Perhaps the simplest, most time-honored home remedy for heartburn is baking soda dissolved in water. This approach has been popular since the 19th century, and there are even dosing instructions on most boxes of baking soda.
This remedy has two great advantages: It goes to work quickly (unlike most of the prescription and over-the-counter acid suppressors such as omeprazole or cimetidine), and it can be found in almost any pantry.
A few decades ago (around the time Tagamet and Zantac were becoming available), people were frequently warned to stay away from using baking soda as an antacid.
The thinking was that baking soda — sodium bicarbonate — would put too much sodium into the system, raising blood pressure and leading to heart disease.
While it is not advisable to use baking soda for acid reflux on a regular basis, occasional use should not be a problem for most people.
What’s more, the idea that people should lower their salt intake as much as possible has been thrown into question lately.
That recommendation seems to have been based more on belief than on real evidence.
People who have heartburn more than a few times a month should consider whether they need to change their diets or other habits to prevent it, rather than counting on a remedy to relieve it.
If the problem persists, it ought to be investigated by a physician to see whether it indicates a more serious condition.
While it seems intuitive that baking soda, which is alkaline, could counteract stomach acid, some people actually use a spoonful of vinegar, which is acidic, in a glass of water to ease heartburn.
It may sound crazy, using acid to treat excess acid, but lots of people tell us it works like a charm.
We have heard from many readers that this can be surprisingly helpful for heartburn and indigestion.
Some people worry that vinegar will erode tooth enamel, so we were pleased to get this suggestion from a reader: “Use a straw to bypass the teeth so that the vinegar will not harm them.”
You might also want to rinse with water and wait half an hour before brushing your teeth, as vinegar could soften enamel and make it susceptible to abrasion.
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