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10 Home Remedies for Acid Reflux and The Problem with PPIs

Whether you call it acid reflux, GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, it doesn't feel good when your stomach acid backs up.

We'll cover quick fixes for acid reflux and GERD symptom relief, improving digestive health, acid reflux triggers to avoid, and the side effects of PPIs.

Collage of home remedies for acid reflux.

What is GERD? What is Acid Reflux?

GERD is short for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Researchers estimate that GERD affects about 20 percent of people in the United States.

“Gastro” deals with your stomach, “esophageal” deals with your esophagus, the tube that delivers food to the stomach, so “gastroesophageal” is where the two meet in your digestive tract.

“Reflux” is backwards flow – in this case, stomach contents flowing back up the esophagus. “Disease” generally indicates a chronic condition, as opposed to occasional acid reflux.

Symptoms of GERD and acid reflux are similar, but acid reflux commonly passes quickly or is only a problem once in a while.

GERD sticks around, and prompts many people to get on prescription acid blockers.

These acid blocking medications may calm symptoms, but they can also cause other problems, which I'll discuss below. GERD may also cause long term issues such as scar tissue buildup at the base of the esophagus.

Illustration of the cause of acid reflux and GERD

What Causes Acid Reflux and GERD?

As we age, the amount of acid our stomachs produce decreases, and our digestive enzymes become depleted. Many of us have had our helpful bacteria knocked out by antibiotic medication.

The stomach tries to physically work harder to break down the food. The sphincter that closes the top of the stomach may also weaken with age or disease, allowing reflux into the esophagus.

GERD and acid reflux are commonly linked to harder stomach churning, forcing stomach juices into the esophagus.

In this article, we'll cover both quick fixes to relieve symptoms and long term solutions for acid reflux and GERD.

Acid Reflux and GERD Symptoms

Symptoms of acid reflux and GERD include upset stomach, regurgitation, and the classic mid-chest burning sensation known as heartburn.

Sometimes there's a bitter or bile taste in the back of the throat, or difficulty swallowing. Lying down or bending over may make the pain worse.

Apple cider vinegar shot glass alongside vinegar bottle and glass of water

#1 Home Remedy for Acid Reflux – Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the most popular home remedies for acid reflux. It counteracts the reduced acid production.

Some people get acid reflux relief by consuming between 1/2 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of ACV in room temperature or warm water right before a meal.

Others prefer a similar dosage upon rising in the morning and before going to bed at night. My husband does a shot of plain apple cider vinegar after a meal for acid reflux relief.

Start with a smaller amount of ACV and work up to larger amounts if needed. The flavor is pretty strong, even in water, and some people find it very unpleasant.

You can also mix apple cider vinegar into tea in place of lemon. Organic ACV is best, because apples are at the top of the Dirty Dozen list of contaminated produce.

You can learn how to make your own homemade apple cider vinegar from apple scraps here.

Pickle juice for an acid reflux remedy

#2 – Pickle Juice

If you don't like vinegar on its own, you can get your vinegar with a little flavor bump via pickle juice. Many of us have an open jar of pickles in the fridge, so pickle juice is an easy option for acid reflux treatment.

Just take a shot with meals, or any time you're hit with acid reflux. Check out my neighbor's recipe for “No Canning Required Dill Pickles” for the easiest homemade pickles you've ever made.

Apple slices for natural acid reflux remedy

#3 – Apples, Apple Sauce and Apple Cider

Whether you choose fresh apples, apple sauce or apple cider, apples provide relief to many when heartburn acts up. Some use them when acid reflux symptoms hit, others add more apples to their diets.

Chilled applesauce can do double duty, cooling and coating for an acid reflux home remedy. My guess is that the natural pectin in apples coats and soothes an upset stomach. others suggest it may be the trace minerals or alkalinity.

You can check out apple cider drink recipes here, and learn how to make homemade applesauce here.

Aloe vera close up in hand

#4 – Aloe Vera

Just as it soothes burns on the outside, this anti-inflammatory plant can soothe “burns” on the inside.

