How to Relieve Your Heartburn

It happens time and time again — you’ve finished a delicious meal with family and friends. You savored every bite, and, just as you’re ready to sit back and enjoy everybody’s company, you feel it coming on. The flames of heartburn are beginning to race up your throat with an unnatural urgency that leaves you clamoring for relief. Sound familiar? Let’s look at some ways you can relieve your heartburn so it doesn’t continue to disrupt these precious moments.

How to Relieve Your Heartburn

Where your esophagus meets your stomach, there is a valve called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). Normally, this valve opens to allow food to enter your stomach and then closes so that stomach acid doesn’t work its way up. When you experience the pain of heartburn, it usually means that this valve is opening too frequently or that it’s not shutting all the way — which could happen if you’ve eaten too much. Here are some things that you can do to help — either in the moment or for long-term relief.

At the First Sign of Heartburn …

Create More Saliva

Saliva is a great neutralizer for stomach acid. Some ways to create more saliva without fueling the flames of heartburn are to chew some sugarless gum, suck on some candy or even envision the most mouth-watering foods you can imagine.

Eat Alkaline Vegetables

Alkaline vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and beets are a healthy way to subdue the flames of heartburn. Juicing is the most effective and relieving way to ingest these vegetables. However, if you don’t have a juicer or don’t have time to juice the old-fashioned chew and swallow method will work as well.

Use Gravity

It’s the simplest, yet most effective, method to relieve your heartburn. Don’t forget, stomach acid is subject to the same laws of gravity that govern everything else. Although your initial instinct may be to lie down, that is going to give your stomach acid easier access to your esophagus. Try to remain upright. You can even do this in bed by raising the upper half of your mattress four to five inches Sleeping on your left side — which changes the position of the stomach— will also make it more difficult for the stomach acid to reach your LES.

Remedies that May Help

Although stories of the many medicinal uses of baking soda may sometimes be viewed as old wives’ tales, it is actually a good stomach acid neutralizer. Mix a half teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of lemon juice in a half cup of warm water, and bottoms up! A word of caution though: don’t drink the baking soda on its own. Baking soda can create gas in the stomach when it comes in contact with the stomach acid. Lemon juice helps to dispel this gas.

A tea made from grated ginger root can also help. Ginger has a relaxing effect on the muscles that line the walls of your esophagus. Once relaxed, these muscles are less likely to push acid from your stomach upwards.

One of the oldest remedies for heartburn is marshmallow root. It produces a gooey, starchy substance called mucilage, which forms a protective coating on the mucus membrane of your esophagus, protecting it from the pain of heartburn. Stir 1 teaspoon of marshmallow root in one cup of hot water, and sip.

For Long-Term Heartburn Relief…

If you find yourself dealing with heartburn on an almost daily basis, then you will want to make changes for long-term relief.

Avoid Your Food Triggers

These triggers can differ from person to person, so it may take time to determine what your specific triggers are. The most common triggers for people suffering from heartburn are coffee, tea, chocolate, peppermint, onion, garlic, and anything spicy, greasy, or fried. Acidic foods such as citrus or tomatoes are also common culprits. To get to the bottom of what causes your heartburn, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary.

Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

It may be surprising that something so seemingly trivial can contribute to heartburn, but it’s true. Wearing tight clothes, especially around your waist, can put pressure on your stomach and cause your stomach acid to rise.

Lose Some Weight

Even losing a couple of pounds can relieve your heartburn symptoms. The more fat that there is pressing against your stomach, the more likely it is that your stomach acid is going to rise into your esophagus — so every little bit helps.

Change Your Nighttime Eating Habits

If you suffer from heartburn at night, avoid eating meals for two to three hours before you go to bed. This will allow your stomach to partially empty itself and reduce the amount of acid it contains before you go to bed.

Heartburn is a pain — a pain for which you don’t have to settle. Fight back and put that stomach acid in its place for good.

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