How To Cure Heartburn For Good! (In 4 Steps)
This post is mostly based on how I managed to cure heartburn, but I’ve also added in steps that other people have found to work as well. I’ve listed below 4 steps to curing heartburn – I hope it helps you like it helped me!
I Used To Have Chronic Heartburn
Heartburn is one of the worst conditions to have – for me, it happened daily. I would eat dinner, and then this burning sensation would arise in my stomach. If I burped, then acid would come up into my throat. Sometimes, it would be just a dull pain between my ribcage just below my heart. Maybe there are medical differences in my symptoms, but to me, it was just discomfort and pain.
And the worst part of it was that I thought I would have it for the rest of my life. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, so read on for the 4 steps on how to cure heartburn for good!
How I Got Heartburn
My heartburn started when I was around 20 in college (university in England). I had injured my knee from playing sports – it wasn’t a serious injury, but my knee kept swelling up and I wasn’t able to walk very far distances or play sports well.
My parents lived in the US, and I saw a US doctor during my summer break. I was put on prescription strength Ibuprofen (600mg, which is 3 times stronger than the regular stuff you take), and I was supposed to take that 2-3 times per day to calm down the inflammation in my knee.
I knew what Ibuprofen was (it’s what’s in Advil and Motrin), and so it seemed pretty safe to take it. After all, it was just painkillers right?
A few months later, my heartburn started. I didn’t know what it was at first – I had heard about heartburn and indigestion, and I had always wondered what the heck that was! Well, I quickly found out.
The link between heartburn and taking Ibuprofen is now pretty established, and doctors are much more aware of the dangers, but even after I stopped taking Ibuprofen, my heartburn continued.
My Addiction to Prilosec
Once I figured out that the burning sensation was heartburn, I started to take some Zantac and Tums medication, but it wasn’t until I tried Prilosec that I finally found something that worked (Nexium was suggested by one doctor, but I found out it was pretty much the same thing so I stuck with Prilosec).
It wasn’t a true addiction – there was no chemical process in my brain making me want to take more Prilosec. But logic and hating pain made me turn to Prilosec daily. If I took it, I wouldn’t have heartburn that day. But if I forgot to take it, then the chances were pretty high that I would have heartburn that day.
And so I relied heavily on Prilosec for several years until…
I saw a doctor for diarrhea issues. She told me that there had been new studies linking prolonged Prilosec intake to osteoporosis in women.
I had been trying to ween myself off Prilosec already (I had already figured it can’t be great to take this drug daily for the rest of my life – for one thing it was expensive!), so hearing that from a doctor made me quit pretty quickly!
You’re probably thinking this story is just going from bad to worse. Just get to the point – how do you cure heartburn for good?
Ok, so here goes – 4 steps to cure heartburn for good…
VIDEO ON HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN FOR GOOD
I made this post into a video as well in case you prefer that:
4 STEPS TO CURE HEARTBURN FOR GOOD
HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN
STEP 1: Test For H. pylori
H. pylori is short for Helicobacter pylori and is a bacteria that often lives in your stomach.
There are suggestions that H. pylori can lower the amount of stomach acid produced, which in turn could cause heartburn.
You’re probably thinking I wrote the above sentence backwards. But there’s no typo in that sentence.
Heartburn is often caused by too little stomach acid. Check out the book, Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, if you want to find out more.
Even if you don’t believe me on this point, most doctors do know about the link between H. pylori and heartburn/stomach issues these days. So, just go ask your doctor for a stool test for H. pylori (this bacteria has been also linked to stomach ulcers – the 2005 medicine nobel prize was awarded for that discovery – and other unpleasant health conditions so why not get rid of it!).
Where To Get The H. Pylori Stool Test?
If your doctor cannot do the test for you, then you can get it done as part of this comprehensive package of lab tests.
I had the test done in NYC several years ago, and I recall hoping that the results would come back positive so that I could take a quick pill and cure all my issues. Sadly, my results came back negative, and I didn’t cure heartburn until I did steps 2 and 3.
NOTE: even if you do have H. pylori and you take antibiotics and get rid of it, the bacteria could easily come back again if you don’t do steps 2 and 3.
HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN
STEP 2: Eat A Clean Paleo Diet
Heartburn can definitely be exacerbated by the food you eat. But just avoiding the list of foods the doctors gave me wasn’t enough – it definitely didn’t lead to an end to heartburn! Nor did sleeping with my head higher so that acid wouldn’t flow up. Nor did sitting up straight (I still slouch).
So what cured heartburn for me?
The truth is my heartburn vanished so magically that I didn’t even notice it. I was still shocked by how much energy I had gotten from eating a Paleo diet that I completely didn’t notice that I had no heartburn despite stopping my medication!
One day at dinner, Jeremy looked up and said to me, “Remember how you used to have all those stomach problems – they seem to have gone away!”
I looked back at him with confusion. What do you mean they’ve gone away? They’re…and that’s when it hit me. My heartburn wasn’t there anymore.
I had had heartburn for so long that I had learnt to live with it, and honestly, with taking Prilosec pretty much daily, I hadn’t experienced serious heartburn for several years.
But it was truly shocking to be free of heartburn AND free of medication!
And all I did was eat a pretty clean Paleo diet – I didn’t binge on Paleo treats or add honey to my tea or survive on sweet potatoes. I did fall off the wagon many times, but I didn’t experience major setbacks in my heartburn problem.