It's available in juices, gels and capsules, or you can juice your own aloe vera plants. Just cut open a leaf and scoop out the inside pulp.

Consume aloe vera after meals, on an empty stomach between meals or just before bedtime as an acid reflux remedy or treatment for GERD.

*Do not use while nursing or pregnant.

Glass of lemonade for acid reflux treatment

#5 – Lemon

Lemon juice is #5 in our acid reflux remedy countdown. Try some lemonade made with real lemons or a glass of lemon water with your meal for a more pleasant way to add a little acidity to your meal.

*Note: Remember not to drink large quantities of liquid with meals. Although some fad diets recommend this to help fill you up, too much liquid dilutes digestive acids.

This means that your stomach has to physical churn harder to break down food. Sip your drinks with meals.

Mustard for acid reflux remedy

#6 – Mustard

Mustard is another popular option for acid reflux treatment. Most folks down a spoonful after a meal to get rid of acid reflux, with yellow mustard preferred over other mustard types.

This could be linked to mustard's vinegar content, which give it some acidity, plus the mustard seeds themselves contain anti-inflammatory compounds and phytonutrients. 

Maybe our ancestors were on to something other than just good flavor when they paired up this spicy condiment with heavy foods?

Ginger root for acid reflux relief

#7 – Ginger

You can use commercial ginger teas, or simply slice some fresh ginger and steep it in hot water, then slowly sip.

Other people nibble a bit of crystallized ginger, suck on ginger candies or chew ginger gum for acid reflux relief.

Papaya enzymes for acid reflux relief

#8 – Papaya and other Digestive Enzymes

Papayas, fresh or dried, contains enzymes that help your body break down heavy meals. You can also purchase papaya enzyme in convenient tablet form, sometimes in combination with other enzymes.

Take enzymes with a meal, as recommended on the packaging. For fresh or dried papaya, a small portion should do the trick.

My neighbor, Betty (of Betty's Dill Pickles and Buttermilk Rye Bread), says that papaya enzymes worked great for her as an acid reflux remedy.

Forkful of sauerkraut for acid reflux

#9 – Probiotics and Live Cultured Foods

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, as we age things tend to slow down a little, and it's not uncommon for our guts to get out of whack.

Healthy humans have more bacteria cells than human cells, so when you take medications that kill bacteria, you can really mess things up.

If you're suffering from GERD, I strongly recommend that probiotics be a part of your home remedies for GERD.

To help rebuild a happy, healthy microbiome inside your belly, where much or our digestion is actually done by bacteria (true fact), we can consume foods or supplements that contain healthy bacteria that we need.

These healthy bacteria are also known as “probiotics“, and contribute to good health in many ways. This is not likely to provide fast relief, although personally I do find that drinking kombucha with meals helps settle my stomach, especially when the food is a little questionable.

You can read learn how to brew kombucha at home in the post, “Kick the Soda Habit – Brew Your Own Kombucha“, and we also have a number of Live Culture Food Recipes in the Recipe Index.

#10 – Reduce Stress

I haven't seen anyone talk about this, but I *know* my husband has more trouble with his acid reflux when his stress levels go up at work. That “stomach churning feeling” really does churn up your stomach, and sometimes tear up your esophagus.

Make sure to chew your food well, and if at all possible, take time to relax and enjoy your meals.

Figure out some way to let go of your stress and tension.

Get some time out in the garden. Take a walk, stretch, meditate, talk about your troubles with a supportive friend or family member.

Laurie with hand to chest, experiencing discomfort

Triggers to Avoid for Acid Reflux

Most folks who live with acid reflux have some idea of what triggers the pain, such as spicy foods, fatty foods, sugar, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, or simply too much food.

Here are some acid reflux triggers that you may not know.

Prescription Medications (and OTC), including:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Osteoporosis drugs known as bisphosphenates—including blockbusters like alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), and risedronate (Actonel)
  • Blood pressure medication (calcium channel blockers and beta blockers)
  • aspirin
  • sleeping pills and sedatives
  • Iron supplements
  • antidepressants
  • antibiotics (as we discussed earlier)
  • potassium supplements

You can read more at “9 Medications that Can Cause Heartburn at“.

