Most people suffer from heartburn from time to time, that burning sensation and pain in the chest after polishing a large, high-fat meal, also known as acid reflux. What is that, exactly? “At the base, reflux is the juice of the stomach moving from the stomach into the esophagus or higher,” says Kevin Ghassemi, MD, a gastroenterologist and associate director of clinical programs at the Center for Esophageal Disorders at UCLA. (Your esophagus is the channel that connects your throat to your stomach).

This unwanted reflux of stomach juice can occur for several reasons. Being overweight or obese can create “abdominal pressure” that forces food back into the esophagus, says Dr. Ghassemi. Or sometimes, taking certain medications (such as painkillers, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers or antidepressants) can cause malfunctioning of the valve that connects the stomach and esophagus, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Gastric Diseases. Kidney. When this happens, the contents of the stomach can migrate to the esophagus, where they do not belong, says Dr. Ghassemi.

If you have acid reflux more than a couple of times a week, you may be among one in five people with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in the United States. Patients with GERD are usually inhibitors of the prescribed proton pump (commercial names include Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, among others), which block the production of stomach acids.

If you do not want to rely on medication, experts say that there are natural remedies for acid reflux that can also provide relief. We’ll get to those home remedies in a minute. But first, an important warning: if what you try does not work, that is, if the acidity or other symptoms continue to reappear, you should inform your doctor.

“People think that heartburn is just heartburn, but it can have very serious consequences,” says Bruce Greenwald, MD, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Reflux is the number one risk factor for esophageal cancer. It can also cause scarring and narrowing of the esophagus, as well as respiratory problems, including asthma, and loss of tooth enamel, cautions Dr. Greenwald. So do not just ignore your reflux symptoms; tell your doctor.

Leaving aside that warning, here are six home remedies for acid reflux that health experts say is worth trying.

Drink Aloe Vera Juice

You already know that aloe can help soothe a sunburn, but some people with acid reflux and GERD swear that the plant can soothe heartburn symptoms as well. “Several patients have told me that aloe vera juice helps them,” says Dr. Ghassemi. “Aloe has many healing properties, and patients say that drinking it relieves heartburn.” Dr. Greenwald says he has heard the same about his patients as well. “It is believed that aloe vera protects the gastrointestinal tract and people say it helps,” he says. Both doctors say that the evidence supporting aloe vera consumption is far from conclusive. But a recent study found that drinking about an ounce of aloe vera syrup could safely relieve reflux symptoms.

Identify Your Triggers.

“For years, reflux patients were warned to avoid acidic foods or to promote acid, fatty or fatty foods are some examples,” says Dr. Greenwald. Tomato-based foods, spicy foods, caffeinated or carbonated beverages, chocolate and fast foods. Patients are also told to avoid food, says Dr. Ghassemi, but now we know that this precaution may not be necessary “A lot of people will not have any symptoms related to those foods, different people have different triggers for food, and if you’re cutting all those foods, that’s a very restrictive diet that may not be necessary to control reflux,” says Dr. Ghassemi

A better (and easier) option: Start writing or taking pictures of foods or drinks that seem to instigate your reflux symptoms. In some cases, you may be able to reduce some major offenders without making great dietary sacrifices, he says.

Eat Smaller Meals

What you eat is as important as the amount you eat. Eating too much can cause or worsen reflux symptoms, says Dr. Ghassemi. But eating smaller, more frequent meals can help, he says. To make sure that your mini-meals do not generate a weight gain, something that can make acid reflux worse, be careful to pay attention to your total caloric intake and the quality of your food. In other words, the fact that you eat snacks the size of an appetizer does not mean they should include high-calorie packaged snacks, such as chips and cookies.

Avoid Late-night Eating

You want everything in your stomach to flow down, not up. And when you’re upright or standing, gravity helps encourage that downward flow, says Dr. Ghassemi. But when you lie down, gravity is no longer an ally in that push to empty your stomach of its contents. To ensure that your dinner does not fall, Dr. Ghassemi recommends enjoying your last meal or snack of the day at least two hours before bedtime. This maximizes the effect of gravity on emptying the stomach, he explains.

If you tend to suffer from reflux during the night, also recommends placing some thin and firm cushions under the head of your mattress to tilt your entire bed at a slight downward angle. “Raising the head of the bed can alleviate nighttime symptoms,” he says. Just make sure you do not just raise the upper half of your body. If your upper half is bent forward while your lower body is flat, that can compress your abdomen and make your symptoms worse, he says. (Read about the other six things you should never do before going to bed).

Try Acupuncture

A small Chinese study compared six weeks of acupuncture with prescription reflux medications. The surprising result: both worked equally well. Even four weeks after the study ended, patients with reflux who had received acupuncture were still enjoying a drop in symptoms. The people in the study received acupuncture two or three times a week for six weeks. There is not much additional research to support the idea of ​​treating reflux with acupuncture, but there is also very little evidence that acupuncture is risky. Then, apart from the costs, there is not a great inconvenience to prove it. 

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