Do home remedies help for heartburn?
There are a lot of home and alternative treatments for heartburn, each of them simply cannot be considered in detail. What unites them is that neither Russian nor international recommendations for the treatment of GERD advise their use. Even if some of themrelieve burning sensation, according to personal experience of many people, they are not recommended either due to possible side effects or due to weak evidence of their benefits. Let’s consider a few typical examples.
Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone. Its common cause is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With it, the acidic contents of the stomach are thrown into the esophagus and irritate its mucous membrane. This happens if the lower esophageal sphincter (the orbicular muscle that separates it from the stomach) is too relaxed.
You can find out more about this condition on our website.
Undoubtedly, soda helps with heartburn: it neutralizes gastric acid. Usually a solution of half a teaspoon of the substance in a glass of water is used. This remedy provides only short-term relief. Doctors warn that heartburn may intensify after it.
Baking soda can have dangerous side effects. For example, scientists described a case when, as a result of years of excessive consumption of soda, a patient was admitted to the hospital with increasing vomiting and diarrhea, as well as with an acid-base balance.
In addition to popular experience, some studies only indirectly speak of the possible effectiveness of milk. One study showed that high dietary calcium intake (milk is an important source) is associated with a reduced risk of GERD in men. There is also speculation that milk proteins may also be responsible for relieving heartburn. However, this popular method does not have a solid evidence base.
On the other hand, other studies, again indirectly, indicate that milk may worsen heartburn. This could be due to the presence of fats in the drink, which contribute to reflux.
Among the herbal remedies for the treatment of GERD, the most often mentioned are pharmaceutical chamomile, licorice, and ginger. Small studies have shown that preparations of myrtle, carob, and quince help relieve symptoms. However, scientists point out that the effect of medicinal plants requires better study. Currently, the amount of quality work on this topic is small.
It is assumed that the effect of herbal remedies is associated with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as with a positive effect on the protective mucous barrier of the stomach and an increase in the tone of the esophageal sphincter.
What really helps with heartburn?
Perhaps drinking a baking soda solution once a week won’t ruin your health and provide some relief. However, this is probably not the method that will help get rid of heartburn for a long time. For the most effective solution to the problem, it is necessary to approach the problem comprehensively and use methods approved by doctors.
These methods are relatively simple. First of all, patients are advised to make changes in their lifestyle.
- If you are overweight, you need to fight it.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Avoid situations in which intra-abdominal pressure rises. These include lifting weights, wearing pressure clothes, belts, corsets, and bandages.
- In the diet, you need to limit the intake of fatty foods, acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits, sour juices), carbonated drinks, chocolate and coffee. Food should not be very cold or very hot.
- Eat preferably in small portions and a little more often than usual. However, the Russian recommendations indicate that this recommendation is outdated.
- Avoid overeating.
- Stop eating two hours before meals.
- It is better to sleep on a pillow so that your head is raised by 10-20 centimeters.
For rare – about twice a week – heartburn, these measures may be sufficient treatment in combination with taking antacids.
In the initial stages of GERD, patients are prescribed antacids (aluminum phosphate magnesium hydroxide) and alginates (sodium alginate). The drugs of the first group neutralize the acid of the gastric juice, the second – create a protective barrier on the surface of the stomach. They are taken as needed – with an attack of heartburn, after meals or at night.
For frequent heartburn, the doctor may suggest a course of treatment with drugs that reduce the production of acid in the stomach – proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole) or, less commonly, H2 receptor blockers (cimetidine). In certain cases, their long-term use is required.