Don’t suffer unnecessarily; there are many different approaches to managing your heartburn. Our digestion expert Ali outlines some useful dietary and lifestyle tips, herbal remedies and conventional treatments.
Alison Cullen Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction) @AVogelUK Ask Ali
An introduction to heartburn treatments
It is important to take dietary and lifestyle habits into consideration for the long-term treatment of heartburn. Very fatty and protein dense meals can add to the problem, as can the excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine.
Read our blog on how ‘Heartburn and how you eat’ too as this is often very important to consider, perhaps even more so than what you eat!
However, in the event of a flare up, we understand you need something quick to offer you some relief. Throughout this section we outline some home, herbal and conventional remedies which can help.
We discuss some home remedies for heartburn.
Home acid tests – Click on the following link to explore some of our home tests for stomach acid imbalance. These can be especially useful to help determine if you have too much or too little stomach acid; both of which can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn. Stomach acid levels naturally decline with age but this issue can be made worse by other circumstances such as chronic stress
Hydrochloric acid vs. bicarbonate of soda – Preferably after conducting the above tests, you may find incorporating an acidic medium (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) or bicarbonate of soda (alkaline) can help to boost your stomach acid levels or neutralise them as necessary. This can offer you some quick relief from your symptoms
Milk? – So, is milk really an effective remedy for heartburn? Read our blog ‘Can milk help soothe heartburn?’ to decide for yourself. Milk has a very mild neutralising effect on your strongly acidic gastric juices; however, the high fat and protein content could potentially be making your symptoms worse...
There are some natural remedies available which can help soothe heartburn:
Bitter herbs – Digestisan is a licensed herbal product for the relief of indigestion and its associated symptoms such heartburn. The combination of bitter herbs including artichoke, dandelion, boldo and peppermint help to balance your levels of stomach acid. This remedy is particularly beneficial if you have too little stomach acid
Silicol® gel – Silicol® gel contains silicic acid which creates a protective layer throughout your digestive tract. This can offer your oesophagus some relief from the harsh effects of the backward flow of your stomach acid.
Finally, if home and herbal remedies fail to help, it might be time to turn to conventional treatments. A visit to your doctor is advisable if your symptoms are particularly severe or persistent. Some treatments on offer may include:
Antacid medication – this type of medication can be bought over the counter from your local pharmacy or prescribed by your doctor. Antacids work by neutralising your stomach acid. This can offer temporary relief from heartburn, however, if the root of your problem is too little stomach acid, this could potentially cause further problems
Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole – these are higher strength medications that your doctor will prescribe in order to counteract excess stomach acid. Beware of any side effects of these medications
Surgery – surgery may be required in severe cases, for example in Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
Stomach acid has many important functions including activating important digestive enzymes, supporting the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the stomach and maintaining the balance of good bacteria in your digestive system.
There is the risk that certain medications can affect these important functions which can give rise to further problems; this risk should be minimised wherever possible.
Want to improve your digestion? Get involved as our Digestion Advisor Ali Cullen takes you through her 5 step plan to improve your digestion and get problem symptoms, from bloating to acid reflux, under control.