If you’ve ever felt a burning sensation in your stomach or throat—after eating a particularly heavy meal or drinking your morning cup of joe, for example—you’ve likely had a case of heartburn or indigestion. This feeling every once in a while is harmless and not typically cause for concern. But if your heartburn happens all the time (like, even when you’re not eating), you could be dealing with GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease—a chronic, more severe version of heartburn.

About 20 percent of U.S. adults deal with GERD, but if left untreated, it can lead to long-term complications with your esophagus, per the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately, there are plenty of medications and natural remedies for GERD relief out there. If you nip that burn in the bud now, you’ll feel better in no time—and reduce your risk of future health complications.


Experts In This Article


Read our list of the best natural remedies for GERD here, plus the causes and symptoms of the condition, and when to see your doctor about your gut health concerns.

In This Article

What is GERD?

GERD is a common condition that causes a painful, burning sensation in the middle of your chest. This sensation is caused by stomach contents coming back up into your esophagus and throat. Other signs and symptoms of GERD include chest pain, nausea, problems swallowing, or a chronic cough, per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). While these symptoms often point to GERD, you should still see a doctor if you have them because they can also be a sign of more serious conditions.

But what causes GERD? Well for most people, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) works to keep stomach acids from coming up into your esophagus, preventing reflux. But if the LES gets too weak or relaxes when it’s not supposed to, acids will flow upward, causing the hallmark burning sensation we associate with GERD, per the NIDDK.

A few different things can cause the LES to relax when it shouldn’t, including the following, per the NIDDK:

  • Having overweight
  • Being pregnant
  • Smoking
  • Taking certain medications
  • Having a hiatal hernia (a condition where the upper part of your stomach pushes up into your chest through the opening of your diaphragm)

Thankfully, there are many diet and lifestyle changes you can make that are extremely helpful for managing GERD—one of those changes being natural remedies (more on this below).

13 natural remedies for GERD

Diet and lifestyle changes are the go-to for managing GERD. But which natural remedies for GERD actually work? We spoke with two gastroenterologists to get their take on the most effective solutions for GERD to try at home.

1. Try chewing gum

“Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which can help neutralize stomach acid,” says Sarah Robbins, MD, MSc, FRCPC, a board-certified gastroenterologist and founder of Well Sunday. A small 2005 study in the Journal of Dental Research found that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce acidic reflux post-meal.

While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, chewing sugar-free gum after eating is a low-risk way to potentially reduce acid reflux.

2. Add some ginger

“Ginger has been used traditionally to treat gastrointestinal issues, including nausea and indigestion,” says Dr. Robbins. She also says ginger is thought to help with digestion and soothing your stomach lining. That said, specific studies on ginger for GERD are limited. One May 2022 review in BMC Gastroenterology states ginger might be a safe option for nausea and GERD relief during pregnancy, which could point to its potential effectiveness in other scenarios, too.

Overall, ginger is a low-risk option that many people swear by, so it’s worth a shot to see if it soothes your GERD. I mean, how many times have we heard sipping on ginger tea or sucking a ginger lozenge could soothe an upset stomach? (Psst: Here’s a recipe for how to make ginger tea at home, FYI.)

3. Mix up baking soda

Baking soda (aka, sodium bicarbonate) works as a natural antacid by neutralizing stomach acid, says Dr. Robbins. In fact, a few different kinds of OTC antacid medications have a form of sodium bicarbonate in them—including omeprazole and Alka Seltzer, per the National Library of Medicine. If you want to try the baking soda itself, you can mix a half teaspoon of it into a glass of water and drink up, per the Mayo Clinic.

Just keep in mind: Baking soda is only a short-term solution and can come with side effects, especially if you take more than recommended. Side effects can include increased thirst and stomach cramps, per the Mayo Clinic.

4. Avoid talking while eating

Swallowing air while talking can put more pressure on your LES, leading to more acid refluxing into the esophagus, says David D. Clarke, MD, board-certified internal medicine doctor, gastroenterologist, and president of the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association. So if you deal with heartburn after you eat, it may be helpful to talk less while you’re eating (easier said than done, we know!).

5. Eat small, frequent meals

If you deal with GERD on a daily basis, switching up your meal portions and frequency may help alleviate your symptoms. Dr. Clarke recommends trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals, because large meals can put extra pressure on your LES, causing acid to move from your stomach into your esophagus.

Instead of sticking with three larger meals per day, try eating five or six “mini meals” daily to see if that helps. Or, find an eating schedule that works best for you!

