Hyperacidity goes by several names: heartburn, GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease) and acid reflux disease. These are all essentially the same problem and reflect the difference between occasional hyperacidity (eg. after a heavy meal) or a chronic and long-term problem. Whatever name is used, this is an uncomfortable problem that can be treated relatively easily. Always speak with your doctor before starting any herbal treatment, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
1Avoid food and beverage triggers. You may want to track of foods and beverages that cause you any problems. Write down the foods you eat and see how you feel about 1 hour of eating. If the food you ate an hour ago is bothering you, you should eliminate that from your diet. Commonly reported hyperacidity triggers include:
- Citrus fruit
- Caffeinated beverages
- Garlic, onions
- Note: Most of these foods have not been studied enough to make a definitive claim. It’s more important to find out what triggers your symptoms than to avoid this exact list.
2Raise the head of your bed if symptoms interfere with sleep. If your bed allows for it, raise the head of it by 6 to 8 inches. Gravity will keep the acid in your stomach. Don’t just pile up pillows, though. These tend to bend your neck and body in such a way that increases the pressure. It will make the hyperacidity worse.
3Consider losing weight. Losing weight may reduce some of the pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, keeping stomach acid from leaking through.
4Eat smaller meals Decrease the amount of food you eat at any one time. This may reduce the amount of stress and pressure on your stomach.
5Eat slowly. This helps your stomach digest food more easily and quickly, leaving less food in the stomach adding pressure on the LES.
6Check that your stomach isn’t under undue pressure. Pressure will increase the discomfort of hyperacidity. You can experience excess pressure because of hiatal hernias (when the upper part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm), pregnancy, constipation, or being overweight.
- Don’t wear clothes that constrict your stomach or abdomen.
Possibly Effective Treatments
1Eat an apple. Many people with hyperacidity settle their stomach by eating an apple. Apples are generally safe for this condition, so why not give the wisdom of the crowd a go? Just remember this is anecdotal evidence, and claims about apples having antacid properties are completely false.
2Drink ginger tea. While there’s no solid evidence behind its use as a hyperacidity treatment, ginger does seem to soothe the stomach. Either get ginger tea bags, or better yet, cut up about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, add boiling water, steep for about 5 minutes and drink. Do this anytime during the day, but especially about 20-30 minutes before meals.
- Ginger can also help with nausea and vomiting. Ginger tea is considered safe for pregnant women.
3Adjust meal habits. Although not definite, many specialists believe that late night eating can make symptoms worse. Don’t eat for 2-3 hours before bedtime to reduce the risk of food putting pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) as you sleep.
4Avoid stress. Based on early research, stress makes reflux symptoms feel subjectively worse, but does not affect the objective condition. For your own comfort, identify situations that you find stressful and exhausting. Find ways to avoid those situations or prepare for them with various relaxing techniques.
- Start incorporating meditation, yoga, or just regular naps into your daily routine. You could also try deep breathing, acupuncture, getting a massage, taking a warm bath, or even saying a series of simple, affirmative statements in front of the mirror.
5Try herbal treatments if you have related bowel conditions. None of these are proven treatments. However, if your hyperacidity symptoms are related to ulcerative colitis or bowel inflammation, there’s a little evidence that these could help. Do not rely on these as your main treatment.
- Drink 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice. You can drink this throughout the day, but don’t drink more than 1 to 2 cups a day. Aloe vera can act as a laxative.
- Drink fennel tea. Crush about a teaspoon of fennel seeds and add a cup of boiled water. Add honey to taste and drink 2-3 cups a day about 20 minutes before meals. Fennel helps settle the stomach and decreases the acid levels.
- Take slippery elm. Slippery elm can be taken as a drink or as a tablet. As a liquid, you’ll want to drink about 3 to 4 ounces. As a tablet, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Slippery elm is known to soothe and coat irritated tissues.
- Take DGL tablets. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice root (DGL) comes in chewable tablets. The taste might take some getting use to. But, it works very well to heal the stomach and control hyperacidity. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dosage. You’ll usually take 2 to 3 tablets every 4-6 hours.
6Take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics are mixtures of “good” bacteria normally found in your gut. They may include a yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii or cultures of lactobacillus and/or bifidobacterium, all naturally found in your intestines. While studies so far show generally improved bowel health, it’s not yet possible to make specific claims.
- For the simplest way to get your probiotics, eat yogurt with “active cultures”.
1Understand that smoking does not worsen symptoms. Tobacco was once thought to make acid reflux symptoms worse. However, three studies so far have shown no improvement after patients quit smoking.
2Use caution with heel drop exercises. The “heel drop” treatment is a chiropractic technique not based on evidence. There is evidence that exercise, particularly forms that involve motion and impact, can trigger reflux. This is more likely to hurt than help.
3Don’t rely on mustard. There is no evidence that mustard helps with this problem.
4Never take baking soda for heartburn. Doctors do not recommend this treatment.
Understanding and Treating Hyperacidity with Medication
1Know the symptoms. Before starting remedies for hyperacidity, be sure that that’s what you’re really experiencing. Symptoms of hyperacidity include:
- A sour taste in the mouth
- Dark or black stools (from internal bleeding)
- Burping or hiccups that won’t stop
- Dry cough
- Dysphagia (a narrowed esophagus that feels as if there is food stuck in your throat)
2Consider using medications. If you experience chronic hyperacidity, are pregnant or nursing, or otherwise have any concerns, see your doctor. If you’ve tried treating your hyperacidity naturally, but aren’t feeling relief, you may want to try medication. Medication can decrease the amount of acid in your stomach. Untreated or long-term hyperacidity can cause esophagitis, esophageal bleeding, ulcers, and a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can increase your risk for esophageal cancer.
- If you are taking medications that may be causing your hyperacidity, call your physician to discuss dosage or medication adjustment.
3Take antacids. These are available over-the-counter (OTC) and neutralize the acid. Antacids usually give short-term relief. If you still need antacids after two weeks, you should call your physician. Long-term use of antacids can affect mineral balance, affect the kidneys and cause diarrhea.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and don’t overdo it. Even antacids, if overdone, can cause some problems.
4Use H2 blockers. These reduce the stomach’s secretion of acid. H2 blockers include cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid) and ranitidine (Zantac). They’re available in lower doses OTC or your physician can prescribe higher doses. If you are using OTC H2 blockers, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Side effects of H2 blockers include:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Problems with urination.
5Try Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). They also block acid production by the stomach. Examples of PPIs include esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) and omeprazole/ sodium bicarbonate (Zegerid). If you are using OTC PPIs, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Side effects of PPIs include:
- Abdominal pain