1. Medication for Heartburn
If you suffer from heartburn, try over-the-counter medications for relief. Antacids can alleviate heartburn and indigestion by neutralizing stomach acid. They only provide temporary relief, however, with the effects wearing off within 2 hours. H2 blockers take longer to work than antacids, but the results also last longer. This group of medication works by partially stopping the production of stomach acid. In addition to relieving heartburn symptoms, H2 blockers can prevent heartburn from occurring. The effects of the blockers will last 6 to 10 hours.
Proton-pump inhibitors also inhibit acid production and are used for more severe heartburn. These inhibitors offer relief for up to 24 hours. Both proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers also are available by prescription, which are stronger versions of the over-the-counter medications.
Your doctor may recommend another group of heartburn medication called promotility agents. These medications contract the stomach muscles to empty the stomach a little faster. They also strengthen the lower esophagus sphincter, so it can be more effective at blocking stomach contents from entering the esophagus.
2. Alternative Remedies to Consider
There are several herbs that may relieve heartburn. Meadowsweet is a natural antacid and anti-inflammatory that has been traditionally used to treat heartburn. Herbs that contain mucilage–a gel-like substance that swells when mixed with water–also may be beneficial. These include marshmallow and slippery elm. The mucilage coats the digestive tract to protect it from stomach acid. Chamomile and licorice can be used to reduce inflammation. If you decide to try the licorice herb, look for chewable DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). This form of licorice is less likely to produce side effects, such as high blood pressure and water retention. Always discuss the use of alternative remedies with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
3. Other Ways to Relieve Heartburn
Aside from meds and herbs, there are other heartburn relievers you can try. Chew gum or suck on a candy for 30 minutes after eating to produce more saliva, which protects the esophagus from stomach acid and washes the acid back into your stomach. Certain yoga positions are beneficial when you are experiencing heartburn and they have the added benefit of reducing stress, which can cause heartburn. Yoga also is an appropriate option for pregnant moms who are experiencing heartburn.
About this Author
Brenna Leah Cashman (BHSc) is a member of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants and a professional counselor, registered holistic nutritionist and herbalist with over 10 years of experience working with families. She writes on the topics of family health and nutrition.