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10 Home Remedies for Acid Reflux and The Problem with PPIs

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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 Health.com“.

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.

Sources:

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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54 Comments

    1. Elizabeth – I didn’t recommend baking soda because there have been documented cases of people’s stomachs exploding from the use of baking soda as an antacid. I’ll add an update on this to the post, and see if I can find online documentation to link. (I read about this in a Prevention book.) Baking soda is also very high in sodium, which can be problematic for some people.

      1. She clearly didn’t read the article. People please….. read the article before committing. Or at least before giving advice! Thank you! A load of great information!

      2. I would NEVER use a whole teaspoon…. A quarter or 1/3 is plenty (with a FULL glass of water)!!! Baking soda has been hailed as a cancer fighter as well having other GREAT health benefits (including ph alkalinity)…. With the combo of foods and alcohol this man had taken, and the small amount of water… he was bound to have some sort of attack!!! Was it documented that baking soda was the PRIMARY cause?

        1. I believe the given the entirety of the story, the primary causes were stupidity and gluttony, not necessarily in that order. Unfortunately, with the sheer volume of people that now visit the site, there are bound to be some who think “if a little is good, more is better”. Thus, the cautionary tale.

        2. The key to Baking Soda is to follow the directions (1/2 teaspoon to 4 oz of water) fully dissolved and not on a full stomach. If you are salt sensitive, as in having high blood pressure or other circulatory problems, you should limit the amount and frequency. Recent studies indicate that salt is not as much the enemy as previously reported. But, consulting your doctor is always the best choice. With that said, be prepared for he or she to discount your trying to do thing naturally. A good doctor, like mine, will work with you on trying to go natural and add good advice. Popping a pill is not always the best course of treatment, considering many having lethal side effects. Gerd suffers relying on omeprazole (or other proton inhibitors) risk serious kidney damage. My best advice is do your homework! Love and hugs to all!

      3. The only way your stomach wold rupture from baking soda is if you didn’t add enough water. Also not much soda is needed.

  1. Very interested in your posting. I am a British woman, had suffered from GERD for years with just anti-acid medication, then moved to France. After a year, it was so bad I couldn’t even bend over to garden anymore, so went to see a specialist. He said I’d need an operation to be cured, but I could take PPIs, which I did for three years until I heard that this was bad for osteoporosis. The specialist then operated on my stomach – the operation is called a fundoplasty, creating a new valve to prevent regurgitation. Absolutely 100% wonderful results! I lost about 20 lbs in weight as my stomach was so small, I could only eat a spoonful at mealtimes, but after about 4 months, all was fine: I could eat normally, and I have not suffered indigestion ONCE in 7 years. I can eat and drink anything – which is important, living in France – all those wonderful cheeses and red wines, and wish I had the operation earlier. I have since gained only 3 lbs, and my life is wonderful. I would urge anyone with the chance to have this operation, talk to the specialist and take advice, but for me, it changed my life.

    1. Get rid of acid reflux by eating a red apple. It really works. It worked for me, my family, friends and co-workers.

      1. Interesting. I hadn’t heard of that option, but Livestrong has a post about it. They note:

        Apples work to reduce symptoms of GERD because they create an alkaline state in the stomach, neutralizing excess acids and aiding in digestion.

      2. I have read serveral aticles that say to stay away from Lemon juice, to avoid acid reflux. How does it make the list of foods that help?

        1. As mentioned in the article, acid reflux is commonly associated with too little acid, not too much. Adding a small amount of lemon to meals may help improve digestion.

          As also noted, you don’t want to drink large amounts of lemon. That could indeed make the situation worse. Use small sips of lemonade, or a spritz of lemon juice over salad – no guzzling.

  2. Actually, the best and most permanent resolution for acid reflux of any kind is to eliminate the causes: acidic foods. Animal foods are highly acidic.

    Another great acid reflux resolution is to quit drinking nutrition and start eating it. Digestion begins in the mouth, and if you bypass this first part, your poor esophagus and stomach are receiving food without the digestive enzymes in saliva to begin the breakdown and nutrient absorption process.

    But… people insist on eating like gluttons, and prefer to pay billions of dollars each year on drugs and doctors.

    1. No, eliminating acidic foods does not solve the problem of acid reflux. Take if from someone who has been dealing with this for years.
      I have found a lot of success with pickle juice, however, which is very acidic.