Fish Oil Supplements – Fish oil is great for many things, but it doesn't agree with everyone. I take mine with meals.

Timing of meals – My husband is prone to acid reflux, and he finds that if he eats too late in the evening, he's more likely to get acid reflux at bedtime. Be sure to give your meal plenty of time to process before you lay down at night.

Peppermint – Sometimes peppermint is stomach soothing, but you can have too much of a good thing. I like my peppermint nice and gentle, steeped in an occasional glass of tea.

I hope this post is helpful to you if you suffer from acid reflux. Remember, if pain is severe or persistent, see a trained healthcare professional.  Pain is our body's way to get our attention.

The Problem with PPIs for Acid Reflux/GERD

Many folks resort to proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as esomeprazole (Nexium®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), and omeprazole (Prilosec®).

Long term use of PPIs has been linked to problems such as:

  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Kidney Damage
  • Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD)
  • Osteoporosis, decreased bone mineral density (BMD), and a 35% increased risk of fractures

If you have a family history of these issues or other risk factors, don't use PPIs to treat GERD for extended periods.


home remedies for acid reflux

Why I Don't Recommend Baking Soda for Acid Reflux

Many people use of a spoonful of baking soda in water for heartburn relief, but there are a couple reasons I didn't include it.

First off, baking soda is very high in sodium, so taking an entire spoonful of it could be a problem for some people.

Second, and more importantly, adding baking soda to an already over-full stomach can cause the stomach to explode – no joke.

This is really rare, because you really need to have a lot of pressure build up, but here's an example from The New York Times, “In Rare Cases of Indigestion, Baking Soda May Be a Peril“:

“I nearly died after taking this stuff,” said William Graves, who suffered a rupture through the wall of his stomach in 1979 after taking baking soda mixed in water for indigestion after a big meal.

The 64-year-old resident of Bethesda, Md., who is editor of National Geographic Magazine, said that only emergency surgery saved his life and that six more operations were needed to repair the damage.

He said the incident occurred while he was on vacation after an evening when he consumed two vodka martinis, a bowl of chili with corn chips on the side, a salad, corn bread, a glass of red wine, cookies and an after-dinner brandy.

Soon after going to bed, he awakened with indigestion and mixed a teaspoon of baking soda with a small amount of water. Less than a minute after drinking it, he said, he collapsed in agony when a two-and-a-half-inch rupture occurred in the inner curve of his stomach.

Just make sure to use your common sense when trying any home remedy – even those that seem pretty boring.

Other Posts in the Home Remedies Series

This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. Please see a trained healthcare professional is pain is severe or persistent. Always check with your healthcare provider for any potential drug interactions, especially if you are nursing or pregnant.

Originally published in 2014, last updated in 2020. Yes, that's me in the photo, doing my best to model someone with acid reflux. I do my own stunts.

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  1. I was precribed PPI fo GERD–diagnosis determined after a persistent cough but no typical heartburn pain. Cough subsided for years, but returned. Rx: increase PPI. One in the morning, two at night (cough from acid juices aspirating into larynx). continued symptoms, so…2 am, 2 pm. Food began just sitting in my stomach, and discomfort increased and persisted. One day I accidentally missed all my doses–and finally felt better. Lesson learned.

  2. Anyone ever tried Raw Cacao powder for Acid reflux? It worked for me for a while, then I decided it would be a bright idea to introduce trigger foods again. But it does really help a lot! This is due to the large amount of magnesium content. Most Acid reflux medications Have magnesium as a main ingredient (or so I’ve read) It has a very small amount of caffeine, however it does not affect the nervous system the same as regular caffeine (again due to the magnesium) and it is a super food with more antioxidants than almost any food on the market. I drink a cup of “hot chocolate” Raw cacao powder with liquid stevia After meals and it keeps acid away. Almost NOWHERE mentions the powers of cacao but it is the best remedy for me. Also Alkaline water with a 10+ PH. Cacao is not to be confused with “cocoa” which is used to make chocolate. “Cocoa” is the Cacao plant which has been roasted and depleted of most of the nutritional value.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but that’s interesting.

