Heartburn is a common problem that affects more than 25 million Americans each day. If untreated, it can lead to chronic conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
But, there is no need to suffer if you follow a few basic steps, which include a few remedies found in your home spice rack! Here are some of the home remedies for heartburn:
1. DIET – PREVENT THE HEARTBURN
Sometimes prevention is the best medicine. There are a number of foods which can cause or aggravate heartburn.
It is best to follow a healthy diet which includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults need 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit, 2 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables, 6 to 8 oz. of grains and 5 ½ to 6 oz. of protein each day.
Avoid deep-fat fried foods, processed foods and substances such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine which are known to interfere with digestion and cause heartburn.
2. LIFESTYLE – THE BEST HOME REMEDY FOR HEARTBURN
As a rule of thumb, never eat when anxious or upset. Try eating several small meals throughout the day instead of 2 or 3 large meals to avoid over-taxing the digestive system. Also, do not eat before bedtime.
In addition, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, being overweight is one of the risk factors for heartburn and GERD. The USDA recommends adults get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. This can include activities such as jogging, hiking, biking, yoga, swimming, and other sports. Do not eat within 2 hours before exercising.
3. HERBS – THE HEARTBURN REMEDY IN YOUR KITCHEN
Some herbs are very effective at treating heartburn. And, you may be surprised to find that you already have many of these remedies right at home!
Ginger: Ginger root is a common culinary spice traditionally used in Asian cuisine. It has also been used in herbal medicine for more than 2,000 years. Natural health practitioners use it to treat a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas and indigestion. Although it is somewhat spicy, it is considered carminative because it helps ease digestion.
Fresh ginger root is best to use for medicinal purposes. You can find it in the produce isle of your local supermarket. Simply cut two or three slices of the rhizome and steep in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Sip slowly until symptoms subside.
Turmeric: Turmeric is another root spice used in Asian cuisine. It is the spice which gives curry its golden color. Turmeric is naturally anti-inflammatory and is used by herbalists to treat a variety of painful conditions. It is also carminative, and helps reduce gas, bloating and indigestion.
To make turmeric tea, simply sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried turmeric in boiling water and allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Sip slowly until symptoms subside. Drink as much as 3 or 4 cups per day.
Fennel: Fennel seeds are used in both cooking and Ayurvedic medicine. Like turmeric and ginger, they too, are considered carminative, or soothing. Fennel is used by herbalists to treat anything from coughs and colds to gas and indigestion.
To make fennel tea, steep 1 teaspoon of seeds in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Sip slowly until the heartburn subsides.
German Chamomile: German chamomile is a flowering herb traditionally used in folk medicine as a remedy for anxiety and insomnia. Its use also dates back thousands of years and was used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It is very relaxing and makes an excellent remedy for heartburn related to stress and anxiety.
Steep 1 to 2 grams of dried flowers in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes. Alternately, you can purchase chamomile tea over the counter. Drink as often as needed.
Peppermint: Peppermint is a flavorful herb that has been used as medicine for centuries. It grows readily in most indoor and outdoor herb gardens. It can be used for nausea, gas, indigestion and headaches. It is naturally soothing and analgesic.
Peppermint tea does not take long to steep, 1 or 2 minutes, as the leaves are rich in botanical oils. It may also be found over the counter in prepared tea bags. Drink as often as needed to relieve symptoms.
4. ENZYMES – THE HOLISTIC HOME REMEDY FOR HEARTBURN
From a holistic standpoint, heartburn is symptomatic of food that has not been properly digested. To help facilitate digestion and ease symptoms, take a full spectrum digestive enzyme with each meal. This should include at least the basic enzymes: lipase, for fats; cellulase for carbohydrates; and, protease for proteins. Other enzymes to consider are lactase to help digest dairy products and pancreatin.
See your healthcare provider if symptoms persist and are not relieved by conventional or holistic methods.
- Medline Plus: GERD – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gerd.html
- United States Department of Agriculture – http://www.choosemyplate.gov/