6. Increase your fiber intake

Low-fiber intake is associated with reduced gut motility (i.e., your bowels move slower), leading to food staying in your stomach for longer periods. This can increase your risk of heartburn and acid reflux, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. So adding fiber may help reduce this risk. Case in point: A June 2018 study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found people who increased their fiber intake by 5 grams per day using a psyllium supplement had reduced LES pressure, less reflux, and fewer heartburn episodes per week.

In general, fiber is great for your gut health and digestion, and may be a good natural supplement for heartburn. Aim to get the recommended 25 to 30 grams per day, according to UCSF Health. And try incorporating some of these high-fiber foods to your meals (all of which have about 5 grams of fiber based on the portion listed), per the Mayo Clinic:

  • Black beans (1/3 cup)
  • Chia seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Green peas (1/2 cup)
  • Raspberries (1/2 cup)
  • Pears (1 medium pear)
  • Oatmeal (1 cup)

If your diet doesn’t already consist of much fiber, try adding it in slowly. Too much fiber too quickly can lead to gas and bloating. But by adding fiber slowly, and drinking plenty of water, your gut will get used to the change.

7. Try deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)

“Licorice is said to increase the mucus coating4 of the esophageal lining, helping it resist the irritating effects of stomach acid,” says Dr. Clarke. One type of licorice in particular, called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), has also proven effective for relieving GERD, he adds, citing a small June 2017 observational study in the Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society. This is a type of licorice with the ingredient glycyrrhizin removed. It’s often available in pill or liquid form and can also help treat peptic ulcers and canker sores, per Mount Sinai.

Glycyrrhizin is typically removed from DGL because, in large doses, it can cause serious side effects like high blood pressure and heart issues, per Mount Sinai. While these side effects typically only happen if a person eats a LOT of licorice, it’s recommended to talk to your doctor before trying any kind. (And don’t take it longer than four to six weeks without asking your doctor first.)

8. Sip some chamomile tea

We know that drinking tea has a relaxing effect on our minds. But turns out “a cup of chamomile tea may have a soothing effect on the digestive tract,” too, says Dr. Clarke. While no studies have specifically investigated the effects of chamomile tea on GERD, it may reduce inflammation in the esophagus and stomach, thereby reducing heartburn, according to a January 2024 survey in GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Ultimately, it’s a low-risk natural remedy for GERD that many people already enjoy and have in their cupboards.

Dr. Clarke warns, though, that if you have an allergy to ragweed, you may have reactions to chamomile, so it’s best to try a small amount first to see if you react.

9. Avoid trigger foods

Dr. Robbins and Dr. Clarke both recommend avoiding foods that potentially trigger your GERD symptoms. While this may take some time to figure out which foods are a no-go for you, some common culprits include the following, per Harvard Health Publishing:

  • Fizzy drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Acidic foods (like citrus and tomato)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint

A good place to start is by keeping a food and symptom log to help you figure out which foods to avoid for GERD. You may find you don’t need to avoid all the foods on this list, or that you can still have some in smaller quantities.

10. Eat earlier in the evening

Lying down after eating can stir up that heartburn feeling. “Lying down soon after a meal can worsen reflux, so it’s best to have your main meal earlier in the day,” says Dr. Clarke. Dr. Robbins recommends waiting at least two to three hours after your last meal before going to bed, which allows your stomach to empty, and reduces the chance of nighttime reflux.

11. Avoid tight clothing

According to Dr. Clarke, tight-fitting clothes can put pressure on your abdomen and worsen reflux. So don’t be afraid to switch to more flowy pants or elastic waistbands when your stomach’s acting up. You can even size up if your clothes feel too tight (remember, clothes are made to fit you, not the other way around).

12. Elevate the head of your bed

Dr. Clarke and Dr. Robbins both recommend elevating the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches if you deal with heartburn at night. In this case, gravity is your friend and helps keep stomach acid down while you sleep, they explain. You can achieve this by placing wooden blocks under your bed posts or by using a firm wedge pillow instead of regular-shaped ones.

13. Manage stress

“Stress and anxiety can trigger GERD symptoms,” says Dr. Clarke. He recommends trying relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing, especially if you notice GERD kicking up as you’re overwhelmed. If you’re still dealing with excessive stress and anxiety, and it’s affecting your quality of life, consider working with a therapist to develop strategies for stress management.

