Heartburn is very common -- and very unpleasant. It's triggered when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. It can make you feel as though someone has lit a small bonfire in your chest, and it's burning its way up to your neck.
You're probably well aware that medications can help calm the burn, but natural heartburn remedies and lifestyle changes may be another way to get relief.
If you take any prescription or over-the-counter medications, you may have side effects. And one of them can be heartburn -- that burning in your chest or throat that happens when acid flows up from your stomach.
Don’t assume you’ll just have to live with it.
Make a list of all the medications you take, and ask your doctor if one of them may be causing your heartburn. Your doctor can change your medication, says Walter Coyle, MD, at Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines in California.
One commonly used "natural" heartburn remedy is calcium. It's also the active ingredient in many over-the-counter antacids.
If you find yourself popping antacids like candy and you're having heartburn more than a couple of times a week, or if you are using antacids for longer than two weeks, it's time to see the doctor. You may have a condition called GERD -- gastroesophageal reflux disease. Frequent heartburn can lead to long-term problems. It can cause inflammation and strictures in your esophagus. In rare cases, it may even lead to cancer. But stopping the acid reflux can help prevent complications in the future.
Here is a rundown of some other commonly used home remedies for heartburn, and the evidence for their effectiveness.
Do Herbal Heartburn Remedies Work?
There isn't much research into herbal remedies for heartburn. Most of the research has centered on a product called Iberogast. It is made with 9 different herbs, including:
Clown's mustard plant
Some studies have shown that Iberogast may reduce heartburn, stomach pain, cramping, and nausea. It's not clear, however, which herb in the mix relieves symptoms. Plus, peppermint oil can actually worsen heartburn, so it's not a good idea to take it if you have GERD.
Are There Any Other Natural Treatments for Heartburn?
Melatonin, a supplement used to aid sleep, has been suggested to help relieve heartburn. But the research is conflicting as to whether it is effective for this or any other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Before you decide to take any herbal remedy or supplement, check with your doctor. Some supplements can have side effects or can interact with medications you're already taking.