) and it will mostly bypass your teeth. If you’re still concerned, swish some water around in your mouth afterwards and spit it out. You can also used an enamel building toothpaste (such as Earthpaste or one of the many homemade recipes out there) to help keep enamel strong.

  26. are you able to take bicarbonate of soda for heartburn relief during pregnancy?
    I am using ACV but cannot stomach any sort of lemon at the moment and wondered if bicarbonate of soda might be another option to help when the heartburn is really bad?

    • I’d ask a doc or midwife to be sure, but since it is used in food and baking, it would seem it could be fine in small amounts.

  27. I am curious is prenatal heart burn still caused by a lack of acid? I have read its caused by stomach process slowing down to absorp nutrients in first tri and second tri because everything gets pushed upward and third because of lack of space. if that is the case is there anything that can be effective for the reasons pregnancy causes heartburn? As you said you ate a tomato salad that made you regret it and tomatoes are acidic. No matter what I eat during this pregnancy I experience hard core heart born and a sever want to avoid acid, I was told by a dr to try tums as I am only in first tru but Id rather avoid medication if possible. Your response would be greatly appreciated- Thanks!

    • Pregnancy related heartburn definitely seems to be different and related to position in some way. My last pregnancy, she was breech and I got heartburn every time she moved a certain way. In this case, I would defintiely talk to a doc and not take anything else acidic like HCL.

    • I have been in the same boat, everything causes heartburn, even drinking water. Ginger and ACV seem to help. I swish with baking soda water before bed to try to neutralize the acid in my mouth and sometimes take a couple sips to help ease it at night. Sleeping on left side with my head propped up also helps. Not sure if all this is okay with my doctor, but I figured it is better than the antacid they wanted to prescribe me.

  28. I wanted to ask if anyone experiences extreme bloating with their heartburn & GERD? My symptoms are: bloating after meals (mainly dinner), severe belching, nausea (mainly in morning), and a fullness and achy-ness in my stomach right below sternum area. I have been trying ACV and it does seem to help, but, only temporarily. I have yet to try Aloe Vera and HCL but that’s next on my list! I was wondering if there is side-effects to taking HCL? How about digestive enzymes?