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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Relieve Heartburn?

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Updated June 06, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Apple cider vinegar
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Question: Can Apple Cider Vinegar Relieve Heartburn?
Answer: Some people have reported that natural apple cider vinegar works for them, and helps relieve heartburn. They theorize that heartburn occurs because there isn't enough stomach acid, and taking apple cider vinegar brings the stomach acid level up, allowing the stomach to digest food properly and causing heartburn to subside. However, other people state that lower stomach acid is not the cause of heartburn.

Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and may irritate or damage the lining of the digestive tract. Instead of relieving heartburn, it may actually make it worse. If you are considering using apple cider vinegar as a treatment for heartburn, it is important that you talk to your doctor first.

While some people have used apple cider vinegar to treat their heartburn, it's important to note that there haven't been any clinical trials to support apple cider vinegar's effect on heartburn.

You can also alleviate heartburn by making wise choices in the foods you eat. One of the leading triggers of heartburn is the food we eat. Since we all have to eat, we need ways to prevent food from causing heartburn. The following tips can help you.

Avoid foods and beverages that weaken the LES muscle
These foods include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fatty foods, and greasy or fried foods.

Avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus
These include citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, chili peppers, and black pepper.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Eating large meals increases pressure in the stomach and against the LES muscle. Eating five or six small meals instead of three larger ones is better. And remember not to eat too quickly. Putting your fork or spoon down between bites can help you do this.

Don't drink alcohol
Drinking alcohol before, during, or after meals can worsen heartburn because alcohol weakens the LES muscle.

Sources:

"Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 03­0882 June 2003. NIH Publication No. 03­0882. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

Magee, Elaine: Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux. Book-mart Press: New Page Books, 2001, ISBN: 1564145743.

Sklar, Jill and Cohen, Annabel: Eating for Acid Reflux: Marlowe & Company; Imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc. 2003, ISBN: 1569244928.

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