How to Relieve Heartburn

Three Methods:Changing Your Eating HabitsChanging Other HabitsUsing Over the Counter and Prescription Medicines

Heartburn is extremely uncomfortable yet extremely common, and it's not always clear what causes it. For some people, heartburn may be attributed to certain foods or eating habits, for others heartburn may be attributed to tight clothing, excess weight, or smoking. There are also many different ways to relieve heartburn, from changing your eating habits, adopting a new sleeping position, and trying over the counter or prescription medicines. Keep reading to learn more about how to relieve heartburn.

Method 1
Changing Your Eating Habits

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    Pay attention to the foods that cause heartburn for you. While there are some common foods that cause heartburn, everyone has different trigger foods. Keep track of the foods that seem to cause heartburn for you and try to avoid or at least limit your intake of those foods.
    • Try keeping a food diary to help you keep track of the foods that cause you heartburn.[1]
    • Common heartburn trigger foods include peppermint, caffeine, sodas, chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, onions, and high-fat foods.[2]
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    Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Plan to have your last meal of the day at least three hours before bedtime, since your body requires about two hours to digest the food that you have eaten. If you lay down while there is still food in your stomach, you have a higher chance of getting heartburn.[3]
  3. 3
    Eat your food slowly. One study found that eating your food too quickly can increase the risk of heartburn. People who eat their food too fast are also more likely to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. Take your time while you are eating to eliminate fast eating as a factor in your heartburn.[4]
    • Try putting down your fork between bites and chewing your food more to help slow yourself down while you eat.
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    Drink a glass of low fat or skim milk as a snack between meals. The calcium in milk can act as a temporary acid buffer, which may help to relieve your heartburn. Keep in mind that the effects of drinking milk are only temporary, so you may need to use other methods to help stave off heartburn.[5]
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    Chew a piece of sugar-free gum after meals. Chewing gum causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts as an acid buffer. While you chew gum you also swallow more often, pushing acid back down into your stomach. Chew a piece of gum for 30 minutes after each meal to help relieve heartburn symptoms.[6]
  6. 6
    Sip a cup of herbal tea after meals. Some studies have found that chamomile and licorice tea are effective against heartburn symptoms when taken after a meal. Chamomile and licorice both have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be why they help to relieve heartburn for some people. Try both kinds of tea to see if either one works for you.
    • Ginger has also been found effective against heartburn. You can make your own ginger tea by adding a few slices of fresh ginger to boiling water. Cover the water and allow the ginger to steep for 30 minutes before drinking. For best results, drink ginger tea about 20 minutes before a meal.[7]
    • Be aware that licorice should not be used long term because it contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin, which can cause tissue swelling and high blood pressure. As with any herbal medicine, talk to your doctor first.[8]

Method 2
Changing Other Habits

  1. 1
    Quit smoking. Not only does smoking cause cancer and many other health problems, it may also be the cause of your heartburn. Smoking has been linked with heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Studies have found that smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle that keeps your stomach contents from backing up into your esophagus. A weakened lower esophageal sphincter is more likely to allow stomach acids to escape and cause damage to your esophagus. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs in your area, if you want to quit smoking.[9]
  2. 2
    Lose weight. Being overweight is thought to be a contributor to heartburn because the excess fat on your abdomen puts pressure on your stomach and may force your stomach contents back up into your esophagus. Studies have shown that a drastic weight loss is not necessary to help relieve heartburn caused by being overweight. Even a small weight loss, 5-10% of your body weight, may help relieve your heartburn.[10]
  3. 3
    Wear loose fitting clothing. Tight pants and belts may be contributing to your heartburn by causing too much pressure on your abdomen and causing your stomach contents to back up. Make sure that your pants fit comfortably and that you do not wear your belt too tight. Choose clothing that is a size too big or that has an elastic waistband if your heartburn is severe.[11]
  4. 4
    Change your usual sleeping position. If you often suffer from nighttime heartburn, there are two positions that seem to be the most effective against heartburn: sleeping on your left side and sleeping with your upper body elevated. Try one or both of these sleep positions to see if either one helps to relieve your heartburn.
    • Sleeping on your left side helps aid digestion. Try sleeping on your left side if elevating your upper body does not seem to help.
    • Sleeping with your upper body elevated reduces the possibility that stomach acid will flow up your esophagus. Try using a wedge shaped pillow to elevate your whole upper body. Using regular pillows will just elevate your head.[12]
  5. 5
    Relax every day. Stress may contribute to your heartburn symptoms by causing your stomach to produce more stomach acid. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, especially after you eat, may help to relieve heartburn. Try meditation, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, deep breathing, or something else to help yourself relax every day.[13]

Method 3
Using Over the Counter and Prescription Medicines

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    Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with water and drink the solution. Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid in order to digest food. This is a strong acid which is very corrosive, and causes the burn in your chest. You can neutralize some of the acid by consuming a base, such as baking soda mixed with water. Compared with over the counter antacids, this homemade medicine doesn't taste very good. But drinking a mixture of baking soda and water will bring the pH of the liquid in your stomach and help relieve the burn.[14]
    • Do not use this method if you are on a low sodium diet because baking soda is very high in sodium.
  2. 2
    Consider taking Iberogast. Iberogast is a natural, over the counter medicine for heartburn that some studies have found to be effective. Among its ingredients, Iberogast features angelica, caraway, clown's mustard plant, German chamomile, greater celandine, lemon balm, licorice, milk thistle, and peppermint. It is not known which of these ingredients makes Iberogast work for some people, but this medicine has been shown to be effective against heartburn, stomach pain, cramping, and nausea.[15]
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    Use an over the counter antacid to relieve occasional heartburn. If you suffer from an occasional episode of heartburn, an over the counter antacid like Alka-Seltzer, Tums, Milk of Magnesia, Maalox, Rolaids, or Pepto-Bismol may be all that you need to feel better. Keep one of these medicines on hand to help relieve heartburn when it strikes. Make sure that you read and follow the instructions before taking any over the counter medicine.[16]
  4. 4
    Use an over the counter acid reducer to relieve frequent heartburn. If you have heartburn two or more times per week, then an acid reducer, like an H2 blocker or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), may be what you need. Drugs like Pepcid, Zantac, Prilosec, and Nexium are all available over the counter. They have been approved by the FDA for up to 14 days of continuous use. Make sure that you read and follow the instructions before taking any over the counter medicine.
    • If you find that you need to take these medicines daily for more than two weeks, then you should talk to your doctor about a prescription acid reducer.[17]
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    Talk to your doctor about prescription heartburn medications. If your heartburn does not seem to respond to lifestyle changes or it is interfering with your daily activities, you should talk to your doctor about heartburn medication. Your doctor may prescribe an acid-blocking drug, like an H2 blocker, or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to help relieve your heartburn.
    • Keep in mind that even though these medications will help to relieve your heartburn symptoms, your doctor will probably still recommend that you make other lifestyle changes to control your heartburn.[18]


  • Try eating an apple or banana every day. These fruits contain natural antacids that may help relieve your heartburn over time.[19]
  • Try apple cider vinegar. Some people find relief by drinking a mixture of 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water before each meal.[20][21]
  • Try either an aspirin or roll-aids.


  • When heartburn symptoms become severe, keep you up at night, or occur at least twice a week, you may have Acid Reflux Disease. If not controlled, this can lead to esophageal cancer. If heartburn persists,
  • If you are having chest pain and you think that you might be having a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.[22]

Sources and Citations


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Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health