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Heartburn occurs when acids from the stomach travel back up the food pipe or esophagus. A burning sensation is felt in the chest and can bring a lot of discomfort to people.
Heartburn or acid reflux that occurs over a long period may be because of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). (1)
A small muscular flap between the stomach and esophagus prevents the reflux of acid and stomach contents. However, due to disease or stretching of the stomach, the muscular flap may loosen, causing the release of food and acid back into the esophagus. (1)
The acidity of the stomach fluid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and may cause pain and inflammation over time. (1)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is produced when apples are fermented in a two-step process. ACV finds its uses in flavoring meals and preserving ingredients, making household cleaning products, and even in the management of some diseases.
ACV is packed with flavonoids such as gallic acid, caffeic acid, catechins, and ferulic acid. It is becoming increasingly popular as a health food to manage and treat several ailments.
In animal studies, ACV has shown use in some pharmacological functions, as a powerful antioxidant, to reduce inflammation, manage diabetes, and lower blood cholesterol levels. (2)
When ACV is made, the yeast and bacteria involved in the fermentation process form a film on top called the “mother,” which is attributed for ACV’s several health benefits. So, always check for the “with the mother” label on the ACV you are buying.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Heartburn?
The idea behind using home remedies to treat and manage acid reflux is to balance the stomach acids. Along with several other natural remedies, consumption of ACV is thought to help with the condition. (3)
Studies have reported ACV’s capacity to slow down the speed at which food leaves the stomach. This is also critical to the management of heartburn caused by acid reflux.
In one study, participants experienced beneficial relief in the symptoms of heartburn when ACV was consumed. (4) It is pertinent to note that the study participants also consumed other ingredients that are known to reduce the symptoms of heartburn, so it is unclear if ACV alone can be effective for heartburn.
Though there is limited data on the use of ACV in the management of heartburn, there is scope for further research.
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn
Diluting 1–2 tablespoons of ACV in 1 glass of water is the most effective and common way to consume it. You can also add it to salad dressings and mix it in other drinks.
ACV can also be added to honey water to sweeten the taste to make it more palatable.
Precautions to Consider
Much like any other vinegar, ACV has a high level of acidity. When consumed for a long period, it can result in the following side effects:
- Weakening of teeth as it affects the enamel
- Damage to the food pipe (esophagus)
- Can interact with medications and cause their improper absorption
To avoid these from occurring, ensure you do not consume more than 2 tablespoons of ACV daily. It is also vital to make sure ACV is not consumed in an undiluted form.
Other Ways to Treat Heartburn
The American College of Gastroenterology recommends some lifestyle changes to ease the symptoms of acid reflux: (5)
- Lose excessive weight, as obesity can put undue pressure on the digestive system.
- Elevate the head of the bed. As acid reflux and its resulting heartburn can increase at night, it is advisable to elevate the head of your bed using pillows. This position naturally prevents the backflow of acid into the esophagus.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Reduce intake of acid-increasing foods such as coffee, chocolate, foods high in fat like pastries or deep-fried foods, citrus fruits, and lentils.
- Take slow walks after mealtimes.
- Do not sleep immediately after eating. Ensure to keep a gap of at least 2–3 hours.
Most-Asked Questions About Heartburn
Does drinking water ease heartburn?
Water encourages the movement of food through the food pipe into the stomach. It may speed up the stomach emptying time, preventing the backflow of acid.
Will ice cream help with my heartburn?
A few spoons of plain unflavored ice cream (vanilla) may be beneficial for soothing heartburn. However, as ice cream is a high-fat food, it may slow down the rate of stomach emptying, which may worsen the symptoms of heartburn.
Heartburn is a common digestive condition caused by the backflow of stomach acids into the food pipe. Medication, general digestive distress, conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, diet and lifestyle, and some health conditions may cause heartburn.
The most common medications prescribed for heartburn are proton pump inhibitors, which slow down the production of stomach acids, and antacids, which neutralize stomach acids. Though these medications may provide instant relief, their long-term use can cause issues.
Making dietary modifications and lifestyle changes is one of the most effective and safe ways to manage heartburn. Among the many natural remedies recommended for heartburn, some people claim ACV to be beneficial.
Though there aren’t any direct studies linking the efficacy of ACV to heartburn, consuming 1–2 tablespoons of ACV diluted in a glass of water can replenish the stomach acids in case the heartburn is being caused by low stomach acids.