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Home remedies for heartburn

'Heartburn' fortunately, the word is a misnomer. Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus caused by acid that refluxes (comes up) from the stomach.

Normally when swallowing food, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow food into the stomach then it closes again. Then the stomach releases strong acids to help break down the food. But if the lower esophageal sphincter opens too often or does not close tight enough, stomach acid can reflux into the esophagus, damaging it and causing the burning sensation we know as heartburn.

Most people have felt heartburn at one time or another. Nothing ruins a great meal as much as a painful bout of heartburn. In fact, the American Gastroenterological Association reports that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn/GERD symptoms at least once each month. Though uncomfortable, heartburn does not usually pose any serious health problems. In fact, small amounts of reflux are normal and most people don't even notice it because the swallowing we do causes saliva to wash the acids right back down into the stomach where they belong.

However, if heartburn symptoms occur frequently and persistently, it may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  It is a chronic reflux of acid if left untreated can cause esophageal ulcers, hoarseness, chronic pulmonary etc.

There are some preventive steps you should keep in mind if you suffer from heartburn very often:

  • Avoid specific foods that trigger your heartburn. Eat more fiber to keep your digestive tract moving and healthy. Also reduce portion sizes. 
  • Push away the plate at least two or three hours before bedtime so your stomach has a chance to empty before you lie down.
  • Eat slowly, taking smaller bites.
  • Excess abdominal fat can press against the stomach, forcing acids up into the esophagus. Follow a diet and exercise program to shed extra pounds.
  • Smoking can reduce the effectiveness of the muscle that keeps acids in the stomach. For this, and so many other health reasons, it’s always the perfect time to quit.
  • Ditch the skin-tight jeans. Tight clothes put added pressure on the abdomen.
  • Put wood blocks under your bed to raise the head about 6 inches. Don’t bother raising your pillows, though — it’s not effective for heartburn.
  • Exercise may protect against the acid reflux that leads to heartburn.

There are several home remedies right in your own kitchen that can fight the fire of heartburn. These natural remedies could help soothe heartburn and put your belly at ease.

Natural treatments for heartburn

1) Chewing gum
It may sound strange, but gum stimulates the production of saliva, Saliva is alkaline, so swallowing saliva neutralizes stomach acid. Plus, chewing gum makes you swallow air more often, which pushes those nasty acids back out of your esophagus. When you pick a pack of gum, just make sure it's sugar-free so you also protect your teeth.

2) Almonds
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 and juice from the almonds, which calms production of acid in your stomach.

3) Aloe Vera Juice
Just as Aloe Vera acts as a coolant and reduces the inflammation on the skin, it also cools down the stomach and provides heartburn relief. Aloe vera juice has a long history of use in Europe as a natural home remedy to relieve heartburn. You should only use aloe vera juice that has been specifically prepared for internal use.

4) Apple and apple cider vinegar
Stir 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into 1/2 cup of water or apple juice & drink immediately after each meal. It will calm stomach troubles and brings about digestive relief. Apple cider vinegar can also be taken in tablet or capsule form. Even a slice of apple can calm down acid production and reduce the burning sensation. Apples neutralize the acid in your stomach in about 5 minutes. Braeburn or Gala apples work best. Celery sticks and cabbage will also minimize stomach acid.

5) Mint
Mint is effective in treating heartburn due to its soothing properties. Take a cup of water and add one tablespoon of crushed mint leaves to it. Leave it for about 30 minutes. Finally, drink this water 2 to 3 times a day. You can also chew fresh mint leaves from time to time to treat heartburn.

6) Cinnamon
You can also make teas made of crushed cinnamon or cardamom to cool the heat of heartburn. Add 1 teaspoon of either crushed or powdered herb to 1 cup boiling water, steep, strain and drink.

7) Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, provides quick and easy relief from heartburn. Just mix one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it. You can also mix a few drops of lemon juice in this solution. Being a natural antacid, baking soda works within minutes, giving you instant relief from heartburn pain.

8) Garlic
Even though many people BLAME garlic for their heartburn, a clove or two can erase the burn as quickly as it came. Chew a clove of garlic when heartburn occurs, or store a few cloves of garlic in apple cider vinegar, and drink a sip of the liquid when heartburn occurs. Raw garlic is a power-packed antibiotic, and is known to kill the pathogenic microorganism that is most often found in those suffering from gastritis.
9) Mustard
Mustard is a little known and surprising remedy for heartburn. The next time you have an attack of acid reflux, try 1 tsp of yellow mustard with about ½ glass of water. Apparently the yellow coloring, turmeric, has long been used for digestive disorders.

10) Fennel Seeds
Chewing fennel seeds several times a day will freshen your breath while also controlling the production of stomach acid. 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. Then strain it into a cup and drink it slowly.

11) Ginger
Fresh ginger provides relief from heartburn in two ways – it absorbs acid in the stomach and helps calm the nerves that contribute to heartburn. You can use ginger as a spice in cooking, eat raw ginger pieces or drink ginger tea. 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. This natural herb can be consumed in its raw form also to prevent heartburn from recurring.

12) 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, reducing acid production. Add one teaspoon of slippery elm powder to a cup of hot water and drink it throughout the day until your heartburn goes away.

13) Licorice
A form of licorice called DGL also provides heartburn-soothing effects. It provides protection from acids by promoting mucus release in the stomach. DGL comes in large tablets that you place in your mouth and allow to melt. You can chew them slightly but don’t swallow them since it is your saliva that helps activate the DGL.

14) Vegetable Juice
Vegetable juices, like raw potato, celery and cabbage are very alkaline in nature and are helpful in correcting an acidic stomach. Papaya juice contains the digestive enzyme papain, which has a soothing effect on the stomach and aids in the breaking down of protein.

15) Water
With some people, all they have to do is drink water. It can help to wash excess acid that splashes into the esophagus. Make sure that you do not drink too much water, as it may actually make the problem worse.

Why suffer in silence? when you have so many natural remedies to get rid of heartburn. If you have persistent or severe heartburn, consult a doctor immediately to be sure it is not a sign of a more serious condition.

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