1. You are getting ready for bed and feel that familiar burning sensation, slowly rising from the depths of your insides. You can almost picture orange-yellow flames licking their way up your esophagus. You know it will only get worse once you lie down in bed. Frantically you fumble through the medicine cabinet searching for quick relief, but soon discover the bottle of antacid medicine is empty. A scenario many heartburn sufferers have probably lived through more than once and a good reason for having knowledge of some home remedies for heartburn.

    Heartburn Causes and Symptoms

    It is not known exactly what causes heartburn, but the common causes seem to include excessive smoking, eating and drinking. Unfortunately for some, they suffer from heartburn on a regular basis, even without overindulging. The frequent heartburn sufferer probably cares not for the causes of heartburn as much as finding immediate and lasting relief.

    Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, causes a painful, burning sensation between the stomach and the mouth. Acid reflux happens when the stomach’s contents along with stomach acid, push back up through the esophageal sphincter. The esophageal sphincter is the valve that is supposed to prevent any stomach contents from reversing direction.

    Other symptoms of heartburn can include mild nausea, upper abdominal fullness, excessive gas or belching, acid taste in mouth, growling stomach, pain in neck or between shoulders that comes after food, continual clearing of the throat after eating.

    Most of the time, a little heartburn is not a serious concern. A small amount of reflux is common and usually gets washed right back down to the stomach by saliva when you swallow. When large amounts of acid get pushed back up on a regular basis it may be time to visit the doctor. Over a prolonged period of time, the constant presence of acid in the esophagus can cause inflammation and even bleeding.

    Treating Heartburn

    Many effective over-the-counter and prescription products are available for the immediate relief of heartburn as well as more long-term treatments for ongoing problems. What about when the medicine bottle is empty and the fire is raging? There are several great home remedies for heartburn, some of which you can find right in your own kitchen.

    • Garlic – Chewing a clove of garlic, contrary to what you might think, can provide heartburn relief. Raw garlic is a natural antibiotic and is known to destroy the pathogenic microorganism that quite often plays a role in causing gastritis. Storing a few cloves in a bottle of apple cider vinegar (another heartburn soother) and taking a sip of the liquid when a flare-up occurs can also bring relief. It will definitely keep the vampires at bay as well! Check with a doctor before using garlic since it can interfere with certain medications.
    • Papaya – Papaya fruit is a digestive aid and a natural heartburn remedy. Fresh papaya can be difficult to find so dried papaya can be used in moderation. Eat some papaya before meals or at the first signs of a heartburn attack. Papaya contains a digestive enzyme and can also be found in a chewable tablet form; to be taken after meals with a full glass of water. If you are pregnant or have a latex allergy, check with a doctor before eating papaya.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar – A home remedy for heartburn many people bank on is apple cider vinegar. You can take a straight teaspoon “shot,” or for the more timid, about 1 tablespoon of vinegar can be added to 6 ounces of water. You can throw in a dash of sugar and some baking soda for fizz. Apple cider vinegar is believed to work for two possible reasons: vinegar, being a base, counteracts or neutralizes stomach acid, and there are those who say the vinegar makes the esophageal sphincter contract keeping stomach acid in the stomach. If used often, vinegar can wear away at tooth enamel, so make sure you drink water after taking it, or drink the vinegar through a straw.
    • Almonds – Almonds are believed to put the fires of heartburn out with their high concentration of oil. At the first signs of reflux, eat a small handful of raw almonds. People with tree nut allergies of any kind should not use this remedy.
    • Ginger – Ginger seems to have the capability to absorb stomach acid and simultaneously calm the nerves. It can be taken in capsule form after eating or ground-up ginger root can be added to foods.
    • Fiber – Fiber not only helps to rid your body of toxins faster, it is great at absorbing excess stomach acid. If your stomach is bothered by high-fiber foods, fiber pills and drinks are a viable alternative.
    • Gum – You read that right. Chewing gum immediately after a meal can lessen the chance of a heartburn attack. Have you ever woken up at night with a fierce case of heartburn and found yourself swallowing almost compulsively? Saliva is one of the body’s natural defenses against stomach acid. The extra spit produced while chewing, and our natural tendency to swallow more often when chewing gum, is useful in neutralizing stomach acid. In order for gum chewing to have any real effect though, you must chew for at least 30 minutes. Sucking on a hard candy will have the same effect, as long as the candy does not contain mint, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter valve increasing the amount of acid escaping.
    • Juice – Not just any juice can be used to treat a case of heartburn. Cabbage and potato are the magic juices for soothing the fires of reflux. Neither sounds too appetizing, but for reasons yet unknown, these two juices in raw form, counteract heartburn. The juice must be freshly made to have any real effect. By drinking 8-10 ounces of either juice on a daily basis, you should significantly lower your incidence of gastric reflux.
    • Tea – Used for centuries as an after-dinner drink in Japan, green teas aid in the digestion process. Both green teas and other herbal teas help the lining of the stomach repair itself as they also work to soothe the sensitive tissues of the stomach.
    • Water – Yes, drinking at least eight glasses of water every day will help decrease your chances of suffering from heartburn. Water helps your body to rid itself of excess acid naturally.

    Preventing Heartburn

    Often times, acid reflux can be prevented by following a few simple guidelines. If heartburn occurs frequently, two to three times per week for more than four weeks, there could be another underlying medical issue. You should see your doctor to rule out an ulcer or other more serious conditions.

    When trying to prevent reflux, you should avoid certain foods such as, chocolate, milk, mints, alcohol and coffee; these foods all cause the esophageal sphincter valve to relax, allowing more acid to escape into the esophagus. It is also best to avoid excessively fatty foods like cheeseburgers and milk. The high amount of fats and proteins take longer to digest and the stomach will amp up its acid production in order to complete digestion. Stay away from soda; the bubbles of carbonation tend to fill your stomach creating the same effect as overeating.

    Some tips to minimize heartburn occurrence:

    • Avoid wearing pants or belts that fit too tightly around your middle. A roll of fat squishing out over the top will put pressure on your stomach pushing acid upward.
    • Bend at the knees instead of at your waist which will compress your stomach. Not only is this better for keeping acid down, but it is easier on your back.
    • Do not lie flat after eating and eat sitting in an upright position.
    • Avoid exercising immediately after a meal, especially after a large meal. An easy stroll though, will stimulate digestion.
    • Never smoke before or during eating. Even the smoke from someone else’s cigarette can increase the chance of acid reflux.
    • Keep a record of what you eat and determine the heartburn culprits in your diet. Eliminating these foods may bring an end to fires that burn within.
    • Make sure you eat dinner at least two and a half hours before going to bed.
    • Decrease your stress levels. Stress has been known to increase acid production. Counteract the effects of stress with your favorite relaxation techniques.

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