When to see a doctor for GERD

Occasional heartburn can often be managed with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, says Dr. Robbins. But you should speak with your doctor if you’re having recurrent and persistent symptoms several days of the week, or if your symptoms suddenly get worse. Here is a list of symptoms that should prompt a visit to the doctor:

  • Persistent heartburn, regurgitation, and acid indigestion
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Frequent nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pain—especially if it’s severe, radiates to the arm, back, or jaw, or is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or dizziness (which could indicate a heart condition)
  • Chronic cough, asthma symptoms, or hoarseness
  • GERD symptoms that disturb your sleep

Additionally, those with chronic GERD may need to be screened for Barrett’s esophagus, says Dr. Robbins. In some people, long-term GERD can lead to changes in the cells of the esophagus, which, while rare, increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

At the end of the day, many effective home remedies for GERD are safe and easy to implement. But if they don’t help, it’s important to talk to your doctor, as long-term GERD can lead to complications if not addressed.

FAQ

Where does acid reflux hurt?

Acid reflux, or GERD, typically causes a burning sensation in the chest and throat, per the NIDDK. You can also get a feeling of burning or fullness in your upper stomach when you have acid reflux and indigestion together.

What are some long-term GERD treatments?

“It’s important to note that while natural remedies may provide relief, they should not replace medical treatment for severe or persistent GERD,” says Dr. Clarke. He recommends talking to your doctor to develop a comprehensive GERD-management plan.

GERD treatments may include OTC antacids, H2 receptor blockers like famotidine (aka, Pepcid), and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like esomeprazole. Dr. Clarke notes that if medical treatment is unsuccessful, surgery may be needed—especially if your GERD is caused by a hiatal hernia (when a portion of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm muscle, per the Mayo Clinic). Surgery to repair the hernia would reduce the passage of stomach acid to the esophagus.

What’s the best home remedy for acid reflux at night?

If you’re getting acid reflux at night, there are a few different management strategies you can try, says Dr. Robbins. For starters, it may help to change up your sleeping position for reflux. Try elevating the head of your bed about 6 to 8 inches to prevent stomach acid from rising into your esophagus. Or try sleeping on your left side, which has been shown to help relieve GI distress like acid reflux at night, per an October 2023 review in World Journal of Clinical Cases.

It’s also important to avoid eating too close to bedtime, she adds. Try to wait at least 2 to 3 hours after your last meal before going to bed. Finally, Dr. Robbins recommends steering clear of foods and drinks known to trigger your symptoms in the hours leading to bedtime.

Does drinking milk help soothe GERD?

“Dairy products have a complex relationship with GERD,” says Dr. Robbins. While some dairy products may worsen GERD symptoms due to their fat content, other dairy products, such as those rich in probiotics, may help with GERD management by improving overall gut health.

Similarly, the calcium found in dairy products may help soothe a burning stomach. But this is not a substitute for more effective antacid medications, she explains. For other suggestions on what to drink for acid reflux, reach out to your doctor.


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

  1. Moazzez, R et al. “The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux.” Journal of dental research vol. 84,11 (2005): 1062-5. doi:10.1177/154405910508401118
  2. Ali, R.A.R., Hassan, J. & Egan, L.J. Review of recent evidence on the management of heartburn in pregnant and breastfeeding women. BMC Gastroenterol 22, 219 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-022-02287-w
  3. Morozov, Sergey et al. “Fiber-enriched diet helps to control symptoms and improves esophageal motility in patients with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux disease.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 24,21 (2018): 2291-2299. doi:10.3748/wjg.v24.i21.2291
  4. Ghalayani, Parichehr et al. “Comparison of triamcinolone acetonide mucoadhesive film with licorice mucoadhesive film on radiotherapy-induced oral mucositis: A randomized double-blinded clinical trial.” Asia-Pacific journal of clinical oncology vol. 13,2 (2017): e48-e56. doi:10.1111/ajco.12295
  5. Setright, Russell. “Prevention of Symptoms of Gastric Irritation (GERD) Using Two Herbal Formulas: An Observational Study.” 2017. Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, vol. 23, no. 2, Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 2017, pp. 68–71, https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.950298610899394.
  6. Cheung, Tin, et al. “A Survey on the Treatment of GERD with Aloe Vera Juice, Slippery Elm, Ginger Tea, and Chamomile Tea.” GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol. 26, no. 01, 2024, pp. 199-206, https://doi.org/10.30574/gscbps.2024.26.1.0010.
  7. Simadibrata, Daniel Martin et al. “Left lateral decubitus sleeping position is associated with improved gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” World journal of clinical cases vol. 11,30 (2023): 7329-7336. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v11.i30.7329


Source: Well and Good

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