Acid reflux is one of the top health-related internet search queries, a very common symptom of burning pain felt internally around the lower chest area, caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the food pipe. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd or GORD for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) is acid reflux more than twice a week.
Use this page to learn what causes acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Also get an overview of symptoms, and how the condition is diagnosed. We outline the treatment options available for the management of the condition, and how lifestyle measures may have preventive benefit.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the esophagus – into the gullet, which moves food down from the mouth.
The stomach contains a strong acid, hydrochloric acid, to help with the efficient digestion of food and to protect against, for example, bacteria.1
The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to produce this acid, and also to protect the digestive organ against its own corrosive secretion – but the higher gut is not protected from this acid.
A ring of muscle – the gastroesophageal sphincter – normally protects the esophagus from the contents of the stomach by acting as a valve by closing the entrance to the stomach.2 When this fails, the symptoms of acid reflex are felt, such as Heartburn. This is also known as pyrosis or acid indigestion.
Exact figures vary but acid reflux is very common, and disease caused by it is the most common complaint of the gut seen by US hospital departments.3
The American College of Gastroenterology says that over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and at least 15 million as often as daily.4
Gastroesophageal reflux disease has the highest burden in western countries, where prevalence across the populations is around 20 to 30 percent, according to academic estimates.5 Americans are especially prone to the disease,6 which has lifestyle risk factors, explored below.
1. Baking Soda
baking soda for heartburn
Just mix one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.
Drink it for instant relief. You can also mix a few drops of lemon juice in this solution.
2. Fennel Seeds
You can also drink tea made from fennel seeds. To make this herbal tea, add two teaspoons of fennel seeds to a cup of boiling water, allow it to sit for 10 minutes and then strain it into a cup.
Add one tablespoon of crushed mint leaves to a cup of water.
Leave it for about 30 minutes.
Drink it two to three times a day.
You can also chew fresh mint leaves to avoid heartburn. However, do not take mint if you are suffering from acid reflux.
You can use ginger as a spice in cooking, eat raw ginger pieces or drink ginger tea. This natural herb can be consumed regularly to prevent heartburn from recurring.
To make ginger tea:
Add one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to one cup of boiling water.
Let it steep for a few minutes.
Drink this herbal tea several times a day.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
If you suffer from acid reflux that causes heartburn, vinegar can trigger the sphincter below the esophagus to close, thus preventing acid from rising. Of all the different types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar usually works best.
Simply add one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
Drink it before each meal.
6. Aloe Vera Juice
For best results, drink one-quarter cup of the juice about 20 minutes before eating a meal. Be careful not to drink too much of it in one day as it can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Drinking a glass of chilled milk can be a simple solution for early or mild heartburn symptoms. Milk relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus. If you don’t have milk, you can try other types of dairy products. This home remedy is best for people who experience heartburn on rare occasions.
8. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm has been used medicinally for centuries to treat different types of diseases including heartburn. It will thicken the mucous lining in your stomach, thereby creating an effective barrier against acid.
- Add one teaspoon of slippery elm powder to a cup of hot water.
- Drink it after meals and at bedtime
9. Cabbage Juice
Cabbage juice has natural anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate various kinds of digestive problems including heartburn.
Grind fresh cabbage and two carrots in a blender or juicer.
Drink one-half cup of this juice in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent heartburn.
You can also try juices made from vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radishes or beets to reduce the production of stomach acid that is a primary cause of heartburn.
Almond lovers will be happy to hear that this tasty nut is also effective in treating heartburn.
Immediately after a meal or snack, eat three to four almonds. You can choose raw, roasted or salted almonds to suit your taste buds. Chew them until they are reduced to a flour-like substance. This will release the oil from the almonds, which calms production of acid in your stomach.
Individuals will respond differently to these remedies. Be willing to experiment until you find the best solution for you. If you have persistent or severe heartburn, consult a doctor immediately to be sure it is not a sign of a more serious condition.