If you’re you like us, you love noshing on rich food and spicy fare, or kicking back with a glass of wine. But the heartburn that comes with our favorite dishes and drinks? Not so much! Surveys show that for 78% of folks who suffer from frequent heartburn, worries about pain, nausea, sore throat and trouble swallowing keep them from doing things they love. And while drugstore heartburn meds help tame the burn, they can have unpleasant side effects such as headaches, nausea and dizziness. Fortunately, research proves aloe vera for heartburn is one of nature’s best cures!
Understanding a heartburn flare up and what causes it
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid creeps up into your esophagus, also known as acid reflux. For some, it flares up after eating too much or indulging in fatty, spicy or acidic foods (like tomatoes and citrus). It can also be triggered by alcohol and caffeine. If the condition becomes chronic, it’s considered gastroesophageal reflux disease, or 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 your mouth or bloating. Typically, a heartburn flare up lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. And they’re incredibly common: More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month.
Why you should consider natural heartburn remedies
When it comes to heartburn medication, there are two main types: The first is antacids (like Tums), which work by neutralizing stomach acid. The second is proton pump inhibitors or PPIs (like Prevacid and Prilosec), which shut down pumps in the stomach that produce excess acid. The hitch? University of Michigan research indicates that up to 67% of people who take PPIs don’t get the heartburn relief they seek. What’s more, research in Neurology found that folks who regularly used PPIs for more than four years were up to 33% more likely to develop dementia. (Click through to our sister publication to discover what medications make acid reflux worse.)
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 mucosal lining of the gut. It heals inflammation, cools the burning effect and soothes the cilia (hair like structures) that live on the mucosal lining and help move food through your intestinal tract,” she says.
Research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that sipping ⅓ oz. of food-grade aloe vera juice twice daily reduces heartburn episodes by 76% in four weeks. That’s more effective than the acid-reducing drugs ranitidine (Zantac) and omeprazole (Prilosec). What’s more, a study in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that heartburn sufferers who sipped aloe vera juice daily eased feelings of nausea by 80%. Tip: Stir in 1 tsp. of honey. A BMJ study found it coated the esophagus to provide speedy heartburn relief.
What makes aloe so effective? Its juice contains more than 200 active compounds that lower inflammation in the esophagus and increase the body’s production of reflux-fighting digestive enzymes, explain nutrition experts Mira Calton, CN, and Jayson Calton, PhD, bestselling authors of Rebuild Your Bones: The 12-Week Osteoporosis Protocol. They said it’s their secret to soothing heartburn naturally. Tip: Since aloe vera juice can have a mild laxative effect, work it into your diet gradually, starting with about 1 tsp. daily. (The benefits don’t stop at soothing heartburn. Click through to see how drinking aloe vera juice speeds weight loss.)
7 more natural ways to relieve heartburn
For added protection against painful heartburn flares, try one of these study-backed natural remedies.
Swap white bread for whole wheat
No need to give up your favorite foods to keep heartburn in check. Instead, swap the white bread on your grilled cheese for seven-grain or whole wheat. A study in Food & Nutrition Research suggests the fiber in whole grains mops up stomach acid, cutting heartburn flares by 50%. A fiber-rich diet also improves muscle movement in the digestive tract, reducing reflux by up to 53%. (Click through to discover where to store your bread so it doesn’t go stale.)
Take a 15-minute breath break
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 in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, people who practiced deep belly breathing techniques for 30 minutes daily cut their need for heartburn medication by nearly 75%. Turns out breathing deeply strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular valve at the base of the esophagus that keeps stomach acid from creeping into the burn zone. (Click through to see 5 more breathing tricks that boost your health.)
Pop a piece of gum
Chewing gum after meals doubles your saliva production. That’s good news, since saliva halts heartburn by washing acid out of the esophagus and back into the stomach where it belongs. In fact, experts reporting in the Journal of Dental Research determined that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal lowered acid levels in the esophagus so significantly, it cut heartburn symptoms by 78%. Tip: peppermint can aggravate heartburn for some folks, so opt for cinnamon or fruit-flavored gum instead. (Oops! Got a piece of gum stuck your clothes? Click through to see how to remove stuck gum.)
Try an ancient Indian remedy
Fenugreek seeds, which have been used as a digestive remedy for thousands of years in India, are rich in a type of fiber called galactomannan. That’s key when it comes to easing heartburn. Why? The fiber forms a gel-like barrier in the stomach that keeps acid from coming into contact with the esophagus. And in a study published in Phytotherapy Research, folks who took capsules containing fenugreek fiber cut the frequency and severity of heartburn episodes by 44% within one week. One to try: Fenuwise (Buy from Amazon.com, $16.99). (Click through to our sister publication to see more benefits of fenugreek.)
Savor a spoonful of honey
Research published in Food Quality and Safety say enjoying 1 Tbs. of raw honey quashes heartburn pain in minutes. And if you make it a daily habit, you’ll cut your risk of future flare-ups by 52%. Honey’s enzymes coat the esophagus to ease irritation while also neutralizing troublesome acids. (Click through to see more health benefits of raw honey.)
Stroll around the block
Walking for 15 minutes a day cuts heartburn risk by 89%, according to a study in the Indo American Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Experts explain gentle exercise enhances activity of muscles in the digestive system. This helps clear acid from the stomach so it doesn’t flow upward. (Click through to see our favorite walking sticks that make strolls easier.)
Consider a deep-sea cure
Alginates derived from seaweed help form a foam-like barrier that halts the flow of irritating acid into the esophagus. And if you take alginates after eating, a study in The Laryngoscope journal reveals you’ll enjoy relief on par with acid-blocking meds. One to try: Life Extension Esophageal Guardian (Buy from LifeExtension.com, $24).
For more natural ways to tame heartburn flares:
- 9 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Heartburn Fast at Night — And Wake Up Happy
- Nighttime Heartburn? These 4 Science-Backed Remedies Help To Reduce Flare-Ups
- This Everyday Oral Hygiene Product May Be Causing Your Heartburn
- These MD-Approved Heartburn Remedies Dial Down The Burn By As Much As 74% — Quickly, Safely and Inexpensively
For more of the amazing health benefits of aloe vera juice:
- Aloe Vera Juice: Top Doc Reveals How It Heals a Sneaky Gut to Make Weight Loss Effortless
- Aloe Is Nature’s Super Plant — Learn How To Use It for Hair, Skin, and Cellulite
- Aloe Vera Is the Ultimate Skin Anti-Ager and Hair-Loss Solution — Here’s How to Use It
- Sipping Aloe Vera Juice Can Help Balance Blood Sugar and Boost Immunity
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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