      My husband’s acid reflux gets triggered if he eats anything chocolate in the evening, but he hasn’t tried cacao. He doesn’t care for more bitter foods, so I don’t know how he would deal with the flavor.

  3. First time to experience acid reflux and ive been experiencing it for almost one week, i already see a doctor, and already gave me a medicine, but my question is how many days does it take to be completely treated.?

    1. This is probably not what you want to hear, but if your focus is on simply taking a medicine to make you acid reflux go away, you may be on medication for the rest of your life.

      Most medication does nothing to address underlying causes. It only treats the symptoms.

      Look at your diet. Figure out your triggers. Work on your gut health. Improve your gut health and your acid reflux will likely go away over time on its own.

      For information on the expected effectiveness of your prescription medication, please talk to your healthcare provider.

    2. It only works as long as you take the medication. It is best to make lifestyle changes. Smaller meals without too much added liquids, avoiding triggers, not lying down til stomach has emptiedquite a bit. I raised the head of my bed 6 inches and that was a tremendous help at night. (used half set of bed risers)

  4. I have been nauseous and dizzy constantly for about 15 days straight. I am scheduled to see a gastro specialist on Jan 23rd. Can reflux , GERD, or hernia cause intense sickness?

    1. Many times the same conditions that trigger acid reflux can also trigger stomach upset, so it’s possible that they’re related. Given the length of time you’ve been ill, seeing a medical professional is a good idea. There’s also a lot of norovirus activity in some areas, but 15 days is a long time to be sick with that.

    2. What did they say was wrong, if you don’t mind sharing?

      I’ve had similar issues. Not constant dizziness but I’ll be seeing a gastro doctor here shortly and dealt with numerous toilet sessions with vomiting food and acid. Dizziness from time to time and my throat just feels super weird. Started about 6 weeks ago and been to the er 5 times to be told it’s acid reflux but don’t know why. Meds don’t work. Apples ? temporarily work but spit up almost daily. Can’t eat anything it seems but do my best to eat recommended food. To the point I’m scared to try eating anything else bc my chest don’t burn but does have slight pressure. Throat feels like food is stuck in it until I throw it up. Trouble swallowing from time to time. Just a nasty nasty disease if it’s only acid reflux. Best of luck to ya!

      1. Timothy, have you looked into EoE (Eosinophilic esophagitis) –

        Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach).

        Common symptoms include:
        Reflux that does not respond to medication (acid suppressors) – infant, child, adult
        Difficulty swallowing – child, adult
        Food impactions (food gets stuck in the esophagus) – older children, adult
        Nausea and Vomiting – infant, child, adult
        Failure to thrive (poor growth, malnutrition, or weight loss) and poor appetite – infant, child, rarely adult
        Abdominal or chest pain – child, adult
        Feeding refusal/intolerance or poor appetite – infant, child
        Difficulty sleeping due to chest or abdominal pain, reflux, and/or nausea – infant, child, adult

  5. Re: the gluttonous Mr. Graves. He sucks down wine, brandy, vodka, chili, roughage, etc., goes to bed, but the BAKING SODA nearly kills him???
    Does anyone else see the total absurdity here?

    1. I’d say it wasn’t the baking soda so much as the overall stupidity. Nevertheless, people have made themselves sick to the point of ending up dead by drinking too much water, so I feel obligated to point out the worse case scenario, lest another glutton explode and someone blames me for their demise.

  6. my mouth always has a bad taste stomach always grawling . how do tell if the acid is in your throat

    1. You should probably see a medical professional, as it sounds like there’s something that’s not right with your system.

      I cannot safely or legally diagnose or treat any illness.

      Bad taste could be due to acid reflux, bacterial overgrowth or other issues.

      If you have acid reflux or GERD, there is typically some pain or pressure mid-chest.