You might be in disbelief right now, so let me be 100% transparent here so you know exactly what the Paleo diet helped me achieve:
I do sometimes still get heartburn. I’d estimate it as 4-5 times per year.
I haven’t taken any heartburn medication (not even Tums) for over 2 years as far as I can remember (I threw out my last tube of Tums almost a year and a half ago). And I’ve been off Prilosec for around 4-5 years (I’ve tried to look for my old medical records, but I can’t find them).
When I do get heartburn, it’s because I got stressed and/or ate badly (usually too much sugar). So, eating a clean Paleo diet wasn’t the whole story for me, but it was a huge component in getting rid of heartburn for me.
How To Start A Clean Paleo Diet?
If you want to start a really clean Paleo diet, then join our Free 7-Day Pure Paleo Challenge (you’ll be sent all the info to start a Paleo diet, including a quick-start guide, daily videos emailed to you for motivation and support, private Facebook group, plus prizes for completing the challenge).
HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN
STEP 3: De-stress
When I first cured my heartburn problem, I thought the solution was 100% a Paleo diet, and the first few times when I had heartburn again, I was concerned. Was Paleo not working??
It took me a while to figure things out (I only experienced heartburn a few times a year!), but I realized that stress did play a large role in my heartburn.
And it’s not just me that’s experienced this crucial link between stress and heartburn.
One of my friends who had been working at a NYC law firm said she had been experiencing really bad heartburn for some time, but she noticed that her heartburn was gone the whole week she was on vacation.
However, as soon as the plane landed back in New York, her heartburn came back. She believed it was the anxiety and stress caused by her law firm job (she wasn’t on a Paleo diet!).
So, How Do You Get Rid Of Stress?
I’ve been trying to de-stress for years, and I still get stressed. I honestly do feel less stressed than before, but there wasn’t some magical pill for it.
I’ve tried baths, meditation, yoga, gratitude, developing habits, breathing better, exercise, talking to people, and while I think all of those things are highly important, currently the following 4 solutions are what’s making the biggest difference for me:
#1. Sleep Is Key
For me, getting 8+ hours of sleep is so crucial – I seem able to deal with what could be stressful situations much more calmly.
#2. Diet Really Helps
This goes back to Step 2. Eating a good diet makes me feel more energetic and less moody, which in turn means that when little things go astray in my life, I don’t freak out (as much).
#3. Do What You Love
This means different things to different people. For me, it means freedom to choose what I do during my day. For me, this partially means designing a job that allows me to write these types of articles daily.
For my friend, it meant getting a new job at a company that she loved.
For you, it could be something else. I don’t have the perfect solution for how to find this – I read a lot of books, I talk to a lot of people, and I try to enjoy every single day. It doesn’t always happen, but I try to stay positive about that too.
One of the books I really enjoyed is Rich On Paper Poor On Life by Philip McKernan. You might like it, you might not, but you’ll never know unless you give it a try.
#4. Follow Your Gut/Heart/Intuition
I recently heard Danielle LaPorte speak, and I initially misunderstood something she said.
She basically said that she likes to do whatever is easier. And my first instinct was to think that she meant that she’s lazy. (I know – I’m judgmental!)
After a while, I realized that she was talking about following her intuition – because when she follows her intuition, there’s nothing internally fighting back against her. Another way of putting it is that when you follow your intuition, it feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you can sleep easier.
In many ways this is similar to #3 – personally, I think of #3 as more what you do for your main focus in life, and #4 as the guiding principal to making decisions in life.
Those are my thoughts, and I urge you to try different approaches and see what works for you!
HOW TO CURE HEARTBURN
STEP 4: Take Hydrochloric Acid Tablets And Digestive Enzymes
This last step is perhaps the easiest.
But I’ve put this easy step last because I don’t want you to think that these are magic pills that will make all your problems go away. Personally, I didn’t try Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) tablets or Digestive Enzymes until after I stopped having chronic heartburn so it was hard to judge their usefulness.
The reason why these work for many people goes back to what I wrote in Step 1 – heartburn is generally caused by low stomach acid. So, boosting your stomach acid by taking Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) tablets will help. Low stomach acid is often correlated with low digestive enzymes, and so taking Digestive Enzymes will help you digest your foods properly.
Probiotics are just generally good, but it may be especially good if you have heartburn. Bacterial overgrowth has been suggested as a potential cause of heartburn, and repopulating your gut with better bacteria is part of the solution for bacterial overgrowth. I’ve been taking this probiotic for a while, and while I can’t definitively say it works, I do feel like it helps.
I remember googling how to cure heartburn years ago and reading about avoiding chocolate, spices, and alcohol, sleeping with my head higher, eating well before I go to bed, etc.
None of those ‘tricks’ helped me get rid of heartburn for good! But these 4 steps have helped me and other people, so if you’re still suffering from heartburn, then give it a try. It can’t be worse than having to take medication for the rest of your life.
Here’s a recap of the 4 steps – feel free to pin it and share it on social media!
How To Cure Heartburn Slideshow
If you prefer slides, then here are some slides detailing the 4 steps to getting rid of heartburn:
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NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this article is not intended to and shall not convey or recommend any medical or nutritional advice or course of action. Any course of action you undertake should be discussed with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. All opinions expressed in this article are based solely on personal experiences and research. I am NOT a licensed doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist.
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