Natural Home Remedies for Heartburn

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Natural Remedies for Heartburn
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Natural Home 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. Here are some additional articles and information that might be helpful to you.

Do you struggle with heartburn? What has helped you?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


43 responses to “Natural Home Remedies for Heartburn”

  1. D T Gibbs Avatar
    D T Gibbs

    I have used dill pickle juice.
    When needed I drink 1-2 tablespoons.
    Fixes the burn quickly.

  2. Donna Kutlesa Avatar
    Donna Kutlesa

    I am trying to find info on too MUCH stomach acid, which I have diagnosed with. The Rx they gave me is scary re; a possible (probable?) cause of stomach cancers. So I have been using a remedy I created myself after making my own remineralizing tooth powder from a recipe on your site – I realized that the ingredients in that are…like..PERFECT for stomach acid, heartburn, and gas. So I’ve been mixing it with water and it’s helpful. But – my question is: do you have any home remedy recipes for reducing stomach acid and gas at the sa me time. For some reason – they seem to go together.
    What I’m doing now: equal parts calcium powder, baking soda, and bentonite clay, with a few drop of peppermint oil.

  3. Jessica Borsick Avatar
    Jessica Borsick

    Can anyone tell me if there is a test to determine acid levels? Ive tried the baking soda test and got different results each day. The apple cided vinegar helps but I have to do it all the time. I bought the HCL tablets I don’t get the pain that they say you would get it if it wasn’t working but I do still have the pain between my shoulder blades. I don’t have any pain in my chest or throat it is always in my back between shoulder blades like a twisting tight feeling. I can’t find anything online about this. I was so sure the HCL pills would work but it doesn’t seem like it. However I am not getting sick or feeling anything different that I already have after taking it.

  4. Gray Belch Avatar
    Gray Belch

    Dear Wellness Mama,

    great post on heartburn and acid reflux.

    I’m working in this field for several years by now, and I’ve experienced some controversies when it comes to using natural remedies. The same is valid for eating habits and lifestyles.

    For instance, I found that local cuisine can have a very strong impact on reflux, and there are some great foods, like Kimchi, or Rikkunshito, that are still unknown to many people (who may not like “ethnic” cuisine).

    The relationship between acidity and reflux is another “big thing”. As you outlined, more acid does not mean more reflux, even though many people still believe that. In some cases, keeping the acid low can help to avoid aggressive erosion to the esophagus linen, and I’ve found that this herb called Laportea aestuans is a good natural healer for that. Quite hard to find, at least for me… though.

    Not to mention controversies about milk (almond milk is better) and the buzz around alkaline water, while I found that a specific type, namely the hydrogen carbonate-rich water, has some outstanding properties.

    Now, I’m assessing some full dieting plans, and I have already found surprising things about the Mediterranean Diet. And the South Beach Diet, it’s making me wonder for many reasons.

    Thank you for this post and for the website, it’s a great resource!

  5. Lauren Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    After an endoscopy, I was told by doctors that I have a hiatal hernia, but not bad enough for surgery. They recommended that I keep taking Pepcid. I’d really like to try your recommendations so I’m not taking medication for the rest of my life. Would you hold to suggestions like Betaine HCL for someone in my shoes?

  6. Lisa Avatar

    I had heartburn that was getting worse and interfering with sleep at night, so I had resigned myself to talking to my doctor about it. But then we made a diet change to low-carb, high-fat (LCHF), and all my heartburn went away. My mom had serious acid-reflux, but she has recently switched her diet to LCHF as well, and all her acid-reflux virutally disappeared as well. The one day she ate carbs like she used to, the acid-reflux came back.

  7. mandy broderick Avatar
    mandy broderick

    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?

    1. Olivia Avatar

      Lookup Gojiman on Youtube on SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). I experience the same symptoms as you and I think I have it. Maybe you do as well.

  8. Jenae Hagel Avatar
    Jenae Hagel

    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!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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.

    2. Heather Avatar

      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.

  9. Holly Stone Avatar
    Holly Stone

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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.

  10. Jane Avatar

    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?

    1. Tessa W Avatar
      Tessa W

      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.

  11. Elena Avatar

    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.

  12. Deb Avatar

    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!

  13. Erin Avatar

    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.

    1. Kim Avatar

      My hubby tried almonds and it didn’t work, but maybe he didn’t take enough… How many almonds do you take? A handful? Roughly how long does it take to work?

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