If you’re like us, you like rich, spicy food, or relaxing with a glass of wine. But the heartburn that accompanies our favorite dishes and drinks? Not too much! Surveys show that 78% of people who suffer from frequent heartburn, worry about pain, nausea, sore throat and difficulty swallowing keep them from doing the things they enjoy. And while drugstore heartburn medications help tame the burn, they can have unpleasant side effects such as headaches, nausea and dizziness. Luckily, studies have proven aloe vera for heartburn is one of the best natural remedies!
Understanding heartburn recurrence and what causes it
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid rises up into your esophagus, also known as acid reflux. For some people, the disease flares up after eating too much or enjoying fatty, spicy, or sour foods (such as tomatoes and oranges). It can also be triggered by alcohol and caffeine. If the condition becomes chronic, it is considered gastroesophageal reflux diseaseor GERD.
Acid reflux feels like a burning sensation in your chest that can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms can include nausea, a bitter taste in the mouth or bloating. Typically, heartburn flare-ups last from a few minutes to several hours. And it’s incredibly common: More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month.
Why you should consider a natural heartburn remedy
Regarding heartburn medications, there are two main types: The first are antacids (such as Tums), which work by neutralizing stomach acid. The second is proton pump inhibitor or PPIs (such as Prevacid and Prilosec), which turn off the pump in the stomach that produces excess acid. Obstacle? University of Michigan research shows that up to 67% of people who take PPIs don’t get the heartburn relief they’re looking for. What’s more, research in Neurology found that people who regularly used PPIs for more than four years were 33% more likely to develop dementia. (Click on to our sister publications to find out how to fight dementia with hearing aids.)
What makes aloe vera for heartburn so effective
It’s no secret that aloe vera can soothe sunburned skin. But its anti-inflammatory properties can also cool heartburn. “A great home remedy for indigestion is aloe vera juice,” says Mindy Pelz, DC. “Aloe vera juice has a very soothing effect on the inner mucous lining of the intestines. It heals inflammation, cools the burn and soothes the cilia (hair-like structures) that live in the mucosal lining and help move food through your intestinal tract,” he says.
Research at Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests sipping ⅓ oz. food grade aloe juice twice daily reduced heartburn episodes by 76% in four weeks. It was more effective than the acid-lowering drugs ranitidine (Zantac) and omeprazole (Prilosec). What’s more, study in Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that heartburn sufferers who sipped aloe vera juice daily relieved their nausea by up to 80%. Tip: Stir in 1 tsp. honey. A BMJ studies find it coats the esophagus for quick heartburn relief.
What makes aloe vera so effective? The juice contains more than 200 active compounds that reduce inflammation in the esophagus and increase the production of digestive enzymes that fight reflux, explain nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD, bestselling authors. Rebuild Your Bones: The 12 Week Osteoporosis Protocol. They say it’s their secret to calming heartburn naturally. Tip: Since aloe vera juice can have a mild laxative effect, introduce it into your diet gradually, starting with about 1 tsp. daily. (The benefits don’t stop at soothing heartburn. Click to see how drinking aloe vera juice speeds up weight loss.)
7 natural ways to relieve heartburn
For added protection against painful bouts of heartburn, try one of these study-backed natural remedies.
Swap white bread for whole wheat
There’s no need to give up your favorite foods to control heartburn. Instead, swap white bread and your grilled cheese for seven grains or whole grains. A study in Food & Nutrition Research suggests the fiber in whole grains mops stomach acid, reducing heartburn by up to 50%. A fiber-rich diet also improves muscle movement in the digestive tract, reducing reflux by up to 53%. (Click to find a place to store your bread so it doesn’t spoil.)
Take a 15 minute rest breath
Mayo Clinic research suggests breathing slowly and deeply for 15 to 30 minutes after eating lowers your risk of having a heartburn episode by 88%. And in a study at American Journal of Gastroenterology, people who practiced the deep belly breathing technique for 30 minutes daily reduced their need for heartburn medication by almost 75%. It turns out that deep breathing strengthens lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular valve at the base of the esophagus that keeps stomach acid from traveling up to the burn zone. (Click on to see 5 more breathing tricks that will improve your health.)
Pop a piece of gum
Chewing gum after eating doubles your saliva production. That’s good news, because saliva stops heartburn by washing acid from the esophagus and back into the stomach where it belongs. In fact, experts report on Journal of Dental Research determined that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal significantly lowered acid levels in the esophagus, reducing heartburn symptoms by up to 78%. Tip: peppermint can make heartburn worse for some people, so choose cinnamon or fruit flavored gum. (Oops! Got gum stuck on your clothes? Click to see how to remove it.)
Try ancient Indian medicine
Fenugreek seeds, which have been used as a digestive aid for thousands of years in India, are rich in a type of fiber called galactomannan. That’s the key to relieving heartburn. Why? Fiber forms a gel-like barrier in the stomach that prevents acid from coming into contact with the esophagus. And in a study published in Phytotherapy Research, people who took capsules containing fenugreek fiber reduced the frequency and severity of heartburn episodes by 44% in one week. One to try: Fenuwise (Buy from Amazon.com, $16.99). (Click on to our sister publications for more fenugreek benefits.)
Enjoy a spoonful of honey
Research published in Food Quality and Safety say enjoy 1 Tbs. Raw honey relieves heartburn pain within minutes. And if you make it a daily habit, you’ll reduce your risk of future relapse by 52%. Honey enzymes coat the throat to relieve irritation while neutralizing irritating acids. (Click for more health benefits of raw honey.)
Take a walk around the block
Walking for 15 minutes a day reduces the risk of heartburn by 89%, according to a study in Indo-American Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Experts explain that moderate exercise increases muscle activity in the digestive system. This helps clear acid from the stomach so it doesn’t flow up. (Click to see our favorite walking sticks that make traveling easy.)
Consider deep sea healing
Alginate derived from seaweed helps form a foam-like barrier that stops the flow of irritating acids into the esophagus. And if you take alginate after eating, learn about it Laryngoscope the journal says you’ll enjoy relief equivalent to acid-blocking medication. One to try: Life Extension Esophageal Guardian (Buy from LifeExtension.com, $24).
Read on for more natural ways to tame heartburn flares:
Read on for more amazing health benefits of aloe vera juice:
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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