Print This Page SparkPeople

Alternative Remedies for Heartburn

Supplements That Can Help Relieve GERD
  -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
Late-night dining on spicy wings and greasy fries can turn even the most tolerant tummy into a tumultuous tyrant. On occasion, everyone experiences heartburn following a large, rich meal.  But when the occasional discomfort turns into an ongoing struggle, it is time to make a doctor's appointment. 
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This leads to a burning sensation in the chest (called heartburn) that can also spread into the throat and mouth, and can lead to dyspepsia (indigestion), chest pain, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), dry cough, hoarseness, and sore throat. 
GERD is not just an annoyance; it can be very dangerous. Stomach acid doesn't just irritate the esophagus, but it can also bring about inflammation, erosion, bleeding, scar tissue, breathing problems, and an increased risk for cancer of the esophagus. Over-the-counter medications and lifestyle interventions are the first line of defense; while prescription medications and surgery are necessary treatment options to reduce the symptoms in others. (Learn about all your GERD medication options here.)
When working with your physician to determine the most helpful and appropriate GERD treatment plan, you may find it beneficial to also discuss some lifestyle and complementary approaches. The options listed below should never be used as a replacement for your medical plan, but rather an enhancement.  Talk to your doctor about these options; discuss dosage, how long you should try the option, possible interactions (with other foods, supplements or medications), and potential adverse reactions. Together, you and your physician can determine the most effective approach in dealing with your diagnosis of GERD.<pagebreak>
Food & Lifestyle Modifications to Relieve Heartburn

Dietary Supplements That May Relieve Heartburn
(Over-the-counter dietary supplements are not tested or regulated for safety or efficacy the way drugs are.  Dietary supplements can also interact with prescription medications. Before using any supplement, talk to your doctor about what is right for you.)
Abdel-Aziz H, Zaki HF, Neuhuber W, Kelber O, Weiser D, Khayyal MT. "Effect of an herbal preparation, STW 5, in an acute model of reflux oesophagitis in rats." The Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, 2010;113(2):134-42.
Allescher HD, Wagner H. "STW 5/Iberogast: multi-target-action for treatment of functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome." Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift, 2007;157(13-14):301-7.
Del Piano M, Anderloni A, Balzarini M, Ballarè M, Carmagnola S, Montino F, Orsello M, Pagliarulo M, Tari R, Soattini L, Sforza F, Mogna L, Mogna G. "The innovative potential of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LR06, Lactobacillus pentosus LPS01, Lactobacillus plantarum LP01, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii Subsp. delbrueckii LDD01 to restore the gastric barrier effect in patients chronically treated with PPI: a pilot study." The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 2012 Oct;46 Suppl:S18-26.  
Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. "Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options." The Journal of Physiological Pharmacology. 2011 Dec;62(6):591-9.
Madalinski MH. "Does a melatonin supplement alter the course of gastroesophageal reflux disease?World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2011 Dec 6;2(6):50-1. 
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,, accessed May 2013.
Rösch W, Liebregts T, Gundermann KJ, Vinson B, Holtmann G. "Phytotherapy for functional dyspepsia: a review of the clinical evidence for the herbal preparation STW 5." Phytomedicine, 2006;13 Suppl 5:114-21.
Singh M, Lee J, Gupta N, Gaddam S, Smith BK, Wani SB, Sullivan DK, Rastogi A, Bansal A, Donnelly JE, Sharma P. "Weight loss can lead to resolution of gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms: a prospective intervention trial." Obesity, 2013 Feb;21(2):284-90. 
Zhang C, Guo L, Guo X, Guo X, Li G. "Clinical curative effect of electroacupuncture combined with zhizhukuanzhong capsules for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease." Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2012 Sep;32(3):364-71.