Have you ever wanted to go for spicy food, but fear the impending heartburn?
You are not alone.
In the US 42 percent of the population suffers from gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) or also known as heart burn (1). GERD is typically a condition in which acid from the stomach passes the esophageal sphincter, damaging the esophageal mucosa and causing pain.
The sensation felt is usually a burning pain as well as a bitter taste in the mouth (1).
There are many conventional treatments for heart burn such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors and H2-receptor antagonists, these are all drugs that inhibit acid or buffer it.
What some people don’t realize is that there are also a lot of natural remedies for gastro-esophageal reflux such as melatonin and vinegar just to name a few.
Natural Remedies for GERD
Melatonin (the body’s natural sleep hormone) works to prevent GERD because it inhibits gastric acid secretion and nitric oxide synthesis (2).
Nitric oxide causes the lower esophagus to relax which causes the stomach acid contents to move through the sphincter and cause heart burn. An article in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that people with high levels of melatonin had less upper digestive tract diseases (3).
In another article from the Journal of Pineal Research they also found beneficial results from the administration of melatonin for GERD (2). The side effect of using melatonin is that it does cause drowsiness so its best used in the evening (7).
Another agent that helps with GERD is vinegar.
Vinegar has many benefits besides aiding in digestion.
An article in the European Journal of clinical nutrition has found that vinegar reduced blood sugar levels after meals (5). Another article from the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry found that it reduced body weight, triglycerides, and fat mass (6).
Although these studies have shown great benefits there is another article from the Journal of medicinal food that found vinegar raised liver enzymes after 6 weeks (4).
Therefore long-term use of vinegar is questionable.
However, I did not find any other studies that have reported any adverse effects with vinegar consumption. These studies used only regular white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is the vinegar of choice for aiding in digestion.
Melatonin and vinegar are some of the alternative options available for GERD besides the conventional treatment.
As with any treatments it would be in your best interest to consult your physician before attempting any drugs or supplements as reactions can occur with any medication.
- B. C. Delaney. Review article: prevalence and epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics Volume 20, Issue Supplement s8, pages 2–4, December 2004.
- Ricardo de Souza Pereira. Regression of gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms using dietary supplementation with melatonin, vitamins and aminoacids: comparison with omeprazole. Journal of Pineal Research Volume 41, Issue 3, pages 195–200, October 2006.
- Klupinska G., Wisniewska-Jarosinska M., et al. Nocturnal secretion of melatonin in patients with upper digestive tract disorders. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2006, vol. 57, pp. 41-50, SUP5 [10 page(s) (article)].
- Carol S. Johnston, Andrea M. White, Shannon M. Kent. A Preliminary Evaluation of the Safety and Tolerance of Medicinally Ingested Vinegar in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Medicinal Food. March 2008, 11(1): 179-183.
- Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;59(9):983-8.
- Tomoo Kondo, et al. Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects. Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry Vol. 73 (2009), No. 8 pp.1837-1843.
- Josephine Arendt, et al. Safety of Melatonin in Long-Term Use(?). J Biol Rhythms December 1997 vol. 12 no. 6 673-681.