Have you ever had that moment when you surrendered to indulgence, only to have your body thank you in return for the overly-decadent sustenance with a nauseating, sour taste up the back of your throat and a throbbing, burning sensation in your chest?
Heartburn is the tell-tale symptom of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and don’t worry, it’s a universal concern that many adults struggle with. It occurs when the Lower Esophaegal Sphincter (LES) does not close after eating or opens too frequently, hence allowing stomach acid to rise up the esophagus, cueing the heavy uncomfortable feeling.
If you’re not a fan of using chemical antacids to treat GERD, here are a few handy natural remedies (that may be lying around your home) to bring your stomach acid right back to where it belongs:
To relieve symptoms of heartburn:
1. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera is often associated with soothing sunburns and irritated skin, but their usefulness extends far beyond that!
Most researchers agree that the anti-inflammatory actions of aloe vera’s compounds are responsible for the healing effects seen in numerous medical maladies. Down half-a-cup of Aloe Vera juice before mealtimes to diminish the symptoms of acid reflux. Gerard E. Mullin, MD, a digestive health expert and author of The Gut Balance Revolution, also suggests mixing a teaspoon of aloe juice with a few ounces of Kefir (a fermented milk drink) for a heartburn soothing thirst-quencher. This mixture packs a one-two punch, as it has the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera, which also heals the GI track, while the alkaline nature of kefir neutralizes the acid. But do take note: too much aloe juice may have a laxative effect.
2. Ginger root
Ginger root has been used throughout history to traditionally remedy gastrointestinal ailments, due to its gastroprotective effect that is able to block acid. Ginger root can help ease up a number of stomach woes, from nausea to acid reflux. Sipping a cup of fresh tea about 20 minutes before a meal can help calm down your tummy and act as an acid buffer. Steep a few quarter-slices of ginger root in boiling water for an effective anti-inflammatory drink.
3. Chamomile tea
Noel Coward, an English playwright, once remarked that “Wouldn't it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn't have tea?” and we agree whole-heartedly. Herbal teas have a plethora of therapeutic effects, and chamomile tea is a brilliant way to ease your acid reflux woes.
Meanwhile, camomile tea, although traditionally known for its calming and sedative abilities, also has antispasmodic effects which have been proven to have provided relief to those suffering from intestinal disorders such as Crohn's Disease and IBS. Due to its high calcium content, it may also aid digestion, decrease stomach acid and relieve esophagus irritation. However, avoid this if you have a known allergy to ragweed. Having a spot of chamomile tea about ½ – 1 hour before bedtime can help reduce inflammation in your stomach, and possibly balance out the acidity levels as well. It also does wonders for relieving stress, which can trigger acid reflux, and will help you sleep through the night as well.
To aid in indigestion and relieve bloating, and excessive burping:
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Although it may seem odd to ingest more acid when you literally have acid bubbling up your oesophagus, many are unaware that acid reflux occurs due to lack of acid production to adequately digest all the food eaten. A fuss-free remedy is to mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (those of raw, unfiltered qualities are preferred) with a glass of water for a concoction that will be able to prevent or treat acid reflux completely.
The adorable overall-wearing Minions love them, and you should too, especially when you need to soothe an aching heartburn in a jiffy. Bananas are rich in potassium, which is an alkalizing mineral with a pH of 14. By eating an overripe banana, the overall acidity in the stomach can be reduced while raising the pH levels of the stomach contents. Moreover, according to Mullin, bananas will help relieve discomfort because it will stick to the irritated oesophageal lining. It then forms a ‘protective film that coats, protects and soothes’. This is because bananas contain a substance that is able to activate the cells that make up the lining of the stomach, which results in a thick mucus being formed to protect it. However, 1% of patients have reported that bananas actually worsens their conditions, so do keep track what foods works for you and what triggers acid reflux so you can steer clear of them!
Some of these remedies might be effective for most and acid reflux triggers for others, so it’s recommended that a food journal be kept so that you’ll be able to identify which foods are worsening your conditions. Prevention may be also be better than a cure too in the case of GERD, so shedding the extra kilos and omitting rich, fried and carbonated foodstuff in your diet can improve it as well. Moreover, don’t lie down straight after eating, and try to avoid eating two hours prior to your regular bedtime.