According to Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, author of The Supplement Handbook, “Acid reflux drugs might as well be crack cocaine or heroin. They work so well and so quickly that you can become addicted to them.”
Research shows that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like Prilosec or Prevacid, interfere with protective enzymes, leading to inflammation, reduced absorption of iron, increased risk of pneumonia, bone fracture, and bacterial infection.
Consider the following heartburn natural solutions do’s, and avoid the don’ts that exacerbate acid reflux:
- Lose weight. This eases pressure on the stomach, ensuring “immediate improvements.”
- Loosen your belt. This also eases belly pressure.
- Sleep on the left. “This is just gravity,” says Moyad. “The slope keeps stomach acid where it belongs.”
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Both potentially increase acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.
- Eliminate trigger foods. “Fried, fatty, and greasy foods, along with fruit beverages and acidic pills (like vitamin C)” worsen acid reflux,” Dr. Moyad maintains.
- Eat more fiber. Seeds, oats and bran are some of the few dietary items found to consistently reduce acid reflux, and risk of esophageal cancer resulting from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Fiber of 25 to 30 grams in non-pill form daily is best.
- Breathe deeply. Deep breathing exercises for at least an hour may strengthen a weak esophageal sphincter, which creates acid reflux.
- Acupuncture. Early research indicates acupuncture soothes heartburn.
- Ginger. “Ginger supplements reduce nausea, but worsen acid reflux by relaxing the opening between the esophagus and stomach, making it easier for acid to move upstream,” says Dr. Moyad.
- Peppermint oil. Peppermint oil supplements used to manage irritable bowel syndrome should be enteric coated. This ensures they dissolve only after they reach the small intestine.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Licorice has long been touted as a heartburn solution. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim.
- Ascorbic acid (vitamin C). “Acid” makes reflux and indigestion worse.
- Fiber pills. Fiber derived food is good. Fiber derived from pills, not nearly as beneficial.