  3. I have experienced heartburn about 40 years now. I don’t plan to use any Rx for my symptoms if I can avoid it. I’ve used Rolaids or Malox over the years. What works best for me was prescribed by my Naturopath and is called Nema-Base. I absolutely highly recommend it. But…the taste is not for everyone. My husband can’t stand it. (But it works!) It says it’s a Dietary Supplement but I only take it when I’m experiencing heartburn. It relieves my symptoms immediately. Apple Cider Vinegar made my heartburn recur more frequently, so I quit trying to see if that works. Also…my naturopath told me that heartburn symptoms can indicate TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE acid. And there is a test a naturopath can provide to determine which an individual may have. I haven’t yet had the test. Anyway…just for the record…NEMA BASE works like magic for me. Also…when I check my PH levels, I am always acidic, so the primary reason the naturopath prescribed the Nema Base in the first place was to reduce the acidity of my system to be more alkaline. Ideally, I would eat a diet that would contribute to the alkalinity of my system, but…I haven’t stayed too consistent with that. But it DOES help. Anyway…Nema-Base for reduction of acidity.
    Good luck!

    1. How do you check your PH levels. I would like to do this, as my acid reflux has kicked up over this past week.
      thanks!

  4. Contrary to popular belief, even though lemons are acidic, its the fact that they become alkaline in your stomach that helps with acid reflux. Avoiding acidic foods and changing to a more alkaline diet had really helped me. On another note… Peppermint tea, although helpful in calming your stomach, can actually relax the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus, causing GERD.

  5. I occasionally have acid reflux; the instant, bad flare-up kine.
    Instant 2 drops of peppermint oil in 1/3 cup water= instant relief.

  6. I had acid reflux for years, was on prescriptions and still ate Tums by the bottle full. I started taking cinnamon capsules, 2 before each meal for other reasons but found they totally cured my heartburn. I was able to cut down to 2 capsules before lunch with zero heartburn at any point through out the day unless I eat onions. If I do start to feel any burning from a meal I take more cinnamon. I don’t know why no one knows about this, it totally cured my heartburn.

  7. I use baking soda all the time. I never have any problems with it & it works very well. Yes you get bloated, but you just got to burp it all out. Works every time & I will never use anything else.

  8. Great article, so appreciate all the links too! Chewing fennel seed, or holding it between teeth and gum if you don’t like the taste much, is one that works for mild upset.

  9. Olive oil is also a good natural remedy for acid reflux. In the Mediterranean diet it is used as a natural antacid.

  10. The best one wasn’t mentioned! Put a small handful (about 2 tablespoons) of uncooked oatmeal into your mouth. Start chewing. In a minute or so you will have a good slurry. Swallow it in 2 or 3 swallows. Instant relief!

  11. I heard that slippery elm is good so I recently started using it. I got the powder so I make it into a tea and add honey. It’s all natural and has been used by early native Americans . I’m hoping it works for me!

  12. GERD sometimes will keep me up all night and morning. feels like my heart is pounding and my eyes are wide open and I can’t go to sleep. I have tried ACV, baking soda when it is this bad and have had no relief. Any suggestions. I do take nexium and still have problems. I am feeling this way right now and I am hoping I am going to not be awake for hours again.

    1. Have you tried any of the other remedies? I’d try slowly working my way through the list. If pain is severe or incapacitating, please see a trained healthcare provider.

  13. Yes i recommend trying all natural remmedies first if symptoms arent to bad,&see if that works if not then see a Dr. Because all he is going to recommend is a prescribed. Medication. So try the least expensive first.iam not a Dr but do have Geerd&acid reflux wish U all Well.J.G.

  14. Believe it or not, tomato juice with a dash of hot sauce works wonders for me when I have occasional heartburn. Fighting fire with fire, LOL. All good recommendations. However, if your GERD is caused by a hiatal hernia, these remedies may or may not help. As a nurse, I agree that the long term repercussions of PPI’s are worth trying home remedies.

    1. I know the pain of GERD can be severe, as my husband has had chronic acid reflux issues. The most effective strategy for him has been to watch what he eats and the timing of his meals. I also make sure he takes enzymes and probiotics, and sometimes he does a dose of cider vinegar, too. It was hard for him to wean off PPIs, but he did eventually manage. I hope you can find some relief.

      1. Laurie, I’m a little better. I started taking 1000 mg of Tumeric a day drinking lemon juice and drinking pickle juice. I have cut down from 2 pills a day to 1. I think I might be able to handle it as long as it don’t come up my throat and out my nose like it was. I have had several upper and lower GIS and they can’t find anything wrong but a healing ulcer. I’m out of pickle juice and I can feel my stomach burning. Guess I’ll have to go to town tomorrow. I’m also going to try Kefir water.l hope it helps more

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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) – https://apfed.org/about-ead/egids/eoe/

        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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

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