Reviewed by Michael Smith on March 20, 2017

Sources

PubMed Health: "Sodium Bicarbonate (Oral route, Intravenous route, Subcutaneous route).", CNN: "How a Mexican snack became an American staple.", Mayo Clinic: "Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts."

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Video Transcript

FLAVIA: My abuelita told me that to cure a stomach ache, you have to heat a tortilla, put it on your stomach, and then eat a little bit of the charcoal piece, and you will feel better. Is there any truth to that?

JUAN RIVERA, MD: This abuelita's advice immediately catches my attention for several reasons: This home remedy for stomach pain involves heat, which I know can be therapeutic. It's also simple and extremely accessible, considering tortillas are more popular than hamburger and hot dog buns!

When you apply heat to an area on your body, pain receptors deep inside it get switched on, blocking the chemical messengers that make the body perceive pain. So it's actually the heat that makes you feel better, not the tortilla itself! But abuelita knew that ... of course.

Now, this abuelita takes it a step further. She recommends eating some of the tortilla. I have a feeling she thinks it will speed up your body's healing process. Not bad thinking. ...

But eating while having stomach pain can sometimes make it worse.

The bottom line is that there are enough real reasons it can work -- and it won't hurt you -- as long as the tortilla isn't too hot! And if you aren't a fan of tortillas, you can go ahead and use a heating pad.

Finally, I want to leave you with a personal home remedy, passed down to me by my own abuelita.

Millions of people, including myself, get heartburn due to acid reflux. The problem here is stomach acid hitting the lining of the esophagus.

To feel better, I mix a pitcher of water and a little lime with a tablespoon of baking soda, and I drink it over a period of several hours. The sodium bicarbonate in the baking soda neutralizes the stomach acid, providing instant relief! Thank you, grandma!