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Can Baking Soda Stop Heartburn?

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Updated June 06, 2014

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

Making baking soda paste, mixing powder with water in bowl, close-up
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Question: Can Baking Soda Stop Heartburn?
Answer: Baking soda is a natural antacid. If you dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water, it can neutralize stomach acid and temporarily alleviate heartburn caused by acid reflux.

There are some drawbacks to this, however. When you add baking soda to water, it releases carbon dioxide. That's what causes the fizz. This fizz can open the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to enable you to burp and help relieve the pressure from bloating. Unfortunately, though, opening the LES can also allow the contents of your stomach to reflux up into the esophagus.

While many people have used baking soda to treat their heartburn, it's important to note that there haven't been any clinical trials to support baking soda's effect on heartburn. It is also important that you consult your doctor before trying baking soda or any other treatment for your 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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