I've been a paramedic for 10 years. I enjoy spending time with my family, and I also enjoy writing about health issues.
Having a good meal ruined by an episode of heartburn can be really aggravating. Unfortunately, there are literally millions who experience this aggravation on a daily basis. Almost all of us have had heartburn at least once in awhile, so at least we can relate to those who suffer from it more frequently.
So, why do we get heartburn? We get heartburn when our stomach acid content overflows our stomach and runs up into our esophagus. There are several reasons for this. One is anatomical, such as when the valve between our esophagus and stomach doesn't close properly. Another reason is our diet. The western diet is highly prone to creating an atmosphere ripe for heartburn.
If you suffer from chronic heartburn there is hope. A change in our diet can help cure heartburn for the most part. And if you just suffer occasionally and would like to know what you can do to get rid of heartburn when you have it, there are solutions to help you suffer even less frequently than you do now. Here are ten cures for heartburn that are very simple to use. Some just take practice to change your eating habits.
1. Chew Your Food Slowly
Chewing your food slowly is one of the best ways to help you prevent heartburn in the first place. At least in our western society, we are so used to the hustle and bustle of life that we tend to eat very quickly. In some cultures, eating a meal can take well over an hour, and these people tend not to suffer very much heartburn or indigestion.
Eating slowly does a couple things for you. First, it creates less work on the stomach for digestion. This helps by keeping you from eating as much and it will then the acid will be less likely to overflow into your esophagus. Secondly, eating slowly will cause you to get more nutritional value out of your food.
Using blended food occasionally is an even better option, especially if you have chronic heartburn. Your stomach will be able to take the contents of your "smoothie" and digest it rapidly, reducing your risk for heartburn even more.
So how many times should you chew your food? You should be chewing at least 30 times. I have seen some estimates that if you are eating a simple carbohydrate that you should be chewing at least 50 times! This is clearly more than the average person chews their food, especially people who have heartburn. So, slow down, chew your food and truly taste and enjoy it.
There's a lot to be said for restaurants giving out an after dinner mint. They do this to prevent heartburn more than to give out candy as a treat. It simply is not good advertising to give you a good meal and your last impression was the strong heartburn you suffered afterwards. Part of the reason you can get heartburn without that mint, especially in a restaurant is that they tend to overfeed us, which overworks the stomach, leading to a case of indigestion.
Mints work by aiding in digestion. If you choose to use peppermint oil instead of peppermint candy or tea, there are some cautions. While peppermint oil is helpful in digestion, it also can have some bad side effects due to the menthol. I found an interesting note on menthol I was unaware of that i'd like to pass along. If you have small children you should be aware of. If you use peppermint oil to try to cure heartburn, keep it out of the reach of small children, especially babies. Breathing the aroma can actually slow or stop their breathing. The menthol can also increase heartburn, so eat a mint instead or drink some tea.
As for mints, I keep them on hand to help me with heartburn, and I grow mint out in my yard in the summer. I chew on the leaves and dip it in apple cider vinegar. A friend of mine who grew up in the middle east says that they do this to help lessen appetite, which can also help prevent heartburn symptoms. I also drink the mint as a tea.
Papaya is another heartburn cure you should consider. Papaya is excellent for digestion for a couple reasons. First of all, it contains a digestive enzyme called papain. In some cultures it is used as a meat tenderizer because it helps break down the meat. It will also help do this in your stomach.
Secondly, papaya has loads of vitamin C, a key ingredient to aid your stomach in digestion. Papaya is a powerhouse for vitamin C. In fact, 3.5 oz serving of papaya contains 103% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C! You can't do much better than that.
You can benefit from papaya in a couple ways. Either you can eat it or you can buy it as a supplement. My family and I chew on a couple papaya enzyme "mints" after every meal. I belong to a natural foods co-op and many of the members purchas the papaya enzyme monthly.
Pineapple is a great natural cure for heartburn you can use. Pineapple has a pain reliever provided free by nature. This enzyme, bromelain, is a good way to help relieve the burning sensation you get during an episode. Pineapple also contains a large percentage of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C. One serving provides you with 60% of your RDA of this potent vitamin. Vitamin C is a great natural remedy for many things. One of these things is digestion.
