Nothing ruins a great meal quite like heartburn. And when you’ve got that fiery sensation in your chest and sour taste in the back of your mouth, you want to find relief — fast. Rather than recommending a chalky antacid or a strong medicine with unpleasant side effects, some doctors are encouraging patients to try essential oils for heartburn instead.
Thanks to a lack of harsh pharmaceuticals, these oils, distilled from plant roots, flowers, bark, and other natural sources, have become an increasingly popular alternative treatment for heartburn and its related symptoms.
“Essential oils can provide significant symptomatic relief,” says Alexander Thermos, DO, medical director of LifeSource Wellness Care in Laguna Hills, California. “They’ve been used for quite a long period of time, and it’s nothing new to this century.”
In fact, essential oils have been used for thousands of years, dating as far back as ancient Egypt, with people using them as remedies for various ailments during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
But not just any oil will do when it comes to treating painful heartburn. Each type has unique properties that promote certain health goals. Here’s what you need to know.
What causes heartburn?
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux, is often responsible for heartburn. This condition occurs when acid flows backward from the stomach up into the esophagus. If you experience frequent heartburn, you may have a more severe form of acid reflux, called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How to Use Essential Oils for Heartburn Relief
People use essential oils in many different ways. Beginners can dilute two to four drops of their desired oil into a cup of water or tea.
“With any essential oils, don’t just put them right in your mouth,” Thermos says. “Some folks tell me they do it that way, but for the majority of people, it’s just too strong. Essential oils are really potent agents.”
You can also rub a few drops of essential oil directly onto your skin with a carrier oil (a base oil that’s use to dilute essential oils), such as jojoba ($7.99, Amazon) or inhale the aroma of essential oils through a diffuser ($119, Amazon).
Unlike traditional medications, you can use multiple essential oils at the same time without experiencing side effects.
Thermos recommends trying out a few essential oils for heartburn on their own first, however, to figure out what’s most effective before experimenting with combinations. “Start inch by inch to see what works best for you.’
Finally, you’ll want to be sure that you’re using high-quality essential oils. “There are some imposters out there,” Thermos says. “Find out where the product comes from. You want to make sure the oils are coming from organic, natural sources since they’ll be concentrated into the oil.”
Relying solely on essential oils to manage your chronic conditions may not resolve all of your long-term health issues. For a permanent solution to chronic heartburn discomfort, you’ll need to get down to the root of the problem. “If you really want long-term relief, you’ve got to address what’s causing the heartburn rather than just whitewashing the symptom itself,” Thermos says.
In the meantime, however, you can try the best essential oils for acid reflux and GERD for additional relief.
What are the best essential oils for heartburn?
Plant Therapy Ginger Root
Where to buy: $10.95, Amazon
“Ginger is my favorite essential oil for heartburn overall,” Thermos says.
Ginger’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties are well-known to provide relief from gastrointestinal distress — and these properties offer clues to why ginger essential oil might be an effective treatment for heartburn.
Majestic Pure Lemon Oil
Where to buy: $15.98, Amazon
Lemon essential oil is another option that may ease the symptoms of heartburn, Thermos says. “It can really help neutralize acid in the stomach. It gets right to the source and can turn off the negative effects of the acid. It has antibacterial qualities and can kill bad bacteria in the gut.”
Sun Essential Oil Turmeric
Where to buy: $9.99, Amazon
“There’s a significant amount of inflammation that happens as a result of acid reflux, and turmeric can really help calm some of that,” Thermos says. “I’d definitely go with lemon, which is neutralizing, and turmeric if you want to use essential oils for GERD.”
Naturenics Lavender Essential Oil
Where to buy: $25.99, Amazon
Many people who suffer from acid reflux or GERD find that their symptoms are the worst in the evening, right as they settle in for bed. That’s why Thermos includes lavender on his list of essential oils for treating acid reflux: Research suggests the floral-scented oil may contribute to a more restful sleep.
“Lavender works on a variety of things, especially for reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. It can help you relax, and it’s a great go-to remedy when you’re not sure what else will do,” he says. “You can put a couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow at night to help you stay asleep.”
Healing Solutions Peppermint Essential Oil
Where to buy: $5.99, Amazon
A drop or two of peppermint oil diluted into a glass of water or rubbed on the skin may help reduce nausea and ease heartburn, but ingesting too much can irritate the throat and may even cause it. If your symptoms worsen, stop using peppermint oil. Says Thermos: “Peppermint oil has to be used gently and sparingly to treat things.”
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