I recommend eating fresh pineapple versus canned. It contains a higher level of vitamin C and many of the canned varieties add corn syrup for sweetening. If you eat fresh pineapple it is sweet enough on it's own. Freeze dried pineapple should be able to give you the benefits of fresh pineapple.
Drinking water is also helpful in helping to get rid of the symptoms of heartburn. Water helps your body function more efficiently, including digestion. Water also helps to neutralize the acid the is seeping up into your esophagus just like a natural fire extinguisher for the body. Another benefit to drinking water is that on top of helping to neutralize your stomach acid it soothes your throat.
6. Avoid Certain foods
There are foods that are more likely to cause heartburn. Most, but not all of these foods tend to be highly acidic in nature. So let's take a look at just a few of the foods to avoid with heartburn. Coffee and certain teas, black for instance, can help cause your symptoms. Just as a note, there are a few good teas, like chamomile and peppermint that help with heartburn.
Sodas are very good at causing symptoms. Whenever I drink pop, I get a strong case of heartburn. Pop is so acidic it takes your body 3 days to deal with the acidity from one drink. So try to avoid drinking pop. It will not only help your heartburn, but if you are overweight, some people have lost weight simply by eliminating pop from their diet.
Tomatoes are very healthy for you, but they also help cause heartburn. If you are prone to this problem and you eat a lot of tomatoes you may want to reduce the amount you eat.
French fries and hamburgers can cause heartburn. One of my relatives is a nutritionist and he stated that the reason for this is because your body has a very hard time consuming proteins and simple carbs at the same time, so you should avoid eating them at the same time. I know this goes against the American way of life, but all depends on how serious you are about fixing your health.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a homeopathic remedy people have used for years. While there is some controversy over whether this really works or not, I can say it has worked for me. The theory behind why vinegar works is because it has potassium in it which aids digestion. Also, it has probiotic features which help the intestines with healthy bacteria creating a better environment for digestion.
If you are not keen on the taste of apple cider vinegar like I am, then try adding water with a bit of organic honey to sweeten it up. It makes it more palatable and honey is a great healthy sweetener. Honey can also used for burns, the ancient Egyptians were on record for using honey for burns, and I've used it for burns. So hopefully the honey will help relieve the burning sensation in your esophagus.
8. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a readily available home remedy for heartburn. It is a great neutralizer and it works for helping to eliminate excess acid content in your stomach. However, you must use this with caution. Do not use it on a full stomach. It will cause the stomach to expand and can cause injury. Try not to use it within an hour before or after eating. You do not need a lot. Simply place a little bit in water and drink. Add lemon or honey to sweeten the taste.
This relaxing herb is one of the best natural cures for heartburn. Chamomile tea is one of my favorite teas for a couple reasons. It's properties create a sense of relaxation, not only in my mood but also in digestion.
As you can see, most of these cures listed have one thing in common. They help digestion. By helping digestion, your stomach works more effectively and you have less risk of acid reaching into your throat.
Yogurt or most dairy products such as milk help with heartburn. Yogurt has acidophilus in it which like apple cider vinegar helps create an healthy intestinal tract. An healthy intestinal trac is vital to creating an optimal working order of your stomach. If your intestinal trac is not working properly, things get backed up, your body doesn't work as well and your stomach acids will need to work harder to break foods down. This will raise the risk of the acid overwhelming your stomach and lead to symptoms of heartburn. So try giving yogurt a try. If you don't like yogurt, you can purchase acidophilus at most health food stores.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
borge_009 from Philippines on May 11, 2011:
wow. i did not know that papaya can cure heartburn. Informative hub. Hope many will learn from this
Newdad0610 on October 22, 2010:
Some great suggestions!
tbfrascone (author) from Michigan on April 10, 2010:
thanks rosario for visiting. I am all for seeing a doctor in an emergency situation, I am a paramedic, but otherwise I'd believe in fixing things naturally.
rosariomontenegro from NEW YORK on April 10, 2010:
Thank you again for anouncing the gospel of sensible eating. As her doctor told one of my friends: "Dear lady, stay away from doctors" ... Thank you for helping us doing just that.
tbfrascone (author) from Michigan on April 09, 2010:
Thank you and thanks for visiting.
Putz Ballard on April 09, 2010:
Very informative hub